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Whites in Your Wardrobe
Leah Ruth Oman

Every fashion magazine I’ve ever read says that a white shirt is an absolute must in your closet. And the pictures they show alongside those articles are always a "white-white." Apparently a full spectrum white. Well, at the risk of being shot, I want to scream "wrong!" Not everyone can wear that stark white. In fact, I would suggest that most people cannot wear it very well. It highlights every wrinkle, freckle, or blemish in the face. And, unless your teeth are that same white-white as the shirt, they’ll look yellowed.

Okay, I know all the arguments: "White looks so fresh." Yes, but it simply doesn’t flatter all complexions, not to mention that it sure gets dirty fast! "White goes with everything—it’s a great basic." Maybe, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s the best choice for everyone. Even if it truly does "go with EVERYTHING," and I’m not entirely sure of that, it most certainly doesn’t go with EVERYONE. Some women will look drained in it; others pasty; still others will be preceded into the room by the stark white garment they###re wearing. In lieu of pure white, however, there are many other options. Soft white and chalk are two examples that can be worn by those with cooler coloring, but won’t be so harsh next to the skin. Eggshell, cream, and ivory are softened even further, as well as slightly warmed, so they’re better for those with naturally warmer coloring. Oyster, buff, mushroom, and parchment are more complex variations of "white" as they are mixed with grays, siennas, or umbers. Of course they’ll be the best versions for someone with complex personal coloring. But those colors aren’t really "white," you may be saying to yourself. And you’d be technically correct—they aren’t exactly white—yet they can function in a very similar way, as a light neutral when you need one, without making you look older or more imperfectly complexioned. So, when shopping for that basic "white" shirt, remember that you have more choices than the magazine articles would suggest. Don’t be a victim of the white shirt myth! Copyright Ó 2003 Leah Ruth Oman. An image coach/consultant, Oman may be contacted at The Smarter Image Inc., (303) 471-7373, e-mail leah@thesmarterimage.attbbs.com; or on the web at www.thesmarterimage.com