Reader Request: Stylish Khakis

Reader Judy sent me this question via e-mail:

I work in a computer store and we wear a lot of jeans and khakis. As a manager, I also wear skirts, dress slacks, etc., and generally try to keep it a notch up from the “retail crew.” But, khakis are professional, washable, and most of the time pants make more sense in our environment. But I find they look kind of blah on me … just not all that exciting. One issue I have is that I don’t know what kind of shoes to wear with my khaki colored pants. Black looks too dark, brown doesn’t go with everything, but lighter colored shoes look too summery! I do like to wear low to mid heels, FYI. And my better looking blouses and sweaters read as “too dressy” with the khakis. 

Please, can you give some advice in your blog for me and others like me? I don’t think I have ever seen a post devoted to khakis, at least in the year plus that I have been reading.

I feel like, for whatever reason, khakis have gradually become the outcasts of the pants world. But it needn’t be so! Khaki itself is a chic, sleek, versatile neutral, and stylish women of every sort adore it in skirt, blazer, and trenchcoat format. Khaki pants are a staple for many working women and can most definitely be worn in creative and eye-catching ways. Here are some tips for keeping your khaki pant looks modern and fresh.

Make sure your khakis fit you properly

Very few humans look good in pleated pants, so I’ll just come right out and recommend investigating flat front styles. Also be aware of pocket placement. Designers seem to think that side entry is oh-so-chic, but if you’ve got any hips or belly that style of pocket will just wing out and look odd. Top-entry pockets or no pockets work best on most figures. Finally, make sure your khakis are long enough, and consider getting a pair hemmed for flats and one for heels/wedges/platforms.

Err on the dark side

In my experience, light khakis tend to be less versatile than darker, more caramel-y khakis. So, for example, this color will work better than this one. (“Celestial taupe” better than “Trench.”) Something in this almost-camel range can be fabulous, too. Pale khakis look nearly white under certain lighting, show stains and marks more easily, and are harder to incorporate into outfits. Warmer, darker tans will play better with a wider range of colors and textures than desaturated, gray-tinged ones.

Stick to relatively weighty fabrics for your top half

Even the dressiest pair of khakis is still a relatively casual choice, so your sweater, top, or blazer should be in the casual family, too. Judy said some of her best tops look too dressy with khakis, and I can see that. The occasional dressy-casual juxtaposition will work but, overall, tops should be cotton, wool, linen, and other weighty fabrics. Slippery silks, anything super shiny, and extremely lightweight or sheer fabrics will likely look a bit odd worn with sturdy, stolid tan pants. Quality tees, button-downs, mid- to heavy-weight sweaters, most blazers, and cardigans should all work well.

Mind your shoe choices

As Judy mentioned, shoes can be tough when working with khakis. I will always, always push cognac brown as a near-universal neutral for shoes, and they work beautifully with most pairs of khaki pants. Gray and tan are also great choices since they’re pale neutrals and create a relatively unbroken line all the way down to the ground. But picking up a color from somewhere else in your outfit is a great way to tie everything together, too. More on that in a moment.

Since I don’t wear my own khakis terribly often I’ve had to root around for some other examples to illustrate outfit ideas. Most of these hail from the runway, but a couple are drawn from street style blogs, with one special celebrity guest thrown in for good measure. Ordinarily, I’d mine my fellow bloggers’ archives for photos, but it seems I’m not alone in my infrequent khaki wearage. Besides I think it’s kinda fun to show that the fancy-dancy designer houses trot these much-maligned pants down the runways!

Naturally, recreating these looks verbatim isn’t advisable, but you can still derive inspiration from how they’ve been styled. Take a peek:

With black, white, and olive

As you’ll soon see, khaki pants work best in neutral mixes. It breaks my heart to say it, but generally speaking pairing your khakis with other neutral colors – chocolate, cognac, white, gray, black, cream, and even the outliers like navy and olive – will create the most reliably chic and modern-looking ensembles. This particular group of garments won’t work for everyone, but the black shoes and belt, white tee, and olive outer layer can be re-created in many ways. And, of course, feel free to mix up the colors using pieces within your wardrobe.

With a pattern that includes khaki

Yeah, I know that’s a crazy-ass fur she’s got on, but you get the idea. The coat and the pants have the same shade in them, and look utterly lovely together. If pairing patterns with your khakis seems challenging, seek prints that have some khaki in them already. Printed sweaters, blouses, and tees are natural choices, but printed scarves that include khaki in their patterns work equally well.

