White jeans appropriately authority a privileged place in the assize of summer appearance classics. Sunnier than blue jeans and chinos and added able than a sundress, a brace of white jeans makes a brittle acting for all of the above—and one that can be beat able-bodied into autumn. Consider your go-to aggregate of dejected jeans with a tee, blazer, on-down, or sweater. Then, bandy in a white pair. Voila.
“They’re such a nice, aloof addition to denim,” says Madewell artist Somsack Sikhounmuong, who has abounding the American retailer’s food with summer whites in his aboriginal division as arch of design, and has more for the anniversary season in the works. “They [perform] the above end use, but they’re added graphic.”
Just anticipate of the women who’ve abundantly worn—and wear—white jeans. Stateside, Jackie Kennedy played with little John Jr. on the bank in hers; Ali MacGraw wore them canoeing in the iconic 1970 film Love Story; American Vogue appearance administrator Tonne Goodman wears them daily—a chic, fuss-free antithesis to the aerial appearance affectation that surrounds her. French Vogue editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt is analogously devoted, lending her airy address to the pants with sleek heels and beat-up hair. See also: St. Tropez whites, suntanned anxiety in active loafers, Breton striped shirts, appearance photographers, and Ines de la Fressange. You get the idea.
When it comes to bathrobe with white jeans, Los Angeles-based stylist Jill Lincoln says there are no rules: “I abrasion them all year long. A abundant covering belt, ballet flats—you can go anywhere. I’ll abrasion my Birkenstocks during the day, and afresh about-face to amber covering Gucci heels, bandy on a fleet blazer, and it’s a accomplished added animal. I adulation the abounding white look: the white tee shirt and white jeans. That’s my jam. I do a lot of laundry.”
The fit, however, is a bit trickier. Because white is beneath affectionate than added colors of denim, Lincoln opts for a slim, hardly airy fit.
“It has a nice fit, but it’s not like three accompany helped clasp you into your jeans,” says Lincoln. “I like to crop all mine, advertisement the skinniest allotment of my leg, which is my ankles. Either cut it off or belt it. The accord in appearance appropriate now is attractive airy and put together—that affectionate of effortless chic.”
“I adulation a straighter, array of boy cut, too,” says Sikhounmuong. “A slimmer, beeline fit aloof feels a little bit newer to me, in agreement of what’s been activity on in jeans in general. It’s array of a move abroad from the skintight.”
Quartz set out on the chase for the absolute brace of slim, straight, and adulatory white jeans. We approved about 30 pairs, and narrowed it bottomward to a single favorite and bristles runners up. Although we accurate assessable credibility such as leg openings and spandex percentages, our methods were abundantly empirical.
We approved on abounding pairs of white jeans in cruel light—not an exercise in self-esteem. We discussed how they looked on our bodies, and how they fabricated us feel. Our added abrogating addendum included phrases such as “hate rippling,” “booty mannequin,” and “super meh.” Grounds for aishment included legging-style tightness, t that didn’t resemble denim, absolute transparency, and boundless adornment or distressing. Aback we begin pairs we liked, we wore them, done them, and wore them again. We brash the afterward criteria, as able-bodied as abounding others.
Photos: Mia Mabanta, Illustration: David Yanofsky
Overall fit. We wanted, of course, a fit that flattered: a straight, polished, abbreviate leg, like the one both Lincoln and Sikhounmuong described. We looked for a archetypal cut to transcend trend, and so alone to accommodate any extremes: no advanced legs, no super-skinnies, no alarm bottoms.
Fabric. We capital our jeans to have the twill-surfaced, aslant striped arrangement of denim. Flat-surfaced, ever adaptable fabrics were offenders, as were those cellophane abundant to appearance the capacity and wrinkles of the pockets beneath—not to acknowledgment the patterns on one’s underwear. Although stretch denim with aerial capacity of polyester or spandex accept afresh prevailed in high-end denim, most of our preferred jeans were fabricated of 98% cotton.
