What do Bennifer, NBC’s Steve Kornacki, and your uncle at the firm’s annual office picnic have in common? What if we add Ashley Graham, The Crown’s Emma Corrin, and Kendall Jenner to that list? Tan, pleated, and best worn with New Balance 990 sneakers — the answer is khaki pants.
Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen a rise in interest for the pant style once reserved for dads — including First Dads — on casual Fridays. In November, Kornacki, aka America’s “map daddy,” caused a roughly 90% unit sale increase online at the Gap following his khaki-clad 2020 election coverage for MSNBC, according to TODAY. In the fashion world, Instagram style stars are trading in their vintage Levi’s for the other Americana pants, often styling them oversized and cinched with a thick leather belt, or wearing them low around the hips, Gen-Z style. Designers, too, have adopted khakis, with brands like The Row and Louis Vuitton adding elevated pairs to their spring ‘21 collections.
“They are a timeless and chic wardrobe piece for me, because you can dress them up or down,” says Sandra Heinrich Sauceda, the fashion influencer behind the Instagram account @filis_pina, which is brimming with khaki-colored outfit inspiration. Sauceda said that khakis make her feel put-together in a way that other pant styles don’t. Because of their soft fabric and loose fit, khakis are also more comfortable than standard trousers or jeans, making them an obvious choice for daytime — or nighttime — activities (after the year that we’ve had, what is time, anyway?).
Like that elusive perfect pair of 501s, though, finding a pair of vintage khakis that fits your body and styling preferences can be tricky, especially since there are so many options available on the secondhand market. Sauceda’s solution? “Find a bunch of different styles — baggy, pleated, and high-waisted — and try them on,” she says. She also recommends trying on various sizes and bringing along a belt to see how they look cinched. “You never know.”
Daniel Rodriquez, the Director of Operations at Housing Works Thrift Shops, a New York City-based nonprofit and thrift shop collective, recommends looking out for four things when shopping for khakis on the secondhand market: Durability; pleats; enhancements, like zippers or cuffs; and darker colors, which offer more versatility than muted shades. According to him, you also want to find a pair with intact seams that still has that covetable worn-in, faded look.
In order to make your search for the perfect pair of worn-in, but not too worn-in khaki pants — and get the Kornacki-turned-The-Row look in the process — we rounded up some vintage options, ahead.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Céline Khaki Straight Pants, $, available at Vestiaire Collective
Gap Casual Pants, $, available at ThredUP
RAWSONSTUDIO Vintage High Waist Khaki Twill Chinos 24 – 26, $, available at Etsy
Dockers Signature Mens Khakis Pants 32 x 34 Tan, $, available at eBay
Sacai Khaki Pants Size 3, $, available at Vestiaire Collective
BetaMenswear Vintage Men Khakis Size S, $, available at Etsy
Miu Miu Khaki Straight Pants, $, available at Vestiaire Collective
Lostboysvintage Vintage 1990s Carhartt Dungaree Fit Khaki Pants Size 32, $, available at Etsy
Vintage Deadstock 50’s French Army Foreign Legion Trousers, $, available at Broadway And Sons
Frank & Oak Khakis Size 2, $, available at ThredUP
Dockers Dockers Khaki Pants Mens Size 34×30, $, available at eBay
Vintage Greige French Tailor Pants, $, available at Brut Clothing
Vintage Japanese Brand Cargo Pants Multipocket Tactical Pants, $, available at Grailed
Dockers Cotton Ivory Khakis, $, available at ThredUP
Dior Khaki Trousers, $, available at Vestiaire Collective
BrandonThornedesign Vintage Zip Cargo Khaki Pants, $, available at Etsy
ShopDaisyRoots Vintage Pleated Khaki Pants Small Medium, $, available at Etsy
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