There is a stain on my pants.
Unfortunately, that is not a metaphor for some grander statement on life and love. It is a factual statement that is causing me great distress. I am afraid that this stain marks the end of an era for me and this loyal pair of pants. It is time to put this particular pair out of its misery. I can no longer ignore the warning signs of wear and tear. These slacks have served me well lo’ these many years through the formal and the casual, and work days and the weekends. Today I will be throwing these pants away. I will reluctantly buy new ones, but these will never truly be replaced.
Ladies, I know you think that we men are all Neanderthals without any self-consciousness or self-awareness when it comes to our personal appearance and fashion sense, and for the most part, you are correct. We boys can survive in the wild of modern civilization with no more than 4 pairs of shoes (dress brown, dress black, casual brown, sneakers…maybe a pair of flip flops in place of the dress black, but you get the picture). We are simple creatures, in mind, taste and sophistication. The concept of Garanimals clothing was designed for us. Match the rhinoceros top with the rhinoceros bottoms, and you’re ready for an evening on the town! Creative thinking when coordinating an outfit was a recipe for disaster, we were taught, so we learned to keep it simple.
This is why we love our khaki pants.
Khaki pants are to the man’s wardrobe what the little black dress is to the woman’s – perfect for all occasions, easily dressed up or down, never out of style, matches everything. The 4 shirts in our regular rotation, regardless of how ugly or outside of our color wheel these shirts may be, will all work seamlessly with our khakis. We only need 2 pairs of khakis (one pair might be in the wash) – one light and one dark. As for shirts, we need a lot of them, primarily to set a mood, to demonstrate our individuality and our ability to show whimsy on occasion, even though we only wear a small handful. Heck, even a sports team jersey can be comfortably tossed over a pair of khakis, and you’re ready for an evening of buffalo wings and lagers. Life is best when lived simply, and nothing is more simple than our go-to safe choice in pants.
Is khaki a color or a style? No one really knows. What I do know is that I own a variety of khaki pants in a wide variety of shades and cuts that create for me the illusion that I have varied tastes. Some of my pants are tan; some are wheat-colored; some are the shade of stone. Some are best described as concrete; or tan, off-white, sand, taupe, camel, or oatmeal. My closet features flat fronts, reverse pleats, double pleats, cuffed bottoms, relaxed and tapered styles.
I’ll miss this specific pair of khakis, however, more than most pairs. Over these past 14 years, they have consistently provided a spectacular drape, the perfect full break, and superior wearability. The microfiber material that in 1997 was new and forward thinking holds the crease and does not show the wrinkles after long periods of sitting. These pants worked with a sport coat or a t-shirt. They always fit, and that reminded me that my waist size has remained remarkably consistent for a long time. That’s a good thing.
Time and regular trips to the dry cleaners have taken their toll. I knew that we were on borrowed time together. Beyond the new found stain on the left thigh (stain origin, chemistry and date of acquisition unknown, by the way), there is a worn spot on the back right pocket where bottom corner of my wallet has eroded away threading, not quite transparent yet, but headed in that direction. For the last couple years, I noticed unsightly pilling around the entry to the side on-seam front pockets. The zipper was beginning to stick, always a source of frustration. The metal clasp in front that joined the waistband together was starting to wear through the front ever so slightly, a sign of age hidden only by a leather belt. The cumulative effect was a well broken-in pair of pants that was becoming just broken.
I don’t want to give up on these pants in spite of the mounting evidence that they have ‘worn out’ their welcome, so to speak. The truth is that when it comes to a man’s clothes, the devil you know may be better than the devil you don’t know. Old and familiar trumps new and stiff (insert your own joke here). I am not looking forward to shopping for a new pair of pants. It’s like a pressure packed speed dating experience. You run from store to store and make instant judgments on what the rest of your life might be with that pair of pants in your closet. They look good in the store, but maybe it’s the lighting. Maybe they look good now, but what about in a couple of years? Will I regret hooking up with these pants? It’s a big commitment…especially when ever pair you see just reminds you of the pair that used to be yours.
Today I only have one pair that is dark tan, microfiber, double pleated, cuffed, with a relaxed fit and a wonderful history of service to its owner. These pants, my pants, now have a stain. This is the end, beautiful friend, my only friend, the end. I hate to set you free.
Good thing I have another matching pair in the alternate stone color. Those are completely different, though.