It’s fashion-official: off-white is the new black. The runways are awash with ecru — a light beige that’s softer, deeper, and warmer than its colder cousin, snow white. This creamy colour channels a sophisticated, dress-up vibe that effortlessly works across menswear’s favourite trends, from utility to chunky to preppy. To keep your cool in ecru, it’s all about layering textures, finishes, and shades, achieving a clean, coordinated look. Here’s how to serve up this season’s must-have vanilla flavour.
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- What is ecru?
- A short history of ecru
- Top tips to wear ecru for men
- Key ecru menswear pieces
- Take-home message
What Is Ecru?
Ecru is a creamy, light beige colour that sits somewhere between white and light grey-blue on the colour wheel. This futuristic shade is softer, deeper, and warmer than stark white, and a lot easier on the eye, too. Plus, it works particularly well against warmer hues that contrast too starkly with cool bright white, such as cigarette brown, toffee, or tan.
A Short History of Ecru
In fashion, the word ‘ecru’ was first used to describe the natural hue of unbleached cotton, linen, silk, or denim. In fact, the term originates from the French écru, meaning raw or unbleached. As the colour of unbleached silk, ecru has been on the fashion scene since 660 CE, when it was one of the traditional Japanese colours used in the design of kimonos. And as the colour of unbleached linen, it had its heyday in the early 1900s, when Edwardian ecru tulle skirts, night caps, and capes were all the rage.
Despite its ancient past, however, ecru is arguably a modern colour. That’s because, until at least the 1950s, ecru was regarded as the exact same colour as beige. The term ‘ecru’ was mostly used to refer to silks and linens in their unbleached state. But in the 1950s, ecru became widely accepted as a colour in its own right. Since then, this creamy colour has been adopted by various fashion trends, from preppy styles during the 1970s to those cringe-worthy coordinated boy bands in the 1990s.
Celebrities wearing ecru
Today’s take on ecru is a lot edgier, with baggy silhouettes and contrasting textures that channel a definite streetwear vibe. Travis Scott, Drake, Jay Z, Kanye West, and David Beckham are all fans of ecru’s modern revival, rocking head-to-toe monochrome and proving neutrals are anything but ordinary. Here’s how to make ecru work for you.
Top Tips To Wear Ecru For Men
- Dress for your shape
- Dip your toes in the trend with ecru accessories
- Or use coloured accessories to add contrast
- Work your textures
- Try tonal separates
Dress for your shape
Leaner lads will look great in all-over ecru, while bigger bods should keep it light on top and dark on the bottom. Teaming ecru with black can often create too stark a contrast, so pair an ecru tee with slate grey utility joggers or chinos in caramel or jewel tones instead for slick, off-duty style. And if you are wearing ecru on the bottom and a darker shade on top, choose weightier, denser, richer fabrics such as cotton, polyester, or wool flannel to avoid looking top-heavy.
Dip your toes in the trend with ecru accessories
Not ready to go all over ecru? Dip your toes in the trend with ecru accessories instead. Adding an ecru woven bean hat, baseball cap, or chunky-soled shoes to conservative combos of navy, grey, or brown is a quick and easy way of making your look more interesting. Alternatively, master two trends in one by rocking a utility-style ecru bag or chest pack with contrasting chain straps.
Or use coloured accessories to add contrast
For the true style aficionado, head-to-toe ecru creates a cool, minimalist look — just be sure to introduce some contrast and dimension with your accessories. Maroon red, light blue, tobacco brown, and forest green are all great choices for adding depth to this off-white shade, so work them into your outfit with belts, shoes, and bags. Dress up ecru joggers with navy suede loafers or pair with chunky black trainers for serious street style. For a smarter look, tan leather shoes or slip-ons perfectly polish off a pair of ecru chinos, while a maroon pocket square makes a dapper contrast against an ecru shirt. Gold accessories also look great with an ecru outfit, so add some bling to your getup with a gold watch or a pair of gold cufflinks.
Work your textures
Neutral colour palettes work well in subtly textured layers, and ecru garments tend to have more texture than bleached white pieces. Rubbery PVC raincoats, merino wool sweaters, and velvet corduroys are all taking on this versatile shade, so play around with these varied textures and weights to keep your all-ecru ensemble from looking too flat. Try mixing heavier and softer fabrics by pairing a cotton hoodie with thick polyester utility joggers and layering a padded gilet on top, then tie together with a soft wool scarf.
Try tonal separates
If all-over ecru isn’t for you, try flattering tonal separates instead. Earthy shades of stone, khaki, and brown, as well as light greys, blues, and lavender and — of course — crisp white, are all close tonal cousins of this season’s hottest colour. Mix and match these different flavours of vanilla to create a variety of stylish, neutral-toned ensembles. Tuck a crisp white tee into a pair of ecru utility joggers, for example, or pair an oversized ecru tee with ivory chinos. Dress up your ecru joggers with a light blue grandad collar shirt, or team an ecru hoodie with your favourite pair of light-washed denim.
