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Wearing white after Labor Day is not an offense punishable by jail time, but some etiquette gurus consider it a huge fashion faux pas. Unless your white shoes are ski boots, suede boots or athletic wear, save them for summertime fun. Keep in mind that white shoes can be a tricky fashion accessory any time of year.
White shoes are often strappy sandals or mules that don't provide much warmth or protection from the elements. Winter clothes tend to be darker in color – browns, maroons, blacks and reds – which don't go so well with white shoes. White shoes may soil easily in winter months when icy streets and slushy sidewalks can cause scuffs and stains.
Breaking the Rule
The rule to not wear white in winter months is broken, fashionably, by celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Mischa Barton. Even your girl-next-door can wear white pants, skirts, sweaters and even dresses in December and January, with the right accessories. These clothes are usually “winter” white rather than “lily” white, so they go well with your untanned complexion and winter darks. If you're brave enough to don a white dress in the midst of a snow storm, you're best off finding one that offers coverage and heavier fabric. Adding white shoes to your dress might make you look like you're headed to the beach – instead, pair it with dark tights and shoes to make it more seasonally appropriate.
If you're headed to the gym, no need to seek out dark-colored sneakers. Your white athletic shoes are always functional. White ski or snow boots also have a place in winter settings, but not on the city streets or in your office. If you invest in a pair of winter white suede boots, be prepared to turn some heads. Pair them with nude-colored opaque tights – preferably not lily white unless you want to look like a surgical nurse – and a sweater dress or tailored trousers in a similar off-white hue.
White shoes, especially the strappy variety, look silly with panty hose – which is another reason they're reserved primarily for the summer season. Chunky patent white pumps can become a fashion "don’t" quickly, unless you have the flair and know-how to pull them off. You might leave these bold statements to the stars on the red carpet or the models on the runway, or risk looking like more of a fashion failure than a trendsetter. If you have any doubt about your white shoes, go for nude colors instead.