How to Wear White Pants: The Shortcut to Summer Style

Each season one piece of clothing stands out as the shortcut to style. In summer it’s white pants. White pants are like a  blank canvas. They’re the perfect backdrop for so many chic summer looks. Here are some white pants that are popular right now, and ideas for how to wear white pants to look casual and modern.

White Jeans 2018

Best White Pants for Summer

As the summer heats up, white pants in cotton, linen, or light, stretchy denim start flying off the shelves.  Most women like a bright white pair, but you may prefer softer ivory or antique white if you find pure white is so icy that it washes you out.

From boho flares to everyday bootcut and sexy-skinny, there’s a style of white pants to suit every body type, so please don’t think you can’t wear white pants because you think they will make you look fat!

White pants are the kind of thing you need to refresh every year or two because white (no matter what shade) does fade and yellow. Also, even though white pants are a classic, the small details about them do change from one summer to the next.

Popular Styles of White Pants

For example,  this summer the focus is on hemlines. We’re seeing white pants with cropped, frayed hemlines, with braid, with pompoms!  Side and waist detail is also a focal point. There are white pants with side stripes, buttons, lacing, and ties at the waist.

white pants different lengths

Whether you like your white pants long and flowy, tight and skinny, or cropped and skinny or wide, there’s a silhouette to make everyone happy.

How to Wear White Pants

The best thing about white pants is they can be used to create outfits that are very casual or very dressy depending on which pants you choose and how you wear them. There are endless ways to style white pants!

Now the fun part… Here are four white pants outfits, each styled on a different theme, that to take you everywhere this summer. Have a peek.

White Pants - Nautical

White Pants Outfits

1.  Nautical Style

Nothing says nautical more than a pair of white pants and a blue top. (Bonus if it’s striped.) It’s a crisp, cute look but you don’t want to go ‘overboard’ (get it?) with so many nods to nautical that you look like you’re ready to set sail.

The best way to keep a nautical look casual and hip is to keep it subtle and use modern touches. See how I’ve done it here?

I’ve started with white pants, but instead of a wider, ‘sailor’ pants, I’ve gone with a modern white skinny jeans. The blue color of the top and front tie play up the nautical theme but in an understated way.

This is a casual summer look so keep your accessories and shoes casual. Slides like these are great for summer, and the tan color is refreshing. A cute pair of white sneakers would also look good. And ladies, please don’t weigh this outfit down with a big, black bag that holds everything but the kitchen sink. It’s summer – switch out your bag for something lighter and brighter.


White Pom Pom Pants

2. Boho Look

Summer is the perfect time to wear and enjoy an easy, breezy, and fun boho look. It’s easy to do this by adding a boho-style top but why stop there? This season it’s all about the hem, so a boho-inspired pair of pants like these cropped ones with an adorable pompom hem is a great way to update your summer wardrobe. You’ll be surprised how much mileage (and how many compliments) you get from them.

Add in a fun slide and an on-trend straw circle purse, and you’ll be one hot boho-babe.

White Pants - Tropical

3. Tropical Look

One of my go-to, no-fail casual summer outfit formulas is to take a pair of white pants and put it together with a summary, tropical-print top.

I love the palm print on this airy chiffon top, but I’m particularly crazy about the sleeves. It has a pretty drawstring that you can use to ruche the sleeves, so you keep cool while looking chic.

And while we’re talking about details, did you notice the scallop hem on the white pants? So pretty!


White Pants - Pastel

4. White Pants – Pastel Look

For those days (and nights) when you want to channel a more romantic look, there is nothing easier in the summertime than adding a flowy blush-pink top and blush accessories to a pair of white pants. It’s a lovely, soft look.

Most styles of white pants will do, but a flared pair look extra chic with this look. Which look do you like best?

