White Serveware is the most versatile item you can own for entertaining

I love white serving pieces big and small!

You heard me right. Though I can’t believe I’m making a fashion comparison. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m one of the least fashion forward people – my closet probably still has clothes from high school and I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothing for myself.

Which is why I used the little black dress as an analogy. My closet, pathetic and dated as it is, does have a few go to classic black dresses that I can dress up, dress down, accessorize, and I feel good in… and well you get the idea. Just like white dishes and serveware.

They all coordinate - can you tell which is Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, or IKEA?

They all can mix and match – can you tell which is Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, or IKEA?

Some may people think white serveware is boring, plain, uninspired, and just plain blah, just like black dresses. Well, in my world it’s just the opposite. It’s classic and it is the most versatile piece of serveware you can have in your kitchen arsenal. Like the little black dress, it can be dressed up, dressed down, accessorized, and food always looks good in it.

Confession time: I am obsessed with collecting white plates, bowls, cups, platters, and any other serveware, and constantly have to hold myself back from buying another piece when I see something I just have to have. I just took a brief inventory for the sake of this post and I’m ashamed to confess that I have over 100 white bowls/plates/cups/platters/condiment dishes/and other serveware.. for our family of 4. 


But hear me out! That count includes our everyday dishes, and most of the other dishes were gifts from our wedding almost 7 years ago. (I refused to register for “good” china that will never be used – instead I registered for useful things, like different types of white dishes/platters among other things, and I still remember who gave us each and every piece). Ryan has a huge extended family and my family comes up often and we like having impromptu get togethers, barbecues, birthday parties, and family dinners, and I refuse to use those ugly foil pans for serving… plus, I hate using paper plates if I can help it (which is why I have 20 – 50 cent IKEA plates).

White plates are my go to dishes for everyday use - and for family parties - which is why I have so many!

White plates are my go to dishes for everyday use – and for formal parties – which is why I have so many!

White serveware is classic and timeless. Many of my white dishes were purchased over 8 years ago and can still be found at the stores they were purchased from. They coordinate effortlessly and provide ease in entertaining. You can grab pretty much any bunch of white dishes and it will work with each other without having to over analyze if they clash.

White serveware will also always fit whatever the occasion is, from a casual barbecue to Thanksgiving dinner.

Turn a white bowl over....

Turn a white bowl over….

Lastly, white serveware is the perfect blank canvas for the food itself. But don’t just take my word for it. Ryan is a head chef at the largest casino in the area and if you ask him, or any professional chef for that matter what they prefer for food presentation, it will always be white dishes. Because then the food becomes the centerpiece. Colors always look bolder and brighter, steaks look juicier, and the list goes on. White serveware makes the food look good just like a black dress slims us down and makes us look good.

For example, I once went to the opening of a new restaurant in Old Sacramento and they served me salmon on a small (7″), textured, orange plate with a rustic drawing of a fish on it. My $20 salmon just looked sad. The smaller plate made the food look crowded, the texture and color resembled the salmon itself and not in a good way, and the drawing, well I don’t need a picture of what I’m eating. Bottom line, I don’t remember how the food tasted (and it could have tasted amazing!), I just remember it looked awful!

Place a platter/plate on top..

Place a platter/plate on top…

Plates and platters and other dishes are an investment. I don’t believe in having “everyday” serving dishes and “special” serving dishes only used for occasions. Having one set of stylish, yet classic, versatile serveware that can be used and enjoyed all the time, regardless of occasion, is the way to go if you’re in the market for new dishes. Furthermore, if budget and/or space are issues, I, personally, would rather not have to buy and find room to store 2 complete sets for different occasions. But again, that’s my take on things.

Just a quick note on versatility: With an overturned bowl, they can make a quick dessert pedestal, or take a few candles or simple glass cylinder vases to turn them into centerpieces. (I need to remember to write a post on that!)

And Voila!.. Instant Dessert Pedestal from White Dishes!

… tada! Instant Dessert Pedestal from White Dishes!

I’m not saying there’s no room for colorful dishes or hand-painted bowls, quite the contrary! I’m all for surrounding yourself with things you’re comfortable with and exude you sense of style. I’m just suggesting that it might not be a bad idea to have a few neutral, multi-use pieces in your collection.

Not all white dishes look the same! Some are modern with very straight sides , then there are white dishes with a subtle patterns and others that have fruits and leaves on the edge. You’ll find a white piece of serveware that speaks to you and then start there. See how often you use it and if you even like it. Then you can add more. (Just stop yourself before you become like me and have no more room to store them – so you end up having to display them in a shelving unit in your dining area… Which I think is still a great look even if you don’t have a lot of dishes!)

There's a white platter for every style.

There’s a white platter for every style.

White dishes can be found anywhere and everywhere and at a variety of price points. My favorite places to get them are Crate & Barrel, Target, IKEA and Bed Bath and Beyond, but I have also purchased them from Macy’s, Ross, Walmart, thrift stores and garage sales as well.

Hope this helps if you’re just starting out on your own and have no clue what to buy or even if you’ve been entertaining a while and want to find ways to streamline your own collection.

Do you have an entertaining serveware must-have?

2 Thoughts on “Why white dishes are like the little black dress

  1. Wildflower on April 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm said:

    I am going to take your advice and start my own white dish collection. I am curious about different shades of white? When I tried looking for some online, there was white, bone white, off white, warm white, and cream among others. I always thought white was white, lol!

    Almost every plate and bowl in my newer set of beautiful multi-colored dishes has little chips, and more than one has been lost to my hard granite countertop. I have some older, inexpensive, white plates with fruit edges I am tired of, and 20 years in, most are still intact. Is there a way to determine which ones will hold up to the test of time?

    Thanks so much!

    • Honestly, I have just stuck with just “white” plates and haven’t really paid any attention to the bone/off white/warm white/cream at all. Yes, there’s a very very slight variation at times depending on where they were purchased, but it hasn’t been noticeable.

      I too had hard granite countertops once upon a time and I know what you mean about dishes chipping. Honestly, the only plates that have any chips were the cheap ones from Ikea, but those are our everyday dishes and have been used thousands of times.

      I wish I knew how to tell the good quality ones from the bad ones myself! Generally I tend to lean towards plates that are glazed properly (thick, even glaze and the only areas left unglazed are the “feet”). I also store them with small pieces of newsprint in between them as I stack.

      I know you’ll love having a white dish collection – plus you can easily incorporate your beautiful multi-colored dishes in with them as well for pops of color and character!

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