Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Jul 6, 2022
83° F Dallas, TX


White-on-white is as cool as it gets

After most of a decade spent seeking out and writing about good design, it occurs to me that my favorite rooms, my favorite things, are white. It started out that way.

Achieving puberty during the Sixties’ splash of acid green and clockwork orange, I thought of myself as inscrutable, endured day-glo mylar wallpaper, and played the virtuous vamp in white minis and Courreges boots. Inevitably, my first design crush was the Bauhaus. I dreamt of life spent poised on something white and Meisian against cool white walls. Refreshed by a flacon of white wine, I hummed messages from “The White Album.”

Since then, I’ve flirted briefly with gray, spent considerable cash on cream, and confess to wintering in basic black. And though I’ve enjoyed writing about, wearing, and occasionally living with color, patterning, and even a floral or two, I am most comfortable as a person of non-color.

I’m in good company. Though his home furnishings collection is famous for its rich palate and elegant print mix, Ralph Lauren prefers life in a world of white. His favorite casual attire is weathered blue denims and a crisp white cotton shirt. His Manhattan apartment and his Caribbean beach manse are studies in whiteness that he calls “coming home to a feeling of simplicity and peace.”

Diane Keaton hides in a white-on-white aerie above Central Park with white cats. Bruce Willis loves white cars, David Byrne and Yohji Yamamoto think white shirts are cool, and the president lives in a White House. White might be ubiquitous.

White is a serene backdrop and a statement in silhouette. White points up a good design concept in a room or in a wardrobe, and speaks of purity, freshness, and unaffected style. Fashion seasons come and go, but white linen, winter while cashmere, and a good white shirt remain. Interior design fools us with faux and finds chintz charming, but a great white room welcomes you again and again.

White is an emotional rescue, a visual king’s-X.

White is simple and complex. Ask a seasoned professional painter, someone likely to pause and grimace in memory of youth spent in search of the perfect white for walls and wainscoting. For although white seems to be the ultimate non-color, it is the color of radiant or reflected light, containing all the visible rays of the spectrum. It changes with the sun, absorbs and is enhanced by neighboring tints, and ages slowly with amazing grace.

White clothing speaks of serenity and simple, eloquent composition: vestal virgins were not fashion victims. A white room invites peaceful self-expression: heaven is white. But bother the reasoning; to me, white simply feels right.

Whites worth cultivating this summer:

White asparagus

White roses

White linen boxer shorts (for him at La Lingerie, eyelet ones for her at Ann Taylor)

White BMW convertible

White “Bauhaus” pottery from Crate & Barrel

White-stemmed champagne flutes from Gump’s

White damask linens at table

White flatware from Vertu

White ceramic tile

White linen suiting by Calvin Klein at Saks Fifth Avenue

White peach Bellinis

White Hermes leather

Whiteness at Baby Routh

White cotton and linen dresses at Lord & Taylor

White silk T-shirts

The White Hole! by D.M. Thomas

White By Design White beeswax candles and fat white towels at Arresta