Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Go-to-Hell Pants, A Preppy Christmas Staple (Annual Repost)

Broadway Legend Lee Roy Reams (Center) 
Go-to-Hell pants, or GTH pants, are motif embroidered trousers, typically corduroy around Christmas and in lighter fabrics in other seasons.  When the motifs are animals, these are also called critter pants.   In the wild (below), they are often seen alongside equally festive tartan trousers, always wool.

GTH pants are a great way for naturally low key, more serious people to temporarily embrace bright festive colors, and a way for loud people to pass themselves off as low key, serious people temporarily embracing bright colors.  

These classic preppy Go-To-Hell trousers are most often paired with button-down shirts, wool crew neck sweaters, or navy blazers with festive ties.  (The concomitant wool tartan trousers look particularly smart with velvet blazers (as shown below) or velvet smoking jackets.)  

Often finished off with snaffle-bit loafers or velvet slippers.

(Left) Publicist Edward T. Callaghan—who originated Harry Winston Jewelers’ strategy of “dressing” Academy Award contenders and presenters—in Wool Tartan Trousers with Velvet Blazer and (Right) Muffy Aldrich in Embroidered Lilly Pulitzer Corduroy Whale Pants with Wool Crew Neck Sweater and Pearls
Photo Credits:  Muffy Aldrich

25 comments:

  1. I absolutely love 'em! I had a pair of kelly green critter trousers with navy sperm whales in university. They were my favourite!

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  2. I question whether Tartan trousers constitute GTH pants.

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    1. Agreed. Thus I wrote GTH pants "are often seen alongside equally festive tartan trousers, always wool."

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  3. A holiday must have! I am wearing through my rotation this season, as always, and loving every minute of it! Thanks so very much! Cheers!🎄

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  4. J. Press has some lovely tartan trousers on offer this year.

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  5. Can you please provide a good source for velvet smoking jacket?

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    1. Try sourcing vintage velvet smoking jackets via EBay or Etsy.

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  6. Nice trousers all around. I lean in the same direction as Bud's Eye unless you are wearing your family tartan to the home of a clan that is angered with yours. I miss both Chipp and Lily Pulitzer, sources for the ultimate in GTH pants. Why dd Lily give up on menswear?

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    1. Maybe it's just me, but from the quality of their items lately, I'd say they gave up on women's wear too!

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  7. GTH pants are not just for the Christmas Holiday Season.

    I guess I should amend that by saying that perhaps the corduroy ones are, but some years back I bought an electric lime green cotton pair with embroidered fly-fishing flies on it. They came from Orvis who called them their "Charleston Pants." Bold, devil-may-care, damn-the-torpedoes, and super with a blazer, white shirt and sock-less loafers. Many compliments over the years. I just wish I had more occasions to wear them.

    Of course, Go-To-Hell pants are not for the faint hearted, and do require a bit of moxie. They have a definite time and place. For example, I wouldn't advise barging into a country and western bar in West Texas at 2 AM in them - unless your health insurance is top notch.

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    1. Concur with CW Bars in West Texas. Having worked in the oilfield out there...an extremely provincial culture and I am being polite.

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  8. ...and you all wear them well :)

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  9. For someone like me who only wears grey flannel trousers or khaki chinos, tan corduroys--let alone tartan trousers--qualify as belonging to the GTH category.

    Old Bostonian

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  10. Love the festive trousers! (My brother had a go-to-hell car when he was younger but, curiously, it didn’t give off that same festive vibe . . . .)

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  11. Yankees. God love 'em. Too reserved to put Christmas lights up on their houses (too gaudy), so they decorate their pants instead. In the Midwest we decorate our houses and trees and bushes, and wouldn't be caught dead in those pants. Regionalisms. I love America!

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  12. What are some good sources for GTH pants now? I have an old pair of Brooks Brothers cord but could use a festive holiday pant.

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    1. O'Connell's (MiUSA) and Castaway.

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  13. Looking very forward to donning my pair of very subdued dark green and maroon tartan wool trousers with a navy blazer this season. I know. And I'm so ashamed.

    Kind Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  14. An absolute must! Fun to go through my rotation every holiday season! Cheers!

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  15. I wonder, though. Just because you're wearing GTH trousers, does that make it OK to wear loafers with metal bits on them? I'm inclined to think that's going too far.

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    1. Florsheim loafers with metal bits are appropriate attire only while defending cases in Traffic Court. It's how potential clients identify you in the hallway.

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    2. @ Bud's Eye I generally temper the effect with a more run-of-the-mill loafer. Though, I am completely guilty of wearing a bit loafer or S&W slipper. Situational awareness is key.

      @Dave Not talking Florsheim here.

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