What image does white denim conjure for you? Perhaps it’s Jane Birkin in low-slung bootcuts, complete with a basket bag and a cropped white T-shirt. Or does your mind drift towards “pob”-era Victoria Beckham, sporting spray-on skinnies teamed with oversized sunglasses? One reference feels timeless and enduringly chic; the other, perhaps not.

White jeans have long been considered a style minefield: unflattering, impractical and difficult to wear. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Zara Tindall proved recently at the Badminton Horse Trials in white jeans, a navy blazer and a white T-shirt. Blue jeans would have felt too casual, trousers too formal; instead, her slightly cropped, white kick-flares were the perfect middle ground. It’s no wonder that white denim is a trend that returns summer after summer, given how easily it lends itself to practically every occasion: lunchtime barbecues, trips to the pub and even less formal office environments can all make ideal backdrops.

Choosing a pair of white jeans is similar to buying any trousers – cut is paramount. Be guided by this summer’s key shapes and the denim styles that usually work best for you. When it comes to colour, white jeans are available in a shade range akin to the most neutral Farrow & Ball paint chart: think everything from the brightest white to stone, vanilla and ivory. Again, your choice will depend on personal taste and how resistant your lifestyle is to stains. Optic white is smart and calls to mind the glamour of the Italian Riviera; slightly “dirtier” shades are easier to style and show marks less.   

Tindall’s bright white pair is cut to a flattering crop, which suits most body shapes and pairs well with trainers or on-trend ballet flats. Paige’s raw hem, high-rise Anessa style (£250, Feather & Stitch) is a good alternative, falling to the perfect length to ensure you won’t have to endure muddy or rain-sodden hems (an all-too-often occurrence over the course of British summer time).

 Anessa jeans, £250, Feather & Stitch

As well as proving practical, cropped wide-leg styles are the most current way to wear white jeans; steering far clear from the skinny shapes of old, they’re both easier to wear and more modern. French favourite Sézane’s Le Crop jeans (£95, Sézane) in the mottled ecru shade are “without hesitation” the brand’s most popular shape, says founder Morgane Sézalory. “The cut is perfect, whether you want to wear them day or night, with a flat or heels, with a knit or a more structured blouse,” she says.

Le Crop jeans, £95, Sézane

If you’d prefer something full-length, long and loose-fit jeans are just as stylish this season. Hush’s Abi pair (currently £81 down from £95, Hush) would look cool worn with an indigo denim shacket (£119, Aligne) at the weekend, and office-appropriate with a striped shirt (£95, WNU) and an oversized blazer (£365, Ssense). “Personally, I love how put-together I feel in white jeans,” says Melissa Dick, Hush’s chief creative officer. “Finding a timeless style that fits you perfectly and feels effortless is well worth it.”

Abi jeans, currently £81 down from £95, Hush; Indigo denim shacket, £119, Aligne; Striped shirt, £95, WNU; Ganni double-breasted blazer, £365, Ssense

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a mid-rise, straight leg style, which will endure year after year. “It’s a failsafe option,” says Heajun Park, womenswear design director at 7 For All Mankind. “Our best-selling Tess trouser [£220, 7 For All Mankind], would be my go-to for a relaxed fit with a clean silhouette.” Sézane’s Brut Sexy (£95, Sézane) is close to perfect in this department and comes in two lengths.

Tess trouser, £220, 7 For All Mankind

Brut Sexy, £95, Sézane

For stylist and designer Sarah Corbett-Winder, off-white is the most forgiving shade to choose. “I think ecru is the kindest and most expensive-looking colour,” she says, citing Princess Diana and Kate Moss as her white jean wearing icons. “And I’m a huge fan of high-waisted styles, too. Why wouldn’t we want to elongate our legs?” She advises pairing them with more white “to keep things super fresh and chic, then adding a pop of red – be it shoes, a lip[stick] or sunglasses. If in doubt, add some blue denim or a classic stripe. When wearing white jeans, ask yourself how the French would do it, and you’ll be onto a winner.”

Not totally convinced? Clothes rental platform Hurr has seen searches for white denim rise by 134 per cent in the last two weeks, with the styles from Ganni, Celine and Nanushka proving popular. “White denim is a great trend to rent, as it’s a look that often pops up in the spring and summer, rather than all year round,” says Hurr’s founder, Victoria Prew. The brand’s new Flex service allows customers to rent pieces for up to 30 days, so you can test-drive a pair before committing to a purchase.

With so many choices when it comes to cut and colour, there really is a pair of white jeans out there for everyone – and you’ll find them the answer to multiple summer dressing conundrums. Corbett-Winder wears hers “in exactly the same way that I would any other denim” to add a lighter, brighter touch to her existing staples. The only rule? Steer clear of white skinny cuts: some things are best left to a Noughties-era Beckham

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