I can’t stop thinking about khakis. They are like the nachos I had once at a restaurant I’ve somehow never again found myself in the convenient vicinity of, or a movie with a really complicated plot line that I still haven’t fully digested. The perfect pair is an enigma, and I think about what it would be like to own them, often — while getting dressed, while thinking about how I could have done my outfit differently, when I see the ultimate khaki-based outfit pulled off on Instagram.
Have we talked about this outfit by stylist Ana Gimeno Brugada before? It’s the final straw that began to do me in. Those wide-leg khakis with just the right amount of drop crotch and slouch; that deliciously crispy button down. You can just tell it’s hot outside, right there where she’s standing, but because of her outfit — her pants in particular, she remains cool. Double use of that word. (You can also tell, somehow, that these pants would work from June through October through February.)
Beside the fact that Seth Cohen wore them, khakis and I have an unromantic history. They were the only acceptable form of pants when I was in grammar school and otherwise relegated to plaid skirts. They were one of the few non-denim styles we were allowed in high school. In college, they were the pants that fell into genres: skater-y, preppy, professor-y; I registered them, but formed no stylistic opinion of them. A year after I graduated, I mostly associated them with Jake from State Farm.
And then, after years of not thinking much about them at all — at least not as they pertain to my wardrobe’s personal narrative — I began thinking (where the hell do these things even come from?) about what I might do with a pair.
Recently, it has become so clear: You put them on and wear them like any other pants. No special treatment is needed! No need to coddle them. Stop making khakis seem scary or complicated, self! After all, our modern-day Doug did it with aplomb.
But alas, you do have to find the right pair.
I think that what I want are ones high-waisted and wide-legged, but not ones that crop above the ankles! No. I need them to hang a little lower. I want to wear them with crispy white blouses and sandals, like Ana Gimeno, and with black blazers and T-shirts, shoes TBD.
I do not, however, want the hunt for such a pant to blind me from other potentially perfect pairs. Jan-Michael Quammie makes a strong case for the zip-off cargo style, for example. (And the sheer shirt, and the beret.)
Elle.com’s Style Director Nikki Ogunnaike, meanwhile — no stranger to the art of the khaki — made me rethink the pant’s reputation as a “basic” when she wore this khaki-front/pink-backed MSGM pair during fashion week and looked positively smiley about it. (She told me she likes a thicker material and a straight/wide leg, generally, which she finds to be the most flattering and says are easy to pair with shoes from chunky boots to simple sandals. So there you have it!)
And then, of course, there are the khaki-colored breeches, which, when paired with a set of tall boots, you could “get away with” more easily now in the city, particularly given that the fashion-y wind is blowing slightly equestrian (or, because you know my motto: you can “get away with” whatever, whenever and wherever so long as you’re comfortable, honestly). Outfit-wise, they serve a bit of a different purpose: less a replacement for casual denim and more of a formal statement.
Or they could swing in the full other direction and become your new weekend leggings replacement. Khakleisure, anyone?
Let’s talk about khakis in the comments below. To anyone who wears them frequently, I mostly want to know: Does it drive you bonkers that they wrinkle, or is that part of loving them?