The guide to all-white outfits for men
Dressing from head to toe in just one color has its advantages. It’s simple, eye-catching, saves time in the morning, and you can walk out of the house with the confidence that whatever you’re wearing matches.
All-black outfits have been a menswear staple for decades, and minimalist dressers swear by the understated power of navy blue.
Tonal dressing with greens or even pastels has been popular recently.
But white? A all white outfit?
Usually that’s left to ’90s boy bands, Simon Cowell strolling through a Mediterranean villa or P Diddy atop the bling. It’s a great look, and it’s easy to go wrong. Even the high priest of menswear himself, David Beckham, looked under-impressive (sorry, Dave) when he got married in an all-white suit.
So why the hell is this trend? The SS19 catwalks were sprinkled with all-white outfits, from sportswear to tailoring and surprisingly they looked good. Futuristic but comfortable, austere but in a good way. So how do you make clothes for white men without looking like you’ve seen a ghost?
How to style an all-white outfit
There is a gray area (and cream and beige)
First of all, when we say an all-white outfit, that includes off-white. Otherwise, you will look as white as a leaf. To add depth to your all-white outfit, consider chalk, ivory, stone, ecru and neutrals which can be especially flattering for those with an alabaster complexion.
All white does not mean all white
To avoid looking like a crime scene investigator, you can smash things up with contrasting shoes, belts, and accessories.
“Avoid black because it’s too confrontational,” says Hobbs. “Instead, go for tan or darker browns.”
Choose your fabrics wisely
As Nick Eley, ASOS Menswear Manager, says, “There are no set rules for all-white, but playing with different textures and fabrics is an easy way to soften the edges. The contrast of tough, matte fabrics such as denim with cottons and smooth linens is a good way to differentiate your pieces and avoid the onesie look.
Fit is everything
There is a good balance to be found when wearing white outfits. Skinny cuts are best left on Johnny Borrell circa 2006, while anything too oversized can end up feeling a bit ‘mom on family vacation’. “Stick to regular cuts or experiment with slightly exaggerated shapes and layering for a more interesting silhouette,” says Eley.
You are allowed to cheat
If the idea of all white fills you with dread, you can work your way to a similar effect while incorporating a well-placed stripe or subtle color.
“If I’m allowed to cheat slightly, I can wear a Breton top, depending on the weather,” says Hobbs. “I would also consider khaki as an almost neutral.”
Choose your schedules
The American rule of no-white after Labor Day is a bit strict for our taste. Instead, we stick with the (manufactured) guide to not wear white if there is snow on the ground.
Likewise, going for an all-white outfit means there are absolutely no leaks or hidden spots, so avoid if you eat spaghetti or indulge in red wine.
3 ways to wear an all-white outfit
“Unless it’s a Vegas wedding, I would avoid a real all-white suit,” Eley recommends.
For formal summer occasions, stone or ecru colored suits are much easier to wear and flattering, or try tonal combinations instead. Pair a white jacket with light gray on your bottom half or stone-colored top half with crisp white pants – just make sure both pieces are in similar weight and fabric texture with a decent contrast between shades .
Leave the tie at home and wear it with an open-neck shirt or t-shirt, which you can swap for a fine turtleneck in the fall. Turn things up with a neutral clutch and a good pair of shoes.
As is always the case with a chic and casual invitation, it’s worth analyzing the dress code a bit before going out. All white isn’t exactly suited for business casual, but it can be a great choice for weekend outings where a little more effort than usual is required (think: birthday drinks where you are bound to meet your ex).
A white Cuban shirt with ivory chinos and minimalist tennis shoes is an easy way to impress, though you can also go high-low by tucking a crisp white t-shirt into ecru tailored pants.
While white-on-white outfits may seem a bit simple, this is something you can easily remedy by crossing it with the uber-utility trend. It’s an aesthetic that revolves around pockets, suspenders, tech fabrics (and did we mention pockets?) – all of which help add interest to an otherwise monochrome outfit. Or for something softer, turn into a casual man with a white hoodie or sweatshirt worn with straight pants or jersey shorts in an off-white neutral. If you need contrast, dark sandals will do the trick, but if not, go for the look with a chunky pair of white sneakers.
Key pieces for an all-white outfit
The staple to end all staples is, unsurprisingly, a key part of most all-white looks. Opt for a shiny white crew neck in a classic fit that hugs your upper torso without strangling it, with sleeves that end midway up your upper arm. Or channel SW12 with an ace polo shirt.
Remember back in 2005 when we all thought white skinnies were cool? Well, just as a reminder, they are not. In the era of Scandinavian chic, your white jeans (or better, stone jeans) must be classic slim, cropped or worn with a big roll-up. If you dare to double down, wear it with a white (off) denim jacket.
Forgive us for insisting on this point, but when we say white tailor, we really mean ivory or stone or ecru or chalk. You don’t sell fried chicken.
In terms of fit and construction, steer clear of the sleazy fit that is currently all the rage and opt for a classic shape with rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and cropped, thin pants that gently hug the top of your shoes, preferably in one. light wool or cotton-linen blend.
Texture becomes even more important when you wear any color from head to toe, and knits are the fastest way to break up the uniformity. All white being largely a look for the warmer months, choose a sweater or cardigan with a light, open weave in a linen or slub cotton knit. On cooler days, try an ever more flattering cable-knit sweater.
The great thing about wearing white sneakers as part of an all-white look is that it doesn’t matter if they’re a little scuffed or soiled – if anything, it helps visually break things up. A pair of tennis shoes or Converse high top shoes go with any casual outfit, from raw and sportswear ready to chic and preppy.
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