Are White Pants for You?

June 6, 2016

Woman White PantsNo one is neutral when it comes to white pants.

How about you?

Are you excited the first time you wear them after a long winter or do you avoid them like the plague?

I have found that most women can wear them well. It’s a matter of finding the right combination of style, fabric, top and shoes to feel comfortable. While that might sound a bit daunting, I am going to share some ideas to make it feel easier and more fun.

But, first…

There are a lot of misconceptions about white pants and part of that is because there are a number of pitfalls that you want to avoid if you choose to wear them.

White Pant Pros:

  • They feel summery, fresh and different from your winter wear…what a relief!
  • When you tend to wear a lot of dark or rich colors, white pants brighten things up.
  • They do not absorb the heat the way black or a dark color does, so you feel cooler.

White Pant Cons (we’ll talk about many of these and refute some):

  • They draw focus to the lower part of your body.
  • They are revealing – showing every lump and bump.
  • They are dirt magnets.

First of all, let me assure that a well-crafted outfit that includes white pants can easily be as slimming (or even more slimming) than a haphazardly tossed together outfit centered around black pants.

Not convinced but willing to explore the idea further?

Here are some tips for choosing your go-to white pants:

What Fabric to Choose?

Denim: White denim is an all-time favorite and works for nearly everyone.  This is true for several reasons.

  • Denim is heavy enough (even the lighter weight denim) so that you don’t have to worry about the see-through factor.
  • Denim with a little stretch is a great thing. In most cases, the fabric is heavy enough that it holds you in and has a smoothing effect. But, if you get too much stretch or the fabric is too lightweight (or both), you will feel like every lump and bump is exposed and magnified. You have to try them on to know for sure.
  • Denim is durable and washes easily. Unless you spill blueberry juice all over it, most things will wash out.
  • These days denim is versatile. If you buy a nice pair of white jeans you can dress them up or dress them down and wear them almost anywhere.

On the other hand, denim can be a tad hot when the temperatures soar, so it tends to be best for spring and cooler summer days or when you are in air conditioning.

Linen: It’s one of the coolest fabrics, but the see-through factor is often off the charts. Occasionally you will find lined linen pants, but that usually defeats the purpose of wearing linen–which is to stay cool. And, some women can’t stand the immediate wrinkling that invariably happens with linen, although a linen blend can help that to some extent. The truth about linen is that you either love it or hate it.

Other Fabrics: You will find white pants in every imaginable fabric from cotton blends to polyester, rayon and nylon. The last three often create a very nice pant, but, in general, they will feel too hot as the temperatures rise. That said, many women forgo pants completely when it gets really hot out, and opt for dresses, skirts or shorts. So you can still get plenty of wear out of them—just not when it’s 95 and humid!

Combatting the see-through factor:

What do you do if your white pants feel nice and cool, but you don’t feel adequately covered.

  • Wear skin-tone, laser cut underwear – that way there is no risk of seeing the polka dots from your favorite pair of panties or a visible panty line peeking through.
  • Remove the pockets – Why designers put pockets in unlined linen or other lightweight/slightly sheer fabrics is beyond me. Seeing the lining of the pockets is unsightly and distracting and makes it very obvious that the pants are not opaque. But there is a solution: a tailor can easily remove and sew the pocket opening shut so you have a clean sleek line.
  • Do not wear these pants skin tight – If they are even the least bit sheer the tightness will leave little to the imagination. Plus, wearing them that tight undermines the main purpose of wearing linen pants which is to keep cool–air cannot circulate when the pants are glued to your body.
  • Wear a longer top – Wearing a top that covers your butt will generally put you more at ease when the pants are not completely opaque.

Styling White Pants So You Don’t Feel Conspicuous:

I find that the women who tend to have the biggest resistance to wearing white pants are predominantly those who feel self-conscious about the fullness of their behind, thighs or hips. They feel wearing white pants is like wearing a bright white neon arrow pointing at their lower body, and that’s never their first choice. Have no fear. While, yes, light colors like white do draw more focus, in general, when they are styled well the look is seamless and flattering.

Let me share a few ideas.

Right now, every imaginable leg width is in style: skinny, straight, wide, flair, palazzo…you name it, it’s available. Let’s explore several of them, and I will share some ideas for what tops to wear with them. You will see a few of those ideas here, and you will also find many, many more HERE  (with my thoughts and explanations included with the pictures).

A skinny white pant can work on many body types. It does, however, make your legs look shorter than wearing a straight leg or wide leg because the hem of the pant ends shorter than both of those other styles. Of course, if you make sure the skinny pant hem ends at or preferably slightly below your ankle, it will help elongate your legs. For more information about how to wear capri or cropped pants, read my article HERE.

