Simon Kneen, creative director of Banana Republic, explains how easy-breezy, consummately American khakis have become the new everyday pants. Again.
"I don't think there's anything sexier at the moment than a woman wearing khakis rolled up around her ankles with a pair of heels," says Kneen, who admits to plundering history when designing Banana Republic's annual khaki styles. "I close my eyes and think of the way Jackie O. used to wear her cropped pants," he says. "Or I think of Lauren Hutton." Women today have more options than those two ever did: cuffed, cargo, trouser, stretchy, broken-in, oversize, and fitted, at price points from H&M to Louis Vuitton.

Kneen chalks this up to a resurgence of American sportswear, from the classic blazer and white shirt to the trenchcoat. "The fits have changed dramatically. They're a little easier for everybody to wear," he says.

Think of them as a replacement for your denim, Kneen says. It's expected you'll wear jeans to certain things, whereas khakis can look really fresh. "That very broken-in look is obviously not for every office, but it is very cool. The fits aren't so formal now, they're a little bit more slouchy," he says.

As with jeans, the key to transitioning from day to night is simple: accessorize. "You can dress khakis up or dress them down," says Kneen. To take your workday pair out for the evening, he recommends pulling on a blazer over a ruffled top and adding a chunky statement necklace and high heels. And if you're feeling really sexy, heed Kneen's advice: Show a little ankle, open that shirt maybe a button more than you'd be comfortable with, and wear a great necklace underneath.

7 stylish ways to wear khakis this summer


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