How To Wear White Pants

Above L-R: Runway looks from Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli and Hermes
Above L-R: Runway looks from Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli and Hermes

White pants have long been relegated to the realm of tacky parties in South Beach – it’s all too easy to conjure up images of middle-aged dudes living out some Kokomo era dream of oceanfront parties – but thanks to some smart designers and even smarter rules (though we’re loath to call them rules: wear what you want, when you want), white pants have made it back to a summer staple. Here, some ways to wear white without looking like you’re on your way to Boca.

Fit is everything

Make sure you buy pants that fit. Slim is the key here. You want them to look like your everyday jeans – in fact, by all means, buy white jeans as a matter of course. Tight-ish around the thighs (we’re not all David Beckham) and tapered down the calf and the ankle. They shouldn’t wear like you’re in the Navy (the Village People have long since proven it’s not a great look). While you’re at it, get rid of your boot cut pants of any colour or fabric.

Matching isn’t always best

Though the “Canadian Tuxedo” has been much maligned, you’ll notice denim on denim is a popular look on runways and in real life. What makes this style work is difference, like dark denim paired with a lighter chambray shirt or faded jean jacket. You can pair white pants with a white shirt or shoes (but always, always steer clear of the white blazer, unless you frequent Puff Daddy’s yacht), just make sure there’s a difference in shade. If you’re wearing crisp white pants, pair it with a cream coloured shirt or off-white (better yet, well worn) Chuck Taylors or Keds.

Study Shoes

Though white pants can work with casual shoes like Chucks or Keds, dress up your look with a pair of sturdy brogues or derby shoes. Paired with a slight roll to the pants (not flood pants, just one or two unstudied rolls), white pants look crisp next to tan, navy or even black dress shoes.

Comfort

Most importantly, comfort is everything. Not that we’re advocating white sweatpants, but wear what works for you. If jeans are too sweltering (we’ve been there – the heat of summer can often call for shorts), work with different fabrics like linen and cotton. If you feel ludicrous (white pants call for sartorial dedication), don’t wear them. Feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes can make more of a difference than sporting any of the most current trends.

Fraser Abe

Fraser Abe is a Toronto based lifestyle writer. His work has appeared in Toronto Life, the Globe and Mail, Sharp Magazine, the Grid and more.

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