Combining items that carefully walk the line between formal and casual usually ends in a win – but not always. The question is, can you really wear a white shirt with khaki pants?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to wear a white shirt with khakis in casual, smart-casual, and business-casual settings. Consider wearing a blazer over the white shirt in business-casual environments where there is more of a risk of underdressing.
But there’s a whole lot more to it.
After going through a few great outfit ideas you can try out for yourself, we’ll run through some essential tips for wearing it to perfection every time.
Let’s get to it.
3 White Shirt And Khakis Outfits To Inspire You
We’ll go from the dressiest way to wear it to the most casual way.
Try them out – there’s a good chance that one of them would be most appropriate for the specific setting or event you’re going to.
Items: White Dress Shirt, Khaki Pants, Navy Blazer, Dark Brown Derby Shoes
This is one of the dressiest ways to wear it – ideal for a “business-casual” setting. Let’s talk through exactly why that is:
Firstly, we’ve gone for a white dress shirt here. They’ll typically be made from a “dressy” fabric or weave, possibly with a subtle sheen and a wrinkle-resistant texture.
Think 100% cotton, poplin, or even broadcloth.
“Khakis” are essentially just chinos (i.e pants made from chino cloth) with a classic khaki color (a pale shade of brown).
While they’re ultimately a casual item, some khakis will look dressier than others.
Dressy khakis will usually have a tapered, slim fit, a subtle break, and possibly even center creases.
An easy way to dress up an outfit would be to pop a navy blazer over the shirt.
That’s exactly what we’ve done here.
Finally, finish up with a pair of black or dark brown dress shoes.
Oxfords can sometimes look a little too formal to wear with khakis, which is why we’ve gone for a glorious pair of dark brown Derbys here instead.
Items: White Chambray Shirt, Khaki Pants, Grey Shawl Collar Cardigan, Navy Blue Suede Shoes
We’re dressing down a notch here – diving head first into the realm of “smart-casual”.
The style and texture of the white shirt are crucial to how casual or formal this combination looks overall.
Here, we’ve gone for a white chambray shirt instead of a dress shirt. As you can see, it has a more relaxed and rugged texture to it.
Instead of a blazer, consider a smart shawl collar cardigan – ideal during the fall and winter months.
During the warmer months, ditch the outerwear altogether and consider wearing the white shirt on its own.
To dress down the shoes, consider a pair of suede dress shoes instead of the shinier grain of leather we went for in the dressier example above.
To make the outfit just a touch more visually interesting, consider a pair of suede shoes in a more exciting color.
The navy blue suede Derbys in the image above adds a pop of color to the outfit, while still being dark and muted enough to not draw too much attention.
Items: White T-Shirt, Blue Denim Jacket, Khaki Pants, White Low-Top Sneakers
It’s hard to deny that this “white shirt and khaki pants” outfit looks a whole lot more casual than the previous two examples.
Instead of a button-up, we’ve gone for a white T-shirt here.
But you could easily swap this out for a similarly casual white shirt style such as a polo of Henley if you wanted to.
Layer a blue denim jacket over it and you’re left with a rough-and-ready combination that’s just perfect for casual settings.
An unbuttoned flannel would also work really well here.
The khakis make for a great alternative to the more obvious choice of denim jeans here.
In fact, khaki pants can be a great way to dress up an otherwise entirely casual outfit.
Finally, finish up with a pair of sneakers.
While you could go for a bulkier, louder, and more in-your-face pair, it’s hard to go wrong with white low-top “dress sneakers” like the ones in the image above.
5 Tips For Wearing A White Shirt With Khakis
Here are some essential tips for getting this combo right no matter where you may be wearing it.
Make Sure It’s Appropriate For The Dress Code
Remember, a white shirt and khakis combo should only be worn in casual, smart-casual, and business-casual settings.
It should never be worn in formal or business-professional settings where you need to wear a 2-piece suit instead.
