Ah, white pants. Donned the "look of leisure," or painter's pants, depending on who you ask, they've lived under the reign of seasonal rules since their inception. Some say they're only fit for summer and that wearing white after Labor Day signals you're of a "lesser status," at least that was the case in the early 20th century. City folks who could flee urban life for tropical oases did so in style, opting for a wardrobe that contrasted the drab dressers in cities they escaped from.
Nowadays, white pieces are more practical — laundry products prove capable of keeping whites nearly new, summers are hotter than ever — and we feel they're a lesser utilized utilitarian style still capable of making a statement. There are a few tricks to the trade, though: avoid ultra-thin fabrics that'll inevitably end up see-through, favor machine washable fits for easy cleaning and avoid super-skinny silhouettes (they're less flattering than black pants cut the same way).
Best Overall White Pants: Todd Snyder Japanese Garment Dyed Chino
Made in Portugal from 100 percent Japanese cotton, Todd Snyder's Selvedge Chinos break in like luxury denim. They boast a broken-in fit and feel fresh off the shelf and are bound to get better with age. Rough 'em up; wear 'em wherever. They're meant to be well-loved.
Best Upgrade White Pants: Olive Clothing Twill Volk Trousers
British contemporary clothing company Olive offers a pair of white twill trousers inspired by workwear silhouettes of yesteryear. They're dense — fit for both warm days and cooler nights — and feature a pair of pleats across the front and are slightly cropped at the ankle, courtesy of a pre-done cuff.
Best Affordable White Pants: Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans
The Holy Grail goes au naturel: Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans done in a hue they've dubbed "Optic Daisy." Available, with a few noted tweaks along the way, since 1873, this silhouette set the standard for denim production. They're straight through the leg and comfortably wide without being baggy.
J. Crew 484 Slim-Fit Stretch Chino
J. Crew's best-selling basic chinos offer a natural feel and fit, stretch when needed and reinforced fabrics at stress points (pockets, belt loops, cuffs). They're cut from a medium-weight 7.9-ounce twill, rendering them thick enough to prevent unintended previews and yet thin enough for the hottest of days. Plus, they're available in an array of waist sizes and inseams.
Alex Crane Cham Pants in Bone
These Alex Crane Cham Pants are cut from sustainably produced French linen in a shape reminiscent of classic denim. U-shaped pockets on the front are paired with bucket ones on the back, while the button is made from a Brazilian nut affectionately called "plant ivory."
Stan Ray 80s Painter Pants
Close your eyes. Envision white pants. A painter probably comes to mind, right? Stan Ray's 80s Painter Pants riff on the style donned by artists and contractors alike without succumbing to the less flattering features of more functional pairs. The side pocket and tool loop remain, but they've been altered to be more aesthetic than they are essential. This iteration is also cut slimmer and cropped a bit shorter than the classics — though, in this case, that's a good thing.
Noon Goons Glasser Jeans
California-grown skate label Noon Goons' loose-fit Glasser Jeans are bleached until off-white. They're made in America in the traditional five-pocket style and feature the sort of contrast stitching typically found on your usual blue jeans.
Tasso Elba Drawstring Linen Pants
Macy's private label brand Tasso Elba produces solid products at affordable prices. These Drawstring Linen Pants are no exception; they're sturdy, soft, flowing and well-fitting, all while clocking in under $70. They are dry clean only, though, so if you spill, you're forced to spot clean them (rather than rely on the power of bleach).
Mister Green Classic Pant
Mister Green — a "friendly shop for high minded people" — creates an eponymous line of made-in-L.A. apparel. Among the offerings is the Classic Pant, a workwear-inspired trouser cut from sturdy twill fabric with a plethora of pockets and two hammer loops. (It has "so many pockets we lost count," the shop confirms.) Relaxed yet rugged, they're an ideal part of an abundance of outfits.
Daily Paper Kareem Pants
Designer label Daily Paper's Kareem Pants comprise of two layers intended to lend texture and allure. The bottom track pant layer (65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton) fits like a traditional track pant with adjustable ankles and a drawstring waist. The 100-percent cotton lace layer drapes overtop, rendering the set "wearable art," DP designers add in the product details section. (We'd agree.)
Dickies Relaxed-Fit Utility Pants
Are you relatively risk-averse? Feeling uncertain about seeing yourself in some white pants? What about dirtying them during your first wear? Dickies' affordable Relaxed-Fit Utility Pants boast plenty of the design features we adore in the others on this list, but they're about 25 percent the price. The affordability also eases the stress of a potential mess. Break these in; spill something on them; we totally encourage it.