Let’s talk about something new this week: denim. Specifically white denim; often referred to as white jeans. Perhaps surprisingly, I am a big fan of white jeans and wear with moderate frequency. Although oddly, I do not wear blue jeans, and probably never will; it is just a personal preference, they aren’t my style. So for today, let’s stick to white jeans. We’ll talk a little bit about the history of denim as well as tips on how to wear white jeans for men and finally I’ll show a few different looks showcasing them. Consider this article a white jeans guide for men, of sorts.
Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of wearing white jeans, but since I started they have been a great addition to my wardrobe. They add a different cut of pant as well as a different texture to things, both of which, when used well, can greatly help a man’s personal style.
For those that would prefer to watch a video on the subject instead of read about it, please check out the video I put together (and subscribe to the YouTube channel!). The video is probably better than this writing anyway.
Blue jeans are perhaps the most prevalent item of clothing in the world. Created in America by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1871, the design was patented in 1873 and denim fabric comes from a prior time from Nimes, France. As with many notable inventions, denim was developed somewhat in error, as the French were trying to recreate a cotton weave from a fabric from Genoa, Italy. Apparently they did not recreate the Italian fabric, but instead ended up with denim. Their results could’ve been worse.
Before delving into some best practices for wearing white jeans, I want to first discuss the seasonality of white jeans. In the United States, historically, it was only correct to wear white jeans (or any white trouser) between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Which was an admirable and traditional rule, however, it may be a bit dated. As traditional as I can sometimes be, I do not even follow it; especially when I am in the southern and warmer parts of the country. That said, I think it is okay to wear white jeans in the fall and winter, just make sure you create a look that works with the season and weather. If you have ever heard the phrase ‘winter white’, that is what I am referring to. When done well, the look can be nearly unbeatable, but when done poorly, underwhelming would be a generous assessment.
I’d like to share a few best practices on the topic of how to wear white jeans. Although the list is not exhaustive, it is a great start and covers all of the major talking points.
Confidence – You need to look and feel comfortable in white jeans. White is not a slimming color and typically stands out; be aware of these facts.
Fit is key – As with pretty much everything you wear, make sure the jeans fit. Of all jeans, white denim ones should not fit like dad jeans, ever. If you find a pair that fits great in the waist, seat and thighs but around the calves and ankles they are loose; take them to a tailor to have them tapered.
Wear light color underwear – Dark colored underwear may show through the pants, be mindful of that and avoid dark colored underwear. Many jeans have a heavy enough weave that underwear will not show through, but, better safe than sorry.
White jeans get dirty – All you have to do is look at them and they get dirty. It’s part of the price of doing business. Make sure you clean them properly, no need to dry clean them, wash with other whites (avoid bleach) and hang dry.
Formality – I am of the belief that white jeans are more formal, especially in a social setting. If you are the type of guy who wears ripped jeans, that automatically downgrades the formality of the jeans. On that matter, don’t wear ripped jeans, leave that to the ladies.
Wear color – White goes with every color, don’t be afraid to pair them with bright colors in your shirts, shoes, jackets etc
For each of the following seven looks I used the same pair of Ralph Lauren white jeans in order to show the range of ensembles you can create with white jeans, even if you only have one pair. There are a number of other purveyors of white jeans like Levis and 7 For All Mankind, to name a few.
Navy v-neck – Pair your white jeans with a simple v-neck, it’s a great starter look. I opted for navy but you could go for almost any color. One thing I like to do with white jeans (and really most trousers), is to frame them in color. So we have a navy shirt up top and navy shoes, from Jay Butler, down below.
Grey polo – A polo shirts ups the formality a step or two over the v-neck. Again, almost any color polo could be work. I paired grey shoes, from M. Gemi, to match the shirt. Sunglasses and watch in silver color to tie in with the grey. A look like this could see a man through an extremely wide array of situations like a date, day on the town, or a casual cocktail party.
Flag sweater – Yes, this look is absurdly preppy. Sometimes you just have to go all out. A good look on its own, a collared shirt beneath the sweater would be a nice addition. The sweater is from Ralph Lauren, the shoes from Jay Butler.
Navy sports jacket – there is no reason you cannot dress up white jeans. The most classic option would be a navy sports coat or blazer, like you see here. I added some Paul Evans dress shoes for formality and a pink OCBD for color. A look like this could be ideal for a soiree or cocktail party.
Brown shirt and olive shirt jacket – For my complexion I love white, olive and brown together; great earthy tones. The colors may lead some to put this ensemble more toward fall, but it also works well during the summer; especially on cooler nights when a light jacket would be needed. The jacket is surplus from the Canadian military and the shoes are Belgian shoes.
Rust and blue Price of Wales check jacket – The textures of white denim and tweed go so well together. Throw in a silk knit tie and olive suede shoes from Jay Butler and the look is complete. Definitely a more formal fall and winter look, this would be great for a nice dinner out, cocktail party or for work if appropriate for your workplace. The tweed is from W. Bill and jacket tailored by MyTailor.
Capybara moto jacket – Perhaps my favorite look of the lot and again a fall/winter look. With this look I wanted to mix formalities and textures. The dressier Adelaide shoes from Beckett Simonon (review) ground the ensemble well while up top we have a navy turtleneck over a blue oxford cloth shirt with the collar turned up. On top of both of those we have a brown Capybara moto jacket that is one of my favorite articles of clothing I own. I don’t wear it much, but when I do, it always takes center stage.
By now the point should have been made and supported that white jeans are both a flexible and powerful addition to a man’s wardrobe. Not just for the summer, white jeans can be worn equally well in the fall and winter. We’ve discussed how guys can wear white jeans and gone through some solid looks. But don’t be limited by what you saw here, feel free to try some other looks. If you want to share your own experience with white jeans or ask any questions, please hit the comments section. Thanks for reading.