Friday, February 6, 2009


In the beastly month of February, a young man's mind turns to the impending spring. And with the spring comes the time for white trousers!

White trousers are ignored to a great extent today, but they can make a dashing statement, and, whilst not truly essential to a gentleman's wardrobe, they are a versatile addition to it.

Your whites should be cut along the same lines as your khakis, plain front and generous in the rise and the leg. Cuffs are a necessity on these.

Foremost among white trousers are the classic: white flannels. White flannel trousers may be a stark, hard white or they may be any number of shades of off-white to a genuine cream color. My favorite white flannels are, in fact, cream color with a dusty blue pencil stripe running through them. Quite sporty, yet they can be dressed up with a jacket and tie. That is the beauty of white flannel slacks – they can go from a sport shirt and an Optima cut Panama hat to a blue blazer and a bow-tie with ease, and they always make you look smart, just a tad dressier than those around you without being over-dressed. In the words of dear Emily Post, " If some semi-formal occasion comes up, such as a country tea, the time-worn conservative blue coat with white flannel trousers is perennially good."
The only shoe correct with white flannels is the white buck: a finely napped white suede, or "buckskin", shoe with a thick red crepe sole. You keep them brilliant with a chalk bag, normally included with the shoes. These are really the only white shoes for a gentleman. White patent loafers are right out, even if they have Gucci buckles on them. They are simply wrong.

Second to white flannels are white twills, made of a fabric similar to your khakis. Also in this category are the somewhat lighter weight white sailcloth trousers and, lightest of all, white poplin. For the summer, all are appropriate, but, bear in mind, white poplin trousers tend to be a wee bit translucent, so choose your undergarments appropriately. The red hearts may be cute as a button in the bedroom, but you don't want the boys at the club seeing them! The great thing about non-flannel whites is that you can get away with leather or canvas deck shoes or other casual shoes with them – you are not restricted to white bucks.

Contrary to popular myth, in this day and age, white is not restricted to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Whites are appropriate more to climate than to date – if you are spending Thanksgiving in Kawai, then white flannels and a blue blazer are de rigueur. On the other hand, if you are summering in Aukland, then you may want to don your winter togs and leave the whites at home.

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