Some garments that lend themselves easily to everyday wear; jeans, button-downs, and loafers all come to mind. In the summertime (or all year round if you live in a warm climate), white and off-white pants are options, but they’re just not as easy to pull off. It’s with this in mind that we present this guide to pulling off light trousers.
We understand that light-colored pants just aren’t every man’s cup of tea. That’s perfectly fine, but it’s worth noting that men have relatively few chances throughout the year to wear such garments. We feel that it’d be a shame to leave such an opportunity on the table, so we encourage you to consider them if you’re even the least bit open to the idea.
No matter if we’re talking about pure white custom denim or just barely off-white wool pants, the tips below will have you wearing light pants confidently in no time.
5 Tips for Wearing Light-Colored Pants
Below are the five most important tips we can give for wearing light trousers.
Pair Them With Color
The beauty of white and off-white is versatility. Your trousers contrast with nearly any color you pair with them. A light pastel, like a pink button-down, is seasonally appropriate and fun. A navy blazer, on the other hand, will give you stark color contrast and more inherent dressiness.
Light brown shoes are always a hit with light trousers. Black will give you very bold contrast, and multi-colored shoes such as spectators or saddle shoes will add playfulness.
Mind Your Underwear (and Pockets)
Odd as it is to use the phrase “strategic underwear decisions,” white and off-white pants require such choices to be made. Thin fabrics with open weaves like wool or linen are, to an extent, see-through. Your navy blue boxer briefs will cause an unflattering distraction, but white or eggshell underwear will blend in. Opt for underwear colors that blend with the color of the pants itself.
A word to the wise: linings and pockets will show through on such trousers as well. If you’re having white pants made, you need to either be okay with this fact, or opt to have pants made with no lining. Even in this case, the pocketings inside the pants will show through.
The thicker the material on the pants, the less risk there is of displaying your underwear color. As such, you’ll have an easier time with white jeans or white cotton twill pants (similar to what most khakis are made with) than with wool trousers in this regard.
Fun fact: pure optic white wool does not exist. Cotton, linen, and silk can be pure white, but wool can only get to a very light off-white.
Don’t Wear Them Too Often
In Philadelphia and the surrounding area – anywhere there’s a noticeable change of seasons, really – white pants are considered appropriate for men between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This “rule” gets broken more often as time goes on, but it’s still the guiding light for white pants.
Light trousers are memorable enough as it is, and the short window of time we have to wear them amplifies this. With this in mind, be strategic about when you wear them and how often. There’s a fine line between being a guy in white pants and being the guy in white pants.
Floridians, rejoice: if you live in a place where it’s warm all year round, the rules of seasonality outlined above don’t apply. Feel free to wear light-colored pants to your heart’s content.
This advice is borne of personal experience: be careful when you’re wearing light-colored pants. Very light colors get dirty easily, which means lots of laundering and dry cleaning. This in turn leads to increased maintenance costs, so just try to be judicious about where you sit.
They’re Always Casual
To paint with very broad brush strokes – dark trousers are dressier than light ones, assuming they’re made of the same fabric. Even in the finest material, light-colored pants have a casual élan that’s best suited to daytime wear.