We won’t spend any more time extolling the virtues of chinos. You’re probably wearing a pair now. We’ll just say this: a classic is a classic—from British officer khaki to go-to-hell red. It doesn’t matter what you’re hearing right now, you’ll be wearing chinos of every stripe, summer after summer, regardless of what #menswear is telling you. Which is why we'd rather survey the whole spectrum—a little reminder of what was and a little inspiration for what will be. Whether you’re going full-on Lapo Elkann or keeping it classic, Miles Davis-style, let this be your guide.
In the editorial world, we like to talk about trends, but some things just work. They’ve worked for decades and they’ll work for decades to come, long after the double monks of the world have come and gone. Our favorite example: the divine convergence between navy blue and khaki, the two poles of gentlemanly spring style.
This handsome cotton jacket just came down the transom from Drake’s, offering a pretty good primer on what double-breasted style looks like in warmer months. Our favorite touch: the strong navy blue in the tie and pocket square, all the more important set against the wide swaths of khaki.
The bad news is, this one will only be available at the Clifford Street shop in London, so most of you will probably have to seek double-breasted solace elsewhere. We’d suggest Cucinelli for the well-heeled and a custom tailor for everyone else. (You may even want to show them this picture.) And remember, keep the shoulders in proportion.
Ships doesn’t get the press of Beams or Honeyee, but they’ve been one of the main players in Tokyo’s heritage revival. And more importantly, they’re currently finishing up a pop-up shop at Tribeca’s Grown & Sewn—a khaki artisan you might remember from the Pop Up Flea. We stopped by today to check out the goods, including Inverallan sweaters and some of the finest sweatshirts known to man.
Our Exhibit A is this pair from Brooklyn’s own Left Field, which sports a herringbone pattern so subtle, you won’t even see it unless you’re looking closely; it’ll just look a little more weathered than your average chino. Throw in a decidedly non-skinny cut and you’ve got one of the most versatile pairs of pants we’ve seen all season.
And if you don’t feel like dropping $180 just yet, we’d direct you to Exhibit B, Dockers’ Alpha Khaki, a surprisingly rugged item that hit the $60 sweet spot on the Dockers site earlier this week.
This snap comes from Steven Alan’s newly unveiled Spring/Summer lookbook (the goods just arrived online as well), and while we bet you’re already acquainted with the magic of a crisp set of khakis and a well-fitting polo, it’s worth noting just how well this chap’s pulling them off. Notice the sleeve of the polo, hitting at the thickest part of the bicep—or the uneven roll of the pants, showing just enough bare ankle to make it clear it’s all on purpose.
Dressing for light spring rain can be a bit dicey. Full on raingear seems unseasonal—particularly if you’re expecting some intermittent sun—but nobody looks good soaked.
Fortunately the budding dandy behind Young Man/Old Man is around to show us all how it’s done. This ensemble pairs the quintessential raingear piece—in the form of a vintage, fingertip-length trench coat—with one of the most seasonal spring items, the light blazer. We give him extra points for pulling off the risky khaki-on-khaki gambit, and (as you can see here) not being afraid to leave his knit tie a few inches short of the beltline.
If we’re counting correctly, that’s three pitch-perfect balancing acts in one outfit. Not too shabby, sir.
The khaki pant has gotten a rough shake over the past couple decades, but if you go back far enough, it was every bit as rough and tumble as denim. To the archives!
Fortunately for connoisseurs of indestructible clothing, Nom de Guerre has a pretty good recreation in stock—which just happens to be on sale at Context. It’s essentially dyed Japanese selvage denim, but the cut and the archival quality gives it a little more history than your average hipster jean. There’s even a cinching strap in the back for an extra bit of retro flair—another touch that would be out of place on the indigo version—but the fabric is the same stiff, raw weave you’d find at higher end jean shops. Well played, gentlemen.
We managed to snag a copy of Norsea’s latest lookbook at the (capsule) show, and the results are nothing short of exciting. For one, the khaki blazer is one northern staple we’re happy to adopt.
The rest of the line has highlights like Liberty-style mock turtlenecks and a few new takes on the denim jacket—aside from the Stamford denim blazer we saw at the show. The cleverest trick may be the styling on the Dunes jacket: The three-button blazer is worn with the bottom two buttons fastened. We wouldn’t advise trying it without a jacket that’s tailored for the purpose, but it’s one of the more daring moves we’ve seen in a lookbook recently.