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.
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.
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.