Here, you’ll want to avoid wearing any khakis combination altogether, no matter how formal the white shirt may look.
The beauty of this combo is just how well it thrives in a variety of different casual settings.
You’ve got dressier ways of wearing it for business-casual settings, as more relaxed ways of wearing it for smart-casual settings.
Consider The White Shirt Style
As mentioned earlier, the white shirt you choose to wear with your khakis will strongly influence how casual or dressy the combination looks.
Here are some white shirt styles (i.e fabrics/weaves) you should consider in “business-casual” settings when wearing khakis:
- 100% Cotton
Here are some for smart-casual settings:
- Oxford Cloth (i.e the OCBD)
And here are some for when you’re wearing khakis in truly casual settings:
At the end of the day, you could wear any of these shirt styles with the same pair of khakis and it would work.
Khakis are incredibly versatile like that.
Your choice of white shirt should really be determined by the dress code/event you’re going to.
Tie Vs No Tie
When wearing a white shirt with khaki pants, consider embracing the smart-casual or business-casual aesthetic by not wearing a tie at all.
It isn’t to say that you can’t wear a tie.
It’s just that the more relaxed vibe that khakis give you can sometimes be at odds with the stiffer appearance of a necktie.
Remember, a white shirt and khakis combo should really only be worn in casual settings. Even in business-casual environments, a tie wouldn’t usually be necessary.
In fact, there are many who adopt the “no suits, no jeans, and no ties” rule to the business-casual dress code.
So, if you feel the need to wear a tie with this combination, ask yourself whether khakis would be appropriate to wear in the first place.
There’s a good chance a 2-piece suit would be required instead.
If you are wearing a white shirt and khakis pairing to a casual setting and simply want to wear a tie as a statement, consider a more casual tie style.
Knitted ties work especially well, with the rough texture of the tie suiting that of the chino cloth.
Blazers Work Oh So Well
Black, navy, grey, and blue blazers work exceptionally well when wearing a white shirt with khaki pants. It’s an easy way to make the combination look a touch more sophisticated and elegant.
They’re especially handy in business-casual settings where there’s more of a risk of underdressing.
Popping a dark and neutral blazer over the white shirt is a good way to reduce this risk.
In more casual settings, consider a blazer in a more vibrant and eye-catching color. For example, try a burgundy or olive green blazer.
The shirt and the khakis are neutral enough for any blazer color to coordinate well – all that matters is that the dress code is casual enough to allow for these more exciting blazer colors.
The Shoes Should Suit The Setting
Black and brown dress shoes are great options when wearing a white shirt and khakis in both business-casual and smart-casual settings.
In truly casual settings, consider a pair of sneakers instead.
It’s really hard to go wrong with white low-tops – they’ll always look smart enough to wear with even the dressier pairs of khakis you may be working with.
If you were looking for something in between dress shoes and sneakers, consider those shoe styles that fall firmly within the category of smart casual.
Loafers are a great example, with horsebit, penny, and tassel loafers all working very well with khakis.
Suede dress shoes (eg. Derbys and monk straps) can also look great with khakis. The napped texture of suede syncs so well with chino cloth.
Once again, the versatility of our combination leaves you with a bunch of options. Let the setting or the dress code determine which you should choose.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a couple of FAQs on the topic.
Can You Wear A White Shirt And Khaki Pants To A Wedding?
It may be possible to wear a white shirt with khakis to a wedding, as long as the wedding has a casual or smart-casual dress code. It’s best to layer a neutral-colored blazer over the white shirt to reduce the risk of underdressing.
Avoid the combination altogether for weddings with a traditional or formal dress code, as a 2-piece suit would almost always be expected or required.
Can You Wear A White Shirt With Khaki Pants And White Shoes?
A white shirt can be worn with khakis and white shoes in truly casual settings where there’s minimal risk of underdressing. Ultimately, white sneakers would be the best option in these cases.
While white dress shoes do exist, they’re generally seen as eccentric and can look awkward when worn in the wrong setting.