When to wear white … a not-so-simple guide


Cayla Won, The Horizon

When to wear white

Emily Wheeler, Staff Writer

While listening to Dr. Holly Beers’ stories about Jerusalem last week, a question caught my attention: “When do you wear white pants?” The class fell quiet. Beers continued, “Raise your hand if you think you’re only allowed to wear white pants in summer!” My hand shot up and so did my friend’s. Everyone else’s hands stayed down. When asked where we were from, we replied “New Jersey” and “Illinois.” 

Beers explained how, depending on which coast you’re from, you might have grown up believing the notion “You can only wear white between Memorial and Labor Day.” For me, that was the norm. I thought everyone grew up with their mom yelling, “What the heck are you wearing white for? It’s cold outside!” 

After experiencing this culture shock, I proceeded to do a little research. White reflects heat, making it perfect for wearing in bright, hot sun, while darker colors absorb heat, making them more suitable for colder weather. Scientifically, it makes sense that people from states with colder winters, like New Jersey and Illinois, learn to only wear white in the summer, but what about the social reasons?

Clothing has always been a way to represent class. You don’t need a fashion degree to tell the kind of money someone has if they’re carrying a Dior bag. In the late 1800s, only those who could afford to leave the city for vacation would wear white. Wearing white also divided those who didn’t have to work from those who did, since white fabric dirties easily. 

At Westmont, it’s usually easy to tell which coast someone is from. West Coast natives generally dress in looser jeans, dresses and shirts — think Free People — and maybe even sandals, Birkenstocks anyone?! East Coasters usually dress more professionally, wearing tighter jeans, darker colors and longer jackets. However, college also poses the opportunity to adopt new styles and brands to reflect one’s own changing taste, personality or attitude. 

Maybe I’ve spent too much time under the California sun, or maybe I want to get back at my mom for not letting me wear white, but I did walk around flashing my bright white jeans a few days ago. Did I tell almost everyone I passed that I was rebelling? Yes, I did. Did I tell my mom? Heck no! If I had, she would be on a plane right now. 

So, is wearing white okay in the winter? Well, in Santa Barbara, it feels pretty much the same all year round. 

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