Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 94 – White Trousers/Shorts

Like all great philosophers across the ages, I tend to struggle with the important dilemmas of my time. Just as Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living” and Lao Tzu uttered “anticipate the difficult by managing the easy”, I can often be found dropping absolute bombshells like “brown and blue are the perfect colour combination” or “when wearing patterns, make sure they are different proportions to pull them off”. Yeah, David Hume has got nothing on me.

However, there are occasions when a question comes along that is just so big and so daunting that even a deep and talented philosopher like me can’t provide an answer. One such question was posed to me the other day, and it went a little something like this:

“Hey, you in the fancy shirt and shiny shoes, how do you wear white trousers during the summer without looking like an idiot?”

It caught me a bit off guard to be honest. I’m not sure if it was because I was halfway through an awesome turkey sandwich or that I didn’t consider my shoes to be all that shiny, but either way the question struck a chord with me – mainly because I can see where the conundrum lies.

The White Trousers/Shorts Conundrum

First of all, I’d like to go on record saying that I wear white trousers all year round. They make a more regular appearance in the summer, certainly, but I don’t see any reason why they can’t be autumn/winter appropriate too.

I believe the main problem that most people have with wearing white on their lower half is that it takes a lot of confidence to do so, and there are too many outside factors to be considered to make it worthwhile.

Whilst the above is true, it’s not entirely accurate. Because once you master three simple steps, there’s no reason you can’t wear white chinos, jeans or shorts this summer – all day, every day – and not be self-conscious in the slightest.

White Trouser Guidelines

The three guidelines you need to follow are:

1. Nail The Fit

As if I was going to start with anything else. But, although I obviously mean you should make sure the trousers fit you, there is another side to this. Due to the fact that they are a spring/summer item, it’s even more important that they are slim through the leg and hemmed with very little break. A comfort or loose fit will just look sloppy here, especially if you pair them with loafers/drivers or go sockless.

If opting for shorts, make sure there’s wriggle room in the thighs and that they end a couple of inches above the knee.

2. Embrace Their Neutrality

By which I mean experiment outside of the obvious grey and navy t-shirt combinations.

White can arguably be considered the greatest neutral of them all, so why not get a little creative and use it as an anchor in your looks? It looks great with any sort of pattern – be it gingham, stripe or floral – and is complemented by a wide range of colours, from pink and green to lilac and yellow.

3. Embrace Their Versatility

White trousers aren’t just for a casual Sunday in a beer garden; they’re for all of summer and beyond. White jeans are the perfect piece to help nail the denim on denim look this season due to the fact that they are a completely different colour to traditional indigo/blue denim shirts.

White chinos are also the ideal partner for those hard to match summer blazers that you’ve been investing in. You know the ones I’m talking about: the brown linen one, the navy cotton plaid one, the Indian madras one, even those pink and green tropical wool pieces. As long as you pair them with other neutral staples, such as a blue dress shirt and complementing stripe tie, the chinos will anchor a statement jacket in a refined way whilst still allowing it be the focal point of a look.

As for white shorts? I’d make an argument for them being even more appropriate in the summer than a pair in beige or navy due to not only their versatility and neutrality, but the fact they scream “it’s summer and I’m here to have fun”.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's White Trousers and Shorts Lookbook

tommy hilfiger sportswear ss13CALIBRE ss13henry cottons ss13el burgues ss13h&m ss13reiss ss13drykorn ss13allsaints ss13he by mango summer 2013perry ellis ss13massimo dutti march 2013he by mango spring 2013
Key Pieces
  • Solid Denim ShortsSolid Denim Shorts
  • Asos Denim Shorts In Skinny FitAsos Denim Shorts In Skinny Fit
  • American Apparel Twill Slater ShortAmerican Apparel Twill Slater Short
  • He By Mango White Denim Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango White Denim Bermuda Shorts
  • Slowear Incotex Slim-fit Cotton-seersucker ShortsSlowear Incotex Slim-fit Cotton-seersucker Shorts
  • Uniqlo Men Chino ShortsUniqlo Men Chino Shorts
  • Reiss Wickham Clean Cotton Pressed Chino StoneReiss Wickham Clean Cotton Pressed Chino Stone
  • Topman White Stretch Skinny JeansTopman White Stretch Skinny Jeans
  • Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Straight Colour Jeans AUniqlo Men Slim Fit Straight Colour Jeans A
  • He By Mango Cotton Suit TrousersHe By Mango Cotton Suit Trousers
  • Topman Off White Skinny ChinosTopman Off White Skinny Chinos
  • Rag & Bone Rb7 Chino Trousers 148156Rag & Bone Rb7 Chino Trousers 148156
  • Hilfiger Denim Skanton Skinny JeansHilfiger Denim Skanton Skinny Jeans
  • Cheap Monday Tight Skinny JeansCheap Monday Tight Skinny Jeans
  • Orjan Andersson White Unisex JeansOrjan Andersson White Unisex Jeans
Final Word

So there we have it. I now expect to see all of you out and about this summer wearing white exclusively on your lower half because, as you can see, there really is no excuse.

Of course they’re going be a bitch to clean but a good remedy for this is thinking about where you’re going when you dress yourself. In the same way I don’t wear light grey when I’m heading to a club – because that thing is going be charcoal grey by the time I’m done with the floor – perhaps it’s not the best idea to wear your white jeans to an event where you know there’s going to be grass, alcohol and the chance to run and catch a Frisbee of some kind… we all know how out of hand that game gets.

Also bear in mind that white doesn’t always mean pure white; there are varying shades that are more accurately described as ivory or off-white. These colours are often slightly easier to keep clean.

As always, I want to hear what you have to say. Do you wear white jeans/chinos/shorts during the summer months? Do you wear them in autumn/winter too? What sort of items do you pair them with? Let me know in the comments section.

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