With leopard accents

Image source

Leopard and khaki generally look fabulous together, especially if both contain warm tones. But I realize leopard and other animal prints won’t always fly at the office or in the store, at least not in clothing format. If you can sneak in leopard shoes or a belt, though, it can add so much sass to a khaki-based outfit. Keep other elements fairly plain to offset the print.

With Breton stripes and dark accents

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Striped tops are another classic choice, but they’re best dressed up with some eye-catching accents. A Breton top and khakis work beautifully on their own, but create a decidedly casual pairing. Add a complementary scarf – olive, red, or a dark floral – and cognac belt and/or boots for  a more sophisticated mix.

With chocolate brown and white

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Chocolate brown shoes can look a bit strange with khakis since they cause the eye to stop abruptly at the ankle. Overall, lighter shoes work better since they create an unbroken leg line, as the gray shoes shown here do. But chocolate brown itself can work beautifully with khaki, especially in a neutral color mix of three or more shades. Here, white takes that third position, but cream, gray, or even maroon could just as easily stand in.

With denim

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Denim shirts and khakis worn together can look less-than-chic, it’s true, but they can also make a dynamite combination when styled with skill. As is the case with the Breton top, the key is to accessorize with care. Add an interesting belt, maroon or leopard shoes, a houndstooth scarf, a stack of bangles, a statement necklace, or a soft blazer in a complementary neutral. This combo may not work for most offices during the week, but it’s a great bet for Fridays.

With black

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I can’t seem to find any images in color, but this photo clearly illustrates that Jackie O. always looked marvelous in her black tops and khaki slacks. This combo can read a bit austere if left alone, so experiment with long necklaces or patterned scarves to mix things up. As we said for chocolate brown shoes, black shoes look off if they’re the only black element in a khaki pants ensemble, but if black is worn up top, too, it creates some unity. However, doing a black top, khakis, and cognac shoes or boots will look equally chic, especially if you can work a cognac belt or handbag into the mix. (Says the Mayor of Matchy-matchytown.)

For paler khakis

Image source

Again, I don’t fully condone these guys, but if you’ve got a pair that needs wearing, this outfit shows a good bet: Utilizing pattern. See how that scarf includes the stone color from the pants and the maroon and olive from the jacket? It ties everything together and allows for the pairing of a dark top with a very pale bottom. Since pale khakis are tough to wear with other solids, I think khaki-containing patterns as bridging pieces are the way to go.

Very few of the examples I found incorporated vibrant colors, but if you’re looking to do so I recommend maroon, burgundy, magenta, orange, or just about any color with red undertones, especially for the warm khakis I prefer. Pairing super-saturated brights and neons with khaki and camel is very trendy right now, but can be tough to pull off, so if you’re feeling leery, stick to reddish shades. Overall, though, I’d say the best way to create consistently chic ensembles is to wear your khakis with at least two other neutral tones and accessorize creatively. Utilize pattern to bridge when you can, mind your shoe choice, and have fun.

Holy PANTS, that got long. But I’m sure I’m still missing a few key ideas, so let’s hear from you: Are you a khaki pants-wearer? Do you find them to be challenging? How do you style yours? What’s your go-to shoe for khaki pants outfits? Think any of the above recommendations would work for your personal style? If you’re a blogger and have a khaki pants outfit to share, link us up in the comments!

Top image courtesy Gap

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  • http://catspajamas-dogstuxedos.blogspot.com/ coffeeaddict

    In my opinion khakis and cognac shoes are a match made in heaven :-)
    I also think flats work best with khakis or wedges, I usually pair mine with
    1. stylish leather sneakers
    2. funky ballerinas
    3. wedge boots or bootees
    4. wedge sandals
    I also think a pair of lace oxfords would be just awesome. Don’t have those in my arsenal yet, but I’m seriously pining over these vegetarian ones:
    http://www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk/mens_-_unisex_shoes/tan_brogue/13882_p.html

  • Karen

    Always so interesting to read another point of view! I find the lighter shades of khaki so much easier to wear and mix into my wardrobe, though I tend to keep them for the summer and use darker shades for the winter. The darker shades have too much yellow in them to work well the cool colors I favor. My favorite color with light khaki is light blue. And I have a pair of spruce green mary janes that might as well be a neutral, they go with everything especially khaki!

