Garment colors have the power to set a mood in both the viewer and wearer. I hear it time and again – fall colors are dark and depressing.
I used to feel that way during my first years as a stylist at Nordstrom. Accustomed to the uplifting mood of vibrant colors associated with the brighter seasons, fall fashions arrived in store and rudely rained on my parade every year. Those gorgeous yet deeper shades conjured a more somber mood than I was ready to embrace for the next six months.
Until I discovered all the ways to lighten up fall work looks.
One of my favorite ways to lighten up fall work looks is with white. Luckily, Olivia Pope of the hit TV series Scandal, made wearing white the ultimate power move.
And how powerful is white at work? White is crisp and clean. White projects clarity and is said to promote creativity – as in a blank slate to create from. Since white is positive, clear and open it can direct communication in a positive way, according to graphic designers Fat Rabbit Creative.
White conveys peaceful strength and neutrality – says the Huffington Post. You may want to be cautious about wearing head to toe white to work though, monochromatic white can send a message of coldness and isolation. Yet Michelle Obama wore head to toe white effectively, here on her Becoming book tour. Monochromatic white works for Obama because of the strong warm personality she exudes combined with her inherent slight aloofness – and she is a personality we already know.
Still, wearing white as part of an ensemble is the safest way to go, most of the time.
Here are three ways to lighten your looks powerfully with white this fall:
1. White coat
Try a white coat like Democratic member-elect Sharice Davids of Connecticut did here. Sharice Davids’s look is an example of how a white coat can break up an otherwise deeply hued fall hued look.
Davids wears her white coat over burgundy, and stands out on the steps of the White House in this group photo. In fact, I venture to add Davids instantly became part of the “fabulous four” women highlighted in close up shots partly at least because of her choice of tailored white coat.
2. White skirt
A white skirt with a black top is a sophisticated combo. Or choose another deep fall color to pair with your white skirt instead. Perhaps merlot, or pine.
Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, often wore a white skirt and dark top, like this combo, when she played Rachel Zane on the hit TV series Suits. I am convinced that updated, elegant career style on the show contributed to Markle making her mark in the world.
3. White blazer
Topping your fall ensemble with a white blazer lightens your look. Try layering a black turtleneck like media powerhouse and author, Tina Brown, does here. Brown once worked with Harvey Weinstein, and she discuses what a “monster” Harvey Weinstein had been to work with, among other media industry stories in her book The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992.
Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, pulls off white nicely in this headshot.
You could try a structured vest instead of a blazer for an unique fall professional combo.
4. White accessories
If you fear wear white clothing, pop your deep fall palette with a fresh white accessory instead. Try a white handbag, shoe, belt or even a white earring to add a little light around your face.
5. White sweater
White knits keep you warm and updated in the office. The texture of knits add depth to your workday style in addition to lightening up your fall look. Pair a slightly boxy cropped sweater with your favorite midi pencil skirt. Tuck a the perfect turtle neck into your pencil or a-line skirt, depending on your body type, for streamlined work style.
Parting note on skin temperature
If white is not friendly to your skin temperature, simply try cream. When your skin temperature is cool (blue undertone) white looks great on you. However, if your skin temperature is warm (yellow undertone) substitute white for cream to obtain the same result.
Either way, enjoy the power of white in your cold weather wardrobe.