How to Style a Little White Dress This Summer

After long dark months of winter, most of us can’t wait to start breaking out our favorite spring pieces. From timeless classics that we wear year after year to those pieces you just got last month that you’ve been waiting for the right weather to wear, it’s exciting to start dressing for spring again. At long last, it’s time for shorts, tank tops and of course, the classic warm-weather staple — the little white dress.

If you don’t have a lot of experience with the little white dress, then you’re in the right place. Think of this dress as the younger sister of the little black dress. While the LBD is sophisticated, classy and perfect for evening wear, the LWD couldn’t be more different. This dress is light, cute and innocent. While it can work for evenings in the summer, it’s perhaps best known as a great day piece during warm weather. Whether you’re heading to work, a date or the mall, this dress can go anywhere.

Never styled a little white dress before? Don’t worry — it’s nothing to be intimidated about. These versatile dresses go with almost anything, thanks to their neutral color. With a little creativity and a bit of pizzazz, you can easily turn a plain white dress into something you love wearing.

How to Wear a Little White Dress

Wearing a little white dress isn’t hard, but the key is knowing how to style it. The good news is that these dresses are extremely versatile. Depending on how you dress them up or down, they can be appropriate for everything from the office to a baseball game. Here are our best tips for how to style your white dress this season.

1. Decide If Your Dress Is Dressy or Casual

Yes, any dress can be made to look fancy or more casual, but most dresses inherently lean one way or another, and it isn’t usually hard to tell which direction yours leans. Your biggest clue often comes in the dress’s shape. Is it well-tailored and fitted? Does it have a cinched waist? A collar? Does it fall in clean, crisp lines? If so, it’s probably a bit more on the dressy side. If, on the other hand, the dress is a bit looser, less tailored and falls more freely, it’ll probably be more casual.

Think of a crisp A-line dress with a belted waist. This dress can be made casual by the accessories it’s paired with, but it naturally looks a bit dressier. A t-shirt dress, however, will seem more at home at the park or a coffee shop, although it can also be dressed up with the right accessories.

Once you’ve decided the tone of your dress, let this lead the way as you choose accessories. A more dressy dress won’t need as much help to become work- or evening-appropriate, and vice versa.

2. Try a Pop of Color

The defining hallmark of a little white dress, unsurprisingly enough, is that it’s plain white. This is what gives the dress its simple beauty, but it also can mean that at times, the dress needs a little “something else.” Often, the something else that brings this dress to the next level is a little pop of color. This color can come in any form, from the shoes or a belt to a handbag or even a bright shade of lipstick. While this little bit of color can be tasteful and professional, it’s also a great way to liven up an outfit and make it a bit more casual.

3. Accessorize With Neutrals

Although a pop of color can add a bit of cheer and whimsy to your ensemble, sometimes neutrals can be the right choice. Try black pumps, a gray handbag or a tan jacket. Typically, these neutrals will have a professional effect on your ensemble, making it seem less girlish and innocent and more like office attire, making this a great shortcut to turning your little white dress into a business-casual outfit.

4. Add Some Layers

Layering is a great way to change up the look and feel of any article of clothing, including a little white dress. Not only can layering transform your dress into something that looks vastly different, but it can also be done in a variety of ways, leading to many different outfits all based around the same simple dress.

A few simple layering solutions include:

  • Add a pair of tights: Particularly in the early spring when it’s still just a bit too chilly to have bare legs under a dress, tights are the perfect way to stay a little warmer and add a fun twist to your dress. Choose plain black tights, or go for a flashy color or eye-catching pattern to mix things up.
  • Throw on a jacket: Jackets are perfect for transitional seasons of spring and fall, making a summery dress appropriate for chillier weather. They can also transform your dress entirely. Try a leather jacket to get an edgy vibe or perhaps an army jacket to go a bit more casual. Don't forget that a blazer, while not a jacket in the truest sense, is the perfect way to turn your dress into instant office-material.
  • Layer a shirt under the dress: Drastically alter the character of your dress by layering a shirt underneath it. This works best with dresses with straps rather than sleeves, and you can use anything from a light t-shirt to a collared button-down to do it. If the weather happens to be a bit chilly for a summer dress, it’s also a great way to stay a bit warmer as well.

5. Think About the Shoes

Shoes are one of your most versatile tools for setting the tone of an outfit. Are you headed to work? Throw on a pair of pumps. Out on a date? Try some wedges or strappy sandals. Headed to the park or a ball game? A pair of tennis shoes can make your outfit look delightfully casual and quirky. Base your shoes around the place you’re going and build the rest of your outfit around this concept.

6. Experiment With Accessories

Most of us have one or two types of accessories that are our go-to. Maybe you love pendant necklaces, or you always have a scarf at the ready. Or it could be that hats are your friend. But while we all have a small subset of accessories that we feel at home with, the truth is that there’s a whole world of possibilities out there. The more of these that you integrate into your wardrobe, the more combinations and ensembles you can come up with. So get to know these various accessories, and you’ll soon discover endless different ways to dress up a little white dress.