Leg opening. We begin 13 inches, abstinent flat, to be a candied atom for a slim, but not-too-narrow, leg opening. That said, our admired pairs had a almost advanced range, from 11 to 14.8 inches—and the widest was our winner. More important than the aperture at the ankle, we found, was the ease throughout the leg.
Rise and rearview. We admired the abstraction of a average acceleration in the advanced and aback to, as one tester put it, “make the adventure over the top” of one’s backside (as against to advertisement underwear aback seated). We begin that longer back pockets looked best on best bodies, and alone several pairs of jeans because the yoke—that bond that traverses the aback amid the pockets and waistband—sat unflatteringly low.
Extras. In general, we backward abroad from apparent branding, embellishment, and distressing.
THE ALL-AROUND WINNER
The One white jean: Point Sur Abbreviate Stacker Japanese Selvedge Jean, $238, J.Crew. J.Crew shows this style as a slouchier, easy-fitting style—commonly accepted as a “boyfriend fit.” All of our testers begin this jean to be flattering, and alike added so aback we went bottomward a size.
When we sized down, the Abbreviate Stacker acted added like a classic, straight-leg jean (think old academy Levi’s 501s) than an oversized, borrowed-from-the boys style. The fabric—a alloy of 98% affection and 2% spandex—was amid the heaviest that we tried. After trying amaranthine styles of amplitude jeans, it felt refreshingly like absolute denim. That said, it did tend to abound a little bit afterwards a day of wear. On the cast side, it did so evenly, rather than aloof bagging out at the knees and seat, like some of the added adaptable options.
The leg opening, at a acceptable 14.8 inches, was the widest of our contenders, but still acquainted polished. These jeans appear long, fabricated to belt deeply and show off a red selvedge edge. The belt is cute, but makes them attending casual. If that’s an issue, hem these for versatility (we angry the hems beneath for the moment), accede the search over, and move on with your life—in absolute white jeans.
THE RUNNERS UP
The Sexy white jean: Skinny Lin in Amoebic Shaded Grey, $199, Nudie. Although these jeans—with a curve-hugging cut and a leg aperture of aloof 11 inches—were too bound for some, those of us who admired them, loved them.
That ability usually happened aback we arrested out our backsides in the mirror; the Sweden-based Nudie (which articles in Italy) wins the gold badge for adulatory aback abridged shape, size, and placement. The waistband sits high, authoritative these feel added like a brace of awakening Calvins than today’s saggy, adaptable skinnies. The t on these jeans—98% amoebic affection and 2% elastane—was auspiciously substantial with the appropriate bulk of give. The added weight would accomplish them abundant for year-round, abnormally aback the attenuated leg could calmly constrict into a brace of abate boots. That said, because these jeans were the closest-fitting contender, the ablaze white pockets absolutely showed through. But that doesn’t accept to be a deal-breaker: we’d booty a pro tip and accept a clothier cut out the pockets and sew them shut. Buy one admeasurement up in these jeans, and abstain the “shaded grey” blush name—these jeans attending white.
The Amplitude Devotee’s white jean: The Dre in Aged Ablaze White, $187, Rag & Bone. In blue, amplitude denim can affectation a array of sins. Not so in white, which may be why alone one actively adaptable brace fabricated our list. In 55% cotton, 42% tencel (a wood-derived cellulosic cilia sometimes alleged tencel), and 8% spandex, these didn’t feel like jeans in the acceptable sense—the t was bendable and light, with tons of give.
At aboriginal try, these looked like angular jeans, but afterwards a ablution and a abounding day of wear, they continued out considerably. Rag & Bone markets these as a “slim fit boyfriend” jean, and while we couldn’t brainstorm any of our boyfriends absolutely acid them, they did become slouchier (and abominably bagged out at the knees) as they ashen up. By end of day, they acquainted too accidental to abrasion with heels—cuffing didn’t help. That said, two testers excitedly exclaimed that they “felt skinny” aloft pulling these on these jeans. We especially admired the pockets. In front, the abridged accoutrements were fabricated of average tan, flesh-colored cotton, rather than ablaze white, which was a genius solution to the above affair of visible pockets. The aback pockets on these were additionally appreciably beyond than those on the added amplitude options, which we begin to be far added flattering. The fabric doesn’t feel abundant abundant to abrasion year-round, but for a woman who brand softer amplitude denim—and doesn’t apperception abrasion her jeans frequently to accumulate them in shape—they’re a solid option.
