How to Wear Dress Pants, If You’re a Guy: Don’t Wear Them With Sneakers and Avoid Khakis

Despite what you heard, don’t wear khakis.  Just because these men’s pants are classic, it doesn’t mean they’re timeless.  In fact, they’re starting to represent a dull and generic image for men’s attire.

Some articles of clothing go with anything, like Chuck Taylor’s.  Then there are specimens like Hawaiian shirts, that arguably go with anything simply because they clash with everything, technically meaning they go with everything.  And then there are khaki pants, which truly look good with anything they’re paired with, in theory.

But not for me.  I’m very particular when it comes to wearing khakis:

1)     They’re the same color as my legs, so I kinda feel like I’m not wearing pants at all.

2)     Because of their good reputation (“you can’t go wrong with khaki’s”) and popularity, they are a bit boring by now.  It’s assumed that a man automatically looks better because he’s wearing tan pants.  I say, not creative enough.  Deduct one point unless worn in moderation.

3)     Despite popular belief, they don’t truly look good with anything.

What has put these thoughts in my head?  Surely just random observances over the last twelve years:

1)     In high school, every Friday the football coach had all the football players wear khaki pants, a white dress shirt, and preferably a tie.  But  many of them wore running shoes.  It came across as predictable and forced to me (which it indeed was).  You want to look nice?  At least change the shoes.

2)     In the movie 40 Year-Old Virgin, Andy (the lead character played by Steve Carell) wears khaki pants in almost every seen.  His attire is most noticeably awful when he first goes to the night club wearing a yellow polo and khakis.  Nerdy, man.  Nerdy.  Same thing in Sideways with Miles (played by Paul Giamatti).

3)     In the past 15 years, khakis and polo shirts have become the official uniform for employees of places like Best Buy.  So now khakis are starting to represent a dull, generic work uniform.

Instead of khakis, try this. Note: Black shoes with black pants. Not brown shoes.

Khakis have become part of a stereotyped outfit of an outdated man from the year 2000: Khaki pants, faded polo shirt, cell phone holder on belt.

Noted, there is a difference between what a man wears to work and what he wears to every other public events.  I know for myself, I don’t care that much what my coworkers see my wearing as long as I don’t look like a slouch.  So yes, I do resort to polo shirts and once every week or two, I’ll wear khakis.

But for many, work isn’t as a professional environment as we often pretend for it to be.  I don’t take as good of care on the clothes I wear day in and day out to work.  Who cares if they’re faded or a little wrinkled?

Bottom line: For a man to truly dress nicely, and appear to be modern yet not trying too hard, he should simply try doing so sans khaki pants.

How?  Charcoal colored pants.  Dark brown pants.  Slate (very dark blue/gray) pants.  But not tan.  Heck, even dark jeans can look better than khakis when done right.

P.S.  If you must resort to wearing khaki pants in an attempt to look nice, do not be temped to wear a navy blazer or jacket with it.  That’s for CEO’s who are 61 years old and don’t realize that it’s no longer cool.  Wearing a navy jacket with khaki pants is for guys still wearing Levi’s jeans similar to Jerry Seinfeld in 1994.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on pants, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

Reading (and Leading) People

 There’s a mighty power called “being able to read people” that can be used for good, to lead others… or for bad, to manipulate them.

A sign of a person’s self-confidence level, as well as their amount of natural leadership skills can both be measured, to a great degree, by how often (or seldom) they are in defense mode.  While there are most definitely times to stand up for ourselves, confident in our stance on whatever issue is at stake, if a person is constantly feeling they have to prove their worth by acting and speaking in a default of defense, then there is a problem.

In theory, a person should only have to be in “defense mode” when they truly need to stand up for themselves or for their just cause.

Therefore, I can’t help but have a respect for people who fight for what they believe in, who turn an apathetic cheek to things they don’t feel passionate about by staying out of it (meaning they don’t think they have to be right about everything), and who are savvy enough when it comes to “reading people” that they don’t have to second-guess what a person is thinking. 

Definitely ironic.  Reading people so well that there is no need to try to predict or figure out what someone is thinking.  Because good “people readers” already know what other people are thinking, yet they NEVER admit it or tell the person they are reading.  No one wants to feel that they are being manipulated because someone has figured them out- though their fear is often indeed true.

So I’d rather be the one in the driver’s seat instead of the sidecar when it comes to the issue.  I’d rather attempt to become a leader (when there’s not already an established one) than become a follower of a corrupt or weak leader; one I don’t respect. 