    • Anna D.

      My response almost exactly – I’m much better with paler shades of khaki, because the darker ones are too tan/yellow and don’t work incredibly well with the rest of my clothes. (I look like death in anything yellow-toned, which of course doesn’t really apply to pants since they’re not near my face, but has led me to avoid those colors in general.)

      I like chambray/denim with lighter khakis, and I really like khakis with boots, usually some shade of brown. Paler khakis aren’t quite as cognac friendly as the darker shades (though it would still work) so I stick with cooler browns – taupe stuff would be lovely.

      But mostly I like the mix of neutrals thing – often black and white, but I really love that black/white/olive mix – need to figure out how to do that! (Except probably not actually with khakis, which are a little too casual for my current workplace, so I don’t have any at the moment.)

  • Kylara7

    I usually wear khakis with my grayish-tan Sketchers sneaker-flats (very comfy AND stylish) or ballet flats in a similar color as the khakis OR an accent color that goes with my top or scarf. Most often, I wear a long-sleeved T-shirt style shirt on top paired with an interesting scarf or necklace. For fall, I find the long-sleeved T-shirt style tops to be versatile and casual yet cute enough to be a little bit dressy. I work in a lab, so some of the same issues as the OP…have to practical, have to blend in with the other workers who are mostly male, have to be able go from lab to meeting room, etc. Khakis are great for that middle ground!

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I have gobbled up these ideas, and I am translating them to my regular jeans. I just have not found the right pair of khakis yet! Mine have always looked a little frumpy, or lumpy, or something. I *did* just buy a pair of skinny olive cotton pants that look very flattering though — does that count??

    The picture of Jackie O = timeless, ageless elegance. Sigh.

  • http://Cookiegeisha.wordpress.com Cookie

    Thank you for this post. I work in a job in which I must wear pants and flats and be able to get dirty at any point in time. I spend all day reading style blogs for looks I can only rock on weekends. A post that is applicable to my work situation is just so helpful.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Hurrah! So glad to hear this was useful, Cookie.

      • Michelle

        I’m with Cookie. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • http://Line4line.blogspot.com K-line

    Excellent post on a challenging, if ubiquitous, item!

  • LinB

    Wow. Until I prised open my mind and considered all the options you listed and illustrated, I was poised to write that “stylish khakis” is an oxymoron. They still evoke images of the Good Ol’ Boys club to me — not least because a navy blazer, khaki pants and an oxford-cloth buttoned-down shirt are still de rigeuer menswear in the U.S. South. Also I see school uniforms for children and teachers, and factory garb for machinists. You make a persuasive argument that the uniformity of khaki trousers is due for a fashion update. I still won’t wear them, if I can avoid them, though.

  • Katie

    I’ve noticed for a long time that the khakis in my closet have gone unworn much more than pants of other colors! I’ve looked for a long time for the perfect shade of dark caramel pants, but haven’t really had any luck. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in not knowing how to wear khakis.
    One thing that I consider strange is how khakis are marketed to us even though it seems like most women don’t love them! I’d like to see more dark tan/rich cinnamon brown pants available…

  • http://musclemilkisnotaeuphemism.blogspot.com malevolent andrea

    Having spent what feels like entire years in the mid- to late 90s in khakis with black tops and black shoes, I cannot yet bear to return there. I find olive green or black pants in similar chino-style fabric much more versatile.

    Also, besides the side entry pocket problem you referenced, the typical rear welt pockets on khaki pants are pretty unflattering on most women. Unless you have a nicely round, perky, but not too wide, butt, they tend to make your rear view look wide and flat. I look for chino style pants to have patch or cargo type rear pockets, which while probably reading as slightly more casual, are much more flattering.

    • Amber

      What do you wear your olive green pants with? I have a pair that I’d like to incorporate into my wardrobe more, but I find myself always pairing them with brown tops, which I get tired of.

      • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

        Olive is pretty neutral, so it will mix well with other neutrals – see this post: http://www.alreadypretty.com/2011/03/how-to-mix-neutrals.html

        I love pairing olive with navy, magenta, stripes, red, and orange.

