It's a natural for warm weather, and a neutral, but this season white seems a brighter choice than ever. White clothes are special clothes, not only because they take special attention and care, but because they make you feel special. And in a season when clothes cost so much, shouldn't one of the rewards of a few carefully chosen things be that they each lift your spirits a bit?

This time, for a change, the whites in the seasonal spotlight are real, spanking-clean whites rather than ivories, eggshells and ecrus. Dresses and blouses are etched in embroidery or lace to enhance their fragility. The crunchy-textured sweaters are handknit (or look that way). Suits take on shoulder shaping but not to an extreme. Pants are cut fuller and shorter than before. And when worn under the shorter jacket, the pants are buttoned to the side. Shorts, too, are cut with care. Imagine even a white coat rubberized so the rainspots fall away. CAPTION: Cover Picture, Dress whites highlight a very special way to look when the weather is warm: Her Giorgio Sant' Angelo lace camisole and blouse, touched with rhinestones and pearls, worn with white crepe trousers (not shown) from Elizabeth Arden. His white cotton and linen suit and cotton shirt from Giorgio Armani at Bloomingdale's. Photograph by Barbara Bersell.; Pictures 1 and 2, Far left, the crunchy-textured, shorter white sweater, clockwise starting with his from Calvin Klein (with cotton-knit sweat pants) at Saks Fifth Avenue, sweater at Neiman-Marcus, Hecht's; cotton guaze V-neck handknit by Adrienne Vittadini at I Magnin; Perry Ellis' cablestitch cotton handknit at Saks-Jandel. Left, the Chinese style cotton jumpsuit is from Bowman Trading at Ann Taylor (Georgetown) and Bloomingdale's (Tysons Corner). Capezio Ballet Makers slippers at Dance Time (Falls Church). Cotton faille camp shorts and linen mesh jersey by Pinky and Dianne for Private Label at Marie Claire later this month. Joan and David oxfords at Ann Taylor.; Pictures 3 through 6, Whites for every occasion with attention to details such as lace collars and trim: Ruffle-edged cotton "Dylan" dress at The Polo Shop by Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdale's, Capezio Ballet Makers shoes at Stein's Theatrical, pearl necklace from Saks Fifth Avenue, Frank Olive hat from Hecht's. Charlotte Ford's cotton eyelash dress from Garfinckel's, Rocca shoes from Bloomingdale's, gloves from Lord & Taylor. The white suit in ottoman with lace collar by Tom Nasarre for Billina at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nikki Young, Joan and David shoes from Taylor. Pants suit in linen shantung by Tahari, at Garfinckel's, Woodward & Lothrop and Ann Taylor; Two-piece dresses with a fragile look: Gloria Sachs' lace-etched linen blouse and skirt, cotton fishnet gloves from Saks Fifth Avenue, Frank Olive hat from Bloomingdale's and Hecht's; Giorgio Sant' Angelo's lace-embroidered set at Saks Fifth Avenue, Claudio Rocci shoes and Carson/Underwood hat from Bloomingdale's, Evan Picone point d'espirt pantyhose from Bloomies and Raleigh's. French angora sweater with linen skirt, both from Gloria Sachs at Lord & Taylor and I. Magnin (sweater only), Joan and David pumps at Ann Taylor. M & J Savitt jewelry at Diener-Jackman. His silk jersey shirt and silk muslin trousers by Pinky and Dianne for Private Label at The Designers (White Flint). Shoes from Ralph Lauren's Polo Shop.; Pictures 6 and 7, This season's dress whites capture the spotlight with their own special highlights of shine and shape that come from lacquered surfaces, starched fabrics, unexpected and sometimes exaggerated shapes. And to keep the spotlight focused, we've selected small, fragile pieces of jewelry that don't try to steal the limelight. Other accessories are the softest possible, right down to the toes to underscore the pale but positive look we think is the freshest. But some alternatives that offer a range of change are bright color accents or black, making these whites look different each time you wear them.

Designed for a grand entrance is this unique look in dress whites from Oscar de la Renta -- a leg-of-mutton-sleeved cotton organdy blouse worn here with a white skirt, soon at Saks Fifth Avenue (skirt in black). Perry Ellis's glazed organza jacket tops a linen camisole and white ottoman wide-leg pants, all at Saks-Jandel; Giorgio Armani's cotton trouser and cotton batiste shirt are at Garfinckel's and, from Don Sayres comes the silk-tiered, two-piece dress, available at Harriet Kassman. Photographed by Barbara Bersell