Summer is drawing near.  I was so enjoying the spring weather today because in New York City I know that this mild weather just doesn’t last long enough.  Before I know it the city will be hot and sticky.  As the weather gets warmer and warmer, more and more white dresses will be in the stores.  They look so pretty on the hanger but just don’t rise to the occasion once we put them on.  How do you avoid looking so washed out, like a nurse or, worse, like a fat corpse?

White dresses on their own are usually pretty bland which can be frustrating because they are perfect for a super hot day.  Before you ditch the idea that you can own a white dress this summer, take a look at my tips on how to accessorize a white summer dress to make it more wearable and flattering.  And don’t forget, if a pure white dress is too stark, try a soft ivory or ecru style, just like I suggested in my blog post about how to wear a white blazer.

How to Accessorize a White Summer Dress

Below are five very different white dresses, from boho to chic and elegant.  Not all white dresses are the same and each need different accessories to look their best.  Check out the outfits below for some ideas.

Outfit #1

accessorize a white summer dress Using this white dress from Boden, I created this soft, chic look.  One of the biggest mistakes women make when wearing white dresses is they pair them with black accessories to ground the lightness of the white.  While this can work for some people, particularly those with very bold coloring, a softer approach will look much less stark if your personal coloring is softer.

In this outfit, I love the way the blush works with the white when I added these pumps from Ann Taylor, multi-strand pearl necklace from Max & Chloe, and soft pink pashmina from Nordstrom.  The outfit is complete with a bone colored wristlet from Foley.

Outfit #2

accessorize a white summer dress This ivory and cream dress from Reiss is heading to the office.  On its own it is likely too light and soft for work, but it does make a great column that any colored blazer or cardigan can be layered over.  Think of a white or ivory sheath dress as your summer little black dress.

Here, I used a coral blazer from Ivanka Trump and styled the outfit with a pair of nude pumps from Topshop, a pair of mint and coral earrings from Stella & Dot and handbag from Brahmin.

Outfit #3

accessorize a white summer dressEven though this easy dress from J. Crew is probably a nightmare for my body shape, I love the idea of lightweight style for the summer that feels like you are wearing nothing.  For the hot, humid weekends, does it get any better?

Cognac is the perfect accessory shade to add to a white dress.  Not only does it warm up the white but the color creates a much less stark combination than when paired with black.  In this outfit, I styled the dress with these cognac wedges from and finished the outfit with a yellow bib necklace from Modcloth, gold stacked bracelets from Bauble Bar, a fedora, printed tote from and denim jacket.

Outfit #4

accessorize a white summer dressNothing says boho like a long white maxi dress in the summer, especially a drapey one like this style from Mango.  To give this outfit that boho feel, I used these natural accessories by adding these flat sandals, fringe bag from Steve Madden, braided belt from Lauren Ralph Lauren, and leather wrap bracelet.  Finishing the look, I used a bohemian style scarf from Nordstrom and long gold earrings from Stella & Dot.

Outfit #5

accesorize a white summer dress This last white dress from French Connection is much cleaner and more modern than the previous ones and looks better with bolder accessories.  This cobalt bib from Bauble Bar not only works perfectly with the dress but also brings color near the face.  A real help if white washes you out.  Working with the colors in the necklace, I added these blue strappy shoes from Ted Baker, a mint bag from Marc Fisher and finished the outfit with a gold cluster bracelet.

If you are shopping for white dresses but feel a bit nervous about adding them to your wardrobe, remember you accessories.  Think of white dresses as a blank canvases that need some pops of color and interest to look flattering.

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