STYLE POLICE: It's all in the jeans

OK, Bros once wore them - but guffawing polo players still do. Yet white denims are cool again, insists JAMES SHERWOOD

This week the Daily Mail breathlessly reported that Prince "Cool Wills" William wore wraparound shades to the Cartier Polo. Well, it's hardly a fashion happening on a par with, "Who shot Gianni Versace?" But polo did set Style Police's trend antenna spinning. Maybe we're still having flashbacks of Score!, the fabulous Jilly Cooper's chafing thigh summer blockie.

It's a fantasy that polo is becoming the common man's sport. Equally slim are the chances of the champagne-quaffing polo set affecting street fashion. But Style Police's eyes still turn towards the polo field this week - as in on what's going on around the thigh department of drop-dead gorgeous Argentine polo players. Why are white jeans looking so fabulous for high summer?

Who can forget the last time they were hot? Bros was number one and black Dr Martens were cool. Yep, it was the Eighties. Boys who wore white jeans looked very Stephen Gateley. Girls in them failed to realise they made their bums look like an ice fissure on the face of K2. But that was then. This season Helmut Lang, patron saint of bacon-slicer sharp menswear, presented his usual white cotton drill pants. For spring/summer 99, he cut them crotch-huggingly tight and showed them with a pink shirt unbuttoned to the navel. It reminded Style Police of nothing more than a Jilly Cooper hero on horseback.

Last week Suzanne Costas, designer of ubercool Earl Jean denims, excitedly told Style Police about a new pair of Earls in ice white. "I've got a feeling about white denim," she says. "It's looking fresh again." When Costas says white denim is looking fresh, you listen up and listen good. It's like Marco Pierre White saying fondues are back...

What we're not seeing yet is "the masses" in white denims. For now, we're still taking advantage of the brief British sun to get the most out of your three-quarter length crops. But mark Style Police's words: white denim will be major for autumn/winter and maximum come next summer.

How to wear them

Don't, on pain of death, Sloane white denims up with a Hackett three- button shirt or loafers. Never do the "Cool Wills" white jeans/navy double-breasted blazer thing. Polo may be the inspiration but unless you are South American with an estancia full of ponies, it's not a good look.

Earl Jean white denims for women are hipster, streamlined and kick out into a boot cut at the hem. Perfect with a skinny black le smoking-style jacket which, if necessary, hides the K2-sized bottom. For men, crotch- huggingly tight is fine if you've got the legs to fill them. A black or white sleeveless tank is a suitable top half and black Prada Sport shoes work like a full-stop on your feet.

To make white denims cool, treat them as urban essentials - which means getting them dirty. If there's one lesson to learn from polo players, it's how high-voltage sexy scuffed white denim can look. Pristine looks too shop-window dummy. This is the Nineties, so Persil-white is out.

Where to buy them

Tight, white hipster Earl Jean (pounds 95) pants are stocked at Whistles, Harvey Nichols and Shop. You'll probably need a polo mallet to beat off the hungry masses desperate for a pair of the limited A/W stock. You have been warned. Helmut Lang does white cotton drill pants, and Harrods always stocks a great edit of Lang each season. Style Police discovered the best white denim polo jeans by Scapa, a label with its own polo team whose Scapa Sport label features classic tight whites (from pounds 60), stocked nationwide.

Address book

Earl Jean at Shop (tel: 0171 437 1259).

Helmut Lang at Harrods (tel: 0171 730 1234).

Scapa Sport (tel: 0171 434 4333).

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