I feel like the girl who cried wolf after the many times I’ve either declared myself done with denim or, at the very least, so supremely confused by its current state that I might as well quit partaking altogether. Needless to say, it’s happening again (denim confusion, that is), and even though I do have a couple beloved pairs of jeans I will likely continue to wear out of habit, I also can’t help but feel that there is a pants-sized hole in my wardrobe at the moment that they can’t quite seem to fill.
So, for the time being, I’m setting my sights on denim’s equally classic albeit oft-neglected cousin: khaki. It goes with everything, it’s Jennifer Aniston-approved and it proffers a breath of fresh air for the backs of my knees, otherwise known as the armpits of the legs.
But where to start? I haven’t worn khakis since middle school, when they were part of my uniform (an alternative to the standard hunter-green kilts that only supreme nerds like me took advantage of). I turned to my perennial source for market insights, Elizabeth Tamkin, for guidance. Below are seven pairs of khakis in different price ranges that she endorses with all her shopping wisdom — which is considerable.
Starting with the most classic option, here is a nearly 100% cotton pair of khakis my middle school self would have salivated over. They’re a little bit dorky, which is par for the course in khaki land and (in my humble opinion) adds to their charming aura. I would wear these with a sequined going out top because contrast is my middle name.
These khakis-with-a-side-of-pocket-pizzazz are from Bassike (pronounced “basic”), an Australian brand known for its wearable, well-made garments. They’re technically cropped, but will hit the ground running (ha) if you’re on the shorter side (Elizabeth is 5′ 3″). They’re 75% linen, making them the perfect pants for hot summer days. And how great would they look with a strappy sandal? Rhetorical question.
If you’re considering a train ticket aboard the khaki express but can’t bring yourself to fully commit, try an olive in your martini instead. This greenish-brown pair from FRAME is artfully pleated and also incredibly soft (according to Elizabeth, who has high standards given how many pairs of pants she touches in the course of a day).
Please join me in applauding the capaciousness of these leg holes. What a thrill! Elizabeth recommends styling these with a satin cami on a hot night, or perhaps this matching Staud top with a great pair of espadrilles or these particular platform sandals. Then again, the beauty of khaki is that it goes with anything and everything, so giddy-up.
I want to wear this outfit (white tank, khakis, braided brown belt, black sandals) every Summer Friday for the rest of my days. Its perfect simplicity kind of reminds me of that street style outfit that went viral last summer — you know, the one that everyone re-posted on Instagram? I know there’s a lesson here about sticking to the classics, but I can’t promise I wouldn’t add a handful of sparkly barrettes and a lime green purse to the equation.
I’m not a fan of 2-in-1 shampoo, but I’m a huge proponent of a built-in belt. I’m not sure why these two things are conflated in my mind, but work with me, okay? I suppose a better analogy would be a daily special in an ice cream shop wherein free rainbow sprinkles come with every purchase of a bowl of vanilla ice cream, the sprinkles being the free belt in this case and the vanilla ice cream being the khaki pants. In any case, I’m a fan.
If taking a break from denim has you worried about the loss of you beloved Canadian tuxedo, rest assured that a khaki set will provide an equal dose of coordinated satisfaction. These pants are adjustable, with D-rings on either side of the waist so you can wear them high up or let them hang low on your hips. Too fun.
Are you #TeamKhaki yet or what?
And that concludes my honey wheat bread-colored wonder. Have recommendations? Drop them below and let’s have sandwiches together in the comments.
Photos by Edith Young.