Definitely post-Labor Day… note the sweaters
When I was very young and first working in magazines in the 80s, we had tear sheets as our main point of influence. There was no Pinterest, and no Instagram, just pages ripped straight out of magazines and tacked to a bulletin board. A favorite, for me, was French Elle, which at the time was a skinny little weekly publication that would arrive (from France!) to my desk at Conde Nast. I would drop whatever I was doing to devour it. Truth be told, I loved the ads as much as the fashion... all the glass-jarred yogurts and working-girl prepared foods (boeuf bourguignon in tiny plastic packages, single-serving haricots verts) were exotic enough to make it onto my board.
But in this one particular photo, Ashley Richardson, blond and buxom and long-legged, was leaping across the page in stone-colored jeans, tan cowboy boots, and a Dutch blue shirt. For me, this was the ME that I wanted to be. At once French chic and all-American, tomboy-sexy and simple. I was on the hunt to recreate it. Believe it or not, white jeans were not a "thing" in 1986. I wandered the streets for several weekends and finally came across a stone-colored pair of Wranglers in Modell's, the old sporting-goods store near my apartment in Tribeca. I bought two pairs and wore them nearly every weekend for years. Tip: when you find something you love, buy two. I should have bought four, because they finally fell apart after the rips in the back just wouldn't stick to the iron-on patches anymore. And as you can see, they were such a big part of my life that I had to keep a pair for the symbolism, disintegrated denim and all.
the thrashed old Wranglers that I couldn't bear to throw away
Now I sell — and wear — white jeans all year round. In the early days of my shop, I witnessed women who were still on the fence about how late in the season they could wear them... the words of their mothers echoing in their heads telling them no white after Labor Day. But if I'm honest, I wear white jeans more often in the cooler months myself. It will, in fact, be Labor Day this weekend, which marks the unofficial end of summer. We are all sick of sandals and novelty prints and wispy tops, and while it's not cold enough yet to seem like the end of the season, we are all dying for fall clothes. White jeans make the perfect transition base. Switch out your sandals for brown driving mocs or tan flats and layer a lightweight cashmere sweater over your t-shirt. It'll prove useful in the air conditioning, but it can go over your shoulders and give you the fall colors you're craving when you walk back outside into the 80-degree weather. And if you need more inspiration for later on in the season, Tonne Goodman at VOGUE is a great example of the cold-weather white jean. This is another tearsheet that lives on my board and made a huge imprint on me. They styled the model to look like Tonne in her signature camel coat, black turtleneck, and white jeans. It's an amazing shot. And if you want to look as much like Ashley Richardson as I did, a pair of cowboy boots is fantastic too.
You need this, and I hardly need to promise because you probably own a few pairs of white jeans already. We sell lots of them, but our newest is from my own label. The perfect trim, straight leg. Tan pocketing that won't show through. And thick-enough denim that you don't see every bump on your backside. Levi's makes a good cream pair in nonstretch denim that feels a lot like those original Wranglers I got at Modell's. And there's a great pair of cropped flares from M.i.h in a stretchy optic white. And as for that Ashley Richardson photo... the original inspiration? I went down a rabbit hole trying to find it on Google Images to share here, only to come up short. The picture will just have to live in our imaginations. It might be even better that way.
more inspiration from the Atlanta shop moodboard… Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair