Q: Any advice for styling white jeans? I finally found a pair that feels flattering. And I’m excited to experiment with new looks. Still, I’m not sure how to highlight their positive attributes.
A: I agree that white jeans can be tricky to style. We women are accustomed to wearing dark pants and skirts, so the switch to pale can spark insecurities. (Plus, if you’re accident-prone like me, white denim can be quite the stain magnet!)
But adding a pair of white jeans is a great way to expand your options for warm-weather casual outfits. So here are my tips:
Light-colored shoes generally look better with white jeans than dark shoes. Since the jeans are light, pale shoes will create a longer leg-line. Even if you don’t care to visually elongate your legs, pale shoes generally look more summery and natural with white denim.
Try pairing white jeans with a patterned top with a little white in its color scheme. This creates a look that feels intentional and complete. If you’re sticking to solid tops, go for bright colors, including coral, mint or yellow. Dusty shades such as olive, mustard and most jewel tones generally won’t work as well as bold colors, though pale pastels are an exception. White jeans also look fabulous with neutrals, including cream, ivory, pale tans and stone for an arty monochromatic look.
Want to appear as tall as possible in your white jeans? Try wearing a white top to create a column of color. You can then add a blazer, scarf, cardigan or other element for interest — and your long line will remain unbroken.
Bonus: Should your pristine white jeans become marred by coffee or spaghetti sauce, there’s always bleach!
Q: I’m packing for a European river cruise this month. My companions and I were discussing whether to take yoga pants for active sightseeing and comfortable travel. Would you recommend straight-legged pants with sneakers or a slight flare-legged style?
A: It depends on your goals. A straighter leg reads as more modern, but the cut is less forgiving when it comes to balancing your natural curves. A flared leg, on the other hand, is better for balancing shapely hips, but the look is not quite as contemporary.
Footwear is another consideration. If it’s sneakers all the way, flares or boot cuts will float over the tops of these slightly bulky shoes. Straight legs bunch up when worn with sneakers. If you can track down a comfortable pair of ballet flats, you’ll have an easier time rocking the straight-leg style.
Q: I’m always wondering how others pull off longer necklaces. I have a large bust (36 D). Whenever I try on a necklace with a longer chain, I feel weird about how it hits my chest. But I see other women with bigger busts pulling it off. Any suggestions on wearing this style with confidence?
A: I mainly recommend necklaces that fall above the bustline for women with larger chests. Why? Because long strands can bounce around and feel awkward. However, you might have some luck with longer styles that are somewhat large in scale and able to lie flat. Total flatness isn’t a requirement — but look for a design that hangs close to your frame without adding bulk.
Also, go for strands over pendants. A design with evenly distributed weight won’t look as dangly and awkward than a single charm on a long, thin chain. One of my colleagues also recommends long Y-chain necklaces for bustier clients. These tend to sit quietly against the bust without dangling or hooking over a single breast.
Q: I’m looking for tips on layering for spring. How do you make every layer look coherent and intentional? I usually can pull together a nice summer look, but springtime often means throwing on a cardigan or jacket that may not match. Or conversely, I put together an intentionally layered look, only to be thwarted by a hot day. Maybe the bottom layer looks strange by itself. Or the top is too sheer or tight on its own.
A: Try multicolored prints. They’re great for creating layered looks that look equally chic when a certain element — a blazer, perhaps — is removed. Say you put together a cardigan, top and skirt that creates a gorgeous triad of colors. The spell will be broken as soon as you overheat and ditch the cardigan. If, on the other hand, you choose a printed top, it won’t matter when the cardigan is removed. You’ll still look pulled-together and intentional.
Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.