When it comes to choosing the perfect casual look that is still put together, there are rarely any better options than khakis or a pair of dark wash jeans. However, khakis tend to get a bad rap and bring back memories of school uniforms and workwear. Still, there are several ways you can update this closet staple to bring it into the modern age.
Whether you’re stuck choosing between khakis and jeans for a casual day at the office or are simply debating what to keep and discard during a great closet overhaul, here's a simple guide on whether to keep it or ditch it.
If you’re undecided about what to wear for a casual day in a professional environment, women’s khaki pants are a great choice. Because they are not made from denim, which has a tendency to be misinterpreted as too casual, khakis still hold up a certain professional or more formal appearance. You can wear khakis with a button-down shirt for a more polished and professional look or with a simple tee for an ultra-casual look. Pair khakis with flats or sandals, depending on the weather, and you have a super easy, all-around conservative look.
While khaki pants are ultra-versatile, perhaps try steering clear of this look for more formal occasions or date nights. Khakis are ultra-resilient and best suited for more hands-on projects.
Women’s jeans are the holy grail of versatility in wardrobe form. You can pair a good pair of jeans with pretty much anything for a look that can be as dressy or as casual as you want. However, for a long time, denim has gotten a bad rap for being too casual and is often deemed inappropriate for work. We’re here to debunk that myth! Women’s jeans come in a variety of washes, shades, and cuts, from a relaxed fit to skinny jeans made to hug your curves in all the right places but still be conservative. For jeans that can go almost anywhere, including a professional setting, opt for a darker pair of jeans that are not too tight but still have a tailored cut like straight-leg jeans.
Do not purchase jeans that are distressed or have holes or any intentional wear in them if you intend on wearing them to work. A dark wash pair of jeans can easily transport you from a casual daytime errand to date night with some simple tweaks like changing the shirt you pair them with, or by switching out shoes from sneakers to a pair of heels.
Truth be told, there are many outfits and ensembles where both denim and khakis shine. For errands, work, and anything more hands-on, tailored khakis make for a polished look that appears put together and classic. Pair a honey-colored pair of khakis with a button-down chambray shirt and flats or stylish sneakers for a look that is sure to take on the day. You can always add more flair or personality to this look with a chunky necklace, or any other type of bold, fun jewelry. If you’d prefer to keep this outfit crisp and clean, it’s absolutely just as stylish.
For a similar vibe, switch out your outfit for a pair of straight-leg jeans and a simple, fitted white button-down shirt for an elegant and classic look paired with ballet flats or white sneakers. Both looks are effortless, classic, and fresh, preparing you for whatever lies ahead that day. Another great look with your denim, that could possibly go with your khakis too, is a cashmere sweater. It’s classic, clean, and can be dressed up and down to suit your needs.
There’s also actually a trick to buying shirts that go with both denim and khakis. A medium wash denim goes with almost any color shirt. So, simply pick shirts that you feel go well with khakis, (we’re looking at you reds, blues, and whites) and it is more than likely, they will match your denim too!
Did you know that a great set of accessories can help you change the looks and feels of outfits, in a pinch? Yes! For example, you might be leaning toward a white shirt and denim pants, but it looks too casual. Add a belt, scarf, and some dressier shoes to dress your denim up. With Khakis, they aren’t quite as versatile and they are dressier on their own. However, you can dress them down with a simple polo shirt or dress them up with a cashmere sweater, some nicer jewelry, and a pair of dress shoes.
It depends on the look you’re going for, but accessories can take either set of pants to the next level.
Khakis or Jeans? The Real Debate
But when it comes to choosing between the two, who really wins? In one corner, you have the durable khakis, perfect for daytime activities but not so appealing for evenings out, and in the other corner, you have the go-to women’s jeans that can go almost anywhere. For this reason, jeans are by far the more versatile clothing item based on their durability and interchangeability. Jeans also come in a much wider variety of colors than khakis. However, even though jeans work across the board, your khakis are still a very important closet piece, as there are several scenarios like country clubs or other traditional settings that still won’t allow denim in any form. In situations like these, your khakis will be an old faithful blessing.
While denim may be more versatile, make sure to keep both jeans and khakis in your closet arsenal for whatever type of scenario or situation occurs.