The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is a style archetype that feels about as old as denim itself. And while for some, this arduous journey culminates with a pair of classic blue jeans, for others, it breaks off into an entirely separate search for something even more elusive: the perfect pair of white jeans. “It is so hard to find the perfect pair of white jeans because they — naturally — show too much if they don't fit right or if the fabric is off,” Still Here Co-Founder and Creative Director Sonia Mosseri says. This notion of ‘showing too much’ is less about modesty and more about the difficulty of designing white jeans so they look and feel similar to their darker-hued counterparts. “It can definitely be a bit tricky, but once you find that perfect pair, it tends to quickly find itself in that denim rotation,” AGOLDE Design Director Erin Meehan notes.
Throughout the last several decades, there have been standouts in the category that have inspired current day iterations, namely those throughout the ‘70s and ‘90s. “Back in the 1990s, Kate Moss always kept it classic and tomboyish in white jeans and really mastered the slouchy look,” Meehan says. She also references Milla Jovovich’s all-white bandage look in the 1997 sci-fi classic The Fifth Element; a film that inspired the brand’s new Lana Slice Jean. “I tend to find references in sci-fi movies when creating the collection in the most unexpected of places.” For Mosseri, you can’t bring up notable moments in white denim history without mentioning names like Princess Diana or Jackie O, whose iconic Capri outfits were immortalized by photographer Settimio Garritano.
While the hunt for the perfect white jeans is no easy feat, seeking out a few key design pillars will help you find a well-crafted pair that you’ll wear not only for years to come, but also all year round. “I think white jeans (or as we call our light colored jeans: 'bone jeans’), will be a huge wardrobe staple moving into spring and summer and even into fall and winter,” Mosseri says. "There is nothing cooler than a good winter white.”
Ahead, brush up on the pillars that comprise a perfect pair of white jeans and shop the picks that resonate best with your personal style for a wardrobe refresh.
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Pillars of Perfect White Jeans: Rigidity
Arguably the most important quality to look for in a pair of white jeans is the rigidity of the denim. “You should stick with rigid denim and stay very (very!) far away from anything with stretch, especially if it's a true white,” Mosseri says. “The thicker the denim, the more you achieve that cool utility look, which I think is the stand-out angle of white denim.” Adding to that sentiment, Meehan nods to that perfect blend of something that shapes to your body but doesn’t stick to your body. “When it comes to white jeans, I always tend to think the more rigid the fabric, the better,” she adds.
Pillars of Perfect White Jeans: Rise
Meehan notes that there’s room to play when it comes to design elements like silhouette, hemline, and rise. “Feel free to experiment and test different options out that best suit you,” she says. To achieve that tomboyish Kate Moss look Meehan mentioned before, she recommends a mid rise, straight leg — but sized up so it can be worn slouchier on the upper hips but will still show your shape. For Mosseri, her go-to is a high rise. Generally speaking, somewhere in the mid to high rise range is what will look most natural; perhaps better to save the low-slung silhouette for other washes.
Pillars of Perfect White Jeans: Fit
In terms of fit, Mosseri’s motto is the bigger the better. “An oversized, high-rise, relaxed, or wide leg is definitely the go-to for me,” she says. If you tend to eschew baggier shapes, white denim also translates particularly well to a straight leg, with a hemline that hits at the ankle bone. “Also, don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted territory when it comes to unique silhouettes and elements in white denim,” Meehan says. “We recently introduced our Pieced Angled Jean which quickly became a favorite amongst our community, which has a stepped waistband and exaggerated relaxed leg.”
Pillars of Perfect White Jeans: Tone
White denim often comes in a few different tones ranging from a bright white with cool tones to a warmer off-white hue that’s often referred to as ‘bone’ — picking a shade is a personal choice, but the latter ‘bone’ versions are often easier to style with other colors and patterns as they don’t contrast as harshly in the overall palette of your outfit. Also, if you’re going for a white-on-white outfit, mixing a bright white shirt with a warmer-hued pair of white jeans is a nuanced way to achieve the look.