Fall fashion’s white lies
There are three universally acknowledged truths about white: you should never wear it to a wedding unless you're the bride, you're definitely going to spill on it and you must retire it after Labor Day.
The first two are completely logical and not to be messed with. When you're attending a wedding, you know that the bride will be wearing white or some close cousin thereof and you can choose literally any other color of the rainbow, so it's proper to avoid white out of respect.
Also, thinking you can emerge from your day with an unadulterated white outfit is just silly. Maybe you didn't pack a sandwich with mustard for lunch or walk straight through that puddle, but that just means the Starbucks baristas gave you a faulty lid. It's Murphy's Law. There's nothing to do but find a good drycleaner.
However, I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't stow clothes in the back of your closet immediately following the first weekend in September just by virtue of the fact that they're white. There are many factors that can make an item look out-of-season, including style and fabric. Sure, you're saying goodbye to your white chinos and white linen dress, but white jeans? They'll keep you just as warm as blue denim in the brisk fall temperatures, so why not extend their wear a bit?
The biggest question is which of your fall clothes can be successfully worn with white. Here, I've outlined a few looks that I love for September and early October, when the weather is still somewhat warm but school is back in session.
White jeans with a light gray sweater and loafers
The contrast between black and white is really stark, but you can soften it up with other neutrals such as light gray and camel. This makes it less conspicuous that you're wearing white pants. A sweater really makes anything seem made for cold weather; here, you can go for one that's a little longer or bulkier to really drive home the fall inspiration. Loafers serve the same purpose; they're definitely a school shoe, so they signal the end of summer.
White sheath dress with a black blazer, scarf and pumps
A simple answer to keeping your white dresses alive and kicking is to cover them up. A lot of business pieces are black, but black on black on black is just too much. If the sheath dress is a somewhat thick cotton, just stark white, it's easy to make it looks seasonally appropriate. Add a black blazer and a scarf that ties the two together. I particularly like this outfit because I think we should all keep wearing skirts and no tights for as long as possible. Tights are maybe my least favorite part of cold weather.
Your white shoes are done, unless they are Keds, Converse or some other type of tennis shoe.
White oxford shirt and cropped, printed trousers
This seems pretty obvious to me, but it seems that people even think they need to retire items like standard, button-down work shirts. Don't do it! A white oxford shirt is a closet staple at any time of year. Wear it with anything, really, but it's especially useful with printed pants that are still going strong for another season.
White jeans with a dark chambray shirt and riding boots
This is my go-to outfit for favorite fall activities like apple picking. Some chambray shirts look a bit summery, so make sure to find one that's heavier, and pair it with some classic brown riding boots.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)