White Jeans: No longer the preserve of Euro-trash
Lisa Armstrong: 'If you thought wearing white jeans was second in subtlety only to having 'I live in Monaco: I have very bad taste' branded across your forehead, let's go through this slowly.'
Galileo's biggest moment - apart, obviously, from the name-check in Bohemian Rhapsody - was championing heliocentrism in the absence of an observable stellar parallax. Mine will probably be the discovery that white jeans are possibly the greatest invention since the similarly hued sliced bread.
I realise I come to this white jeans party a couple of seasons late, but my colour prejudice was stoked by their blingy, tinny, jingly-jangly Euro-trash associations. It just shows you need to keep your wits permanently about you in this business, because as Bob the-bard-of-white-jeans-himself Dylan might put it, the times they are a-changing. To be honest, they've already changed.
If you thought wearing white jeans was second in subtlety only to having "I live in Monaco: I have very bad taste" branded across your forehead, let's go through this slowly.
Two years ago, aeons in fashion terms, Michael Kors told me in no uncertain, yet mournful, terms (because like me, he believed that not only were they as slimming as colonic irrigation, but certainly more edifying) that black jeans had become problematic. Once the passé-partout of fashion, they had become as useless as a fast-track visa at Heathrow border control. Wear them with a black top and you look like liquorice. Wear them with a white top and you look like a waiter.
To look contemporarily chic, he opined, you had to go for white jeans. I don't think you can forsake black jeans if you live in northern climes. But some of the überest of über fashion creatures have been wearing white jeans in rotation with dark; lead, as is so often the way with über-movements, by French Vogue 's editor-in-chief, Emmanuelle Alt. The real blinder is they've been wearing them not with the predictable unholy trinity of spray tans, sparkly peep-toe Louboutins and a footballer boyfriend, but in a more grunged-up, all-year-round sort of vein.
None the less, it all passed me by, not least because Alt is so skinny she could make a chip packet work - in fact, she's probably got Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci working on an ironic chip packet evening dress right now. The scales finally fell from my eyes only a fortnight ago when a colleague arrived in the office - on one of our rainiest days so far - in white straight-legs, black jumper and black flat biker boots. As I bear witness, she did not look as though she'd just jetted in from breakfast with Princess Stephanie. Au contraire, slinking about the office in her "not too tight, not too thin jeans", she looked slick, urban and perfectly dressed for this hormonal weather front we're experiencing.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but only if you're still brooding over images of a very tanned, dazzlingly bejeaned Liz Hurley dangling off the side of a Valentino yacht. If so, cast aside this visual shackle, and instead imagine a more wintry scenario - any of those shown here, for instance.
Fiona Collins, head of Gap UK's PR, says she's been eyeing up "a grey-ankle-sock-and-camel-coloured-sandal combination, which looks incredibly chic with white. But the jeans need to be the right length," she cautions: just above the ankle, where, if you're genetically blessed, there will be an oh-so feminine little indentation. "A teeny kick-flare is nice, or the French pencil straight look. And don't get hung up on that pristine look. It's fine if they get a bit of dirt on them."
"Absolutely nothing skintight," emails Tibi designer Amy Smilovic, from New York, after we'd discussed them over dinner in London (you don't think I've become obsessive by any chance?). "If you wear them so that they're slightly slouchy and skim the hips or thighs, there's no reason why they should be unflattering. It's about the cut, and wearing them either with a sloppy sweater or some kind of tailored jacket, whether it's a blazer or a biker. And by the way, my design team's working on the perfect pair for spring 2013."
With insurmountable evidence pointing to the longevity of white jeans, I recently bought my first pair - J Brand's Gigi. The flattering kick-flare, which was designed, oddly in my view, to hit the calf, flicks out at the ankle if you're around 5ft 5in - mega flattering. They're also creamy rather than that blinding Simon Cowell Veneer White, ergo softer on a pale skin. Others swear by Gap's four options. Alt wears Topshop's.
Whichever style you choose, other than a private jet, I can't think of anything more practical to wrap yourself in when the weather's iffy, but you can't face a full- on heavy winter uniform. Best of all? White jeans are 100 per cent machine-washable.