By Alex

This outfit wasn’t as cool as it was in my head, although honestly I guess a pair of pants and a sweater can only go so far! While sweater belted over a wool skirt is my usual winter uniform, this winter it’s been sweaters tucked into warm pants.

ANYWAY. This outfit, and the one from earlier in the semester I included below, were crafted around the idea “Winter White.”  I tried to do a Google trends search to track this idea, but it was thwarted by the existence of a dwarf hamster breed that goes by that name! Pseudo scientifically though, the idea of Winter White [per se, this go ’round, as a compositional trend] seems to be about 3-5 years old. I should say that ‘winter white’ as a color name for off-white is much older.

So, what is Winter White? These two recent outfits from Instagram are perfect examples of the concept. (This is a conversation for another time, but not everyone who is using #winterwhite is using it according to the definition I’m going to give/the platonic ideal. Such is the way of paratext/metadata/mutable language.)

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Winter White = White in the winter

  • But more precisely:
    • a monochrome outfit
    • in mixed whites: where “white” = light grey to ivory to oatmeal
    • using winter silhouettes, fabrics, and textures
    • in actual winter(y) conditions
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(Yeah, I’m being a little prescriptivist about this, which generally I’m against but hey, what are definitions if not setting rules?) In the examples to the right, you see layered turtlenecks, furs, wool, knit hats, etc. Wearing a white sundress and nothing else…not so much.

So, why is this a thing? I think it’s a little bit of a snowy wonderland theme, but it’s mostly an FU to old fashion rules about seasonally appropriate colors, and in the face of the absolute impracticality of white(s) in winter given slush, salt, and splashing. Those things have so far prevented me, a midwest-dwelling-campus-trudger, from purchasing the skirt of my dreams, which is a below-the-knee ivory wool pencil skirt.

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I think I’m closer than ever to buying one, but in the absence of that skirt, or any ivory-ish bottoms, I generally extend the color scheme to camel, whether skirt or pants. Today I did this sweater, with its resident white sunglasses pin (isn’t it cheeky?! This has been my sister’s/mine since we were little), pants, and Bean Boots. I’ve also paired this sweater and boots with a white eyelet summer skirt and brown and white sweater tights–close texture shot to the right.

A few weeks ago, inspired by the costumes for the dance piece I was going to go see, by my friend and colleague Rachel Freeburg, I donned a day-to-night Winter White look that I could change quickly between teaching (the argyle sweater vest from Boys GAP c. 1995), and going to the show (that veil is my wedding veil! Which I sewed minutes before photos…). Who knew a cream tuxedo jacket could be so useful!?

See more, better pics of Rachel’s gorgeous bodybodybodybodybodybodybody here.

Teaching and then seeing a show Day-to-night outfit–minus sweater vest, plus veil.

A post shared by Alex Harlig (@readymadeal) on

Trend Worth Trying?

What do you guys think of Winter White? Does it warrant being a thing in your mind? Is it something you’d like to try out? Comment below and let us know, and if you do try it, tag us on Instagram @sartorialscholars or #sartorialscholarswinterwhite so we can see!