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40 thoughts on “How to Wear White Pants: The Shortcut to Summer Style

  1. Hi Deborah, I love your site! You have helped me transition to my “older” style. Lol.
    I have a question- I am looking for a nice pair of white pants- non-see-through. I have Jean’s which I love, but every pair of nice white pants I find are see-through. Please help,

    1. Hi Tammy, What kind of white pants are you looking for? I have a lot of white jeans but I also have a pair of white cropped pants similar to these. I think the crop is so chic. I am not sure if this pair is see-through. They look good and the quality is good. I would say order a few pairs from Norstrom and give them a try. Why Nordstrom- free shipping and free return and they have a very liberal return policy so if it takes you a week to try them all on, no problem, you can ship them from your home for free anytime. Be sure to wear nude panties under white pants and best wishes! Deb

  2. Thanks for all the tips regarding wearing white pants this summer. I got some good ideas what to match them up with and look taller & thinner. I’m 5′.

  3. I am 5’1″ and weigh 160 pounds. I am very overweight. I would NEVER wear white pants and I do not even own a single pair of pants in any color! Everything makes my thunder thighs look even bigger than they are. I wear skirts and dresses that hide my big stomach and thunder thighs. (I have tried exercise and diet but can not lose the weight- health issues) So no, I disagree, not everyone can wear white pants in my opinion. By the way, I am 54 and even in my younger days did not wear white pants due to the heaviness issue. Let’s see some practical columns for us overweight girls, PLEASE.

  4. Not a comment on white pants, but would like to see you address women with larger upper arms. I call them to bat wings, I just can’t wear sleeveless. Shows how awful my upper arms look. Any advice. I see so many of everything that is sleeveless

  5. I’m wondering about the half-tucked shirt trend I am seeing where the front of the shirt is tucked just a bit in the front of the pant but left outside the pant on the sides and back. Is this look all right for those of us 40+++?

      1. Q. Burns,

        Don’t overthink it! Grab the center of the bottom hem of the front of the shirt and tuck in just that center part. Tuck it, so it stays, but don’t tuck too much of the shirt. Just the center! It will look and fall differently every time. That’s the nice thing about a French Tuck – it’s always casual yet stylish.

        I hope that helps!

  6. I have to buy the thicker white pants :) I’ve found Talbots has great options this year! I also have some from loft a few yrs back. But you’re right … please look in a full-length mirror!

    1. Helio. I have come back to eat crow. I said that ship has sailed, but then I tried on a pair of white pants. They look fine, but I’m planning to wear a long top or lightweight blouse-vest, as I feel slightly uncomfortable highlighting my bottom with white. Maybe this will pass. The secret is indeed quality fabric, and either removing or reducing the size of pockets. My new white pants are cropped at the right place and are slightly flared, which balances my pear shape. Thanks for opening my mind just enough to try this!

  7. I used to stay away from white pants when traveling because one spot and you can’t wear them again. Last summer for a riverboat trip I braved up and took white jeans, lightweight Felina tights, and a pair of Chico linen pants I hadn’t worn in ages. Surprisingly, I had several women ask where I bought those linen pants. They were sort of baggy because my size in Chicos’ pants is usually shorter than I like but they turned out to look nice with the tops I brought with me. My advice is to give white pants a chance. They are great in the summer; they make you look “cool” in several ways.

    1. I pack white pants, but I also pack black or navy. THEN wear the white with confidence until they if & do get a spot, then rotate into the darker bottoms. Go for it – that’s what Tide stain pens and laundry services are for.

  8. I can t remember when I wore white pants! But you showed me some beautiful ones and nice shoes! So I am beginning to wonder if I should not have to buy white trousers! Mm.

  9. I love white pants! I wear them cropped, jeans, linen and skinny. They look great with bright colors and always look clean. I think all sizes of women look good in any thing that is well cut. I’m 50, and when you put something on that you feel good in, you know you look good too!!

    1. Michelle, you should see my closet. I have white jeans, white cropped pants, white shorts. On the other side of the closet I have a ton of brightly colored tops. That’s my summer uniform. You always look fresh and crisp in white. Fit is key, and too tight in white doesn’t look right. So if you are debating between sizes in the white pants, go for the bigger size. Cheers, Deb

      1. This is such good advice. I have a local boutique owner who says the same thing. Oh, and heavens, NO patterned panties with white PLEASE.