That’s the whole brilliance in reading other people- the way to manage other people is to steer them into the desired direction without having them realizing what’s happening.  A secret self-taught art that entertainers, politicians, CEO’s, teachers, managers, and pretty much anyone in any type of leadership position learn to master: Do unto others or they will do unto you.

A leader who is a good “people reader” knows the limits of others- what can be asked of them and what they are willing to do to accomplish the goal.  Leaders also know what motivates their team members- how to let them thrive in their skillsets, talents, and creativity. 

To make sure I speak in confidence, not in doubt, I am very specific in the phrases I chose not to say (and type).  In my own vocabulary, these are blacklisted:

“My point isn’t that…”

 “Wait, I know what you’re thinking…”

 “Let me explain, you see…”

 “Here’s what I meant…”

 “See, what I believe is…”

All of those phrases seem to preface the rest of sentence in a way that negates its own validity.  Often when I write, I am making a point based on my own opinion.  As I do this, I have to carefully address the exceptions and any naysayers’ concerns by building on them (You Missed a Spot).  In other words, by “reading people” to where they don’t even get a chance to heckle me with a “yeah, but what about?…”

For example, when I was writing the “sleeper hit” post Must Not Mustache (currently my 5th most popular, surprisingly), I was explaining that most men under the age of 40 can’t be taken seriously if they have a mustache.  Yet, there are exceptions and I needed to be the one to address them.  So I did.  And instead of the exceptions taking away from what I had to say, they complimented it instead.

I keep this original proverb in mind daily:

Speak with authority and direction.  And if you may be wrong about the issue or haven’t done your research, just shut up.  People often mistake silence for wisdom. 

My inspiration to write this post?  This past Sunday night’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice.  I like learning from other people’s follies and successes- even if it comes from a reality TV show.

TMTT (Too Much Trouble to Talk)

According the September 19, 2008 issue of the New York Times, in America there are now more text messages transmitted through cell phones than actual calls. It almost seems hard to believe, but that’s probably because I am assuming it’s only me that’s texting more times a day than calling. But maybe for once, I’m normal…

For some reason, I like those black-and-white commercials for Sprint featuring personal messages from the CEO, Dan Hesse. In the commercial where he’s at the café, he tell us, “It’s amazing we still call these things ‘phones’, considering all they can do.” He’s right. That reminds me of Ernest (the one that goes to camp, jail, etc.) who one time talked about all the cool features his watch had: flashlight, can opener, calculator, etc. The only problem is, he couldn’t figure out how to make it tell time.

I’ve got the Samsung version of the i-Phone and yes, it does everything. But I mainly got it because of the full keyboard for texting. (I think as an English major, it’s hard for me to purposely misspell words even when texting- it feels sinful.)  It’s becoming pretty clear to me:  it’s just become too much trouble to talk.

For me, it all started with the fact I hate checking voicemails. It’s a lot of trouble: Go to your voicemail. Enter your password. Listen to old voicemails you haven’t erased. Listen to the actual new voicemail. Erase it. Call the person back. Yikes!

And leaving a voicemail isn’t much better because you have to listen to that annoying speech that’s not news to you: “The person you are calling is unavailable. If you would like to page this person, press 5. If you would like to leave a voicemail, press 1. If you would like to leave a call-back number, press 4…” Come on! Who actually pages someone on a cell phone? Instead I text them. They shouldn’t make me listen to that instructional message. It should just say, “Leave a message”. Then I could save 45 seconds.

I realize this all may be a little biased in that I’m a guy and I communicate like a man, not a woman. A man communicates to exchange facts. A woman communicates to strengthen her relationships with the people in her life. But still, texting helps both genders accomplish their goals in their communication needs.

Speaking of communication (unfortunate pun), I’ve noticed a definite pattern in online networking sites. Everybody thought MySpace was cool at first. Then came the creeps and the spam. And it was too hard to know who “The Big Kenny” or “Georgia Princess” is. So we all converted our allegiance to facebook. And yes, facebook is unbeatable. It’s very easy to find the “friends” and it keeps you posted on any news with your them. Why? So we don’t have to ask them ourselves…

Not only do I not need to call Alex Igou but I don’t really even have to send him a message on facebook. I can just look at his “info” and learn where he lives, where he went to college, and if he’s married now. And if there is any other important info I would need to know, like that he’s going back home to Fort Payne, AL this weekend, he will put that in the “Alex is” section and that’ll show up on my news feed.

It’s just too easy not to talk to people.   And I think for that very reason, now more than ever, I have this desire to actually spend time with people. There is a major amount of “catching up” with someone that I just can’t do through a phone call, text, or facebook transaction. Maybe with enough hang time, I can slowly learn to talk again.

texting