Musing About White Jeans

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I have long been a lover of white jeans. They are a harbinger of summer for me. Conjuring summer evenings on a patio somewhere with friends, or a night out with Hubby when we are away on holiday and NOT sleeping in a tent. They remind me of standing in line outside the Riverview Arms tavern in Fredericton on summer Friday nights when I was in university, hearing the band inside, joking with my friends, wondering what the evening will bring. White jeans, flat sandals, a tee shirt, maybe a cardigan or a light jacket, and a straw bag.

Not quite as iconic as Jackie in Capri, in 1968. But as close as we could get.

Jackie Onassis in her black tee and white pants in Capri in 1968.
Jackie Onassis in Capri in 1968

We always had white pants or white jeans for summer. My sister and I were talking about that today. About how much we’ve always loved the clean, crisp look of a pair of white jeans. My first pair of white jeans were super high-rise, flared, white Howick jeans. Oh, I loved those pants. And I think that there has been at least one pair of white jeans in my summer closet ever since the seventies. As I said to my sister today on the phone, some years I will read a fashion prognosticator who says that white jeans are back. And it always surprises me. Because I didn’t know that they went away. They are a classic for me.

I’ve worn so many pairs of white jeans over the years that I can’t remember them all. Besides those flared Howicks, I do remember a pair of white Levis in the eighties. And a lovely pair of cropped boot-cut Ralph Lauren that I bought in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. Hubby and I were on our first big adventure that year. Three months away from home. And when we arrived in Melbourne half-way through our trip, I had one goal on my mind. Shopping. I spent a luxuriously solitary day wandering downtown Melbourne, and a very convivial couple of hours with a chatty salesperson at Ralph Lauren, where I bought my white jeans. They are still tucked away somewhere, even though they don’t fit anymore.

I know that white jeans go with everything, so I’m not sure why I most often reach for a black top when I wear them. My current favourite pair of white jeans are Frame Le High Straight leg, below. I love them with my black Vince tee, my black Helmut Lang summer blazer from 2015, and with my black crew-neck sweatshirt from Artizia. With black loafers, or black sandals, or with sneakers. The shots below are old ones. But whether it’s 1968 in Capri, or 2018 on the Rideau, you can’t go wrong with white jeans and a black top.

I’ve been pinning images on Pinterest these days, on a board I call Inspo To Shop My Closet. Looking for outfits that have at least one element, one piece, that’s already in my closet. Hoping for a few ideas of how else I might wear what I already own. Like my white jeans.

I love all of these outfits below. I could easily do a white tee with my white jeans and sneakers, and although I don’t own a classic Burberry trench, I could substitute my navy Moncler spring coat. The all-white look in the centre with dressy black shoes appeals to me. I tried it, but with the current state of my hair, all white looks dreadful on me. My hair at the moment looks more like the blonde girl, which is maybe why I’m usually reaching for dark colours these days. I love that rumpled striped shirt with white jeans look. Tried that one too. But my pink and white striped cotton shirt isn’t the right weight to tuck in like that. I have a linen shirt which I may try on another day.

The outfit that Emma Hill is wearing, on the left above, is one of my favourites. I have a black and white marinière that I bought years ago, ironically for our trip to France. Ha. Bringing a marinière to France is a bit like packing coals to bring to Newcastle, don’t you think? My shirt looks great with white jeans, but I usually wear my black Helmut Lang jacket on top. You can’t see it in the photo, but that’s what I have on under my jacket in the shot of me earlier in the post. Emma’s outfit makes me want to wear the striped top and white jeans with tan or brown. Or something slightly less predictable than my version of black and white, under black, with white. And the shot on the right reminds me to wear my white jeans with my sweaters.

That’s what these Pinterest images are for me. A kind of aide-memoire. Reminding me that I’d intended to try this or that top with this or that bottom. Most of my outfit ideas come to me when I’m pedalling my exercise bike and leafing through magazines, or scrolling through Pinterest. Hence the Inspo board. And the pile of torn-out magazine pages on my desk.

For the past year, I’ve been looking for different ways to wear my other current favourite white jeans. The Frame le crop mini-boot cut jeans, below. I love them, but they don’t work on me with many of my tops. The proportions always seem off. I’d love to wear them with a boho style shirt, but the only remotely boho shirt I own is this blue Tory Burch tunic from 2016. So the other day, I tried them with my black Vince tee, an old pair of Stuart Weitzman ballet flats, and a grey hoodie tired around my neck. Ewww. This was not good. I like the jeans with my sneakers, so I decided to imitate the Pinterest shot above and try my Vince lilac sweater. It’s wide, almost cropped, and bulky enough on top to balance the flare of the wider, shorter pants. I’d wear this outfit.