The Entry Level white jean: 1969 Raw-edge Absolute Beeline Skimmer in Optic White, $23.99 (on sale), Gap. First, a agenda on length. These jeans—which accept a frayed, raw hem—are designed to be beat cropped, as per the photo. We bought them in a size 27L (for “long”) and begin the consistent 29 inch inseam to be aloof appropriate for a approved breadth instead.
The Gap jeans had the lowest rise of our picks—see that abbreviate attachment at left—which agitated some testers. That said, they looked nice with a belt, which helped break any behind overexposure aback built-in (just as Saturday Night Live‘s Gap girls would accept advised). The 98% cotton/2% spandex fabric felt decidedly aerial quality. Alike at a college price, these jeans would accept captivated their own against the others. The leg opening—that 13 inch candied spot—was addition able point of the Gap jeans. Some testers awful the frayed, raw hem, but all were in favor of the slim, but not-to-narrow amplitude of the leg. Amid the low acceleration and frayed hem, these jeans acquainted like they were advised for a hardly adolescent customer. But they still looked tidy—and abnormally beautiful with canvas Superga sneakers.
The Get ‘Em Dirty white jean: Madewell Rivet & Thread Selvedge Boyjean in White Clover, $198, Madewell. Truth: we fabricated several exceptions for these jeans. Colossal and too accidental to abrasion to work—”casual to the point I charge to accept my anxiety in the sand,” said one tester—this was the brace we would break down and buy even admitting they didn’t fit the bill we originally set out to boutique for.
They didn’t attending abnormally abbreviate or neat, but afterwards aggravating on endless pairs of afflictive and unflattering white jeans, these acquainted like a casual relief. If you agitated a little coffee or acrylic on these pants (which appear with a few tiny holes above-mentioned on the front), they would be far from ruined; their afterlife as Saturday pants would artlessly be sealed. (Unless you fabricated it a affair and kept activity with the paint.)
The nut rivets and ons won the best accouterments award, and fabricated us admiration why best added manufacturers autonomous for silver. These accept some anarchistic seams at the thighs and beneath the knees, and attending appealing ambrosial formed at the bottom. As one tester said: “This is the Brooklyn jean.”
The Blow Your Budget white jean: WM3, custom-made in 12 ounce Japanese selvedge denim, $525, 3×1. At the Manhattan-based denim bazaar 3×1, jean lovers can buy jeans ready-made, adapt absolute styles, and accept jeans fabricated from absolutely from scratch—a bespoke account that starts at $1,200.
Thanks to 3×1’s above-mentioned WM3 fit, starting from blemish wouldn’t be necessary. The WM3 is the unicorn of denim fits: its contoured waistband curves to acceleration college in the aback and abstain acid into the hips, so it flatters the changeable form, but the affluence through the leg mimics a hardly slimmer men’s jean, with a 14.5 inch legging opening.
In a absolute world, 3×1 would whip this up for us in 12-ounce, 100% affection Japanese white selvedge denim with nude abridged accoutrements like Rag & Bone’s and copper hardware like Madewell’s. We would abrasion them forever.
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With this new series, Quartz will advice you analyze through the more countless options for archetypal apparel elements to acquisition the single piece that can be “the one”: the one that saves you from addition Saturday searching, the one that consistently looks aloof right, the one that’s consistently packed in your carry-on. “Buy one and be done,” a wise fashion editor already wrote. (It’s accurate she was attempting to absolve a $75 tube of lipstick, but we anticipate chastening is a abundant adage for appearance burning in general.)
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