Originally created 04/25/06

Stay brave, trendy this season with white clothing, accessories



Black has officially relinquished its position as the most basic wardrobe staple.

Hide that little black dress in the back of your closet and don't expect that black bikini to cut it this summer. If you want to be chic this season, you have to start shopping at the other end of the color spectrum.

Eager fashion fans probably are way ahead of the game, but in case I am not making sense, the hot new color for spring is white, white and more white.

Fashion designers and retailers from Ann Taylor to DKNY to Dolce & Gabbana are rolling out their new spring lines full of crisp pants, billowy shirts, eyelet dresses and handbags to match - all in white.

Black isn't completely pass: black accents are perfectly acceptable - especially when black is accenting white.

Designer Michael Kors explains that the shift to white and other more neutral colors intends to switch the focus of fashion from "an attention-grabbing hue to the cut, subtle details and luxuriousness of fabrics."

White is so much the rage that it is daring to go places it has never gone before. According to Gregg Andrews, a fashion director for Nordstrom, the smartest look for spring is daringly monochromatic: white pants, white button-down shirt and, optionally, a white belt.

Before you think that all this white is too high-fashion for anyone but runway models, you should know that Lakeside High School's Best Dressed Senior, Elle Revell, 18, has given it her seal of approval.

She enthusiastically told me that she is delighted at the chance to incorporate more white into her outfits and even to wear white-on-white this spring (although she is opting for a colored belt).

For all its sophistication, however, white can be dangerous to wear.

I remember learning from my middle school Family and Consumer Science class that black is slimming and white is, well, not slimming.

White gives the appearance of large, open spaces: not exactly the kind of thing you want associated with you as you leave a room.

But Elle thinks that anyone can wear white. She says that it depends on how you wear it, what style you're wearing, "what you wear it with, and your figure."

Another problem with white is how difficult it is to keep it clean. When you are wearing a white skirt, everything you come in contact with is a stain waiting to happen.

Another potential crisis of wearing white is transparency. White linen pants are very cute but Elle and Lakeside senior Jordan Allison can testify to seeing some unwelcome sights through tight, white pants.

Elle suggests that you check to be sure your pants, skirts or other bottoms have a high-quality liner to keep yourself appropriately covered.

It probably is riskier to wear these things skin-tight; if you have more room in them, it prevents unmentionables from showing through.

One part of the debate over white's invasion of spring fashions is the question of the white prom dress. Evening gowns such as Nicole Kidman's white dress at the Oscars have been quickly appearing on the racks for the rest of us to buy. Whether thrilling or disappointing, prom-dress shoppers have been finding a lot more white in the selection this year.

I have found that teens are very divided on the topic. Many girls agree with Jordan, who says she would not wear a white dress to prom because "it looks like a wedding dress."

Elle, who has always wanted to wear a white prom dress, says that "as long as the dress isn't poofy, it will not look much like a wedding dress.

Merry Ma, 16, a sophomore at Lakeside, went shopping for her prom dress with no intention of buying a dress of any particular color, but she ended up buying a white one. Her strapless dress is made of a light fabric and falls straight to the floor.

Merry found that a white prom dress is a good choice because it is "classy, urbane and very elegant."

Fashion often is about taking risks and being strikingly different. \

Even if you are a person who hides behind black dresses, pants and purses, you should be bold and give white a try this season while a variety of outfits are available.

Remember, white is just like any other color we wear: some people will love it, some people will hate it, and some people will always think it makes them look fat.

Katharine Diehl, 18, is a senior at Lakeside High School.