        • Amber

          Ooh, thanks for the link and suggestions! I see some wardrobe mixing on my weekend horizon! ;)

  • http://sparrowstudios.etsy.com Jackie

    If you don’t just *have* to wear cotton khakis (for strict dress code or getting dirty a lot reasons), why not try other fibers and fabrics in the same color range? I think a lot of the problems with finding flattering khakis lie in the fabric’s utter lack of drape. Perhaps some nice wool, wool blend, or even (gasp!) washable polyester pants in tan shades would be more flattering and easier to style. Usually, you’ll find a better selection of cuts and styles in the “work wear” section of the stores than in the khakis.

  • http://sparrowstudios.etsy.com Jackie

    Oh, and did I mention that, with camel being a big trend this fall, it’s a good time to stock up on those tan pants in a variety of fabrics other than cotton?

  • Tara

    I find khakis to be among the most unflattering of apparel on almost everyone but the thinnest of women. They wrinkle so easily, which always makes me feel like a dumpy schlub. I will do camel colored cords, but that’s the closest I get to khakis. I applaud those of you who can wear them and look stylish and put together! This is a feat I have given up on achieving.

    • Kris10

      Agreed! Glad to know it isn’t just me. I’m pretty average size, and khaki pants just seem to add on pounds and fit in the strangest ways. I never feel like myself in them. And I think they’re a lazy choice for work-required wear since they tend to look sloppy on everyone. I do have a khaki pencil skirt, which looks just fine, and hope to buy some camel-colored pants if I find a good pair. (Just tried some on at Loft, and they were so exaggeratedly curvy, I looked like I was being eaten by pants! No good!)

      • Tara

        Ha! The pants-eaten look is definitely not a good one. I find khaki skirts to be just fine too, but something about the pants has always looked dumpy on my even in my skinniest of moments.

  • Anna D.

    I forgot to say above: just don’t wear a red top with the khaki pants, and then go to Target. ;-)

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Totally done it. Probably was a khaki skirt, but still.

    • Lisa

      I’ve done this, too! More than once, even, which does not speak well of my memory. :-)

      • Aya

        I wore a midnight blue shirt and black trousers to Toys ‘R’ Us once. I totally agree.

    • pope suburban

      This is exactly why I don’t like khakis– they make me think of retail. I can’t wear black pants anymore (unless they are super-tailored dress pants) for the same reason; I had to wear them when I worked in restaurants and I hated those jobs so much, I still have an aversion to black pants. I can handle black denim, but only if it’s suitably treated so you know it’s denim. Straight-up black pants are a no-no for me. They look great on other people and I know they don’t say “waitress” to others (nor do I think it when I see black pants on someone else), but man, the psychological hangover there is too much.

      • Secret Squirrel

        I left working in retail more than 4 years ago now, but I must still have that ‘can I help you’ demeanour- I sneaked out from the changing room at Gap recently to grab a different-sized pair of trousers, clothed but with bare feet – and STILL got asked by someone to fetch them a different size. They also got very funny with me when I pointed out that I was also a customer!

  • Elizabeth

    I have loads of ideas of how to style khakis. Many that I see in your post above. However, I have yet to find a pair that looks good on me, so I don’t own any. Same goes for white pants. I’ve surmised that my pale, curvy body just isn’t suited to light-colored bottoms, except the occasional light-colored skirt.

  • Sonja

    I have a pair of widelegged camel-coloured pants that I usually wear with a brown or black turtleneck for a look with a 70s flair. But lately I’m wearing more colours and find it a pitty that this shade is so difficult to wear with anything brighter. Still, thinking about it now I could envision it combined with a green, red, purple or even dark yellow top … Might have to try that out…

  • crst

    I had a pair of traditional khakis that I never wore. I cropped them and took in the seams to make them into skinnies. I wore them very successfully the other day with heels and a flowy cardigan. I have also worn them with ballet flats and a fitted cardigan I think that the right cut of khaki bottoms really determines their usability.

  • Katharine

    Great post! I like khakis although I don’t currently have a pair that fits. (I’m pregnant, anyway.) I think it’s unfortunate they don’t get more wear outside of boring corporate uniforms. One of my favorite ways to wear them, when I had a good pair, was with deep jewel-y colors. I liked a darker camel khaki, with a deep ruby red wool sweater and a scarf with turquoise and gold in it. It was sort of like a saturated grown-up take on primary colors, with the khaki acting as the “yellow.” Anyway, I’d suggest exploring deeper saturated colors rather than brights, but you don’t have to go as dark and muted as olive, burgundy, etc.

