I have already written about uniform dressing – five years of posts will have you running out of material – but right now I am crazy about some new khaki pants on our line. It sounds funny to be so enthusiastic about khakis as it’s hard to think of them as anything other than a uniform. School uniforms, big-box store employees, people in the military. All of those involve sort of uninspiring, relatively standard-issue khakis. But I promise these two feel… special.
The closest thing I had to a work uniform was actually what I wore for housekeeping and motherhood. I still wanted to dress for the job. In my job in the fashion world, we showed up in whatever get up felt creative (or what would garner us the most approval). In my new job, I still wanted to look great –that need for approval never leaves, does it? – and ended up with a sort of Jackie-O-ish formula that was heavy on the basics. I have written about this uniform before, but there was a stretch of about 8 years while living in Wisconsin when nearly every single day I wore stretchy khaki trousers. I had purchased them off the deep sale rack at the Old Navy at Prairie Towne-with-an-E Center and, knowing exactly how valuable they were, snatched up every pair they had in and around my size. I still have them. Five khaki, two olive green, and two sort of burnt, pinkish red. I think the total was under $75. And that was that. They had just enough stretch to allow me to run around and bend the thousand ways I needed to, and I could throw them in the washing machine. I don’t care how comfortable something is… its value lies in how many times you can wear it without taking it to the dry cleaners. And for me, that is almost never. I wore the pants with white t-shirts in the summer and cashmere sweaters in the winter. And in between, I had a collection of trim little polos in all sorts of colors that served as an exclamation mark on top of my neutral, run-around pants. It was simple and sporty but NOT sloppy. I might coin it… “Considered Casual.”
Which brings me to today. I am not bending as much as I used to with small children… but twenty years later I find myself gravitating again towards a simple, stretchy, cotton pant. There are two on the line that I am really revved up about… and one pair that feels especially new. Both of these are so terrific. They are forgiving enough to fit a range of different body types… are smooth enough to tuck shirts into… and they have pull-on elastic waists without really looking like “elastic-waist pants.”
I am not sure if the design team named them specifically to sound like sisters, but they are certainly friends. First, the Fayes, in a more warm-weather-friendly stretch twill. This is in contrast to the original (and bestselling) ponte, which has this amazing yoga-pant-esque feel to them that is a million times more put together than exercise clothes, but still, at the end of the day, a dark-colored stretchy knit. You know what I mean. These are lighter-feeling, made of a soft stretch denim (it is called twill, but same thing). And then the brand-new shape, Fallon, has the same pull-on waist of the Faye but a wide, breezy leg. The one I like best comes in a stretch poplin that has a little crispness to it. When I first put them on, I wondered if they had too much structure – but after a few minutes of walking and, yes, bending, I was all in. They felt new to me… unlike anything else in my closet.
A little like a full skirt, but easier – almost like a skort. All the good parts of a full skirt – the swish, the volume – but with the masculine edge of real pants. A pair of heels can take them to a dinner date – sneakers to the grocery store. Espadrilles or strappy flat sandals are perfect for them. Their width isn’t quite retro, but wider pants always remind me of the 40s and 50s when it was kind of a mark of rebellion to be wearing pants. Amelia Earhart... They are true spring-summer pants, though… something about boots with the Fallons does not feel right, but the stretch twill Fayes (Did the design team name these to sound like sisters? Or just friends?) can go year-round from where I sit.
In the fashion business, pants for women are kind of famously a challenge. There IS no perfect fit. Everyone’s body is just different enough. But an elastic waist is forgiving – it can be tighter on some people with the material smoothed over, looser on others. For me, I love these falling loose and easy… had I sized down, I would have had to wiggle them over my hips but then they would look great tight across the front and that is great too. If you feel good in them, they fit you. That feels modern to me. Unfussy.
One of the reasons I love fashion is that things change. We all get dressed every day in largely the same kinds of things — that pile of khaki pants that got me through the Wisconsin years is still in my closet — but it’s fun to have new versions of those things. This is just that. A change in the routine… not drastic... but just enough to get excited about putting on a new pair of pants and swishing out the door.