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The White Pants Conundrum: An ode to doing what you want

By in Culture

Good analogies are born frequently from shared experiences. I believe this particular experience is shared by many — one that is rife with the potential for a motivational metaphor.

At the young age of 15 years and nine months, I came to a realization. For a very long while, complacency and my insecurities had ruled my fashion sense. This manifested as sweats, a t-shirt and a hoodie, every day of the week, no matter the weather. 

Midway through high school, I figured that perhaps clothing that looked good and made me feel good would be a worthy substitute for clothing that made me feel only okay and looked — well, decent at best.

Thus began my journey into fashion, which has since taken me to first appreciate, then desire to break, every one of the rules. 

I quickly gathered an appreciation for streetwear and its numerous denominations. In the wake of designer Jerry Lorenzo’s label Fear of God, I found grunge aesthetics to be all the rage. At the time, bleached denim, distressed garments and flannels were the go-to for people digging for Instagram likes. 

So, I did what I had always done when exploring new territory: I took inspiration from what was popular, implemented only a scarce few elements, and avoided the bandwagon like society avoids reputable news outlets in the face of global pandemics. With a little bit of searching, I finally incorporated a coveted pair of distressed white joggers into my budding wardrobe.

Now, where does this become a conundrum, and how the hell is this text supposed to be an article on motivation?

As I would soon come to discover, white pants evoke an odd reaction from people around you. You are gawked at like you’ve left the house in a space suit for wearing them in the dirty winter or spring. In fall, it’s taboo to wear them past Labour Day — more on that later. This leaves summer, which is far warmer than is acceptable for pant-wearing.

This leaves you with zero out of 365 days in a year where it makes sense socially to wear white pants. To the fashionably immature kid I was, this was soul-crushing. One of my favourite new pieces was out of style, indefinitely.

The world had to be mocking me, giving me no acceptable time or place to put on these pants with a tragically clashing t-shirt and flannel. So I hung them up for a while, and thought not of them save for the occasional wistful look into the pants section in my closet.

However, as I grew and my fashion sense changed — and, thankfully, matured — I decided that I didn’t require permission to wear a pair of pants. Bleach exists, so what’s a little dirt? Who cares about an outdated practice that, according to a Marie Claire article about wearing white, was meant “to separate the old money elitists from the new money group”?

Yes, the trope that you cannot wear white after Labour Day was likely perpetuated by people with too much money who wanted to appeal to their feeble superiority complexes. White was seen as the ideal vacation attire, reserved only for those rich and privileged enough to decide that they were allowed to make rules for its use.

And this is what I call the White Pants Conundrum. Society and the grander universe will find innumerable ways to prevent you from doing things you like. Maybe it’s a severe lack of time to chisel at an artistic passion project. Perhaps you can never find the tools that all the pros use and swear by. Or maybe you just want to wear a goddamned pair of white pants.

In an unabashed cliché, the moral is to just do it. If there is no right time now, there likely won’t be for a very long time to come. There may be a whole zero out of 365 days with textbook conditions. So make the time, or throw a double bird to society, and wear your white pants.

Gavin Robertson

Graphic: Anh Phan | Design Editor

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