The Report

How To Wear White Without Embarrassing Yourself

Summer can be a messy business. Follow these simple tricks to keep your nose (and shirt) clean

There are two types of people in this world: those who can wear white without spilling stuff on themselves and those who wear their breakfast sausage on their sleeve. If, like me, you are the latter, someone who puts on a pair of white jeans and immediately sits on gum, the kind of person who chooses to wear white on a rainy day and ends up with mud splatters up to their calves, a sweet idiot who proudly wears head-to-toe white, then orders spaghetti bolognese… You know what? You get it. We’re slobs, the lot of us.

But there are the others. People who look striking and elegant in cream linen blazers and trousers. People of class and obvious intelligence whose sneakers still look box-fresh six months post-purchase and whose accessories are sunglasses and hats, not random blobs of ketchup on their lapels or shirtsleeves. You may have the feeling that you can never be one of these people. As a woman who, fearing disaster, didn’t wear white to her own wedding, I know what it means to give up on having nice things. But, friends, we can be better. We can wear white without publicly shaming ourselves, I promise you. Not because we won’t spill anything – let’s face it, that’s a pipe dream – but because wearing white successfully is all about how you put the outfit together, as well as the tools and accessories you bring along for emergencies. Also, sheer chutzpah. Here’s how to get white right.

Know your limits

WikiHow hilariously suggests the following tips for avoiding drink spillage (I’ve chosen my favourites): a) walk slowly, b) don’t hold a beverage on an empty stomach, c) know your limits. The phrasing of the latter is poetically shady, but it’s good advice. Don’t be a hero and try to carry four glasses of red wine from the bar to your friends. Slow and steady wins the white-clothing race.

Come prepared

Gear up. All men should have a stain remover pen in their style toolbox (or their canvas tote). Stain remover pens are an absolute necessity and, by some chemical wizardry, always (caveat: not always) seem to work.

If you’re caught without a pen when a sauce splash strikes, grab salt from the table, a clean napkin and cold water. Season your stain, then dab it with the moistened cloth (by all means, retreat to a bathroom for this activity). Don’t scrub. Don’t panic. Don’t draw attention to the wet spot when you re-emerge. Keep smiling and please put your napkin on your lap next time.

Bring backup

A consummate spiller knows to bring camouflaging reinforcements. A contrasting sweater tied insouciantly around one’s waist will hide grass stains. A properly positioned belt bag can obscure a coffee drip.

Lightweight linen scarves are dashing, Italianate stain shrouds. And you can add a smidgen of Americana to a backyard barbecue with a bandana knotted round the neck, which will in turn obscure hot dog-related accidents in that area. The lesson here is to have extra layers on hand for mustard’s little surprises.

Stand tall

One trick I like to employ when wearing white is to never sit down. Don’t sit on your commute. Don’t perch at a garden party. Don’t flop down on a park bench or the side of a fountain or, above all, the ground. Don’t go on a carousel. Don’t ride a horse. Never bring your derrière anywhere near a solid object you haven’t wiped clean first. Better safe than sorry. Added benefit: no wrinkles.

If you must sit, for the love of God bring a towel to sit on. Frescobol Carioca’s beachy range includes graphic options (think of the points you’ll get for sitting on something as stylish as your outfit) that will protect your seat and look very cool.

Take a risk

Tricks aside, white is an elevated swerve for summer. A man who wears white trousers, formal or casual, is telling the world that he’s confident in his own abilities not to make a mess of himself, and that confidence is like a glowing aura that makes you seem like a winner even if you’re scrambling. Wearing white, cream, ivory, whatever you want to call it, is a flex.

Two final notes. Trousers should have a little room, whether you’re wearing denim or more formal attire. Do not follow the lead of Love Island’s Mr Anton Danyluk with bright white jeggings. T-shirts should be ironed (yes, we know) – it really makes a difference.

Stay safe out there.

(You gotta) fight for your right (to wear white)

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  • Loro Piana Silk and Cotton-Blend T-Shirt

  • Officine Generale Kurt Slim-Fit Denim Jeans

  • Veja Campo Suede-Trimmed Leather Sneakers

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  • 120% Garment-Dyed Linen Shirt