Monday, February 20, 2017

Reader Questions For the Community: Where Will You Get Your Khakis in 2017?

All photographs are original and from the archives.
This will be a refresh and update of the core khaki entry.  Any suggestions for Womens khakis as well will be added.

Reader Questions For the Community

  • With the uncertain status of both Bills Khakis and Jack Donnelly, does anyone know where to get similar khaki pants, preferably Made in America?   
  • I have been following your blog for a bit, I was born in East Providence, Rhode Island and find your posts very enjoyable.  On behalf of my partner; she is quite small, around a 25-26 inch waist.  It seems that finding flat-front, straight cut khakis without a silly low-rise cut for someone of her size is an endeavor more trying than one might think....Can you point us in the direction of some sturdy chinos that might fit?  We aren't fancy nor impecunious, so something reasonably priced and sturdy enough to throw in the wash.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
  • I have been searching for some women's cotton chino pants, with or without a bit of stretch, not too low a rise, and no longer know where to look.   It was always L.L. Bean and Lands End but they keep changing their styles.  And I don't want the wrinkle resistant ones either.  I am at a loss.



Appendix:  Khakis

Khakis are a mainstay in many a wardrobe.

But it has become increasingly difficult to find casual khakis today, with traditional styling, not covered with wrinkle resistant chemicals, with sturdy construction and equally sturdy material, and hopefully US made.  This is in part because so many providers of khakis today have engaged in a race to the bottom, trying to figure out what to make more cheaply next, from quality of threads to depth of pockets.

The best options, when found, are now more expensive.  However they look better, are timeless in design, have a broader range of uses, last longer, and often support American companies.

Providers of Mens Khakis and Similar Trousers


Bills Khakis

Bills have been the dominant player, but as many know their future is unknown since they were recently sold to a private equity firm.  There is much talk a of depleted inventory and hopefully they will restructure and stabilize their offerings.

Two articles:
Other Bills links:

Stacks of Bills.  Cut and Sewn in the U.S.  Prices include hemming to your specifications.

Jack Donnelly Dalton Pant

These well made, long lasting pants are also made in the US, cost less than Bills, but arrive unfinished.  




Considerations when Purchasing Khakis

The purchase of a khakis is a personal choice, and there remain quite a few attributes to consider.   These include cut, color, weight of fabric (Some prefer 7oz material for warmer weather and 8 or 81/2 oz material for regular wear), and pleats versus plain front.
Mr. Kennedy has opted for pleats.
Another consideration is cuff size (or whether to cuff at all), which can depend on many things, including personal preference; one's height; and sometimes simply how much material is available.

Cuffs sizes include 1⅝”, 1½”, 1⅜”, or none at all

Other Vendors

Across the last few decades, other vendors had been default sources.  

Ralph Lauren

The quality of their khakis has declined over the years.  They wear out more quickly and have considerable shrinkage.


L.L. Bean


Today's L.L. Bean Wrinkle-Resistant Khakis


It used to be that Beans offered several styles and weights of khakis, in all cotton material (and often a blend as well), all of which were made in the US.  Now it is mostly khakis treated with wrinkle-resistant chemicals that are made in China.

Below are some examples of US made L.L. Bean khakis (or chinos) from their 1994 catalog.





Orvis Ultimate Khakis

These are made from a hefty 9.5oz fabric, but they have a lower rise, significant shrinkage and are imported.

What to Wear with Khakis, and Khakis Across Salt Water New England (and slightly beyond)





























Mr. Miller prefers plain front.































35 comments:

  1. O'Connell's Clothing of Buffalo, NY still offers made in USA khaki trousers for men.

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  2. Another thought for those who are...khak-a-lackin'
    try online sites; eBay, Etsy, Tradesy, Copious, Amazon, Therealdeal, Poshmark, Vinted, thredUP, Swap, the on line consignment shops (Google them)- for barely used and new/still have the tags on. Or have someone sew the desired garment.
    I would also keep with the measurements desired in mind search all the gender sizing and try; Tall sized boys (can hem), jr's, women's, etc...
    Search type used at dot.coms; preppy, business, khaki, the name brand, vintage.
    I have also seen people advertise what they are looking for in bigger city online sites; yard sales-buy/sell sites, craigs lists, angies, etc.