But really when it comes right down to it, I have to admit that I won’t be satisfied until I find a blousy, boho top. I looked last year but didn’t find anything that was just right. So this afternoon, I ordered this one from Everlane. I measured and measured, read all the reviews, and decided to size down. We’ll see. I am not a confident on-line shopper. But I’m learning. I’ll let you know how I get on… of course.

And with all the trying on and tossing aside that happened the other day, the groans and sighs as I searched for a different way to wear my white jeans, I found one outfit that I truly love. My navy Vince cashmere sweater with a white cami underneath, my white straight-leg jeans, and my sneakers. This outfit really feels like me. I wore all silver jewellry, bracelets and hoop earrings. This outfit is super comfortable, and casual, a bit polished, and not sloppy. Not trendy, but still stylish. Dare I say chic… maybe even iconic? Okay… let’s not get carried away. Ha.

Navy Vince cashmere sweater, white cami, white Frame straight-leg jeans, Stan Smith sneakers.
This is my newest favourite white jean outfit.

I’ll still pair my white jeans with a black tee, or my black sweatshirt, or my striped tee and my Helmut Lang jacket. Of course I will. I’ll try the all white look with my navy coat one day, when it’s rainy and cool. Wear my cropped white jeans with my Tory Burch tunic. Maybe even with my Vince sweater. And hopefully with that Everlane shirt I’ve ordered. I’ll wear all of those combinations. One day. Whenever that may be. But the one white jean outfit that I’ll be longing to be able to wear is my navy sweater with my Frame straight-leg white jeans and my sneakers. This will be my fantasy summer of 2020 outfit. Even if I don’t get to wear it until 2021.

I know I said a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t feeling the outfit love these days. That I was having trouble dreaming up outfits that I’d never wear. But I did enjoy shopping my closet the other day. I was just messing around. Under no pressure to come up with a new outfit. I was just trying to replicate some of the Pinterest looks I saw. Finding that this one or that one did not measure up in reality. Did not look the way I’d thought it would with my jeans, my shirt, on my body, with my hair. That happens a lot don’t you think? I look at Jackie O. in her tight tee shirt and white pants and remember when I could wear that. But not now. Not anymore. Now I need a tee that falls away from my body, and doesn’t cling.

That’s why images of other women in their clothes may inspire us, but we have to remember we can’t always pull off the same look they can. We have to use what we have in our closets, or what we can find when we shop, what fits, and what suits our bodies. Inspiration, even kindly meant fashion advice, can only take us so far. And we have to remember that one bad outfit, one combination that highlights all the parts of our body that we’d rather not highlight is only that. One bad outfit. Sigh. Some days it’s tougher to remember that than others, my friends.

Well, that’s enough fashion philosophising from me for today. Musing about white jeans, past and present. Hoping against hope that my present white jean outfits might be worn in the near future. Hope springs eternal… isn’t that what they say?

Ah, who cares what they say. What do you say? Are white jeans an iconic part of summer for you? If not, what’s in your wardrobe that conjures up images of summer?

P.S. The clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on my link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. All except for the link for my Aritzia sweatshirt. Aritzia does not have a “relationship” with Shop Style Collective, so I linked directly to their site. I do love their sweatshirts. I thought you might too.

Linking up with Monday Runway at Pocket Full of Polkadots this week.

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34 thoughts on “Musing About White Jeans”

  1. I still have a pair of white jeans, that don’t fit right now. I love white jeans. I love Howicks, and had several pairs including a white pair back in the day. My favourite pair of white jeans ever, were my 1980’s Calvin Kleins. They hugged a woman’s curves so well. Currently I like to wear my white jeans (when they fit!!), with a navy blue and white striped tank, with a navy jacket (loose and light) or a 3/4 length white sweater. I’m not the fashionista that you are, Sue, but i do love my white jeans.

  2. Last year I ordered that same Everlane blouse you did, in black even. I love it and hope it works for you too. It feels a little dressy, and is great on a summer evening with white jeans.

      1. Same ordering issue here, but since it’s a two-hour drive to shop in person, I mostly order anyway. The trick I’m slowly learning is not to talk myself into keeping things that don’t quite suit just to avoid the hassle/expense of returns. Don’t love it, back it goes; otherwise it will seldom be worn.

  3. White jeans are perfect for just now, when summer is in the air but it isn’t yet too hot. I’m more for loose linen pants or dresses during the dog days. White jeans are bright and happy and don’t let your undies show through and also don’t look like Mrs. Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island, which is a danger with other white pants.
    The fact that what Jackie wore in 1968 still looks fresh and fashionable today is the benefit of classic dressing.

  4. There is no spring or summer without white jeans (or white linen trousers in years long-ish ago!) for me. I wear them often with navy / black sweater or t-shirt now. When I was younger (and much slimmer in waist area) I didn’t like this iconic Jackie combo on me- how silly is that?
    So,thumbs up for your combination!
    Dottoressa
    (I’ve started this season with green silk/cotton Woolovers cardi with my white jeans and navy polka dot scarf last week,just for some joie de vivre-and for my blue eyes to look green!)

