Men are wary of wearing a whole lot of white. It’s not really a go-to colour in winter. And, in summer, white (too often) attracts a brass-buttoned blazer in navy and breton stripe tee (not to mention boat shoes). And suddenly we’re all a bunch of cloned southern Frenchmen on a yacht. Ahoy, sailor!
Meanwhile, white is a disaster to keep clean. Red wine stains, food stains, dirt-from-our-hands stains, you know the drill. So, why are we dedicating a whole feature to wearing white? Well, white – when done right – looks fantastic and a real style accent for 2016. From the runway to the street, read on for 5 simple and stylish ways on how to wear white.
The Guide: How to Wear White
#1 It’s A White-Wash
All-white looks dominated the runway in Europe this season, even for the winter shows. It’s menswear’s way of brightening up the cooler months, and bringing a little light-heartedness to it all – rain, hail, or snow. All-over, tonal white has some style rules, however.
To avoid looking like a medic, play with different shades of white – from crisp and stark white, to ivory or off-white and even beige and cream. Then, add more depth to the head-to-toe white, wearing varied textures with different materials, the matte rubber of a raincoat over a the furriness of a sweater and the ridge-like stripes of a cord trouser. See what we did there?
#2 Tailored Back
Tailoring need not be stuffy and heavy, thanks to light, white jackets and pants. A cotton or linen blazer with well-cut chinos is tailoring-reworked, with denim shirting and western-style push tabs under the white. Meanwhile, white shirting, slightly ruffled at the neck and sleeves, goes well with pleated trousers in light cotton – sans belt. Beige separates take away any hint cheesy, nautical vibes, which are too predictable where white pants are concerned.
Add some interest to white separates with silver jewellery – bracelets, rings and leather cuffs – and some beads for an injection of colour. Finally, metal wire frames are huge this season. As are vintage leather belts – worn a little messily, in stark contrast to the purity of the white trouser.
#3 Better With Leather
A pristine white shirt looks better with leather. A key style item this season, the romanticism of rock-n-roll (all that velvet, long hair and floral silk) is reworked with dapper, crisp white shirting. There are two simple ways to approach the look.
The first involves a cropped biker jacket – with minimal hardware, over skinny jeans – belted, and that all-important white shirt, its straight-point collar buttoned fully to the neck with a front placket adding a touch of formal. Elsewhere, opt for a smaller-collared shirt, left untucked, over more trouser-ish denim or pants and a slouchier, longer fit leather jacket, the coolness oozing down to the footwear – Chelsea boots or sneakers, depending on the occasion.
#4 (Not So) Sharp Shirting
In an act of sacrilege, street wear hooligans have kidnapped the religiously, fancy white shirt, and done what they want with it. This looks like short-sleeve, long-line shirt cuts with mandarin collars for the more style adventurous, rocking the half-tuck over another shirt – with longer sleeves for a double-up layered look.
Elsewhere, a crisp white dinner shirt need not be reserved for a formal affair. Layer it under a casual jacket – think camo print parka, denim shirt jacket or velvet bomber – and keep the cuffs open and sprawled. It’s against all the rules, but formalities are designed to be played with in the street.
#5 Weekend Prep
The weekend is here and your Sunday driving outfit – car top down and shades on – is ready for you, in white. The signature preppy chino in white gets a reworking with the season’s favourite suede bomber – changing up the colour to an emerald green instead of typical brown. Add a timepiece (something metallic and ostentatious, but in a good way) and pop that collar, for a bit of style nonchalance, just like the Italians do it.
The white polo is a no-brainer addition to classy casual wear, matched with a windowpane check trousers, and tassel loafer (suede, again), this time with a denim overshirt for an edgier prep look: something reverently Nineties collegiate, that’s anything but jock. More cool-guy punk.
#6 Street Chic
Kept stark white and crisp, a basic t-shirt is the perfect layering piece – under a military bomber in sporty nylon, and slim-fit jeans, cuffed at the ankle. Low-cut leather sneakers – in white, base-out the minimalism. Be sure to keep your kicks super-clean, never diminishing their bright power.
For a day-to-night, wintry outfit, try chinos and a leather derby under a waffle knit and a round-shouldered blazer – both in white. Just add an off-white roll-neck – under the sweater instead of scarf, and a beanie for more warmth. Plus, the ensemble is a clash of Euro-meets-New York, with tailoring and urban touches. Simply loose the beanie, when indoors. But beware the beanie-hair.
Now go forth and experience how to wear white the right way.