Just a few of the most common accessories you’ll want to add into your repertoire include:

  • Hats: Wide-brim floppy hats make white dresses perfect for the beach or a lazy summer day at the park. Baseball caps are perfect for catching a game or going on a picnic. Decide which types of hats you like wearing and try pairing these with your dress to change up your summertime looks.
  • Belts: Belts do more than just add something else to the same basic dress. A belt can transform the shape of a dress itself, adding structure to a more loose-fitting dress or, when removed, turn a more tailored piece into something more casual and free. Choose wide belts, thin belts, colored belts or neutral belts to truly mix up the tone of your dress.
  • Jewelry: Jewelry sounds like a simple category, but it contains so much depth that there’s room for hundreds of different looks just within this one type of accessory. Choose from pieces like statement necklaces, watches, bracelets, rings, hoop earrings and even toe rings. Everyone’s got their own unique style, and while you might discover toe rings don’t quite fit yours, you might just as easily fall in love with statement necklaces. Experiment with different types of jewelry until you find styles that you love to wear, and pair these with your white dress.
  • Scarves: Scarves come in all shapes and sizes. There are blanket scarves, big enough to wear as a shawl, small neck scarves designed to tie in a fashionable bow around the neck and everything that falls in between these two sizes. These scarves come in all colors, sizes and materials and can be a great way to add a bit of easy, breezy fun to your summer dress.
  • Hair accessories: Why not add a little dazzle to your hair as well? If you’re skipping out on the hat, why not try a headband wrap? Or maybe you could poke a flower into the side of your up-do? Little touches like this might be small, but they can do wonders for tying a whole outfit together and adding a little something special to an otherwise simple dress.

7. Style Your Hair

Sometimes, the secret isn’t about what to wear with a white dress. It’s about how you style your own natural features. Hair, for instance, has a major impact on the look of an outfit. A messy bun says, “I’m just running out for a few quick errands." A carefully styled up-do says, “I’m on my way to the office.” Long, loose waves might say, “I’m meeting someone special for dinner,” and a quick ponytail could say, “I’m heading to the mall to meet some friends.”

In addition to styling your hair to fit the occasion, you can also wear your hair in different ways to suit the dress you’re wearing. The secret to matching a hairstyle to a dress comes from paying attention to the dress’s neckline. If the dress has a collar or any type of high neckline, try a styled bun or up-do. If the dress features thin straps or exposed shoulders and arms, on the other hand, you might try wearing your hair loose.

8. Think About the Makeup

Makeup is a great way to subtly — or sometimes not subtly — complement your outfit. If you’re headed to work, you might keep things neutral and classic, with a pop of color in the lipstick. If you’re headed out in the evening, you might amp up the drama a little bit. Either way, think of your makeup as one more accessory you can use to change up the feel of your little white dress.

How to Dress up a Little White Dress

Starting to get some ideas of the ways you can rock your very own little white dress? With all the possibilities we’ve mentioned, the options are limitless. In case you need just a bit more inspiration, however, check out this example of how to put it all together. This Anastasia Dress is the perfect example of a little white dress. With the right styling, this could be a gorgeous piece to pop on for a party, a date or just a casual summer day out and about with some friends.

If you’re headed to a party or other event that requires a certain amount of dressiness, this dress can easily fit the mold. Try wearing your hair up in an elegant design, and add a statement necklace with a bold color in it to bring a small touch of color to the white of the dress. Finish up the ensemble with a pair of beige or tan wedges, and you’ll be ready to go.

If you’re heading out on a date night, try re-styling the dress by letting your hair hang loose. Choose a pair of high heels in an exciting color, and add a fun color to your lips as well. Add a belt to the dress and throw on a stylish leather jacket and no one will ever know this is the same dress you wore to that party last week.

Finally, if you’re headed out for a casual afternoon of shopping and sight-seeing, why not add a wide-brimmed sun hat to change up your ensemble? Try tying your hair into a braid, add a bracelet and grab some flats or sandals as you head out to hit the town with some friends.

Shop Summer Dresses at My Sister’s Closet

If you’ve got a little white dress that’s been hiding in the back of your closet because you weren’t sure how to style it, then now’s the perfect time to pull it out and start figuring out how to wear it. Don’t have a white dress to experiment with? Then head to My Sister’s Closet online boutique and start shopping for the perfect dress for you!

Here at My Sister’s Closet, we specialize in clothes that are stylish, comfortable and that you’ll love wearing, all at prices that won’t put a hole in your budget. Dresses aren’t the only thing we sell either, and you can also explore our collections of shirts, jeans, basics and even outerwear. Ready to get started building your little white dress outfits? Then browse our selection of dresses today and find the perfect dress for you. Don’t forget to browse our accessories collection as well for the finishing touches.