  5. I haven’t had white jeans for years and used to wear white linen trousers – until I recently saw a photo taken then and thought: not again. My main problem is simple; I am guaranteed to drop something on myself. I even managed to upset my entire cup of coffee into the bath today. It’s like a gift. BTW can I just say, I really like your longer hair.

    1. Thanks, Annie. It is what it is… and I am trying to roll with it. I tried your scarf thing. Even watched that WWII video you had linked on your blog. Hubby fell over laughing at the results.

  6. Wendy in York

    You look very chic & I like the longer , mussed up hair look too . I’ve never owned any white jeans . For a long time white jeans were very uncool in the UK . Worn by wannabe celebs along with white stiletto shoes & lots of gold jewellry – just not cool . It’s not like that now of course but I still seem to have a little prejudice thing going on . I’ve got some cream jeans I’m happy in & some ice blue soft cotton cropped trousers but no white . Anyway you look great in them , especially in the last pic . Perhaps longer slimmer legs are needed & that’s my problem ?

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I know what you mean about white jeans sometimes looking uncool. I took my cropped white jeans to France in 2015, and felt really stupid in them in Paris. Like you say, as if I was trying too hard.

  7. I’m devoted to white jeans. You might enjoy looking at images of Tonne Goodman, the fashion editor who wears them as her uniform.

  8. White jeans with a black top…perfection in every way and a look that often is featured in my summer wardrobe since black/white or black/ivory is my predominant colour choice (worn at times with accents of some other colour to provide interest.) Silver jewellery accents black/white clothing beautifully but it also looks great with gold…a person can’t go wrong if everything fits well and undergarments are kept to a flesh coloured neutral. Nothing spoils the look than seeing a brightly coloured undergarment visible under too tight white pants…ugh!

  9. Faina Sechzer

    I am so glad you are back to playing in your closet 🙂 Just yesterday I moved back a bunch of white jeans from their winter hibernation into my daily closet. I am going to wear them today for lunch with my sister in my house. It’s funny, in years past I was too self-conscious to wear white bottoms fearing it made my butt look big. Ha.!Aging took care of the “big butt” issue, so I am enjoying myself in white jeans. I’ll pair it today with lavender cotton puff sleeves blouse.

  10. I am also a white jean wearer although when I lived in the UK, like Wendy, had an aversion to them but have got over that now! However, in the heat of summer I prefer looser linen pants, so much cooler. I totally agree with your philosophising on why we have to change looks seen in magazines, instagram etc for something that works for our own bodies. As usual you have expressed it so much better than I can do. I also agree with others that your locked down hair looks very good.

  11. Your wardrobe and your wearing of it are so considered — to iconic results! I’ve worn my white jeans a few times in the last few weeks — and I threw some bleach into the machine with them the other day. I had some reservations about them when I bought them (by One Teaspoon, they’re a cropped, fairly slim leg with short zippers at the inside ankles, a bit too faff-y for me, but the closest I could find to what I wanted and was willing to pay for). I think this is their fourth summer, but they’re still serviceable, plus Slow Fashion and all . . . (should be more careful in the first place, as you are). And although they’re not as classic as I’d like, they are SO versatile! It’s easy to build a chic look quickly with them (helps that I now have white Stan Smiths and white Birkenstocks 😉

    1. I add a bit of bleach to mine too after the first year of wearing. I may be considered about what I choose to buy, but I am not considered enough when it comes to paying too much for jeans. If they fit and I love them I always buy them. 🙁
      I’ve just started wearing my white sneakers with my white jeans this year. Okay… not exactly wearing… more like posing on the deck for blog photos. Ha.

  12. I rarely, if ever, feel as though an outfit including white jeans doesn’t work. Apart from the obvious, formal events and rainy days!
    So many possibilities… styling with black, navy or tan for a classic look. A crisp linen shirt or tunic or a loose boho top. Colours depending upon taste or skin tone. The options are endless … I even like a “winter white” pair of Jeans with a sweater and boots in the chillier months.
    When we travel, I take at least three pairs, including wide cropped ones, as I know that I’ll want to wear them regularly. On the occasion that I took only one pair, they remained pristine in my case until the last few days, “just in case” lol With a few pairs I can wear them whenever I want to.
    I like yours, in the many ways that you’ve styled them Sue. Especially with your navy and mauve cashmere sweaters. Having such great, long, slim legs, certainly works in your favour. 😊
    Great selection from Pinterest too …
    Rosie

    1. I’ve stopped travelling with my white jeans. Mostly because they aren’t was versatile as regular jeans because the dirt shows. But they do go with everything. I guess you guys would have been on this side of the Atlantic now if your trip had been a go.

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