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  3. I absolutely would love to hear suggestions for tall women (I'm 5' 9")! I was at L.L.Bean two days ago and while I can get by with their medium tall length, the wrinkle-free finish keeps them from having a true soft cotton breathability and feel so I won't buy any beyond my one pair.

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  4. I will be returning to this post as finding decent khakis -100% cotton - is very frustrating. I am stopping in Orvis tomorrow to see what they offer. I have LLBean favorite fit from a few years ago (recommended by Muffy) and they are a perfect fit, but try to buy a least one new each year. cheers!

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  5. Unfortunately, Jack Donnelly appears to be out of business. I have been trying to contact them for close to a year with no response from voice mail or email. The website has said restocking since last February.

    If you are slim, the LL Bean khakis' are too baggy, as are the Orvis khakis. Orvis does sell their Ultimate Khakis in a slim fit, but I have not tried them, as they are only available on-line and are not in their stores. The Orvis wrinkle free khakis are stiff and chemical ladened. As are the Brooks Brothers 'Advantage' khakis. Besides, khakis are supposed to wrinkle. That's the whole idea. Who wants to wear pants full of chemicals.

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  6. I'd like to know if Muffy or any of her readers have an opinion on khakis from J.Press or O'Connell's. I look forward to any and all responses and thank you!

    JMW
    Golden Isles, GA

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  7. @JMW, the O'Connell's khakis are very generous in their cut. I think they run about a size small in the waist or mine's grown without realizing it, but wide legged. For everyday khakis, not sure they fit the bill, probably better tailored to you. I find Orvis are good everyday khakis. Tough but soft and easily replaceable.

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  8. How disheartening! Does anyone know a bottom line for a good 100% cotton Khaki for gals.

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  9. I am finished with Bill's Khakis. These are not the Bill's of old and their customer service is average. Orivs khakis are not made in the US. I had one pair of Donnelly khakis and they were just average. I haven't tried O'Connell's khakis, but that might be my next move. I wear khaki pants every day of the year and it is just a shame that it has become so difficult to buy a pair of UA made khakis that fit correctly.

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  10. Jack Donnelly has a kick starter campaign, so they might be trying to get back into the game. Some J Press chinos are made by Hertling, NY, which are very nice. Ben Silver sell their Brooklyn Britches, also made by Hertling. And Andover also carries chinos made by Hertling. O'Connell's appear to be Berle, made in South Carolina. cable Car sells a pair made in CA as well.

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  11. Has anyone ever heard of Duck head chinos? Might be a good thought to look South. Even Ralph Lauren knows about Duck Heads.

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  12. I've purchased a few Duck Heads here recently - definitely run on the large side. Material is somewhat durable. Definitely a full cut pant.

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  13. The Duck Heads I purchased last fall were lighter weight than my Bills or Orvis. But then with DH being something of a southern staple that makes sense.

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  14. Epaulet has ready to wear and made to order chinos in a variety of fabrics and rises. The models wearing the pants on their website rarely look good, but worn properly look quite nice.

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  15. I have about 50 pairs of khakis, and almost forty of them are Bill's Khakis, purchased some years ago. Khakis are my staple trousers, I don't find jeans comfortable. Bill's Khakis are fine for everyday wear -- they age beautifully and they do wear like iron. I'm in my mid-60s, I think I have enough to last me for the rest of my life!
    I have bought some clothes from Ben Silver in Charleston SC, and I have been impressed by the quality of those items. They are all US-made items. I have not sampled their trousers, however, mainly because I don't need any more khakis! They do seem to make a basic pair of khaki trousers that look comfortable, and seem reasonably priced.

    There are also many online sellers (eBay and other stores) with NOS (New Old Stock) Bill's Khakis, which are perfectly serviceable at half price or less, for those who want to acquire the older better-quality khakis at bargain prices.

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  16. Chatham Chino Company interests me; I know nothing about them; can anyone add any info here? Thanks.

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  17. Always always plain front! Men's Duckheads were it for us in the 80's. Ironically looking for another pair of khakis myself. Might try Old Navy where I have gotten some good ones before.

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  18. Normally LL Bean for me but in the past year or so I've started suffering from "return fatigue" and am looking at Lands' End again after a long hiatus. I hit 40 not long ago and no longer find the time or enthusiasm for clothes anymore given how expensive and poorly made most of it is nowadays. When in college, my J.Crew (pre-internet) sweaters were all made in Australian, astonishingly enough. I may have paid $60 or so for each.