  • Angela

    I just bought a pair, had them shipped from jc penney (I’m in Canada) and I think I am going to wear them as a change from jeans, with shades of browns, as they are a bit yellow,

    I was thinking brown shoes, but black too dark, and I think I could wear to work if no client meetings

    This subject is perfect timing, I just hemmed them, ready to go :)

  • http://www.patience-crabstick.blogspot.com Patience

    Khakis are perfect for my work environment, but I don’t own a pair right now, except for a very old pair of wide-legged J. Crew chinos that I love, but the hems are so frayed they’ve been demoted to “gardening pants.” I wear chinos with dansko clogs, which are my default shoe, but I love how they look with ballet flats. I like your tip to have two pairs, each hemmed for a flat shoe or a heel. I’ve bought and then donated several unsuccesful pairs of khakis over the years–I think pale khakis are not flattering. It’s odd how a basic pant can have so many permuations. I tried on a pair of the “slouch” khaki chinos at Lands End Canvas and they were awful–bizarrely baggy in the crotch with a weird jodphur shape. For me, J. Crew chinos seem to fit the best and be the most flattering.

    • http://www.amidprivilege.com Lisa

      My least fancy khakis are also frayed at the hem, also now “gardening pants.” They are GAP, and were great, in their day.

  • Mrs.M in MI

    I have to second Jackie’s suggestion to look for khaki-colored pants in other fabrics. Years ago, I had a pair of khaki-colored trousers in ponte from Express that I absolutely wore into the ground. They looked like dress pants but felt like PJ’s! I most often wore them in a mix of neutrals or with denim, but I also liked wearing them with purple (as a complementary color to yellow).

    Now I have a pair of wool trousers from Brooks Brothers in a color I would call “tobacco”. I really love to wear them with darker greys, bright green, and dark purple.

    I also would suggest cotton khaki-style pants, just not in a khaki color. I have a few pairs in “semi-neutral” colors, like mint green, burgundy, light grey, and dark blue (too light/bright to be navy, but not a bright cobalt, either). I find these colors to be a lot easier to match with the rest of my wardrobe than the khaki color. Also, my office summer dress code is a step up from khakis, and I find these to be dressier than khakis even though that is essentially what they are.

    I’m actually wearing the mint green pants today, with a white polka dot shirt, a simple navy sweater, nude peeptoes, and a light pink flower pin. It’s not really summer anymore, but I haven’t switched my wardrobe from summer to winter yet so I’m wearin’ ‘em!

    • Tara

      Mrs. M, that outfit sounds adorable!

  • http://www.closet-coach.com Heidi/The Closet Coach

    I also like to wear khakis paired with a cute cardigan, belted over a colorful T-shirt. It gives the waist some definition as well as adding interest on top to balance out the more neutral pant.

    Another option is to try a wide-leg/flared pant (http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=675504002&tid=onsp1r&kwid=1&ap=14). It reads less like a khaki and more like a trouser, plus it’s super comfortable.

  • Anne

    Thanks for all the great tips for styling khakis. I teach a pull out class for gifted kids and khakis are my uniform. They’re sturdy, easy care, and look a tad dressier/ professional than jeans. I have a few pair of mid-heeled maryjanes that I wear with them, but depending on the activities I have planned , I’ll wear my converse kicks, or a wedge sandal, or even some ankle boots . I wear wrap tees fairly often and almost never wear khakis with crew neck cardis. (just seems a bit matronly to me) I’ll echo the comments about it being difficult to find khakis in nice deep tones. J Crew seems to have the best assortment. One trick I learned to combat the iffy pockets: just stitch them up and snip the pockets off. It makes a huge difference in streamlining your lower half.

    Believe it or not, it’s still not Khaki weather yet where I live, maybe by Thanksgiving?

    • Sonja

      “One trick I learned to combat the iffy pockets: just stitch them up and snip the pockets off.”

      Most kinds of pockets add “unnecessary” volume to my thighs, so I do the exact same thing!

  • http://smackingdowntheapathy.blogspot.com D

    Its funny reading the comments about wearing red and khaki and then going to target- I used to work there, and now I always find myself gravitating toward my red tops when I try to wear my khaki pants.

