Fashionable Life: White Done Right

by Editorial

Ditch the old rule about Labor Day fashion.

By Violetta Markelou

The author wearing Jennifer Jeremias earrings and carrying a white vintage purse. (Photo by Yassine El Mansouri)

It’s a week after Labor Day and I’m sitting at Vida Penthouse pool club contemplating what happened to summer. New York Fashion Week is in full swing all the September fashion glossies, heavy as encyclopedias, have arrived, filling me in on the latest and greatest for the season.

To my pleasant surprise, one of my favorite colors is featured as key staples throughout many collections. Coats, pants, dresses, jackets and accessories all in pure white. Not cream, not ivory. White.

I’ve always wondered where that silly adage — “Don’t wear white after Labor Day” — came from. Says who and why?

I did a little research and learned that it was upper-class society in the late 19th-century that established the rule, simply because it symbolized a transition from lazy summers at the beach to back-to-work mode come fall. From that point on, the rule stuck, perhaps spurred on by fashion editors with their “do’s and dont’s” lists or fears of enormous dry-cleaning bills. Whatever the reason, consumers discarded the color and designers followed suit leaving out the pristine hue from their collections. Not this time.

I’m very pleased that several designers have injected white into the standard fall palette of plum, navy, gray and black. To me it’s fresh, modern, clean and timeless. I hope these looks inspire you to ignore outmoded fashion rules and incorporate some white into your fall/winter wardrobe. You’ll stand out in a sea of black at this season’s parties.

Here are my favorite designer looks from the Fall RTW 2012 shows. If I hit the lottery tomorrow, I’m getting one of each.

Look 1: A military-inspired coat, Alexander Wang

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Look 2: High-waist, wide-leg pants, Jill Sander (I’m lusting after these)

Photo courtesy IMAXtree

Look 3:  A stunning long dress with metal or black accents, Derek Lam

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Look 4:  A blazer (leather even better), Helmut Lang leather blazer ($1,225), Saks Fifth Avenue or Sandra Weil. Another great blazer with black leather lapel ($363)

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Look 5: Cocktail dress with Grecian draping, Alexander Wang leather tank dress ($1,225), Saks Fifth Avenue

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Top off your pristine looks with silver and gold statement jewelry with a Mother Nature touch. Can you say “Ice Queen”?
Alexis Bittar
ring ($195)

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Pamela Love cuff ($375), Neiman Marcus

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Yves Saint Laurent necklaces ($1,695)

Photo courtesy Yves Saint Laurent

Shoe options are endless with a white outfit. Splurge on a two-tone pair like these peep-toe high-heeled boots from Rachel Roy or save with tri-colored suede heels from Zara.

Rachel Roy Oxford pumps “Fabiola” high heel ($325), Bloomingdales

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Zara “Vamp” shoe ($39.99),

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But wait — you think I went all designer on you eh? Here are some amazing local finds: I stopped into Reddz Trading in Bethesda the other day and picked up this awesome second-hand wrap jacket from Zara for $30. I’ll definitely be wearing this with a long black skirt or jeans.

Photo by Yassine El Mansouri

I recommend wearing your new white pieces with metallic jewelry and colored accents like this fabulous felt wave fascinator and necklace from Ginger Root Design. Ginger Root Design is my go-to place for cutting-edge jewelry. Aside from being a fantastic tailoring and vintage re-design house, GRD carries local jewelry designers who are both trendy and eco friendly.

Pictured above and below: Felt wave fascinator with vintage net by Ciao Nina ($120), Lauren Joan Peter Pan collar necklace made of vintage steel and gold chains ($80), Amethyst ring by Rachel Pfeffer ($175); all available at Ginger Root Design, 1530 U St. NW.

Photo by Yassine El Mansouri

My other staple for the season is a tuxedo jacket with black satin lapels by Aqua. I bought it from Bloomingdales last year for $120 and have already worn it a dozen times with high-waisted black pants and jeans. It’s so classic and effortlessly chic, I’m definitely wearing this another dozen times this season.

Photo by Yassine El Mansouri

Pictured above and below: Vintage steel chain necklace with spiked beads by Lauren Joan ($115) and Jennifer Jeremias earrings ($40 each); both available at Ginger Root Design.

Photo by Yassine El Mansouri

I’m still dreaming of that Jill Sander ensemble. But for now I’m going to shop local and try to find the best second-hand and vintage pieces in my favorite color of the season.

Violetta Markelou is a visual artist specializing in photography and makeup in Washington, D.C. When she’s not documenting the art of transformation with her camera, she spends her time uncovering high- and low-end fashion, jewelry and accessories in vintage and second-hand shops. She shares more of her style insights at her blog The Thrifty Fashionista and its Facebook group almost daily.

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