When to wear white after Labor Day

When to wear white after Labor Day

Q. I attended an evening party recently and a couple of men were wearing white pants. What’s going on? I thought white was no longer in fashion in the fall. 

A. You sound as if you are somewhat of a stickler for most of the traditional “fashion rules,” as am I. Knowing what is considered the correct way to dress has always made sense to me for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is that following the established rules allows a man to relax and get on with his life. He does not need to spend excess time and energy thinking/wondering which items are  appropriate for the occasion and which are not. He need not expend effort acting as his own clothing designer for each event, and can, instead, concentrate on clothing items he likes within the range and the other important elements of life.

So, you are right that most white trousers are often moved to the back of the closet after Labor Day . . . this is true with some seasonal exceptions. Certainly white cotton and white linen dress trousers are not designed for fall and winter wear. But white pants range in dressiness from informal white jeans to smart white wool dress trousers and there are a number of exceptions to this “rule.”

  • White denim jeans are not as common today as they were a few years ago. They tend to be noticed and make you stand out in a nice, not-too-obvious way. They project a man’s sense of style. And because they are a blank canvas, you can dress them up with a navy blazer or down a knit polo shirt. Plus, they are right on that line between trendy and timeless, which means that guys of any age can wear them and look good. To answer your original question, white jeans can be worn any time of year. By changing the colors and textures of your tops and shoes, they can work all year ‘round. 
  • Lightweight wool dress trousers in almost pure white, known as “winter white,” or ivory, or off-white, is a choice that not only bridges the seasons at this time of year, but also helps to add variety to dressing in the cooler months when closets can be flooded with nothing but dark colors.  
  • Although not always office-appropriate, fine white wool dress trousers are a handsome addition to a well-dressed guy’s wardrobe. They can be an expensive item, both in their original cost as well as in their upkeep, but they bring such an attractive note to the other clothes you own, that I have no trouble recommending them . . . with one additional bit of advice. Check to see how transparent the white fabric is. If it is not totally opaque, be sure to select undergarments that more closely match the color of your skin. That is to say, instead of white boxers or briefs, buy ones that are light gray or beige so their outline does not show under your trousers.

My favorite look for tops to wear with white bottoms is anything with a sharp color contrast, such as a dark blazer or a pastel-colored sports jacket worn with a dress shirt in a good-looking stripe or check. The mixture makes for an elegant preppy combination.      

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