White House Black Market started in 1985, in Baltimore, under the brand The White House, with an inventory of exclusively white clothing. In 1995, they launched a similar store called The Black Market, and by 1997, after the tremendous success of both concepts, they were converting all of their existing stores and opening new locations under the name White House Black Market.
As WHBM‘s were exploding across the country, I was graduating from high school and starting college. Who knew a store that only sold white and black clothing would be so necessary for that part of my life? From white sorority dresses to classic black pants for my first “real job,” shopping at WHBM made me feel like a real grown up.
Like so many stores from that era (Express, J.Crew, Banana Republic), they’ve gone through some phases, but eventually, their inventory caught up to their original customers.
Today, WHBM is owned by Chico’s, but its demographic skews much younger than its parent brand. So while I found so many must-haves in my early twenties, I am right back to being their target market at 41.
What do you need to know? WHBM is a size-inclusive retailer with missy, plus, and petite sizes. Their prices are moderate reflective of their better quality, so if you see something you love that’s in your budget, don’t wait for a sale, and they don’t give away their clothes with crazy promotions.
What to Buy at White House Black Market
In our What to Buy at series, I sort through a store’s new arrivals to pick the best of the best. For WHBM, I’ll be honest; I’m not a fan of their prints or accessories; you can find better options at other stores for so much less. But they also have many gorgeous pieces that look like they came right out of a small boutique instead of a national chain.
Below are my five top picks, including the pieces I bought for myself that you’ll see me feature as we head into early fall.
Tweed Studio Blazer
Tweed Studio Blazer, $180
All-Over Lace Inset Blouse
You will see delicate lace tops all over stores this fall. I picked this one because the lace pattern feels sophisticated, and I LOVE that it doesn’t have puffy sleeves! It’s the perfect thing to throw on with your favorite jeans for a casual event, like a back-to-school social or drinks with girlfriends.
Knit Woven Back Top, $89
I adore the back of this top so much that I put this in my cart the second I scrolled over it. While life is still really casual, now that we’re headed back to school, I want pieces that are comfortable yet polished. So I’ll wear this with skinny jeans (yes, I am still 100% wearing skinny jeans, thank you very much) and ankle boots.
Available in sizes XXS – XL.
Short Sleeve Button Tee
A tee-shirt that is ever so slightly updated always gets a thumbs up from me, in this case, and if there is a striped top option, consider it sold. You can wear this with anything, but I’m pairing it with my white jeans, throwing on a black blazer, and adding a pump for early fall. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but at least I have an outfit ready.
High-Rise Skinny Flare Jeans
Remember “trouser jeans”? Gosh, I LIVED in them. Before the rise of skinny jeans, trouser jeans were our going out on the town go-to’s. Now that we’re mixing up jean styles, I’m so happy to see these skinny flare jeans in midnight blue denim that feel both nostalgic and current.
You can wear them to the office, paired with a pretty blouse or fitting blazer, or keep it simple with a basic long sleeve tee and boots.
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Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail.
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