Proof that you can wear white after Labor Day, from left: fall 2010 runway styles from Chanel, Valentino and Anna Sui. Photos: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images, Eric Ryan/Getty Images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for IMG


Wearing white after Labor Day these days is as acceptable as wearing black to a wedding or skipping pantyhose at the office. It's an old school fashion rule, that's not only been broken, but practically rewritten.

"Not only can you wear white after Labor Day, you should wear white all year long, especially if you live in a seasonless climate," Charla Krupp, fashion expert and author of "How to Never Look Fat Again," tells StyleList. "White can be stunning in a dress, jacket, sweater or coat."

Heather Kenny, a Chicago-based style expert, wardrobe adviser, and personal shopper agrees, but does have a few white-wearing caveats.

"Put away the linen dresses and tissue-thin cotton tops in favor of crisp white shirts and white dresses made of heavier-gauge materials," she tells StyleList. "White needs a little bit more substance in fall. Those wispy white separates will just look wrong in the golden autumn light and the back-to-school mentality. You could still wear a light top under a jacket or cardigan though."

We asked our experts for some fall and winter white advice. Here's what they had to say:

What are some white pieces women should be wearing now?

  • "A white sweater always looks good," Krupp says. "A white coat can be a knockout piece. In a sea of black, all eyes will be on you in a white wool or cashmere coat.

As the weather gets colder weather, what white pieces look great?
  • "A white cardigan or white jeans are still OK," Kenny says. "Layer things with other fall items. A sleeveless white sheath dress can be worn with boots as summer transitions into fall. A white jacket, as long as it has some structure, can be worn over a black top or turtleneck. As it gets cooler, you can still go all white with wool pants and a cashmere turtleneck or sweater -- that's called winter white and looks incredibly luxurious."
Does head-to-toe white work, or is it too much?
  • "It works best when there's some texture and is not too shiny," Kenny says. "A luxe white sweater and winter white wool pants or a skirt. Also, this is a dressy look. When going more formal, be careful that you don't slide into bridal territory."
  • Krupp says all white can look great if you're in good shape. "But it can make you look fat if you're not," she says. "Better to use white as an accent piece where you want attention. If you have a big butt, don't dress it in white pants."
What's the story with white shoes?
  • "Nude shoes are so much sexier and will make you look thinner and longer," Krupp says. "Don't wear white shoes -- not even in sneakers. They look nerdy."
Any other white items women should simply steer clear of?
  • "Definitely hosiery," Kenny says. "I'm not a big fan of bright white leather bags either, which can look either too prim and proper or too headed-out-to-a-Poison-concert."
  • Krupp agrees, saying white hose should never be worn unless you're 6. "Ditto for white fishnets and white tights and white leggings," she says. "They will make you look fat. Legs look 10 pounds heavier encased in white."
What are the rules on undergarments when wearing white?
  • "Don't wear white underwear, ever," Krupp advises. "Nude is better than white, especially under a white tee. Why white is the most popular bra color is a mystery. It should be nude."
  • Kenny, too, says undergarments should match your skin color. "White shows up more under white clothes, while nude will blend with your skin," she says. "Also, check to see that your white pants aren't too transparent, especially around the back. I can't tell you how many times I've seen women wearing white pants or skirts that I can see their underwear through. It also looks bad when we can see the outline of your pockets, which means the material is way too sheer."
Speaking of pants, here's some advice on wearing cropped styles while you still can.