Khaki Pants: Your Masculine Ways Will Not Define Me

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When society was so critical about my skinny jeans and crop tops, I had to wonder, where were they with regard to khaki pants of business casual?

Ladies, let’s turn the script from an attack against feminine style to a righteous takedown of the bland-never-changing, overly masculine, outdated-never fitting khaki forking pants. Can you feel my childhood rage yet? Let me explain.

I went to private school as a kid and wore school uniforms since kindergarten. My early days were filled with jumpers and skirts and gradually grew to include khaki pants as an option. Seems harmless right? Not for a tall Vermont girl with long legs in the 90s. 

Back then, long length wasn’t an option for kids or juniors. Back then, long length wasn’t an option anywhere. Potentially I could have asked my parents for $50 name-brand pants, but this wasn’t something I could justify. So, what did I wear? I wore a junior size that was way too big for me around the waist, but they made it to my ankles at least. Every day I folded the excess waistband material over and loosely secured it with a belt. It seemed like khaki pants were just not designed to fit girls. I’d show you pictures, but I still haven’t fully recovered.

This seems like a first-world problem, right? They’re just pants, right? 

Normally, I’d leave all those issues in the past and just subtly remind my tall daughter how lucky she is to live in leggings. However, I’m currently getting ready to attend an in-person, 8-week training school and one of the requirements is to arrive and in-process wearing khaki pants for the first day of training. WHY?!?

Can you guess how easy it is to find affordable khaki pants that fit a tall woman with long legs? Here’s a hint, it’s not! I have my usual go-to stores for pants that fit, pants that could be an investment- because MAYBE I’ll wear them again. But after a quick browse, the khaki color I need is sold out, the long length doesn’t exist, and the trusty failsafe option of Amazon is entirely hit or miss when looking for clothes (for me anyway). 

Why do khaki pants matter though? Well, I got to asking myself that exact same question. 

Why is there a requirement specifically for khaki pants? Naturally, my first thought is it’s a way to basically equalize the incoming training participants, just like it was a way to equalize a student body. It’s a way to look professional without those low-cut dresses and high hemmed skirts threatening distraction. Then I realized- those distraction precautions are for women’s apparel. Using khaki pants is a way to conform women to a male standard for a day.

I appreciate the concept of simple business casual attire for our first day of training, but I still have a lot of issues with the clothing of choice.

Asking male and female trainees to wear khaki pants highlights that women should conform or change to “blend in” with their male counterparts.

Why do women need to adjust to meet male fashion standards? Why can’t there be a compromise to meet the same goal of looking unified? Part of me wants to show up in khaki-colored jeggings to prove a point, and the other part wants to avoid conflict at all costs, and put my head back in the sand, be upset that I have to spend ridiculous money for one day just to appease the training group standard that is highly outdated. 

Funny enough. This morning, I heard my daughter putting on a necklace saying “I want to be beautiful today”. So naturally, I responded with “you’re beautiful every day!” What I wasn’t prepared for was her response of “some days I want to be a boy, and some days I want to be a girl”. I can’t imagine what her take on khaki pants for everyone would look like.

My rant could entirely be solved with “suck it up, buttercup, go get khaki pants”, and that in itself is part of the issue isn’t it? Sure, I have more serious issues to deal with than khaki pants, but I have a feeling I’m not alone. Especially for all the occupations, schools, and male-dominated training that require khaki pants as part of a uniform for women. 

Does anyone else want to see a khaki pants revolution? Or, will we just continue focusing on criticizing our moms, sisters, aunts, and friends for their jeggings? My vote is to find the collective compromise for self-expression in a professional way. Give me my pant options back!

 

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A born and raised Vermonter, Kelli got her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont, then joined the Vermont Air National Guard, where she met her husband. After that, she got her Master’s Degree in Digital Forensic Science from Champlain College. She and her husband and bought a house in the woods with 30+ acres of land to raise their two kids (4 and 2), three dogs, two cats, six chickens, and three guinea hens. Kelli stays home with her kids and pets while running her own wood crafting business, Tabor Ridge Designs, during nap-times. Kelli occasionally writes for her own mom blog, Calm Collected Mom, because we can all dream. She doesn't always think of herself as a writer, but she often has conversations with people over similar life frustrations and wants everyone to know that they're not alone. Life is full of irritations and annoyances, but Kelli thinks that we’ll get through it with a great story to tell afterward!

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