    I don’t find that I want to wear my khaki pants all that much, which may be a function of previously working at target. I always feel like my outfit is extra boring when I wear them. I’ll have to try some of these tips!

  • Virginia

    Hi. I am actually wearing my favorite “fancy” khakis today to my law office and I wear them at least once every two weeks (they are the ankle skimming jcrew stretch twill minnie pants which, although they say dry clean only, I put in the washer and hang to dry). Your advice is solid. Today I am wearing with a forest green wool sweater and camel high heeled oxfords (i need to get myself some cognac pumps), but I also like the look with a light neutral top and red ballet flats. In the summer I felt very chic wearing them with pink or peach cardigans, cream or white camis and off white croc embossed pumps.

  • Lucyna

    Great job on this one Sal!! What a challenging subject. I ALWAYS struggle with what kind of shoes to wear with work pants; khaki and black. I used to wear a ton of khakis, but I have strayed away from them lately due to all of the unflattering cuts that are out now (i.e. boot riding pants with pockets on the legs and hips are NOT flattering on me, tiny-waist girl with huge hips…bleh).

  • http://www.Local-Artist-Interviews.com HM

    One thing that is fun to do is wear khakis with a red polo and do some shopping at Target. If you prefer a blue polo, shop at Best Buy. Then pretend that you work there and answer people’s questions for them, giving advice and such.

    I don’t wear khakis as a rule since ther is a chance of running into my father wearing the exact same outfit if I do. Embarrassing!

  • Aya

    This post was incredibly useful, thank you! Not only do I have a few pairs of neglected trousers (dark brown/green, grey) hanging in my closet, but some of these looks and ideas can also be applied to a pair of bottle/army green Citizens of Humanity trousers I thrifted. Didn’t know what to wear with ‘em, couldn’t give ‘em up because the fit was so goshdarn flattering.

    I am not sure if I agree with horizontal pockets if one is short and trying to go for the unbroken line/streamlined trick. I am however, small-hipped so I don’t have the pocket tent issue. (And horizontal pockets could be covered by a long shirt or blouse anyway)

  • Victoria

    I have two pairs of khaki pants, (one lighter, one medium) and I wear them a lot. I prefer jewel tones, with pastels coming a close second. When it comes to Khaki, any shade of red works, as does the darker greens, royal blue, purples ranging from medium to dark plum. Teal. A dark carnelian orange would work also.

    I’ve also had good success with khaki/white/large bold accessory (scarf, necklace, etc) and “statement” shoes outfit. (The khaki and white function like matting for the body art and frames things nicely.)

    The shoes I wear the most are tan flats, (I don’t have a large shoe collection) unless I do a “black and tan” outfit, a statement outfit, or have on a red top. (I have a pair of coral flats and a pair of red mule-style wedges.) Dark brown leather works as well as Sally’s cognac color.

  • anne

    Not being an American, I am confused. I have caramel/beige coloured pants , same cut and weight as my black and gray work slacks. They are flat front-ed, and quite elegant. Usually I pair them with black tops or white tops and a cropped navy blazer. As for shoes, blue , tan gray . But I don’t feel my dressy tops are not good enough just because the colour is light? I wear my dressy tops with my white pants also. :( this post confuses me.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Sounds like you’re on the right track, Anne! Khakis in America mean a specific kind of casual cotton pants, generally speaking. Sounds like you have tan dress slacks that work fine with dressy tops.

      • anne

        Aha! 10x. Now I get it. The suggestion regarding colour however still remain very useful! Thank you again!

  • Kookoo

    Great ideas above. But don’t forget the rear view! Thin fabric, bunchy pocket, and vpl doom sheik results. No one need display lumps and bumps so go with a dressy heavy weave fabric or a drapey over layer. Plus press and starch them crisp if you opt for cotton.

  • blackdogramona

    A muted purple or muted teal with black accents looks great with a lighter, not-so-yellow khaki! Bright primary colored tops can be bad – beware bright red polo with khakis if you don’t work at Target. Many other retail stores use khaki pants + plus designated solid primary color top as worker uniform.

  • Beckee

    Thanks Sal! This is a most useful post for me. I had given up on khakis but now with your helpful suggestions I will try to wear them again!

