Ask the Editor: White Pants for Work?

Feb 25, 2019

Can you wear white pants or jeans to work?  And if so, what do you wear them with?

Hi Abra:

My workplace has a really great dress code that can be summed up in: dress for the day. Meaning: wear nice stuff if you see clients but wear jeans the rest of the time.

I tend to stick with blouses or casual sweaters, dark wash jeans and flats. My issue is: we’re coming up on spring (someday, I hope.), and I’m looking at my wardrobe and I am at a loss as to if I can wear white pants or jeans. Is that business casual/casual work appropriate? Help!

Signed, Shopping for & Dreaming of Spring & Summer

White pants that, other than linen, are usually work appropriate.  I own these lined Antonio Melani pants.  They’re lining makes them opaque enough that they are still work appropriate.  Lined pants are very difficult to find, so if your trousers are unlined, make sure the fabric is a thicker weight and not see through.

White jeans are sometimes too thin to be worn to work as well.  But a thicker denim, should be appropriate.  In the past, some readers have argued that white denim is appropriate, but skinny white denim is not.  This depends on your workplace.

I own these NYDJ “Tummy Control” white jeans.  They’re high-rise, and for some reason, NYDJ lists them as tummy control.  They also come in a 31.5″ inseam for more petite ladies.  They’re wide leg jeans also come in plus-size.  I find them perfectly appropriate for work and flattering to boot.

If you’re looking for white pants, I think Dillard’s always has the best selection.  They’re not all lined, but more options than most.  And if you intend to buy white pants for summer, let me advocate for doing it now.  So many times I have gone to buy white jeans or pants in June (you know, when you want to wear them), and they’re sold out in my size.

Now, for what to wear with them.

The struggle with white pants is that you want to look fresh and summery, but you don’t want to be dressed like a French sailor.  I like to wear my favorite Boden navy-and-white striped top with my white jeans.  But I try to tone it down with an olive utility jacket or a bright cardigan.

For a dressier work look, I like to wear my white trousers with a matching blouse and jacket.  So a black blouse with a black blazer, or a navy blouse with a navy blazer.  It’s a crisp look.

For shoes, choose a pointed toe heel or flat.  I like to add a pop of color with red flats when I can.  When that isn’t advisable, I turn to my snakeskin or tortoise heels.

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  1. Amy says:

    I am reminded of this outfit you posted back in Sept., that I have saved, copied and felt fab in many times since:
    https://theworkedit.com/capitol/2018/09/05/a-bold-black-and-white-work-look.html

  2. Ana says:

    I work with the same type of dress code and if I’m not with clients, I wear white jeans pretty frequently in the summer (somehow white jeans feel less stifling than dark was jeans in the summer). My two favorite outfits are: (1) an all grayscale outfit with black blazer, white and black patterned blouse, white jeans, and snakeskin flats or heels; or (2) bright blouse, white jeans, and metallic flats.

  3. Diane says:

    Just came here to say that I was stuck on what to wear yesterday as a lot of my pants are too tight right now, but I have some white pants that fit. I went through the archives for an outfit idea and found this so wore them with a navy top and blazer and had at least three people compliment me on how put together I looked. Thanks for doing these posts!

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