Key Ecru Menswear Pieces
- Men’s ecru bomber jacket
- Men’s ecru overcoat
- Men’s ecru gilet
- Men’s ecru hoodie
- Men’s ecru tracksuit set
- Men’s ecru utility joggers
- Men’s ecru check shirt
Men’s Ecru Bomber Jacket
An ecru bomber jacket is proof that neutral garments can make head-turning statement pieces. This versatile wardrobe essential is the perfect compromise between casual and smart, and pairs well with basic garments in both neutral and rich, jewel-toned colours. Team with an ecru tracksuit or neutral-toned jersey shorts for an off-duty monochrome look. Alternatively, layer over a crisp stark white tee and black skinny jeans and add a pair of clean, low-cut white leather kicks for super sharp, street-ready style.
What to wear with an ecru bomber jacket?
- An ecru tracksuit
- Neutral-toned jersey shorts
- A white tee
- Black skinny jeans
- Low-cut white trainers
Men’s Ecru Overcoat
A longline ecru overcoat can elevate any outfit from sloppy to sophisticated in an instant, creating an elongated, streamlined silhouette that looks particularly stylish on taller dudes. Choose a double-breasted design with sharp shoulders to add structure to your upper half and layer over a plain black tee and skinny black jeans. Finish with your favourite pair of sneakers for a coordinated, contemporary combo that’s intrinsically stylish.
What to wear with an ecru overcoat?
- A plain black tee
- Skinny black jeans
- Black trainers
Men’s Ecru Gilet
An ecru gilet is the perfect layering piece to take you through the seasons. Gilets work best when layered over neutral tones, and an off-white gilet adds an extra dimension to this modern monochrome look. Alternatively, contrast your ecru gilet against tobacco brown chinos or navy-blue jeans for a bold, smart combo. Or for two-tone street style, layer over a long-sleeved charcoal top, team with ecru utility joggers, and complete the look with a pair of chunky black kicks.
What to wear with an ecru gilet?
- Tobacco brown chinos
- Navy blue jeans
- A long-sleeved charcoal top
- Ecru utility joggers
- Chunky black trainers
Men’s Ecru Hoodie
Ecru is much better at disguising stains than snowy white, making it a more wearable colour choice for lads who like to lounge. An ecru hoodie is also the perfect way to make your go-to tee and jeans combo look more interesting, and it looks awesome when paired with utility joggers for a casual, urban look. Choose a design with a graphic print in contrasting black or navy for added street style.
What to wear with an ecru hoodie?
- A white tee
- Blue denim
- Utility joggers
Men’s Ecru Tracksuit Set
Luxe up your leisurewear with an ecru tracksuit set. This creamy vanilla shade has given the traditionally grey-black tracksuit a modern makeover, comfortably bridging the gap between streetwear and loungewear with effortless, laid-back style. Layer an ecru bomber jacket on top and accessorise with a baseball cap, sunnies, and fresh white kicks to easily take this fresh loungewear ensemble from the sofa to the streets.
What to wear with an ecru tracksuit set?
- An ecru bomber jacket
- A baseball cap
- White trainers
Men’s Ecru Utility Joggers
Leave off-white skinny jeans to the Indie rock bands — ecru is a colour best suited to looser silhouettes, and one that’s ideally suited to utility joggers. Ecru mixes easily with the uber-utility trend, with all the pockets, zips, straps, and chains on these streetwise styles adding immediate interest to an otherwise monochrome look. For an effortlessly cool urban ensemble, team your ecru joggers with a matching ecru tee or hoodie, add a pair of chunky white kicks, and finish with your favourite shades.
What to wear with ecru utility joggers?
- An ecru tee
- An ecru hoodie
- Chunky white trainers
Men’s Ecru Check Shirt
An ecru shirt checked with navy, tan, stone, khaki, or even jewel red tones offers a contemporary and casual alternative to the standard white shirt. This versatile vanilla shade pairs well with classic tailoring, so choose a shirt with a wide collar, rounded shoulders, and a nipped-in waist. An ecru check shirt also gives you a little more freedom to move around the colour wheel. Team with ecru chinos, add a brown leather belt and boat shoes, or layer under a dark navy blazer for smart casual attire that’s right on-trend.
What to wear with an ecru check shirt?
- A wide-collar shirt
- A navy blazer
- Ecru chinos
- Brown leather belt
- Boat shoes
Versatile, sophisticated, and easy on the eye, ecru is arguably the most wearable among the off-whites. While cooler, brighter ivories channel French nautical vibes, ecru hoodies, cargos, joggers, and overalls are perfectly suited to the current streetwear utility trend. Plus, though white looks its best in summer sunshine, ecru is a shade for all seasons. It’s the perfect sartorial choice for lads not quite ready to take the plunge with white.