It’s time to start evaluating what to wear with white jeans. That’s right – after an era of ignominy, the white jeans look is back. Thank street stars such as Man Repeller and Gigi Hadid for that. Whether styling white jeans with stark monochromes or using them as a canvas for feminine blouses and bold accents, their versatility puts them at the centre of an all-seasons wardrobe.
Fit counts for everything
For years, white jeans haven’t had the greatest reputation. A limited range of – often unflattering – styles meant they were regularly overlooked by even the most ardent denim fan in favour of traditional blues and the rest of the colour wheel. But with the likes of Alexa Chung and Miranda Kerr regularly slipping into pale jeans, the tables have finally turned. When it comes to denim, we all know finding the perfect fit is key – but, according to Donna Ida Thornton, it’s important not to go too tight, as white jeans need to be washed more often than black or blue pairs. Cropped jeans are the easiest shape to wear – Thornton told Marie Claire that the perfect length is "1 inch above the ankle bone".
The classic white jeans style is cropped, skinny and worn with something sunshine-appropriate like metallic Birkenstocks or Adidas sliders. Alternatively, take a leaf out of Gigi or Kendall’s 90s-influenced book and opt for a pair of overly distressed jeans. Saint Laurent denim is notoriously slim-fitting, with Hedi Slimane’s distinctive alt-rock edge. In the height of summer, however, your legs may thank you for opting for something a little looser; try a straight-legged pair from the Alexander Wang denim collection for a downtown NYC aesthetic. The SS16 catwalks brought back a nautical flavour and high-waisted, wide-legged white jeans fit in nicely – just promise to leave the stripes at home.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged…
...That white jeans look great with dark or tanned skin. If you’re jetting off to Santorini or Puglia, it would be a sin not to pack a cropped pair to ensure your beach legs look their best. But other than a bikini top and oversized hat, what to wear with white jeans in the summer – especially if you’re stuck in the office like everyone else? Thankfully, Chloé’s Creative Director Clare Waight Keller had an urban aesthetic in mind for her SS17 catwalk. Dominated by neutral hues with tropical punctuation, the show offered a slew of styling tips for white jeans. It's easy to envisage a work uniform of sheer Chloé blouses worn with white denim and bright sandals.
Layering is key when it comes to styling white jeans for the colder months. Think oversized duster coats, long-line blazers and chunky cable-knit jumpers worn with tough-as-nails boots or mannish brogues. While white denim is soft in the summer, in winter it’s ice-sharp. Be inspired by the Bauhaus-esque AW16 show from Max Mara. Graphic, outsized stripes and exaggerated proportions took centre stage, while Max Mara coats had a modern-day Marlene Dietrich aesthetic. And you just know that she would have worn her white jeans with Max Mara knitwear and a pair of outrageous sunglasses, however overcast the sky was.
The perfect palette
Choosing what to wear with white jeans inevitably comes down to colour palette. Leandra Medine is a vocal supporter of the stark black and white combination in the cooler months, which adds an androgynous edge to a very feminine denim. The flowing silhouettes of Alexander Wang knitwear in midnight shades worn with some relaxed-cut white jeans strikes the perfect balance between minimalist polish and a laissez-faire ethos. Alternatively, opt for the strong shoulders and nipped-in waists of Balmain jackets to wear with a pair of skinny white jeans. Embrace the SS17 attraction for power silhouettes with a waist belt to look and feel in control.
If monochrome world domination isn’t on the agenda, perhaps pick a softer white jeans style. All-white, for any season, can cause a spot of coffee-related anxiety – but it's the epitome of sophistication. Think crisply tailored shirts tucked into high-waisted flared white jeans and long-line jackets draped over shoulders. A burst of colour can be just as chic, however. For SS17, the Victoria Victoria Beckham catwalk was a study in summery neutrals, shot through with navy and tangerine hues. A citrus neck scarf or a pair of emerald pumps can complete a snow-white outfit.