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  19. http://www.allamericankhakis.com/

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  20. O'Connell's web site has a variety of khakis. polo shirts and tattersall shirts that look attractive. Many are made in the US. Has anyone had experience with O'Connell's? THANKS

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  21. I will be going to O'Connells instead of J Press (sorry James)only because I prefer on-seam pockets to the quarter top pockets on Press's khakis. However I would expect the price and quality to be very similar.

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  22. FWIW Bill from Bills Khakis is running the show at Dockers Premium now.

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  23. I guess women are SOL. There are no men's pants that will fit a woman with and 11" difference between her waist and hip measurements unless one pays for extensive and expensive tailoring.

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  24. Coming into this way late, but for the record, don't forget Charleston Khakis, made by Berle and available at Dann Online for only 84.50.

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  25. Ralph published a coffee table book to celebrate his 40 years in business. In the book he shares his point of view about newness, not following fashion, classic clothing as well as lots of photos. He mentions that accessories are the truest form of self expression. That leads me to believe that khakis are a mere canvas for a painter. I have worn Bills and donated Bills when my weight changed. Now I wear khakies from Eddie Bauer and the Gap accessorized some days with a cracked and worn RRL double prong 1.75 inch belt , RM Williams elastic sided boots , a shearling B-3 or a Brooks black watch waxed cotton jacket. My wife loves to knit us matching Aran hats/mits with yarn from German heritage breeds of sheep so those items are also in the mix.

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  26. reaching back for this post I just found this, Feb 11th, 2017
    chinos/etc

    http://www.pendleton-usa.com/thumbnail/Women/Clothing/PANTS-SHORTS/1801/c/2400/pc/1815.uts

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  27. Just saw Franks Pants at my favorite men's shop, David Wood Clothiers in Portland, Maine. I haven't tried them but will. They are made in Chicago.

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  28. A non-problem. One buys some proper khaki fabric,
    washes and dries it at a high temperature for
    maximum shrinkage, takes a pair of
    properly-fitting khakis to one's tailor and
    has them duplicated. Much less expensive in
    the long run then spending money on
    poorly-fitting khakis that one doesn't wear.
    I have 5 pairs, not 50, and they certainly are
    enough.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Aside from suits, all I wear is khakis—haven’t owned a pair of jeans in almost 40 years. And, I’m very, very particular about my khakis, can’t wear just any khakis. Over the years, I researched the history of the pant and the fabric, and I’ve sourced just about every maker of note. My pursuit of the perfect khaki has been fraught with frustration and disappointment. Until I discovered the “Ultimate Khaki” from Orvis. It’s the only khaki I will wear; I probably own 40 or so pairs.

    Made from 9.5 oz., two-ply cotton twill, this amazing pant gets better with every washing, literally—I wash them 5 times before wearing. When you get them, they’re deceivingly soft and buttery. But, after as you wash them they start coming out of the dryer almost a little stiff and rumpled (not wrinkled). That’s what I love about them. They’re amazingly comfortable and look fantastic worn rumpled, but feel like a completely different cloth when ironed. And, they’re a rugged as any pair of jeans. I love these pants so much that I get a panicky fright when I think of Orvis discontinuing the brand.

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    Replies
    1. My husband was an Orvis 'Ultimate Khaki' enthusiast until the last purchase. Two years ago he took advantage of the buy 2, save $50 offer. Upon the first washing, I noticed how unusually stiff the fabric was. What bothered me most was the faded creases that formed in the fabric through the washing/drying process as though I had pressed in creases, which I hadn't. The trousers were basically forgotten, as they got mixed in with the older ones, until recently when my husband pulled out a pair. The difference between the older models was obvious - these were never soft or buttery as you described. The newer khakis seem baggier too. It's been a while since the purchase so we ignored the problem until you posted your comment. Hence, we checked out reviews on the Orvis website and sure enough, there are other similar complaints. My husband, like you, would like to depend on keeping these staples in his wardrobe, but he's a bit wary about trying them again. The oldest pair my husband owns has a key fob in the pocket. They are the nicest, softest pair! You are fortunate to have had such a good experience. I'm tempted to contact Orvis even after 2 years.

      Delete
  30. For years I enjoyed purchasing and wearing a white camp shirt for ladies, in both linen and cotton. I have not been able to find a good quality one in some time. Does anyone know of a place for them?
    Thank you.
    Pat

    ReplyDelete

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