Style

White is the new (blue) jean

For a summertime last-minute date or a ladies' night out, Mercedes Bender's go-to outfit is white jeans with a bold tank, dressy heels or sandals, and bold jewelry.

“It never disappoints!” Bender said.

Yet she observes on her denim site, jeanotype.com, that many women don't fully appreciate the power of white jeans, which make up only about 15 percent of purchases.

She doubted them at first, too.

“It took me a while, but I found both flattery and practicality in my low-rise skinnySiwy's,” Bender said. “They are one of the few ankle lengths that a petite woman such as myself can wear without chopping off height.

“I always wear them with heels, but I can easily transition to the flats that I keep in my car when my heel expiration time occurs. Plus, I don't have to worry about stepping on the back of the pant legs and ruining them. The low rise is flattering for me – I have a shorter torso – and Siwy's rounded back pocket makes my rear look great!

“With so many people stressed out about the economy, (people) are just finally glad that summer is here and are trying to do it really big and have a good time,” she said.

Have those white jeans ready.

Reasons you shouldn't deny yourself this purchase:

“You don't have to spend a lot because it's not about the wash, the way it is with blue jeans,” said In Style fashion director Hal Rubenstein. So, if gas is guzzling your disposable income, try on an $8.98 pair for size (from the Dear line at Steve & Barry's stores).

They partner perfectly with the hot trend: vibrant color.

There's a rise and fall for everyone this season – high, long, low, cropped. “I kind of like them low-slung and sailory,” Rubenstein said. “But for women, buying jeans is like lipstick. It's such a personal thing.

“Put it this way,” he said. “Whatever jean you love wearing, get it in white. And never go away for the weekend without it in your bag.” One trick that many veterans of white jeans employ: Have a tailor sew the front pockets shut, after removing the inside material, to eliminate bulk. Bender did with her Siwy jeans: “Which made my near-perfect jeans perfect.”

Worried about stains? “You can bleach them,” Rubenstein said. Over-bleaching might leave a yellow cast, curable via a supermarket bluing product such as Mrs. Stewart's Bluing.

Men can look masculine in white jeans; just choose a darker sandal or Top-Sider with them. “It keeps a guy from looking fey,” said Rubenstein, who personally loves Levi's, 7 for All Mankind and Diesel jeans.

Ignore the antiquated rule of wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In the fall and spring, Bender tucks her white jeans into season-appropriate boots.

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