Wearing White Pants – South Of France Style

Wearing white pants

What’s the first thing you notice when you arrive in a new-to-you part of the world?

For me, it’s always what people are wearing. For whatever reason, I almost immediately get a feel for the local style, whether that be dressy or laid back or something in between. And more often than not a single ‘look’ will stand out.

And so it was when we arrived in the south of France. The look that stood out for me was the fact that women of all ages, sizes and shapes were wearing white pants everywhere. From the morning market visit to the evening dinner date, white pants were clearly a favoured option.

I can honestly that white pants have never rated highly on my style radar. The Melbourne dedication to black, black and just a little more black has clearly influenced my own preferences over the past two decades. While I think l might have a pair of white jeans hiding in a drawer somewhere at home, I couldn’t guarantee their existence. And if they do happen to be there, I certainly couldn’t tell you the last time I wore them.

But our time in Nice has had me considering the potential benefits of wearing white pants. Especially during the warmer months of the year. The women who wore them well looked cool, chic and elegant. The white played nicely with tops of all colours (although personally I loved them paired with black – of course). And they really did have an ageless appeal that you rarely see when it comes to style. They looked as good on the women in their seventies as they did on the women in the twenties.

As always though, there were some outfits based around white pants that just looked better than others. Here are my observations on what works best when it comes to wearing white pants.

Wearing White Pants – My Observations

  1. Opt for slim over skinny. Pants that allowed a bit of room to move and skimmed over the natural lumps and bumps of a woman’s body looked the best. They also looked the most comfortable, especially in the warm weather that was on offer during our visit.
  2. Consider your underwear. This one may be too obvious, but the ladies who chose skin toned, seamless underwear over black options simply looked more elegant.
  3. Show some ankle. This seems to be especially true if you are wanting to wear flat shoes. My favourite looks fell an inch or two above the ankle. For my mind, the pants that finished somewhere near the knee looked too casual to allow you to get wide reaching wear from your white pants. 
  4. Go for medium weight fabrics. Anything too heavy looked uncomfortable, and anything too light gave way to other issues, primarily the fact that the pants became see-through. Mid-weight cotton blends seemed to work well.
  5. Take care to keep them bright white. Again, this one might go without saying. The ladies whose pants were brilliant white and stain free won the style awards in my mind. 

Tell me, are white pants a part of your summer wardrobe – and if so, what are your best tips for styling them? Or do you avoid wearing white pants at all costs? Either way, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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9 thoughts on “Wearing White Pants – South Of France Style

  • Alisa Bearov Landrum

    I live in the south of the US, and white pants are a ‘thing’ here…long, capri, shorts…and people are large here. A big swath of white derriere is not the most flattering. And knit or stretch woven fabrics in white tend especially to accentuate the cellulite.
    The exception that I think is flattering on most women is a combination of slim white capris (no pockets, no nonsense) in a midweight fabric (as you say) and a semi-fitted cotton knit overtop with a ballet neckline and 3/4 sleeves in a solid or stripe. Sandals or ballerinas or espadrilles. (Think St Tropez, I guess.) I wouldn’t wear that in a large city, though.
    Khaki is a nice alternative, and with a crisp white linen shirt the look is just as summery and more flattering on most women.

    • Janelle Post author

      Khaki is very much the ‘Melbourne option’ Alisa. It is possibly as far away from black as we get, and very much a summer colour for us, especially when you team it with white, as you recommend. In my mind, slim capris with nothing to bring attention to the derriere are the best option – I’ll be interested to see if I can find the ‘right’ option when I’m back in Melbourne.

  • Denise

    I love a white pant in summer, matched with a summery top & a little light leather sandal. Just remember slim white pant , loose flowy top never tight!!

  • Taste of France

    I really noticed the white pants on Saturday at the market. I think it’s because (1) it was gorgeous weather and (2) it was cool enough for white jeans. Jeans offer the benefit of being opaque. (And BTW, white underwear under white clothes also glows through…it isn’t only black that’s a problem). I do see women in thinner linen white pants on hot days and those tend to be more voluminous and also worn with a top that comes down enough to camouflage the underwear area.
    You are absolutely on point about the length. Shorter is sportier, but full-length somehow feels suffocating; ankle or just above is perfect for being classy without looking hot.
    If you buy white pants in 100% cotton or linen, you can easily dye them when they no longer are brilliant white. I have a pair of white jeans that I loved that are now cherry red. To remove stains, look for products that say “oxy” on the label and/or that they contain enzymes. I’m no chemist, but my understanding is the oxy is oxygen, like hydrogen peroxide, which bleaches. And the enzymes “eat” certain protein-based stains. Check out “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha” by Jolie Kerr, about how to clean anything.

    • Janelle Post author

      Jeans have been the only white option I’ve ever tried Catherine, for all the reasons you suggested. I’ll have to dig them out when I get home – they may save me some shopping!!

      PS. Thank you for both the cleaning and the recycling tips – there is certainly some good advice there!!

  • Jackie

    Hi Jenelle,
    It was lovely to connect with you and Scott this past weekend. I must admit I had not had time to peruse your blog beforehand and didn’t realize you had such a passion for French fashion!

    So I have a tip for you! Since moving to France the only place I have bought any clothing is at Emmaüs. You might want to check it out while you are in Carcassone. It’s their equivalent of the American “Goodwill store” but with way better clothes. I bet you can find some killer white pants for less than five euros!

    Bisous et bon voyage!

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you so much for the tip Jackie – I’ll definitely follow your advice and have a look while we’re here. And thank you for an amazing catch up over the weekend – we were so lucky to spend time with yourself and Chris. Talk soon. Janelle