Wear "white", men!
Most men only wear white, if it's a shirt, undershirt or underwear. Otherwise men usually avoid white, because they don't want to give off the wrong message or worry that it will quickly look dirty. Or they simply aren't sure how to combine it with anything else.
As we are all eagerly awaiting summer, it's the perfect opportunity to add more white to your wardrobe.
Originally white garments were associated with the wealthy - for a number of reasons, but mainly because laundering white clothes was expensive before washing machines existed. Wearing white was a visible indication that you had enough money to afford the luxury of its care. What's more, it showed that you weren't a mere labourer and didn't do any dirty work with your hands. White was also the colour worn by the elite while on summer holidays to fancy resorts and faraway countries, because of its cooling and reflecting qualities in hot sunlight. The rich holidaymakers played sports, which led to white becoming the standard colour of the tennis uniform.
The good news is that today we have the luxury of washing machines and relatively inexpensive dry cleaning, so wearing white is not just for the rich.
When can you wear white?
The short answer is in the summertime; the long answer is that it is possible any time of the year, if done right.
A white shirt is a standard. However, some lesser-known information about white shirts can be helpful to maintain the classic style. Originally, the long-sleeved white shirt with buttons and a collar, as we know it today, was seen as an undershirt that should be hidden: hence the need to wear vests and ties - all to hide as much white as possible.
Even today, if you are wearing a white undershirt, it should never be visible at the neck. To remember this style rule, it is useful to imagine the white t-shirt as underwear and it is traditionally not appropriate to show your underwear.
White looks particularly chic when paired with a suit or sport jacket in a cool colour (grey, blue). For warmer shades, such as a green linen sport jacket or a brown flannel suit, you should choose an ivory or ecru shirt (white with a warm yellow undertone) or a light blue to soften the contrast.
After the white shirt, white trousers are probably the next most common garment in men's clothing, although the number of men, who wear them, rapidly declines. Trousers can also be the most difficult white garment to keep clean, which may explain their rarity. On sunny, summer weekends, I prefer the Southern European atmosphere, created by wearing white cotton trousers combined with light linen sport jackets. White trousers can be more difficult to pull off at work, because they make a strong statement for themselves. Although you can combine them with softer or more subdued colours such as olive, brown or marine.
A navy blue blazer, double-breasted with golden buttons, and white trousers is, of course, a classic nautical outfit. Now you are ready for a boat trip, a city tour, a two-week cruise to the Caribbean or your own private yacht. This is the only place where white (admittedly in combination with other garments) can still evoke class consciousness and accusations of snobbery.
White trousers are particularly prone to quickly getting dirty.
The seams accumulate dirt and grime from the roads and your bottom can become soiled in a moment, if you sit on a subway or park bench. Buy cotton that can be washed at home. Treat and wash individual stains at the end of the day or shortly after they happen. In the rare possibility that a more extensive stain occurred, you can hand wash white cotton chinos or put them in the washing machine with cold water, even if the item states "chemical cleaning only". You can, of course, choose only to dry clean. Secondly, you spend less on white trousers.
related story: What kind of man wears red pants?