The Secret to White Pants Revealed


Many people can’t think about wearing white pants without slightly frightening images of 1987 music videos coming to mind. If this is you, it’s time for a mind makeover!

White pants are not your mortal enemy. Then again, they’re not your BFF either, but tend to occupy some quasi-friendship-like role between passionate lovers and dreaded foes. Lucky for you, this is your guide to wearing these hate-‘em or love-‘em pants, no matter how terrifying or thrilling idea may sound.

Traditionally, the white pants rule is as follows: slip into them after Memorial Day in May, and make sure you’re out of ‘em before Labor Day in September. Come on, it’s no secret that white is a springy, summery color. However, if you’re one of the fortunate few to live in the tropics or to go on a beach cruise in January, dig them out of your closet because white is always in style in hot, balmy weather. You don’t have to limit year-round white-wearing to the Bahamas or the Keys–citizens of Miami and San Diego (or any locale with pleasant temperatures January through December) can rock the white pants look most of the year.

Just as you might expect, however, there are rules that apply to the white pants situation. First of all, let’s talk fabric. It matters! Linen is a very light, airy material that is awesome in the warm spring and summer months. Pants of this material are a staple in hot vacation destinations and even at home on a pool day, but leave them tucked away in a drawer after Labor Day. They’re just too summery to survive during the “chilly” 70 degree range of mid-September!

Something you may not expect, however, is that white jeans are fairly acceptable throughout the year. Denim is a thicker fabric, which makes it better for slightly colder weather. While bright whites are usually reserved for the sunny half of the year, “winter whites”–those of the cream or ivory ilk–can be paired with boots and a cozy, dark wool jacket for the perfect holiday season shopping outfit. White jeans come in a variety of styles and cuts, just like normal blue jeans, so they’re versatile enough to pull off anytime.

Just because dark colors are supposedly more thinning than lights doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t wear white if you’ve got a bump or two to hide. White pants will be less forgiving than others to some extent, true, but it’s really all about finding the proper fit. Cotton, wool, and linen pants should drape nicely over the butt and hip area. Wearing tight pants of this material can be tricky if your lower half doesn’t resemble Heidi Klum’s, so when in doubt go for a classy–not trashy–fit. Slacks or dressier pants should also be worn in a way that flatters your figure. Imperfections in your thighs and bottom may be accentuated in tighter fits that draw attention to them. White denim is more fool-proof–you can wear it in whatever style of jeans you prefer.

A word of caution for white pants fanatics: don’t neglect the strict guidelines of VPL, or visible panty lines. In this case, I’m talking about the color of your undies. No matter how thick your white pants are, you run the risk of your underwear showing through, so stick to white or nude colored skivvies when you’re rocking this look.

Remember, white pants are not totally off limits, but there are some generally followed principles that will help you easily circumnavigate fashion disasters. As it gets warmer, don’t be afraid to experiment with the different colors, fabrics, and fits that these specialty pants offer. And above all, carry a bleach pen at all times…just in case!



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