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Outfit Formula: The White Jean

If there is one item of clothing that I wear too much this time of year it’s my white jeans.

I wear them with everything because they have the magical ability to take the tops I’m bored with and freshen them up for a new season.

These bottoms always work with anything from a simple black tee to our go-to Boden Breton or a chambray shirt to a pretty floral blouse.

So for today’s Outfit Formula, I didn’t want to go back to what we’ve already done or what may seem obvious.

Trust that your white jeans go with it all. 

Instead, let’s talk about playing with neutrals, why it works and how simple swaps can make a dated look feel new.

As always, remember I often work with neutrals because they are foundational in a classic wardrobe and simple enough to help explain a concept so you can make adjustments for your taste.

I also happen to love layering neutrals. It’s the easiest way to create an elevated and elegant look, especially if you are on a budget.

Outfit Formula #16: The White Jean

For this week’s formula I’m using the Old Navy OG Hight-Waisted Straight Leg Ankle Jeans because they were crazy popular this week, and I like using items I know you have or just ordered. 

Available in sizes regular and tall in 00 – 30. They retail at $40, and you’ll get 35% off at checkout. 

Of course, there are other options, like the NYDJ Marilyn Straight Leg Jean, in regular and plus sizes here

I just ordered these Madewell jeans to try because they are straight and curvy with a lot of stretch. All sizes available including regular, petite, tall and plus

Because I find white jeans so versatile (we’ve already used them as part of Outfit Formula #8 and #10) I’m doing another two for one post.

There’s a lot to chat about so let’s dive in. 

Below are two Basic Formulas to focus on: 

And here it is brought to life two ways:

Outfit Formula #16 & #17: The White Jean

White jeans with either a tan coatigan, tan tank, bone leather belt, and tan mules or a cream cardigan, tan woven bag, and tan slide sandals


White Jeans, $40, take 35% off at checkout

Mules, $80 | Cocoon Coatigan Sweater, $150 |  Tank, $25 |  Leather Belt, $60 | 

and Slide Sandal, $268 | Cardigan Sweater, $45 |  Woven Crossbody Bag, $30 |  Earrings, $14 

Let’s start on the left. 

For years, the popular Pinterest look was skinny jeans, a tank, and a long cardigan.

And while there is nothing particularly wrong with it, it could use a fresh spin. 

This look is the perfect update, with a lot of flexibility. 

Start with your jeans; you can still wear skinny if that works better for you; above, I’m featuring a straight cut. You’ll get a little more room with the same slim-leg effect. 

Then you’re going to pick your layer.

Here I’m using this stunning cocoon coat from the Banana Republic. It’s like a duster and topcoat in one, and you keep it on like a blazer. 

This replaces the long cardigan, making the look more tailored. 

You can use other options, like a long blazer or this kind of drapey trench

Next is the top. 

You can go one of two ways here. 

Either coordinate the top to the pants or the top to the layer. 

For example, if you want to create a long line with a monochrome look, wear a white top, tank, or thin sweater. 

Or, match the top to the layer like I did here with a dyed-to-match tank, or because I know what you are going to saythey also have a tee-shirt, so your shoulders are covered.

Shopping Tip: When buying a garment in a specific color, take a minute and look for other coordinating pieces. They call the layer Maverick Tan in this look, so I searched on the BR site for other items in the same color and found the tank and tee. This way, you know you have things that work together before checking out. 

This braided belt is a beautiful detail to add some texture and help define your waist.

Note: You’re wearing this belt as an accessory, not to hold your pants up. And the belt goes with the top. If you were wearing the monochrome look, I’d use a similar style in white. 

Finally, I wanted light tan suede mules, similar to the Jenni Kayne we picked up at the Nordstrom Sale last summer. (If you have them, start wearing them!) 

But I wanted a more affordable option. It took a minute, but I found these by Steve Madden.

They are under $100, are the right style, and finish the outfit

Our second look is an outfit I think I’m going to wear this weekend, so stay tuned I’ll post it on Instagram. Other than the sandals, all the pieces are crazy inexpensive. 

I’m pairing the jeans with this sweet and casual cardigan also from Old Navy,

Mixing the white jeans and cream sweater makes a monochrome look that plays with tone and texture. 

And if you want to wear color, go for it! This sweater is available in yellow and rose – either would be pretty here too. 

We’re wearing the sweater as a top, so all you need underneath is a light neutral cami and keep the buttons buttoned. 

I’m sharing another splurge-worthy sandal from Tory Burch for shoes. I like the woven detail and subtle logo embellishment. 

The take away is if you are wearing head-to-toe ON you need a better quality element to ground the look. Any of the better sandals we’ve featured recently would work here. 

Then for accessories, our go-to hoops from Amazon. Thank you to everyone who sent me a note about how much they like them; they are such a find!

And for a bag, this rich tan woven clutch is also from Amazon. I bought it a few months ago, and every time I carry it, I get compliments. The quality is excellent for the price point. 

52 in 2022!

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Outfit Formula: The White Jean

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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Friday 8th of April 2022

Megan, I've lost count of how many years I've followed you via email and social media, FB & Instagram. Love your philosophy & posts. I saw your recent posting on FB and decided to let you know why I'm disconnecting from Instagram. In the past week it has asked for my birthdate and I've decided to not give it to them. It's a gentle erosion of my privacy and I don't want to knowingly contribute to it. I'll keep up with you via email and FB, but will not be logging on via Instagram.


Thursday 7th of April 2022

Megan, Please keep us posted on the Madewell jeans! I’ve been eyeing them myself, but haven’t purchased them because of the price point. I’ve gotten some of the ON white jeans and am super impressed with them too, which is also making it difficult for me to rationalize paying so much more for the Madewells. Rebecca


Thursday 7th of April 2022

I love the detailed tips on how to pull the outfits together! My Madewell order of the white ankle jeans you suggested just arrived (still awaiting the Old Navy jeans for comparison). Since I often order a Curvy fit, I decided to try both the Curvy and Regular fits in my typical size and one size down (since reviewers often said they stretch). I found them to be generous so I kept the Curvy in the size below my typical size. Can't wait to try them with one of your formulas!

Beth Crawford

Thursday 7th of April 2022

I really love the outfit formulas you are sharing with us. They are great ideas or reminders of the way to use our clothes. I have lots of neutral’s and I sometimes forget how well a column of color can look. Thank you for everything you do for us I really appreciate it !