White jeans are perhaps most commonly associated with Manhattan Ivy-League types and neatly tailored Italians which, if we're honest, are both good style vibes to channel. But they're tricky.
So, to save you any potential embarrassment, we've compiled the following guide to getting white denim right. We'll see you in the Hamptons.
1 | Keep it Clean
The key to the understated elegance of white denim lies in it being immaculate, that is to say, you need to keep them seriously clean. So apply the same rigorous screening process you use for your shirts (wash after every wear with like colours etc etc…). The slightest spot, smear or smudge will render them wholly ineffectual, so no wiping your hands on your thighs, no sitting on the grass, and make sure that napkin is firmly in position when you eat.
2 | Get the setting right
In the past, seemingly ridiculous rules about where you had to be to wear certain items were adhered to – 'No brown in town', for example, decreed that a gentleman should only wear black shoes when he was in London. Thankfully, those doctrines have long since died out, but when it comes to white denim, it is still worth considering your location before putting your trousers on. If you're on the Riviera and the sun is beating down, go right ahead. If it's a rainy Tuesday morning in Staines, you're best off leaving them in the wardrobe.
There is a plethora of jean styles on the market, maybe too many (definitely too many; do any men buy bootcut jeans anymore?), so sorting through the various shapes to find what's right for you can be a faff. With white denim though, it's simple: they must be slim cut, and the hem should sit just above the shoe. Too baggy and you'll look like an ageing toff (especially if you're wearing boat shoes), too tight and whatever unsightly bulges you're hiding underneath will be all the more apparent.
4 | Remember everything else
White trousers, though a spectacle of their own, shouldn't be the focus of your outfit. It's better to consider them a 'platform' for whatever else you're wearing. A navy blazer worn over an open white or pale pastel shirt is a fail-safe option, and a solid way to appear as if you own property in the Hamptons. It might be wise to avoid an all-white ensemble – unless you're in a cult – and in terms of shoes, stick to the classics. Driving moccasins, white tennis shoes, brown brogues and mahogany double monkstraps are all good options. To be even more specific, Esquire's fashion director Catherine Hayward believes white jeans are best worn with a white shirt, thin gauge baby blue knitwear and a camel-coloured coat. So now you know.
5 | Wear them proudly
There's a theory that any man can pull off any outfit if he wears it with confidence, and we're inclined to agree. We're not spouting some drivel about wearing a smile and maintaining a cheerful outlook. But if you think you look good, then other people probably will too.