How to keep white jeans white
Because if you’d wanted grey jeans, you would have bought them
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There’s something freeing about wearing paler colours when the sun shines. Which is why white jeans and long days go hand in hand. That they look good is a style fact (trust us) but that doesn’t mean they’re universally loved. In fact, as far as wardrobe choices go, white denim can be pretty polarising; for all those who love it, at least as many wouldn’t be seen dead in the stuff. If that sounds like you, then let us make the case that they’re not a pale imitation of your dark blue favourites.
“White jeans are summery and effortless and when they’re done right they make you stand out in the best way,” says Thread stylist Alexander McCalla. “The bright light works well with bright denim, but to be honest, I like them whenever. They’re a really nice break from the usual indigo or black and are nice to have in the mix.”
Unlike black or even dark blue jeans, which can tone down your look, white jeans punch up your style, not only brightening your outfit but lifting any other colours you put them with. Think of them as the sartorial equivalent of a cold shower – a refreshing wake-up call for your look. “White jeans straddle the line between trend and timeless,” says Alexander. They’re also more versatile than you might think.
“Worn one way, you can look like a rockstar. Another way, you look like you’re stepping off a yacht. They add some instant swagger to whoever wears them. After all, it takes confidence to take the plunge to white denim.” They even have a practical benefit – white reflects sunlight, which means you’ll be cooler, literally as well as figuratively. It’s science.
If you’re au fait with blue jeans, you don’t need to step too far out of your comfort zone to make white jeans work. But there are a few shade-specific things to bear in mind. “White jeans can be unforgiving if they’re skin-tight because white denim can highlight as many sins as it hides,” says Alexander. “Aim for a slim-fit pair. Because white jeans are – or should be – clean and crisp, you want to keep your other layers simple too, so avoid anything too bulky otherwise you’ll look out of proportion.” A t-shirt with an overshirt layered on top, or something brighter like a camp collar shirt, will both work well and embrace your denim’s summery feel. For proof, just look to Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley.
You also need to think about colour a little more carefully, at least at first. White won’t clash with anything, but you can create some pretty harsh contrasts if you wear them with bright-brights. “Neutrals are a really good place to start if you’re trying white jeans for the first time. Because the jeans are more attention-grabbing, working with similar tones ties everything together,” says Alexander. “Then you can work your way up to brighter colours as you get more confident.”
Of course, even if you like the style, it might be the laundry bills that have put you off taking the white denim plunge. “I sometimes want to wear an apron when I’m wearing white jeans and eating,” says Alexander. We wouldn’t advise that, but nor would we recommend panicking if you do have a spill. The most important thing is to that you don’t rub the stain – it will make it worse and embed it into the fabric. Dab away the excess, then just check our guide to keeping your white jeans white. Once you’ve mastered the art of keeping them fresh, there’s really no excuse not to make white jeans the only pair you reach for this summer.
Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Alexander McCalla
Styling assistant: Toby Standing