Khaki Fatigue

With all the mockery directed at hipsters’ skinny jeans, I’m concerned that a more menacing threat to men’s fashion is being underreported. The scourge to which I’m referring is, of course, the baggy pleated khaki.

You know the type: those bone-to-dun-colored pants with fleshy fans of material jutting from a man’s crotch, below which ill-fitting fabric sags gracelessly around his legs.

In the ’90s, Gap ran print ads featuring icons like Elvis, Hemingway, and Miles Davis wearing khakis. To imply that wearing khakis will turn you into an icon is as ridiculous as claiming that eating potato chips will make you rich. However, the ads were wildly successful, and baggy pleated khakis reached new heights of ubiquity.

While today’s fashion tends toward flat-front, tailored pants, millions of baggy pleated khakis still hang in men’s closets (or drape over the handlebars of their exercise bikes or lie in a pile next to their laundry baskets).

Ladies: The time has come to liberate the men in your life from the tyranny of the baggy pleated khaki.

Start with education and awareness. The omnipresence of baggy pleated khakis makes it difficult for men to see just how ugly they are. If so many of their friends shuffle through life looking like amorphous blobs below the waist, how can it be wrong? But it’s exactly this sort of groupthink that has been responsible for other common style disasters (think Crocs and those belts with fish designs).

Eliminating baggy pleated khakis will not be easy, but we can look to other communities for inspiration. California recently offered gift cards to citizens willing to raid their closets. In California’s case, the wallet-sized incentives were handed out for surrendered guns, but why couldn’t we launch a similar program for surrendered khakis? Gift cards to golf pro shops, chicken wing franchises, and red Solo cup distributors could be particularly persuasive to the baggy pleated khaki wearer in your life.

As you attempt to convince a man to give up his baggy pleated khakis, remember this: You’re not taking away his freedom of choice. Baggy pleaded khakis are not a fashion choice; they are what a man wears to avoid making a fashion choice. By persuading him to give up his baggy pleated khakis, you’ll help create the opportunity for him to actually make a fashion choice, perhaps for the first time ever.

Sure, sometimes a pair of baggy pleated khakis is just a pair of pants, but it can also be a red flag. Often the wearing of baggy pleaded khakis may be an indicator of how your man feels about himself: a sign of a life lived on autopilot.

And perhaps it’s not far-fetched to wonder if this seemingly superficial change won’t lead to other, more significant life changes. Perhaps he’ll gradually become more creative in other areas of his life: the boardroom, the family room, and, dare I suggest it, even the bedroom.

So the stakes are high, ladies. The time to act is now. Together, you can make a difference.

Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.


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