Sartorial Love/Hate: White Jeans


“Eurgh!” the women bleated, contorting their faces as though in receipt of an unpleasant smell “White jeans on a man? Awful!” Being a man who wears, and enjoys wearing, white jeans I was rather put out. Never a man to back down from a conflict I asked why, in the wonderful but also rather terrible world in which we live, men in white jeans should be the subject of especial disgust. White being an increasingly common tone for attire, particularly in the spring and summer months, I was curious as to the distaste for white denim. Was it the case, I asked, that women in white denim caused similar feelings of revulsion? Apparently not. It was not, they meandered, “…something about them getting dirty” it was that men belonged in dark trousers; “If a male friend of mine tries on a pair of white jeans, I reject them immediately.”

White trousers have also been the subject of debate on my own blog where some have commented that I should not wear them in winter or, irrelevantly, “before Labor day.” Firstly, a bright, rainless winter’s day is a perfect opportunity to wear white trousers or denim and secondly, not being an American, ‘Labor Day’ is about as important to me as the breakfast of the tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What I am interested in is style and, believe it or not, I happen to think that white trousers and yes, white denim, are handsome, striking and if worn correctly, flattering. White reflects heat and light which is why it is used so enthusiastically in the warmer periods, making it a sensible choice too.

The problem my companions had with jeans was unfathomable but I could only conclude that they had not seen them worn properly. Unlike classic indigo jeans, I believe white denim should be worn in a fitted style – baggy legs, baggy seat and excessive length are bad enough attributes without adding the eyecatching brightness of white. The second problem is that men, generally, wear jeans in a very casual context – T-shirts, trainers, hoodies etc. Again, adding such items to an ensemble is counterproductive; trainers in particular make almost any outfit look repulsive. White is a colour of respectability and nobility. Clean white cloth was one of the clear differences between a gentleman and the rest. It has always been worn by the wealthiest patrons of male fashion who, particularly in the early twentieth century, paired their white trousers with blazers and buck shoes.

Jeans are certainly more contemporary but that does not mean they will look wrong in such a context; a smart navy blue linen jacket worn with a sky blue shirt, rolled-up white jeans and brown driving shoes is a practical and stylish look for a warm day – a look utterly ubiquitous at Pitti Uomo.


  1. Derrik Ollar said:

    There is one more point I feel should be made about the case for not wearing white jeans. I am endowed with very muscular legs, and wearing white jeans can tend to make me look out of balance as they visually magnify my leg size even more.

    April 28, 2010
  2. Adam L. said:

    That’s the argument I heard, too – that they magnify size, or “make your butt look big.” It’s something to be watchful for dependent on your body type, but it can turn out well if worn trim, as you said. I went out and snatched a pair up after seeing the way Daniel Craig pulled them off in Quantum of Solace and it does look great with dark colors up top, whether a jacket or just a navy polo.

    April 29, 2010
  3. Harry said:

    I like white jeans! To some, they smack of Wham 80’s culture, but when worn with a good, not too smart shirt and a casual odd jacket (I am thinking navy, but not a classic blazer) the effect can be preppy. Maybe suede shoes or deck shoes – and a pocket square. As an aside: I recently saw a Polo match being played, and the most distinguished players had white jeans for the game, and they made a dashing sight, in and out of the saddle, esp. for the decadent soiling of their trousers in the (invariably) muddy game. Sheer class!

    April 29, 2010
  4. TintinATL said:

    WHite jeans are awesome and, as others have commented, can be fresh and preppy. However, in the shot above, I think the effect is undone by the rest of the outfit: too match-matchy. The shirt and sweater are too similar and the white shoes kill the jeans. The PS just emphasizes the shirt/sweater thing.

    Overall, the effect reminds me of a pierrot (your stance isn’t helping either).

    In the photo on the right, there’s more variety and more contrast. The shoes are distinct from the jeans. The shirt and jacket are still rather close – I’d rather see a navy gingham, for example. But even with these quibbles, the overall effect on the right is, well, I hate to say it… just more butch.

    May 1, 2010

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