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In praise of khakis

April 23, 2024

Amber Day

Oh, how to discuss khakis and not sound old as dirt or say something that my teenage boys would pray never slips out around their friends? Truth is, I’m OK with my past, present and future with khakis. I’ve worn them proudly—obliviously, really since I stopped inheriting my older brothers’ pull-on jeans. I have a few thoughts about my khaki crush.

First, is khaki a fabric or a color—or even a style? Like tangerine or butterscotch (oh, man, I’m getting old with that one), I suppose it’s a color and a real thing. I once had a khaki recliner—yes, I was single—and that was more about color than fabric, but my classic khaki spring jacket—again, single—was all texture and touch.

My khaki years probably bloomed with my interest in golf. Before performance apparel and before gray overtook tan, the khaki pant was the only choice for golfers. There was something called Sansabelts, but I’m not going there. I can remember eagerly ironing my khakis before junior-golf events, or at least watching my blessed mother do so. In the summer, the khaki short was king: No dragging cuffs, pleats galore and less to toil over at the ironing board.

Since then, I assume khaki fabric has evolved. I haven’t ironed a pair of pants in years, which I understand could be a combination of material and apathy. Also, at some point a little wrinkling became cool, as in, Look, everybody, my khakis are all crinkled, and I don’t give a damn.

One last share: I once was standing in line at a bar in D.C. with my girlfriend (now wife) when I felt a tap on the shoulder. “Sorry, dude, no khakis.” At first, I didn’t even know what the offender meant. Could it be that my date-night khakis, stylishly rumpled, could prevent my entrance into some bar? The horror. We turned and left, but you know what, I got the girl in the end. Khakis forever!