Is Wearing All White For A Week A Recipe For Disaster? I Put The Look To The Stain Magnet Test
Summertime is the best time to wear a stylish all white outfit, especially since monochromatic ensembles are definitely in vogue this season. Stars from Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian to Olivia Culpo have been spotted wearing only white this summer, and it's an effortless way to look sophisticated and cool. The clean look stands out against a crowd, and white clothing highlights sun-kissed summer skin.
In case you can't tell, I really love the look of all white and could wax and wane about its benefits for hours. However, it's a trend that I've avoided because, quite simply, I'm a klutz. I'm more of an all black, all the time kind of girl because I always spill coffee and food on myself, or rub against a subway pole after it's just been painted. All black clothing hides most stains, while all white outfits put your messiness on display. Although I know I'm an adult who should be capable of making it through the day without staining my clothes, it's not that easy.
Since I love the all white look so much, and because it's so hip this summer, I'd like to get over my fear of stains and looking goofy in order to give it a shot. I challenged myself to wear all white outfits for a week to see if I could make it work, and (spoiler alert) let me tell you that it was even more terrible than I thought it would be.
Day 1: The Pasta Incident
For my first day of all white, I wore my white Levi's cut-offs and an off-brand T-shirt that I bought on the street in Korea. It looked chic. I was comfortable. I even made it through the whole day without getting anything on myself.
Well, almost the whole day. I made spaghetti for dinner, and was very pleased that I was able to make the whole meal without staining my clothes. This was going to be easy. In a moment of hubris, I took a picture of my dinner and my clean white clothes. When I stood up from the table and started doing the dishes, I realized I had a huge red stain on my shirt despite my best efforts to keep myself and my clothes sauce-free.
This was going to be a longer week than I thought.
Day 2: The Sudden Thunderstorm
When I put on this all white outfit on Tuesday morning, I was feeling super fly. My Stan Smith Adidas were fresh. My white Gap T-shirt was brand new. My J.Crew boyfriend jeans were freshly bleached. It was going to be a great day for my white clothes, no pasta sauce involved. I even made it through my morning coffee without spilling a drop on myself.
And then it started pouring rain as I was riding my bike around Brooklyn. Nothing will make you regret your choice to wear all white quicker than a freak, heavy rainstorm that makes your jeans entirely see-through and sticky. I ripped them off the second I got home, changed into pajama pants, and didn't leave the house again.
Day 3: The Mysterious Coffee Stain
I don't know if you can see it, but there's a coffee stain on my white linen shirt. How did I get a coffee stain on my white linen shirt? Well, to be honest, I don't know. I woke up, put on an all white outfit, and went to my favorite coffee shop where I drank two cups of coffee and worked for two hours. I left the coffee shop, got on the subway to run a quick errand in Manhattan, came back to my apartment, and sat down at my desk only to see that somehow, somewhere along the way, I had acquired a coffee stain despite the fact that I did not remember spilling my coffee at any point this morning. And yet, here I was.
I took a Tide To-Go Pen and did my best to get that stain out, but to no avail. I was very glad when it was time to change into my PJs and go to sleep.
Day 4: The See-Through Dress
The other thing you quickly learn when you wear all white all of the time is that you need appropriately neutral underwear to go with it. I, however, primarily own black or neon pink underwear, which peeks through anything white... especially when you're wearing something that's a semi-sheer, clingy white number like this dress (which I actually wore to my college graduation and only got a little champagne on at the time).
Although I didn't get any stains, which felt like a huge victory given the previous few days, I wasn't totally comfortable. I don't love dresses to start, let alone dresses that cling to me. I also spent the whole day worried that everyone could see my lacy, neutral underwear through my skirt. (I don't think they could, but it was a real, imagined concern.)
Day 5: The Accidental Stew Fling
The fifth day was sunny and gorgeous, so I thought I'd try out the exact same outfit I had worn on the second day, without the threat of torrential rainstorm. Except, once again, my all white outfit wasn't safe. At a lunch meeting at Café Mogador in Brooklyn, the person sitting next to me accidentally flung a cooked tomato from his chicken stew onto my white jeans while wildly gesticulating with his fork, leaving me with some red dots on my right knee. I dabbed at the spots with my napkin, assured him it wasn't a big deal, and moved on with the lunch, but they were still there.
I didn't have time to run into the bathroom and do a more thorough clean up before I hopped on a train to Westchester County to house sit for my parents, and I was totally bummed about having my white pants dirtied by someone else. There was nothing to be done, though. At least I knew it wasn't my fault this time, and the stains were small enough that no one would've ever noticed.
Day 6: The No-Incident Incident
You know what feels super summery and luxurious? Sitting on your parents' back porch, looking out onto a bright green lawn, drinking iced coffee, and wearing all white. You know what feels even more luxurious? Making it through the afternoon without spilling your iced coffee on your all white outfit. This was the first day of the experiment that I actually felt totally comfortable and had no stains or spills or incidents.
Day 7: The Mismatched Whites
When I came down to get coffee on the last morning of my experiment, my little brother asked me, "Are you only wearing all white now?" I rarely have any qualms going braless while wearing tight shirts, but that's usually because my shirts are black and pretty opaque. With this halter top from Reformation, my nipples and bellybutton and tattoos were visible through the fabric, which made me feel pretty self conscious.
Also, the white of the halter top didn't perfect match the white of my jean cut-offs, because apparently, there are different shades of white. That definitely undermined the chicness of the all white look. This was a fine outfit, but I wouldn't wear it again.
So, Was The All White Look Worthwhile?
I loved the all white look and definitely stood out from the crowd, but I sort of went into this knowing I would. What I didn't know was how stressful wearing all white could be. I was constantly worried about spilling something on myself, or accidentally showing more skin than I wanted to be showing, and it was frustrating to have to change my day-to-day routine in order to keep my clothes clean. I still felt like a stain magnet, and no matter what changes I made, I was still getting dirt on me.
It was more work than it was worth, but I do think I'm more likely to pop on an all white outfit than I was before. Wearing all white is a great summer treat, but definitely not an everyday look in the same way wearing all black is. If you're going to wear all white, make sure you're not too precious about keeping your outfit all white because even if you're trying to being perfectly meticulous all of the time, accidents will happen. It's almost inevitable that you'll get a stain, so when that happens, don't freak out. It comes with the territory. If you're willing to roll with the stains as they come, you'll be able to make any all white outfit work for you. I'd just make sure you have a Tide To-Go pen always tucked away in your purse, and maybe invest in some bleach.
Images: Maxine Builder