Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Photos by Salt Water New England
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.