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New Styles and Performance Features Give White Jeans New Life This Summer

When it comes to white denim this summer, there are no rules.

“We see customers buying white denim earlier and earlier every year,” said Loretta Choy, Old Navy SVP and general manager of adult merchandising. “Right now, it is all about breaking the traditional rules of fashion—from wearing white denim year-round, to mixing different prints and patterns and wearing sneakers with dresses—which makes dressing easier and more fun.”

And brands and retailers are helping white jeans shed their reputation for being difficult to shop for by introducing comfort and performance fabrics, more fits and also encouraging women to make the jeans their own through styling.

Old Navy Clean Slate technology allows women to live in their jeans without the fear of getting them dirty as the technology repels stains and spills. “Consumers love this technology,” Choy said. “It takes the worry out of wearing white, because spills and stains easily wipe right off.”

Clean Slate is currently offered in three styles on the retailer’s website: a mid-rise curvy skinny jean, a mid-rise super skinny jean and a mid-rise super skinny ankle jean with the added bonus of having built-in sculpt, alleviating the frustration that often comes with shopping for white jeans.

The combination of style and comfort is always important, Choy said. Along with sculpting jeans, Old Navy is introducing a sculpting knit legging with the appearance of a traditional jean and its popular High Rise Rockstar Super Skinny jean with secret slimming pockets. The front pockets help hold the tummy in for a slimming and flattering fit for all body types. This style, Choy added, is a big story for the brand, which is offering the jean in both white and a broad range of washes.

old navy jeans
Old Navy’s High-Rise Secret-Slim Pockets Super Skinny Rockstar Jeans Courtesy

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Brands are building in features for a more flattering and comfortable fit. “From a fabric technology standpoint, Macy’s is offering a cooling denim fabric that is definitely worth wearing through the hotter months,” Suzanne Anderson, Macy’s women’s ready-to-wear senior fashion director. “Fit solutions like tummy control are also still exciting for our customer and very prevalent in the market.”

White denim is on Macy’s “The Edit” this summer, including a Style & Co denim skirt and Bermuda shorts and Lauren Ralph Lauren straight cropped jeans.

And there are more ways to wear white jeans this summer.

“While the skinny jean is still in style, you might want to have some fun with a pair of white denim in a cropped kick flare silhouette or with details such as unfinished, frayed hems or light distressing,” said Layne Cross, Stitch Fix styling supervisor. “You can even opt for a not-quite white wash like a barely blue or dusty pink.”

Consumers that have sworn off white jeans may give the jean another try with one of the season’s popular wider silhouettes like the mom jean or utility jean. “Add a new staple fit to your wardrobe this summer with a cropped, wider leg jean with exposed buttons,” Anderson said.

White denim is the ideal blank canvas for summer’s bolder fashion trends. “Pair your white jeans with a top in some of the season’s trending prints like gingham and vacation florals—think updated Hawaiian print,” Cross said. “Living Coral is this season’s Pantone color, so show your style savvy with a linen top or tank in this vibrant hue.”

Or, Cross suggests taking the classic denim on denim trend one step further by pairing white jeans with an oversized or distressed denim jacket.

White jeans also suit the romantic prairie styling popular on the festival circuit. “For a great way to refresh your classic white jeans for Memorial Day weekend, try pairing your favorites with either a beautiful eyelet or volume sleeve blouse,” Anderson said.