Is it still summer? There’s a glimmer of sunshine peeking through today but for the last few days we’ve been deluged. The skies have been stormy and I’ve had the old fur blanket back on the bed.
I’m hopefully though, not least because I still need some summer days left to wear my white dresses!
This has been the summer of the little white dress. There has been enticing inspiration; the indulgent white linens and broderies worn in The Beguiled, the cool slouchy slogan T-dress or Burberry’s immaculate white shirt dresses? The LWD has been the look of the summer. At least it has been in the fashion magazines and Insta style feeds.
I’m not sure I’ve actually seen many people wearing them in real life. Admittedly a fraying vest top embellished with fag burns and covering up some bad tattoos is more the general style round my way, but even in the chicest London spots there I haven’t seen that many woman actually wearing any kind of LWD. I’m thinking this might be because, unlike its winter counterpart the LBD, the LWD is considered to be less flattering and, well, gets really dirty. I take issue with the first problem but undoubtedly, filth is the ultimate enemy of the little white dress.
A LWD on the tube? It’s greying within seconds. Out for dinner? Olive oil (or ketchup, if you’re my kind of gal) is bound to be dripped all over it by the end of the starter. A day at the office; ink. A trip to Cafe Nero; latte foam. An early evening cocktail; apink stain is no less a stain just because it’s come from a fancy rhubarb gimlet.
White dresses are simply not designed for real life. So for the chauffeured and preened super rich, an exquisite Zimmerman creation might be a reality but all those high street version may as well come with a ‘designed specifically for one night on your holiday (before the margarita goes all over it) and fantasy occasion’ tag.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful though and to be fair, I have managed to squeeze a few wears out the four I currently possess. They absolutely can be flattering and they can also be any style you fancy – Isabel Marant romantic, Halston sleek and sexy, Prada whimsical, Self-Portrait kitsch or Lisa Marie Fernandez beach chick. And like any item of clothing, if it fits properly, if the fabric is good quality and the tone is right (there are more differing tones of white than any other shade), then it is flattering.
White dresses have a history of course. White used to be the colour of deepest mourning. Although we now expect brides to be decked out in white, when poor old Mary Queen of Scots (who got a bum ride in every way imaginable) married for a second time in a white wedding dress she was criticised for being insensitive to her dead first husband.
Red, the colour of romance and passion was the most popular colour for wedding dresses until Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding. It’s likely she chose it simply because it was a prettiest dress rather than for any meaning associated with the shade. White wedding dresses then became extremely popular and a few years later a Victorian magazine, Godey’s Lady Book, opined that white was suitable because of it’s associations with virginity and purity. Really though, it wasn’t anything to do with that so if you’re a swinger with five kids, please feel free to marry in white. Your “purity” is not the point.
White is iconic – from Edwardian flounces to Ungaro’s silvery space age shift dresses to Marilyn’s white halter neck, they span the range from cool to sexy to whimsical. Be anything you want in a white dress. Just make sure you have plenty of Glow White to hand when you do the laundry. And flesh coloured underwear … another necessity so your pants aren’t on show.
All hail the LWD and every fantasy occasion you can wear it to.
Take a look at Lists of Glory The Most Iconic White dresses for more inspiration.