Slimming white outfit

Photo: Sergio Kurhajec

White Lie #1: "White isn't slimming enough for me"
—Suzanne Rust, 46, magazine editor and television host

"I do wear some white, but I'm careful," says Rust. "I have curves, and white can make them seem like too much of a good thing!" She's gotten into the habit of sticking to an accent here or there to avoid "the whole Good Humor man look."

Think Again:
White on white can be great on curvy women, says O's creative director, Adam Glassman—if you mix textures and shades. A long silk tuxedo jacket (Nicole Miller Collection, $345) emphasizes the vertical seams on this drop-waist beaded dress (Ralph Lauren Black Label) for a slenderizing effect; with geometric earrings (Lulu Frost) and silver shoes (Jimmy Choo), the outfit is a refreshing, flattering take on evening wear.

Professional white outfit

Photo: Sergio Kurhajec

White Lie #2: "White is only for brides and the beach."
—Cynthia Sleet, 29, commercial litigation attorney

As a lawyer, Sleet has adopted a daily uniform of gray, navy, and black and considers white clothing too casual and seasonal for the workplace. "On the weekends, I would like to think I mix it up," she says. "But I wear a lot of black then, too."

Think Again:
A shapely denim pencil skirt (Ellen Tracy, $60) with a cream V-neck blouse (Vince, $185) under a tan suede jacket (Club Monaco, $495) is fresh and bright while still looking sleek and professional. "I feel really put-together," says Sleet. "It's definitely something I could wear to the office instead of a suit."
Earrings, Nashelle Jewelry. Ring, Fantasy Jewelry Box. Shoes, Cole Haan.
Casual white outfit

Photo: Sergio Kurhajec

White Lie #3: "White is too risky for the real world."
—Cynthia Arrieu-King, 37, professor

Arrieu-King has been convinced since high school, when a white button-down was part of her uniform, that to wear white is to invite disaster. To this day, she says, "My goal is to always be wearing jeans."

Think Again:
Glassman advises Arrieu-King to include some white pieces in her laid-back wardrobe by concentrating on forgiving textures. (It's tough to spot a drop of coffee on corduroy, brocade, or tweed.) This cotton bouclé jacket with beading at the neckline (Magaschoni, $540) smartens up a cream lace tee (Lauren by Ralph Lauren, $95) and worn-in gray jeans (Paige Denim, $199). "If you're scared of wearing white on your lower half, pale gray is another option—it's flattering on the hips, thighs, and tush," says Glassman. "I could wear this to teach," Arrieu-King says. "I'm still in jeans, but they're snappy."
Earrings, Loree Rodkin. Bracelets, Bottega Veneta.
Versatile white outfit

Photo: Sergio Kurhajec

White Lie #4: "White doesn't travel well."
—DJ Forza, 42, Habitat for Humanity global village team leader

Forza finds light colors impractical for traveling, which is a requirement in her work. (Recent home-building trips have taken her to Jordan, Nepal, Cambodia, and Guatemala.)

Think Again:
A classic white button-front shirtdress (Sara Roka, $430), if not ideal for a construction site, suits almost any other occasion, says Glassman (who calls a garment like this "my favorite thing in the world for all body types"). It looks as good crisply pressed as it does rumpled and belted, which means it's easy to pack. And it can be styled up or down with accessories—in this case, woven-leather heels (Prada) and plenty of bangles (Bajalia for HSN, Alexis Bittar).
Watch, Michael Kors. Earrings, Ten Thousand Things. Belt, Comptoir des Cotonniers.
White suit

Photo: Sergio Kurhajec

White Lie #5: "I'm too pale to wear white."
—Stacy Marcus, 31, entertainment attorney

"I'm not tan, never have been tan, and never will be tan, not even in July," says Marcus. "White looks good only on people with color in their skin."

Think Again:
This cotton-blend suit (Ann Taylor blazer, $158, and pants, $88) plays up Marcus's ivory skin while lengthening her petite frame. (For light complexions, Glassman says bright whites without any yellow tones are best; the opposite is true for darker complexions.) The pops of color from the shirt (Rachel Roy, $295) are crucial to keeping Marcus from appearing washed-out. "This outfit actually makes me seem—well, I won't say tan, but it certainly makes me look more alive," she says.
Earrings, Ippolita. Belt, Strenesse Gabriele Strehle. Bangles, Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. Ring, Marcia Moran. Shoes, Ralph Lauren Collection.

Next: 7 more rules for wearing white

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