Forget oranges and reds, the in vogue colour this autumn is white – and there’s a reason the likes of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are leading the trend.
‘It was already considered the reserve of the very rich, given how readily it shows dirt and how rare decent laundry facilities were,’ says designer and dressmaker Holly Winter. ‘You know someone in a white suit isn’t about to get down to some heavy manual labour.’
Just this week, the Princess of Wales opted for a barely beige matching skirt and jumper combo for a visit to Nottingham Trent, after previously wearing an all-white Alexander McQueen suit to chat with the England Rugby Team in September.
Adding her own take to the look, Meghan Markle opted for an all-white off-the-shoulder top and trousers ‘fit to a summit in New York on Tuesday. Because nothing says wealth like donning white to a capital city or dirty rugby ground.
In a year where neutrals and tailoring have been popular with the masses, A Listers have to take things one step further to stand out from the crowd.
Forget ‘quiet luxury’, this is unapologetic ‘loud luxury’. But apparently, the royal obsession with white in steeped in history.
‘In the UK, we only started wearing white wedding dresses after Queen Victoria chose the colour for her own nuptials, which was pretty mold-breaking at the time,’ says Holly.
‘She was the first British monarch whose wedding was photographed and could be shared around the world.
‘As photography became more available to the masses, women quickly discovered that dress details such as lace were easier to see in sepia photographs on white dresses.
‘The Queen usually dressed publicly in a single, often bright, colour so that she would be easy to see in a crowd. And what’s brighter than white? So it actually can be a practical colour to wear.’
That would certainly make a lot of sense, given the royals get dressed for every public appearance knowing they’ll be in hundreds if not thousands of photographs by the end of the day.
Further to the fact that white used to be a colour for the non-manual-labour-reliant rich, Holly adds: ‘White has to be kept pristine as there’s no concealing a drip from a mug of tea or rub of make-up on a collar (the wise carry baby wipes for emergency spot-cleans and white chalk for quick cover-ups).
‘It has to look squeaky clean, and screams “no-dirt-on-me” innocent. You can read what you like into whether the wearers are trying to signal this.’
Holly also muses whether there could also be a certain ‘vulnerability’ to wearing the colour white, thus inviting trust.
‘You know how tempting it is to jump in a fresh blanket of pristine virgin snow,’ she explains, ‘so wearing it can say, “I’m trusting you not to wreck this for me; you in turn can trust me.”
‘There’s also the suggestion of look but don’t touch.’
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