Take a look at the tastemakers of Pitti this year and one thing’s clear- the white jean is destined to be back with a bang this summer. For those of you who have ever considered this tricky hue before, you’re not alone. Worn right, they conjure stylish memories of Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, Ivy League types and that authentic sprezzatura look, all owning this warm weather staple. Get it wrong and you’re Simon Cowell in the sun or worse.
White jeans are not a fashion trend, they are a style staple. Have a look at Take Ivy – a 1965 fashion photography book which documents the attire of Ivy League students from the 1960s or images of Steve McQueen, particularly that iconic image of him practicing shooting from his bungalow in Palm Springs before filming. You’ll be instantly convinced. How do you wear them with success though? Read on.
- Slim Fit: opt for a slim fit for a flattering look. Excess fabric looks untidy, avoid bunching at the ankles but crucially, steer clear of skinny-fit, this never looks good. Likewise, anything too baggy through the thigh is an instant fail.
- Colour Block: white jeans look their best when contrasted with a bold coloured top, such as navy or black. If you’re feeling brave however, colour-matching can work – a grey sweater for instance can add a subtle colour-shift whilst avoiding that all-white peacock look.
- Stay Clean: it should go without saying that white denim must be kept thoroughly clean – like new in fact. Food and sitting-down stains can be particularly hazardous. It’s fine to wash your jeans after each wash – they shouldn’t fade like navy or black jeans.
- Length: we favour a traditional to-the-shoe length, which if not right from day one – fear not for your local tailor or seamstress will be able to quickly and easily rectify this. For those of you who prefer to roll-up your jeans this is acceptable, when worn with sneakers.
- Chest Out: don’t ruin your outfit with a less than a one hundred percent committed attitude. Stay strong in the knowledge that white jeans have been favoured by some of the world’s most popular style icons. As before, colour-block with something bolder up top if you’re new to white jeans.
There are a variety of ways to wear white jeans but our preference falls into three categories; the Italian Way, which combines white denim with a contrasting blue blazer and white shirt – omnipresent on the French Riviera or The Hamptons, east of Manhattan.
The Ivy League Look – often worn with penny loafers, an Oxford shirt and a collegiate sweater or more of an athletic weave, favoured by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman where they often colour-matched their white jeans with a similarly coloured top and beat up sneakers. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you’ll most likely wear white jeans during the warmer months so we’ve chosen easy to remove layers and lightweight breathable fabrics.
The Italian Way
SuitSupply Havana Navy Plain in a breathable blend of linen, silk and cotton, £349
Ermenegildo Zegna Cutaway-Collar Striped Slub Linen And Cotton-Blend Shirt, £255
Acne Studios North Slim-Fit Stretch-Denim Jeans, £200
The Original Car Shoe in in brown grained calf leather, £300
The Ivy League Look
John Smedley Sea Island Cotton Hatfield Sweater in black, £140
ARKET Button-Down Organic Cotton Oxford Shirt in grey, £45
Acne Studios Blå Konst North mid-rise slim-leg jeans in white, £200
G.H. Bass Weejuns Larson Leather Penny Loafers in black, £135
ARKET 170 GSM T-Shirt in white, £12
Dunhill Slim-Fit Stretch-Denim Jeans in white, £195
C.QP Beige Racquet Sneakers, €280
In conclusion, the only thing to say is refer back to our earlier point, ‘Chest Out’ – don’t ruin your outfit with a less than a one hundred percent committed attitude for the white jean has been favoured by some of the world’s most popular style icons. And for good reason, if worn correctly they looks exceptionally stylish.