There are a few things it’s important to get straight about wearing head-to-toe white in winter. First, it probably won’t be white, it’s much more likely to be ecru (pale cream), or some combination of off white and cream.
The trouser suit Adele wore for her Oprah interview was definitely white (Oprah’s was off white and beige), but that was the showbiz event of the year, filmed under cloudless skies in sunny California. Normals are not expected to dress brightly in Persil White December.
Secondly, you don’t have to be rich to wear cream. Yes you’re going to have to take more care where you sit on the bus, avoid the dog when it’s been in the river, take it off if you’re gardening, but all of this is perfectly doable.
The point about white in winter is it looks luxurious and expensive — that’s part of the appeal — but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. It would be a terrible dirt-attractant, which is what we are afraid. How could they do it in the navy?
Shane Watson offers advice on how to embrace the head-to-toe trend of white at all occasions. Rita Ora
Thirdly — and this is the key — wearing one colour, or shades of one colour, is the easiest way to look instantly more pulled together. So, if you factor in the luxury points you score with white, you’re looking at a foolproof shortcut to uptown girl polish. Just make sure you stay the right side of white and don’t stray into buttery cream territory.
Are you still not convinced? You’re right. It’s okay.
To reap the rewards of winter white, you really need to double up, but a white polo neck sweater, even under a dark coat is an instant look freshener, and it’s shaping up to be the clever buy this winter.
Look around a smart restaurant and count the cream polo necks (I guarantee at least three) and it’s perfect for the office, with a skirt or under a trouser suit jacket.
Shane said wearing one colour, or shades of one colour, is the easiest way to look instantly more pulled together. Left: Victoria Beckham. Right: Millie Bobby Brown
Shane said make sure you stay the right side of white and don’t stray into buttery cream territory. Pictured: Nicole Kidman
Shiv Roy (heir apparent of the media dynasty Sky Atlantic series Succession) and the most intelligent businesswoman on television, wears a cream polos neck. A slim-fit one can be worn under a navy pinstripe shirt or one that is looser fitted over caramel trousers. (She has a short-sleeved one she wears for no-jacket days, but we’re not recommending that.)
The ecru sweater is officially now in a smart casual category on its own — you can wear it out in the evening with silk velvet trousers and the Shiv addition of a gold chain with a drop pearl and matching earrings — but it has to be a roll neck. We’re looking for a creamy clean effect right up to the chin, no interruptions, and no cable knits.
For the relaxed no-jacket-required look, try Cos’s off-white cashmere turtleneck (£145, cosstores.com).
Otherwise Uniqlo does an off-white cashmere turtleneck (£79.90, uniqlo.com) or one in lambswool (£29.90) and Zara has a skinny one for wearing underneath tailoring (£19.99, zara.com) as does Cos (£45).
A white coat is next on our list of easiest to wear.
It sounds daunting but it is not. If you opt for a woolly textured style, instead of the ice-rink look. Cos does a faux shearling off-white coat that fits the bill (£225) and Zara has a one-button ecru coat, slightly fluffy textured with raw hems (£79.99), that looks expensive, especially when worn with you know what underneath. Otherwise Zara does a lace- meets-macrame textured round collared coat (£159), which is more of a statement.
Shane said people get hung up on what to wear on their feet with white, but black or brown works perfectly well — white shoes or boots would be overkill. Pictured: Ashley Graham
Then — and who knows it might be spring before you get around to this, if you do at all — you can add your white jeans. If possible, go for the same brand as your usual style with a raw cut hem.
People get hung up on what to wear on their feet with white, but black or brown works perfectly well — white shoes or boots would be overkill. Sling on a big cream scarf to show you mean business (£24.99, hm.com) or a regular size one (£35, monsoon.co.uk) and you’re good to go.
There are much smarter ways to wear winter white — a dress with a coat, say, or the Victoria Beckham look of a crisp white tailored shirt with wide cream trousers — but I prefer to stick in the more relaxed camp.
I find a lot more tailored off-white begins to be too First Lady on Tour chic and summery. There is plenty of time to do that.