Sid: Great question, Teddy. And good observation... I DO wear 5-pockets a lot. But I'd say khakis (which some call chinos, and we call “Sport Trousers”) are more my knockaround-to-slightly-dressed-up pants. And I know traditional khakis can suffer from Dad cliches, but I love to wear khakis, and I've pretty much worn them my entire life, and will always wear them. I mean they were good enough for William Faulkner, Miles Davis, Salvador Dali, Walter Percy…
JB: You grew up wearing them?
Sid: Oh yeah… starting in 9th grade, I'd wear them for pretty much every occasion – going to school or on the weekend… though they were too nice to wear in the backyard to play football. But if it was a dressy occasion, like going to a dance or to church – khaki pants, a blue blazer, an oxford shirt and a repp tie, it was kind of the dressed-up uniform. And all that can still apply!
JB: So it was a “Swiss Army Knife “ pant?
Sid: That’s a great way of putting it. You’ve got just about everything you need with them. Khakis are the ultimate utilitarian pant, outside of jeans. We think of 3 quintessential pants in your closet. The jean, the khaki, and the grey wool trouser.
JB: Anyone who has read a few of these columns can likely attest to your passion for versatility....
Sid: Exactly. The fabric that most people think of for this style of pant was originally adopted from the military. French and the British troops were in India and their uniforms were white. White's not great to hide yourself in a military uniform so, they started dyeing them to match the sand or the dirt color of wherever they were. But the style of our “khaki” pants is more American military standard issue – a work pant – or even a Rancher type pant. Really easy to move in.
Nowadays they serve a much broader canopy and have incredible range. You can wear khakis with nearly everything: t-shirts, polo shirts, oxford cloth, poplin, sport shirts, sweaters... it runs the gamut. I'll wear them with madras and seersucker jackets in the summer, tweed and corduroy in the winter, and a blue blazer year-round.
JB: Let’s talk fabrics, because we make a variety of khaki colored Sport Trousers – for you what’s the quintessential fabric for khakis?
Sid: Something we refer to around the office as "magic fabric" – which is our go-to, four-season, 2 ply x 2 ply, all cotton Lightweight Twill. It’s hearty but not so heavy. And while soft, still retains some crispness… so the moment you put them on you’ve got an ease-and-comfort of an old pant, yet the shape and look of a new one…and it gets even better with washing. I wore a lot of Khaki pants in the early 80’s from Robert Lighton and British Khaki where I worked – they were awesome and really an inspiration for how we think of khakis. We add a cool looking pick stitch along the seam of the side pocket (and fantastic pocketing material so the inside is as great as the outside).
We love the 2 ply, and we love the fabric so much we don’t just make it in your usual khaki shades, but we have started making it in a variety of colors. This fall we did it in Chocolate and Atlantic Blue and a light Cement Gray.
JB: When getting dressed, do you think any differently for those shades than you do khaki pants?
Sid: Kinda, but not much. I still consider them “khakis” – they go with almost everything. I guess it gets confusing – when we say khaki.. are we talking color or style? You can have Grey khakis – Blue khakis - we even made day glo khakis one season. Wait – I might have a riddle – what is something that is both Blue and Khaki?
JB: Um... I don't know?
Sid: Blue Khakis (laughs). Anyway… the other thing about these pants is the care factor. Some guys want them to be super wrinkled, some guys want them with no crease, other guys want them to be super pressed with a sharp crease. In college, part of the style was to get your khakis with heavy starch so they would always stand up in the corner. So they had this real knife-edge crease in the front of them. They'd hold that for a little while, but in a way part of the look was to get them wrinkled also – going from the cleanest to kind of beat up and broken in. Our lightweight twill holds up just the same – so no matter if you’re a crease guy or wrinkled guy – you do you.
JB: Staying on the styling front… when I think of khaki pants, I have a hard time not seeing those funny State Farm ads… what is the way that YOU wear them?
Sid: That is funny – they don’t really seem so “dad” to me if that is what you are saying… maybe because I wore them so much in my 20’s. Sometimes “big” gets translated to “dad” and we have seen a type of style for 3 or 4 years now, of clothes getting bigger for guys. That's not really our thing. Our proportions are always in the early 60s to early 70s range and that's where we operate. All the clothes back then were natural shouldered, close to the body, and a little bit slimmer. So the pants we're wearing, we think they're a little bit cooler – just our POV. We’re gonna wear ours a little shorter in the length, with no break – because it can make you appear taller. And we don’t think a cuff is a deal breaker. Most of my khakis are cuffless but I’ve always got a few that are cuffed (at an inch and three quarters) if that’s what I’m feeling.
And I guess therein lies one more benefit. They are just a pant... and in that way, they're a canvas for you to express yourself. You can make them your own. My thing is to go no break… maybe another guy’s move is to go with a pleated version, and another guy likes to size up for a bit of ease.
They are totally egalitarian, and yet can be whatever you want them to be.
So yeah… Teddy, I guess you could say I like ‘em.