The Return of the Woman in White

Several weeks ago, I declared white dresses to be the essence of summer. No one expressly contradicted me (your silence, as always, was taken as tacit agreement), so here I am, back with another white dress.

White dresses come in many fabrics and styles; my preference is for linen and cotton ones that can withstand vigorous laundering because some effort is required to keep whites white during the season of frozen custard (chocolate, of course), barbecue sauce, and sunscreen.

This tiered dress is linen. Tier upon tier of linen, which I put in the hands of the drycleaner for pressing.

Ruffled dress
If anyone has just cause to challenge the quintessential summeriness of white dresses, speak now or forever hold your peace

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Directrice, have you lost your mind? You can’t wear that strappy dress to work!”

Don’t you know me at all?
I have a plan.

with jacket
It’s not just a plan; it’s a formula

Tidy myself
I want you to think about that while I tidy my hair
Sundress + smart little jacket = polished casual outfit; works every time
Sundress + smart little jacket = polished casual outfit; works every time

If you were going to take me to task about anything, it should be my shoes, which are totally not suitable for work. But on a mid-summer Friday in Washington D.C., no one cares.

If my necklace piqued your interest above, come closer for a better look. This necklace is by Daphne Olive, a D.C. designer whose work is sold at Tabletop on Dupont Circle. She works in precious metals, enameled metals, and wood. I think the material (wood) and shape (zinnia) provide just the right embellishment for a natural linen dress and the earth tones of my jacket and shoes.

You know how the humans gravitate toward romantic partners and pets that resemble themselves? I think the same is true of our floral preferences; I love compact, round flowers like zinnias, peonies, and hydrangeas

I am carrying my pale pink bag, for a little contrast, but camel, bottle green or dark brown would work equally well.
You may never see me sporting (simultaneously) pink and green again, so savor the moment

If you are looking for a white dress, I made some suggestions in The Woman in White. If you are looking for a safari-style jacket, I’ve made some recommendations in Spring Is Bustin’ Out All Over. Pay attention to the sleeves on the Brema jackets; you’ll want one of the styles that doesn’t have the Brema name stitched on the sleeves. Personally, I would like to see JCrew re-issue my jacket, in Petite and Regular sizing; if you feel the same way, please send JCrew an email ( and include a picture of the jacket!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Dress: JCrew; Jacket: JCrew; Shoes: Timberland; Bag: Tory Burch Small York Buckle Tote in Pale Oak; Necklace: Daphne Olive; Sunglasses: Illesteva Marco in Blond/Light Tortoise

6 thoughts on “The Return of the Woman in White”

  1. I also wear a lot white in the summer, but don’t own a single white dress. I’m going to go back and peruse the links that you posted earlier! As an aside, I just came back from a 4 night work trip and all my outfits were organized around white bottoms. Before I set off, I wondered if traveling with white was a huge mistake, but it worked out.

  2. You’re so right about cool airiness of a white dress for summer. Since your last post, I’ve been looking for a white dress and haven’t found one that “speaks” to me. Shift dresses make me look like a ship under sail; sheath dresses look too formal. I need structure but not too much, and crave a lightweight fabric. I’ll find that dress eventually, though maybe not this year. Until then, I was inspired by your use of jackets to dig a cobalt jacket out of my closet and give it new life over a white dress with blue stripes. That actually worked and I felt quite pleased with myself.

  3. Your combination works quite well. White dresses have ever been my nemesis but perhaps another look is needed. Love your pinkish handbag. Kate

  4. I am suspicious of white in general.

    Of course it’s summery, and YOU look like you will float through the day in that outfit, but for me, it’s a pain in the proverbial.

    I wear lashings of sunscreen, plus I have lashings of children – these two things conspire against the floaty white. I have one crisp white frock that ends up looking like a stained, limp pillowcase after an hour of wearing. My natty white jeans have sticky jam and ketchup handprints on them within minutes, and even if I’m working that day (i.e. sans kids), I can never truly relax in case I spill coffee on myself, or sit on something in a cafe seat or on the train.

  5. Have to tell you: I saw this post in my feed a couple weeks ago and it inspired me to combine a white eyelet dress with a khaki jacket, both of which have been in my closet forever but I had never thought to put together .I’m wearing the ensemble today, with brown leather sandals and watch and absolutely love how it came together. Thanks for the inspiration!


Leave a Comment