Are Slacks and Khakis the Same Thing?

Are Slacks and Khakis the Same Thing?

There are plenty of types of bottoms out there in the world of fashion. So, it’s understandable how one can mix up the various styles. For example, take slacks and khakis. These two pants are not the same thing—though they have a few similarities. You can, for example, style both khakis and slacks using similar apparel pieces, footwear, and accessories. So, what are slacks and khakis, and what are their features? Continue reading to understand the similarities and differences between these two pants.

What Are Slacks?

The word “slack” is derived from the Saxon word “slak,” meaning “loose.” Therefore, loose is a starting point when describing slacks. Slacks are a type of trousers characterized by a loose-fitted construction. They’re usually worn by men and are commonly confused with dress pants (which can refer to a variety of types of formal and semi-formal men’s and women’s dress pants). Many slacks are made of woolen (wool or wool-based) material since these textiles are typically lightweight, allowing for a loose-fitted construction. Because of their lightweight, loose-fitted construction, slacks allow for plenty of roomy for breathing. Slacks are formal men’s pants. You can style slacks both with and without a suit jacket.

The best slacks have features that’ll allow you to move in comfort—no matter where you’re heading. For example, hidden elastic sidebands that stretch and an extended waist tab allow for absolute comfort and a customized fit. Multiple pockets provide various options for storing essentials. Slacks featuring a stretchy fabric will allow for complete comfort. Dressing up shouldn’t keep you from feeling your absolute best!

What Are Khakis?

Khakis are more casual than slacks. The word “khaki” is from India, and it means “soil-colored” or “dusty.” In the mid-1800s, soldiers in the British military used soil and tea stains to dye their trousers in an attempt to camouflage. The style then became popular with explorers and adventurers in the early 1900s, and the term “khaki” became the unofficial name of these pants. Khakis are straight-legged, thick, and sometimes pleated. Khaki pants usually are cuffed, too, and they’re made of cotton twill.

The best women’s or men’s khaki pants are made of a wrinkle-free fabrication, meaning they’ll look great out of the dryer. Also, khaki pants made of stretch fabrication will allow you to move with ease. Finally, look for pants with multiple pockets to store all your essentials. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find khaki pants featuring hidden interior storage in case you want the exterior of your pants to appear as smooth as possible.

Ways to Style Slacks and Khakis

Both slacks and khakis are extremely versatile apparel pieces—and for different reasons. Slacks work better for dressier occasions, and khakis work well in laid-back environments.

Slacks, as mentioned before, can be styled with a suit jacket. You can match your slacks with a suit jacket and wear varying dress shirts underneath. However, for a put-together yet less formal outfit, look for a button-down shirt. Stock up a range of solid, neutral tones that you can match with almost any of your bottoms for effortless style—no matter the day during your workweek. Or look for button-down shirts with fashionable patterns, such as pinstripes, plaid, or paisley.

Men’s polo shirts look good with plenty of bottoms since they can be dressed up or down. Therefore, if you don’t want to part from your polos during your workweek, don’t worry—just pair them with your slacks. Polo shirts styled with slacks can take you from the office to happy hours drinks in style. As for your shoes, loafers and oxfords are ideal ready-for-work shoes. In addition, neutral-toned shoes will match almost any pair of pants (such as black or brown). Or seek out men’s dress shoes that’ll add a pop of color to your outfits, such as polished red leather dress shoes.

Khakis can be dressed up or down, depending on where you’re heading. To dress up your khakis, match them with a tucked-in, button-down shirt, a leather belt, and polished leather dress shoes. However, khakis are known for working as comfortable casual apparel pieces. If the weather is warm, style a short-sleeved polo shirt or T-shirt with your khaki pants. For chilly evenings, a denim jacket will look great with khaki-based casual outfits—style long-sleeved T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, or cashmere sweaters with your khaki pants for colder days. As for your shoes, smart sneakers will look fantastic with your khaki pants. To finish off both your outfits featuring khakis and slacks, pair with them stylish yet functional accessories (such as backpacks, messenger bags, briefcases, and other work or travel bags).

Khakis and slacks definitely have distinct characteristics. Though you can style them with similar apparel pieces, footwear, and accessories, ultimately, slacks are dressier than khakis. However, both are must-haves for your wardrobe, depending on the occasion. Use our styling tips to make the most out of your casual and formal bottoms.


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