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With Varying Textures, It's OK If Everything's All White : Fabrics: Sheers, meshes, pointelles and crochets are key to keeping summer clothes from looking like nurses' uniforms.

July 14, 1994|From Associated Press

Bored with black, fed up with florals and don't mind mounds of laundry? Make room for summer whites.

Call white the new black, a tan's best friend--and a color that best reflects the heat.

"The first of all simple colors," according to Leonardo da Vinci.

Shades range from bright whites to pearlized tones, alabaster to vanilla. Besides the ubiquitous white shirts with sweeping tails, tank tops and jeans, there are blazers, pleated tennis skirts and skinny slip dresses.

"It's really difficult for me to come up with an item that we did not sell in white," says Phillip Monaghan, executive vice president of marketing for Express stores in Columbus, Ohio. "Be it a cardigan, T-shirt, skirt or shorts, it's in white. And with mules and stacked-heel shoes, white socks are a must."

What makes white work? Well, summer clothes are a cornucopia of textural interest, such as sheers, meshes, pointelles and crochets.

"With all the natural fabrics such as linens and nubby silks," Monaghan says, "white is the perfect color to show them off."

Adrienne Vittadini likes to do the white thing head-to-toe.

"White is a color that illuminates and shows texture very well," the designer says, "especially on piques and cords. That's because it's the purest form of color, very fresh and clean."

Among Vittadini's white-hot items with surface interest for summer are a hand-knit sweater dress, rag-stitch tank top, linen skirts and trousers and a linen Mandarin collar jacket.

"The real look right now if you're going to wear white is top to bottom," designer Randy Kemper says. "Put on an easy shirt in white over white trousers. I live in white jeans all summer."

White works because it's the ideal clean slate. "White clothes," he says, "are just like an empty canvas."

He advocates brown accessories and a faux tan.

"It's the quintessential summer look," he says, "about as good as you can get."

Designer Tom Platt says he likes white linen for day and white crepe for evening with a touch of silver or other subtle accent.

"One of the biggest problems is the danger of winding up with clothes that look like a nurse's uniform," he says. "As a designer, my solution is to combine a white dress with some silver trim or with a silver chiffon coat or shawl. Or we'll line white chiffon with three or four layers of pink organza. It creates frothy, light and happy clothing. It's upbeat."

Benny Lin, fashion director for Macy's East, also endorses white for evening.

"White is a color whose time has come, whether it's a tuxedo pantsuit or a crepe slip dress," Lin says. "It's a color story, a progression from naturals. Customers have bought a lot of naturals for spring, and now they're ready for white."

But don't wear it if you don't want to stand out.

"To the human eye, pure white comes forward and is perceived as a brilliant color," says Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J. "It has a coolness associated with ice and snow and things that glisten like stars. It's not a non-presence as far as clothing is concerned.

"You will be noticed."

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