Here is an example of a skinny white pant (the reason I chose this one is that the model is wearing it at the most flattering length):

Skinny White Pants

For tops, I generally recommend a top that covers (or mostly covers) your backside, especially if the pants have no pockets. Here are a couple of ideas:

This top is great. It is shorter in the front to help your leg line look longer, but it’s longer in the back to cover your butt (which many women prefer to do in tight, white pants). And, it comes in several colors.

Red top for Skinny pants Macys

Nothing says you have to wear a sleeveless top with white pants. Here’s a pretty, feminine style:


Or a casual summery top like this:

Red-White Striped Top

Capri Pants

First of all, avoid cropped (which is different from capri) white pants. These are pants that end just above the ankle. They do not balance anyone’s body and unless you have mile long legs they will make your legs appear much shorter. Opt instead for capris that end just below the widest part of your calf like these:

Capri NYDJ Pants


There are many more examples of flattering capris HERE.

For tops, since capris make your legs look shorter anyway, they tend to look better with somewhat shorter, or at least not boxy or too flowy, tops. Here are a couple of examples:

Casual soft teal tank with capris

Or how about a simple, casual blouse that you can wear buttoned up or open as a casual, lightweight jacket. (Please note also that if this blouse is too long on you, it can be shortened.)

Green White Blouse

Often when you are wearing capris you just want something super casual. This tank is great – flattering neckline and it skims the body rather than clinging to it. And, remember, if it’s too long, have it tailored. Yes, even if you are only wearing it casually. The $10-ish will be well spent and you will feel better wearing it.

Two things are particularly important when wearing capri pants.

  1. A shorter top will work best for most women. You want to keep the visual leg line long since the style is wider. Wear a shorter top, tuck your top in, or belt it and this will help extend the length of your legs. Avoid lots of long, flowy fabric on top or a boxy top unless the pants are high-waisted and the top is short.
  1. Wide leg pants must be worn very long—no more than ½ to ¾ inch off the ground. Yes, most models online are wearing them much too short.

If the widest part of your body is your thighs and you feel self-conscious about that, you might be better off with this style. It drapes from the thigh rather than going in and following your leg shape. By draping from the thigh, it creates a long line rather than making your thighs more noticeable. A heel on your shoe will also do the same. However, whatever style you choose, the top you pair with the pants also makes a big difference in how it looks on you overall. So do not dismiss any of them until you have played with outfit possibilities.

I also know that wide leg cropped or capri pants are in style right now, but buyer beware. They will generally make your legs look super short. I do show two pairs of capri wide legs that have a nice flow to them so if you are considering experimenting with this style, these could be a good place to start. You will find them HERE.

With wide leg pants, try a top like this:

Fitted Triangle Anthropologie Top

Or, if want to wear something a bit longer, be sure it skims your body and shows your shape like this:

Blue Hi-lo Top


Or make it professional work ready with a lightweight blazer:

Yellow Blazer

Or dress it up for an evening out by wearing something stunning like this:

Orange Open Shoulder Top

And, you’ll see many more specific ideas with comments HERE.

White Pants to Avoid

It is shocking to me how many unwearable, or should I say ‘shouldn’t be worn’ white pants are available. Who wears them or maybe I should ask who designs them? My recommendation is to avoid anything droopy or see-through or anything like the ones you will see HERE (labeled ‘White Pants to Avoid’).


I cannot leave this topic without at least touching on what shoes to wear with white pants. This is a fairly involved question, but it is an important part of how to complete an outfit—especially when you are not used to wearing white pants or are not convinced they work for you. My video will answer many of these questions as will the article I reference above about how to style cropped pants. You can watch it HERE.

One word of advice: If you are planning to add a pair of white pants to your summer wardrobe, shop now. Believe it or not, we are nearing the end of the summer shopping season and white pants can disappear quickly as the temperatures finally get hot.

Overall, I hope you are a bit surprised at some of the possibilities when it comes to adding white pants to your wardrobe. Use these ideas to inspire you to rock white pants this summer! Who knows…it could become your go-to summer wear.

If you have found a pair of white pants you adore, please help the women who are on the fence by sharing what you like about them and where to find them (if possible) in the comments section below.

If you consider all of the information above and feel incredibly overwhelmed, I invite you to set up a call with me to explore the possibility of working together. I can help reduce the overwhelm and make your shopping trips more productive and even fun! Schedule a call here: or check out my online course, ‘Dress to Impress–Yourself!’ which will give you the tools you need (through 42 lessons including many video lessons) to create a wardrobe you love:

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A Note About the Clothes: All of the garments pictured here (and in the catalogue) are vegan (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals). Please note that I am passionate about ending animal suffering and choosing cruelty-free clothing is just one aspect of a vegan lifestyle. If you feel the same way you are in the right place. And, if you have any questions about being vegan or what fabrics are vegan please let me know. I am happy to help and will answer any questions with kindness and compassion.

Some of the affiliate links may generate commissions for Total Image Consultants which helps support the time spent creating these very specific recommendations.

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