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Help - I want to wear white but it’s so impractical

The question: Everyone is showing white this year: I see it in pants, shirts, jackets, even belts. I like white, but it's so impractical. It never stays clean and never looks the same once it leaves the store. What's a guy to do?

The answer: Here is the classic sartorial dilemma: fashion on one hand, personal taste on the other. One might define style this way: Fashion is what is available right now for you to choose from; style is what you choose of it. It's true that white for men has had a resurgence this season (as it has had in many seasons past, particularly in the late 19th century). It's also true that if you don't like it you don't have to wear it. The same goes for every trend.

I share your wariness of white clothes, particularly if there are too many of them on one body. A blazing all-white guy looks strangely childish – there's a suggestion of pyjamas – or, worse, clinical, like a technician in a sterile lab. White suits are almost always overly flamboyant in the northern hemisphere. But nothing is more elegant than a crisp white shirt – and white trousers, when paired with a darker jacket, are just flashy enough. Items that should never be white? Socks, belt, shoes. Yes, I said shoes.

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Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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