Most men’s wardrobes are home to enough denim to clothe the gold rush. But amid all the raw selvedge and frayed hems, it’s easy to forget the fact that if you wear jeans when the mercury’s bubbling over, your lower body slowly poaches. “This season, denim is taking on a much fresher and lighter feel,” says stylist Hayley Lai, who has worked for the likes of Tom Ford, Harvey Nichols and MatchesFashion. Fabrics are lighter, shades brighter, and brands from the high street to the high-end have even experimented with cuts that let your legs breathe. Pick right by following these helpful tips, and you can step into the denim trend this summer, without perspiring.
Before you label white jeans wholly impractical or a look best left to Wham! impersonators, consider that, just like black, white is a neutral shade that goes with pretty much everything in your wardrobe. But unlike black, it reflects heat, rather than absorbs it. So your jeans don’t act like solar panels. For styling tips, look the coast of southern Europe. Classic denim is the worker’s uniform; white jeans are worn by the guy who owns the company (and needn’t risk dirtying them up). So even you don’t have a yacht in the harbour, embrace the Riviera aesthetic by combining with easygoing footwear and a darker shade to add some contrast up top.
Recent seasons have been full of more ripped, torn and slashed jeans than you could shake a Stanley Knife at. Of course, shortly after they were established as ‘a thing’, men took distressing a little too far with denim that was more holes than not. (This is why we can’t have nice things.) Having reined it back in, we can once again take time to appreciate this fashion trend for the extra ventilation it provides. Just remember to stick to a couple of slashes between your knee and pocket liner.
Ditch The Spray-Ons
Make the sunshine your excuse to finally retire skinny jeans. Though they might fit your body type, skin-hugging denim traps your style as much as your sweat. But as if the menswear gods heard our cries, this season’s trending denim is loose and wide-legged. Designers have been ransacking the 1970s for references, according to Lai. So look to straight- and relaxed-leg styles (although leave the flares on the vintage store rail for now) and balance your silhouette with a slim-fitting top.
Raw Denim Isn’t Your Friend
Raw denim gets men on certain internet forums very sweaty indeed. Almost as sweaty as anyone who tries wearing heavy selvedge when it’s hot enough to melt glass. Instead, look to pre-washed jeans, which soften rigid denim so it’s more forgiving, and fade the indigo so it doesn’t absorb sunshine so readily. The less raw your denim, the less smart. So look to match with T-shirts and box-fresh white sneakers.
Weigh It All Up
The more material you slip into, the more heat it traps. Denim is weighed in ounces, with most jeans being around the 15oz mark; good for cool days, hell on a heatwave commute. “Thinner designs that use thinner threads offer more comfort in summer,” says Lai. Look for styles below 12oz, which feel as light as seersucker but don’t look like your mum might wear them for gardening. And don’t stress the fact that finer fabrics wear out quicker. It just means you’ll get that on-trend distressing the authentic way.