  10. Hm… I wonder why it is assumed that women over 40 have problems with fat tissue, belly etc. I am 44 , 170 cm tall and weigh 52 – 53 kilos. Mine is size 36. Whenever I read all these articles about wejght gain after 40 I start to feel a bit… old. And it somehow makes me feel depressed.

    1. Hi Marta,
      Please don’t feel depressed. That’s great that you have maintained your weight. For some of my readers it’s a little harder with menopause etc. especially if they are curvy to begin with. Any extra pounds tend to go straight to that midlife middle. I wrote about white pants making you look fat because I find it is a common reason that women hy away from them. Black pants are a security blanket, but white is bright and shows more, so they tend to avoid them. There’s really no reason for this. So long as you follow these guidelines and get a good fit (not too tight) any woman can look great in white pants. Thanks for chiming in. Cheers, Deborah

  11. I used to hide from white and pastel bottoms, but became braver now that I’m on my 40’s. And honestly I dress better coz there are more options to choose from compared way back when. I guess as we age we become confident. And that’s what exudes more when dressing up. It’s not the color. It’s the attitude of carrying your clothes and the confidence of dressing up.

  12. White Pants on chunky thighs look awful. I am usually a size 3 or 5 (depending) and I even stay clear of white pants, and yes, I own a pair. I prefer long white linen skirts. Maybe it’s me, but white pants without a great body look doughty.

    1. TOO TIGHT white pants with too-short tops make one look chunky. Instead, choose opaque fabric, and stand in the SUN to look at the front and back in the mirror if possible. No one is going to check the size tag inside your waistband, either, so go up to a size that fits! You can do this. And your white maxi ROCKS all spring/summer long too. Love my maxis for summer.

      1. Hi Mick,
        I agree with the go up a size. It makes a big difference with white pants. No lumps or bumps which look extra bad when you are wearing white!

  13. Agree Deb !!! I’m a larger girl with big boobs and tum but I live in my white jeans in summer. As I do have a tum my jeans are always paired with a flowing top, and shoes are always neutral.
    I love the chic, Parisian look of white jeans and pumps and agree they make you look more youthful, contemporary & fresh.

  14. White jeans are so nostalgic for me. I wore them all summer at age 13 and i still love the idea of them.
    Other people must feel the same way – they are always out of stock when i look for them.

  15. I’m going to disagree on this one. I just think they’re not flattering on anyone but the leanest of women. Then there’s the whole keeping them pristine issue – the slightest of dirty marks, and they look awful.

    When you combine the impracticality with the unflattering aspect of them, that adds up to a big thumbs down. One fashion I won’t be wearing.

    1. Hi Lee, I have seen woman of all sizes looking gorgeous in white pants especially if you keep the outfit monochromatic. White pants, with a white fitted t-shirt layered with white gauzy blouse and some nude or white wedge sandles can be one of the easiest and elegant looks out there. The good news is that white can be bleached so if you do spill you can easily get it clean. Really you should try it, it is such a great look!

      1. Hey Deborah,

        How about some leads purchase nude/beige reasonable height heels for summer? Something no higher than 2.5 but not flats? I like a bit of height with a slim pants, it’s dressier, but who can do 3″+ high heels for longer than it takes to glance in the mirror and teeter towards it as your toes scream?

    2. Sorry, but I agree with Deborah’s thoughts. Women of all ages and shapes can look good wearing white pants or jeans. It all depends on how you complete the look. Adding the right pair of shoes and/or jewelry piece often makes the difference. Everything in moderation seems to be my fashion motto:)

      1. I love white pants – I’m in my late 40s and I wear them all spring, summer, and right into fall (I love my white pants w a gorgeous gray cashmere turtleneck I have in the fall – ai always get so many compliments). I found my current pairs that I like from Old Navy. Maybe I’m unusual, but I don’t have any problems keeping them clean.

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