Guys, I have to admit something that I often think back on with a deep twinge of embarrassment and regret.
When I was around 13–all hormones and disproportionate body parts–I walked into the sunroom in the big stone house I grew up in to hang with my parents. [Editor’s note: observe that I, a 13-year-old who should have been gabbing with girlfriends on my prized land line telephone or listening to a mixtape featuring Gwen Stefani on my Aiwa speaker set–something I’d begged my parents for, was about the size of a small car, and took up the entirety of my bookshelf and half my room, was instead willingly trotting off to “hang” with my parents. This detail alone should make sufficiently clear the kind of “cool kid” I was as an early teen.] They were watching a golf tournament on TV–a common occurrence in our household. The ripple of polite golf applause is as deeply engrained in my childhood auditory memory treasury as the pleasant island chimes of the Koopa Troopa soundtrack from N64 Mario Kart.
I strolled in and nestled myself on the couch beside my mother.
“You look ADORABLE!” she commented, gesturing to my outfit.
It may have been the first time I felt genuinely proud of an outfit I’d selected.
Well, that’s not entirely true: I remember planning and proudly donning an outfit on the first day of eighth grade that, I naively believed, surely turned heads. That outfit entailed a denim skort (barf), a striped baby tee (hello, Clueless–also, barf), bangs worn straight down my forehead (barf times 3), those black Steve Madden stretchy platform slides (you remember?! SICK! The trash we wore! — more barfs), and — WAIT FOR IT — a blue tamagotchi around my neck. Kewl. Y’all, I planned this outfit for WEEKS. I attended Catholic school and typically wore a hid-ey-ous uniform (we had a really ugly gray plaid situation in my elementary and middle school), but the first few days of school were always “free dress,” and I’d spend inordinate amounts of time planning my outfit to attract the gentlemen and impress the ladies. (BTW, my debut outfit was put to shame by the ultra chic styling of a classmate named Aline–pronounced pronounced ah-lee-nay–a Portuguese BABE who had already come into her body and was sporting denim flares cut to within an inch of her life, a fitted white tee (sooo much cooler than my baby-ish pastel stripes, I realized with chagrin), oversized silver hoop earrings (my lobes weren’t yet pierced at the time, which made me feel even more infantile), and some platformed sandals, probably from Candie’s. Aline, we all wanted to be you, girl. You made me chuck my “childish” fabric insulated lunchbag across the room in embarrassment once I realized you brought your lunch in a way cooler brown paper bag.)
But, I digress.
The morning my mother complimented my look marked a huge transition for me: a fashion conscience was born.
Too bad I was wearing the most dorky outfit on the history of the planet. I was wearing (no joke) high-rise, pleated khaki shorts that fell to my knee; a lime green, mock-neck, short-sleeve turtleneck (“kiwi green!” I remember proudly calling it–why were we all obsessed with kiwi and strawberry in the late 90s? I had about 234 kiwi-strawberry Lip Smackers); a scrunchie of some sort; and loafers WITH SOCKS.
For this reason, the word “khaki” induces a particularly spine-tingling reaction from me. All I can think about are those damned pleated long-ass khaki shorts (I think my mom called them “bermuda shorts”?), giving me the ultimate “mom butt” situation and placing me on a fashion no-no list that I’ve been working my way out of for the last two decades. It’s been a long process of sartorial atonement, but, in the words of Drake: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Thanks, khaki shorts.
But, guys. The most remarkable thing has happened. I am actually finding myself gravitating back towards khaki these days. (And not just in the form of trench coats, which have always been chic.) I know. I know. I’m playing with fire here, people. But just look:
Khaki is cool again?
Yes, yes it is.
My Top Khaki Picks:
+LOVE this safari shirt-jacket ($98). I want to wear it with white skinnies and some aviators.
+This belted jacket isn’t quite khaki, but it definitely has that utility vibe that khaki nails ($198).
+The CHIC-EST top ($190) from — who else? — Ulla Johnson.
+Also Ulla — I die over this chic but understated khaki dress ($325).
+This khaki anorak ($79) is perfect for running errands on the weekend.
+How epic is this short-sleeved trench/dress situation ($158)?! LOVE. The unexpected short sleeves transform it from run-of-the-mill to conversation-starting.
+OBSESSED with this ruffle-front khaki dress ($138). So fashion-forward and at such a great price. Would look amazing with a block sandal like this, which you could wear with pretty much anything at all.
+A classic shirtdress like this ($125) will stand the test of time, and can be styled and re-styled in countless ways. Though I typically prefer to spend my money on statement pieces / patterned styles, this is the kind of basic that will find its way into my bag for its versatility.
+I saw this bomber and had to have it (on sale for $68). SO CHIC.