I love white pants, and own several pairs of white jeans. Each time I wear them someone asks me how I do it without looking like a slob. It’s a good question, I am the Queen of Klutz. I’m known to trip on my own shadow, and can never drink a cup of coffee without spilling at least a dribble on my shirt. Yet I can not only wear white pants and jeans, but wear them a second time without bleaching them to death in between. My tips for white pants and jeans success:
Carry Stain Remover
My go-to is a Tide-to-Go pen. Small enough to fit into a pencil loop in a work tote or slip next to my lipsticks in my makeup bag, I have one in my office pencil cup, one in my purse, one in my kitchen junk drawer, and usually a couple other ones floating around in various bags and drawers around the house. Use it liberally and if it doesn’t all go away, wait an hour and reapply.
Wash Hands Often
I drink a lot of water when at work. Each time I refill my bottle I wash my hands. Each time I visit the restroom I wash my hands. When I put my lunch in the microwave I wash my hands. After eating I wash my hands. After highlighting invoices or budgets I wash my hands. Most stains come from unconsciously rubbing hands on legs when stressed, sweaty, or smoothing your clothes.
Use a Cloth Napkin
Paper napkins are a joke unless you’re wiping away a tab of guac from the corner of your mouth. When you pack your lunch for work throw in a cloth napkin or a hand towel. Keep one in your bag and drop it on your lap when dining at a paper napkin establishment. A cloth napkin will absorb most spills while paper will not only float off your lap but let a drip soak right through. Which is more awkward, being the person with a cloth napkin at Chipotle, or being the person with a salsa stain on her thigh? Not only will you be protecting your pants, you'll be protecting the earth!
Steer Clear of Newspapers
I love grabbing the free daily paper and enjoying it on the subway ride to work, but any time I’m wearing white I’ll end up wearing the newsprint. Even if you’re careful, it will get on your hands which may touch your trousers. Stick to your novel or be even safer with an e-reader on white jeans days.
Spot Clean When Possible
Too much laundering and too much bleach will destroy your white jeans or pants before the season is over. Spot clean any issues as soon as you are home, use enough water to rinse away any cleaning products, and let air dry. I swear by this homemade stain removal concoction of Dawn and hydrogen peroxide; I use it on everything from white linen or denim to ivory tropical wool and silk blends.
Consider The Rest of your Ensemble
Other fabrics can transfer onto white. The biggest culprits are rinse-colored denim, suede and nubuck handbags and boots, and unlined leather. While double denim is hot right now, it’s not the best choice to pair your dark denim jacket with your white jeans. A piece that is weathered, stonewashed, vintage, or lined will be a safer bet.
Buy Machine Washable
If you’re worried about spots, do not even consider white clothing that requires special care. If you spot treat (the spot remover I mentioned I also use as a pretreater), there’s no need for hot water and bleach for white garments. I usually do a hot water/bleach wash at the beginning of each season but otherwise stick to pretreating, cold water and line drying of my white pants and jeans. Even I won’t dare to get away with dry clean only white pants!
Do What You Always Do
Do you wear khaki? Gray? Beige? Lighter colored denim? How do you get away without looking like a mess in those? Stains happen, it’s a fact of life. Last week I wore white jeans to the office and when I took them off that evening I noticed that I had splattered foundation on one thigh that morning. I walked around for ten hours with tan dots all over my right leg and NO ONE NOTICED. White pants and jeans can seem terrifying, but are quite versatile, stylish, and wearable even if you're a stain magnet. White is no longer reserved for the months between Memorial and Labor Days, so now's the time to get brave and consider a pair of white jeans for your wardrobe!