  • http://www.amidprivilege.com Lisa

    These are my dressier khakis – the fabric is finer, the detailing nicer than usual Karen Millen cropped pant, they call them:). In this post I wore them with James Perse and Remonte Derndorf sandals. http://amidprivilege.com/?p=7491

  • Veronica

    Great tips! I’m actually wearing my green khakis today, they have pockets at the sides of the legs. lol I have them on with a black cami and a dark blue/navy boyfriend sweater, and medium brown sketcher biking shoes. (I don’t bike it’s just what they were called) lol I was going to go for my cognac boots but I was doing a playgroup/preschool thing today and if I accidentally stepped on any kids feet/toes it would not have been good. lol I like the look, I think it would be called utilitarian. Maybe not, I don’t know. lol

  • http://ruthieksews1.blogspot.com/ Ruthie

    As a pear shape I tend to avoid light coloured trousers and stick to darker shades. I do have a half lined pair of tailored wool pants in a creamy caramel colour though so am interested in seeing if these tips will work with them.

  • Margot907

    This post made me realize I haven’t worn khakis in forever when I used to wear them all the time.

    As for shoes, I tend to think my cordovan Danskos go with almost any pants. I think they would look great with khakis with a blue, olive, or black top.

  • Kristen

    For years, I avoided khaki pants because I have short legs and am bottom-heavy. However, Land’s End was recently selling them for $7 each on a clearance rack. I had to size up to get the seat and thighs to fit well, but the waist was too big and the pockets gaped open in the most unflattering way. I figured, for that price, I could have the waistband altered and the pockets sewn shut. Now, they fit perfectly they are very flattering and make my legs look long and lean, all for around $30 a pair! I got them in white, navy and khaki and I can’t wait to make some chic, casual outfits out of them.

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  • Sarah

    Thanks for this!!! I have so many kakis that I avoid haha. I do tend to gravitate towards lighter tones, but… I am the figure type that needs a little extra weight in my lower half so I don’t mind wearing light-colored pants (at least I think that’s how that works? :)).

    So lately, I’ve tried to get more adventurous and wear kakis and kaki-colored cords for fall. I really liked one outfit that included an olive green, fitted, cotton top that hit at the hips, a pretty scarf with olive greens, grays, muted blues, golden yellow, yellow-green etc for color and a navy blue cardigan that picked up on the blue in the scarf. Shoes were the toughest, but I think gray or cognac would have been ideal. I think I will also try your suggestion of using leopard print as I just inherited my grandmother’s leopard print scarf. I’ll probably pair it with a black top as the scarf also has a black edge. Shoes? Ah! Haha, if I *had* cognac shoes to match the leopard print, that’s what I’d do. Otherwise, not sure.

  • http://scarlettnewyork.com Scarlett

    Like your suggestions. Khakis are difficult to wear, and most women have a pair or two feeling a bit neglected in their closets. These photos should give them some much needed inspiration.

  • http://www.anjeladancer.com Anjela

    How funny it is that I should come across this blog post, as I recently had a discussion with my boyfriend about how much I dislike khakis. I work in a business casual office where khakis are the dominant pant choice, but I myself only have one pair, which I only wear once a month, at best. My thought is this: Why settle for a casual pant, when it’s just as easy to wear a black pant and look more professional? It doesn’t help the case for khaki that they show stains and wrinkles so visibly.

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  • Kelly

    I absolutely love khaki slacks, jeans, and shorts!! The secret to getting that chic style is to get a pair that fits your body best. As for shades of khaki, i prefer the lighter khakis to go with my different colored flats, wedges, and certain flip flops. For tops, i wear my V-neck T’s, long sleeve button downs, blouses, and sometimes polo shirts. I also work at a YMCA as an assistant supervisor, so i wear khaki slacks a lot. For work i prefer my light khaki docker metro trousers with black or brown flats, they are cute, comfy, and have a good flare to fit my silhouette. And talk about getting messy at work!!! On some fridays during the summer breaks, unexpectedly many people get thrown in the swimming pool, doused with water, or hit with water balloons. Its happened to me quite a few times, i guess cause im only 5’4 and not very strong.ahaha Its all fun and games, but khakis will hold up well, can look stylish+cute, are comfy, and go with most wardrobes.

  • http://www.decoratehim.wordpress.com bleo

    nice post on khaki pants. was writing an article about how khaki pants make guy look more mature. it seem that there are some precaution to take note lest they end up looking like an idiot.

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