Charles Dana

Honors Member
NOTE: I have revised my opening comments from Part VII. As the 1910s rolled on, khaki trousers were sometimes explicitly advertised as being work clothing (not just “outing” attire). My original introduction in Part VII did not make that clear. My revisions correct that.

By the way, I hope this thread will be interactive. If you have any information to add to the history of khaki clothing between 1898 and 1940 or thereabouts, please feel free to share it. And please don’t hesitate to point out any errors you find in anything I write; I will be glad to make corrections.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART VII(ii)—FOR SPORTY “OUTINGS” AND MORE—THE ROLE OF KHAKI CLOTHING EXPANDS IN THE 1910s

The second decade of the 20th Century was a transformative period for khaki trousers.

Throughout the 1910s, khaki garments continued to be marketed as “outing” attire, as they had been the previous 10 years. Earlier I showed a few (of many!) ads from 1910 to 1917 that portrayed khaki duds as being essential—or at least preferred—for outdoor recreational activities.

But by the early 1910s, khaki clothes—trousers especially—had acquired another role in civilian society: workwear. In the first decade of the 1900s, this clothing had occupied a niche mainly as play suits for boys and hiking/hunting/camping attire for sportsmen and sportswomen. And during the entirety of the 1910s, khaki garments were still used for those purposes. However, khaki fabric was so versatile and relatively inexpensive that in that decade, a parallel universe developed in which khakis grew ever more popular as workaday attire.

In this section, I’ll finish what I started in Part VII(i) by showing some ads from 1918 and 1919 that emphasize the sporting uses of khaki. In the upcoming installment I’ll present a sampling of advertisements from the 1910s in which khaki trousers are categorized as work pants.


********

[As with the previous advertisements that I shared, notice how often the word “outing” appears in connection with khaki clothes—]

For variety, let’s start with the ladies, lest we forget that khaki attire was made for—and marketed to—them as well.

In the San Francisco Chronicle for April 21, 1918, Livingston Brothers (a women’s clothier) got the word out:

“Modish and Practical Sports and Outing Apparel”

“Outing Togs in Khaki and Linen”
“Man-tailored apparel for mountain wear in practical and becoming styles for riding, walking and mountain climbing.”

The specifics:

Khaki breeches, $4.50 and $6.95
Khaki Trench Hats, $1.50
Khaki Hiking Dress, $7.50
Khaki Walking Skirts, $2.95 to $5.50
Khaki Shell Skirts, $5.50 to $6.95
Khaki Suit—two piece, $5.95 to $13.50

Riding Habits:

Linen and Crash, $18.50 to $24.75
Khaki Habits—two piece, $18.50 to $24.50
Khaki Habits—three piece, $29.50

******

[A member of Ask Andy recently asked if there were “Army-Navy” stores in the early 20th Century. I replied that indeed there were, and gave an example. Here’s another one]:

The W. S. Kirk Army store placed an ad in the Los Angeles Times for April 26, 1918:

“Army goods have the durability and tested reliability on lasting strength. There are absolutely no other sportsman’s needs to compare in best values or low prices.”

“REAL SPORTSMAN’S NEEDS”
“Army Shirts, Army Shoes, Army Pants, Army Puttees, Army Blankets, Army Tents, Army Hats...”

******

This ad from Saks & Company ran in the July 1, 1918 issue of The New York Times:

“Saks Warm Weather Clothes for Men”

“A man doesn’t have to sacrifice style for comfort in Saks Warm Weather clothes. Lighter, more wafer-like garments could not be produced than those now being shown in our selections....”

A partial list of the summer attire that Saks was offering to the discriminating man in the summer of 1918:

Mohair coats and trousers, $15 to $23
White Flannel trousers, $5 and $7.50
Silk coats and trousers, $21 and $25
Khaki trousers, $2.75
“Cool off” suits, $9.50 and $13.50
White Duck trousers, $3

******

In The New York Times for July 3, 1918, the Brill Brothers advertised as follows:

“For Holiday, Vacation and Season-round City wear—and for sports of all sorts. Cool, Summer-time clothes, economically priced, in accordance with the ‘War-time Small-Profit Policy’ of the Brill Stores....”

Tropical Worsteds, $17.50 to $28.00
Silk Suits and Flannels, $22.50 to $35.00
Cool Cloths and Mohairs, $12.50 to $20.00
Genuine Palm Beaches, $10.00 to $15.00
White Flannel Trousers, $6.50 to $14.00
White Duck Trousers, $1.75 to $2.50
Khaki Trousers, $1.75 to $2.50
White Outing Shirts, $2.00 to $2.50
Flannel Outing Shirts, $4.00

[The above advertisement does something extremely unusual for the time—It seems to imply that khaki trousers, in addition to being suitable for vacations and sports, are also appropriate for knocking about town. That’s generally not a role that retailers ascribed to khakis back then.]

******

The New York Times for July 2, 1919 ran this Gimbel Brothers ad:

“Men’s Clothes for ‘Over The Fourth’”
“Men’s and Young Men’s Outing Trousers”

“White Flannels, plain greys, grey striped, white and striped serges, each $8.75”

“Men’s white duck trousers, $2.50“

“Men’s khaki trousers--New army khaki. Just the thing for boating and country wear, $2.95.”

******

In the July 24, 1919 issue of the Los Angeles Times, a store called Hamburger’s advertised “Outing Togs of Khaki for Women and Men.”

******

And that closes out the period 1910 through 1919 regarding ads in which khaki clothes are marketed as outing-style duds. In the next section, khaki enters the workforce.
 
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Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART VIII—KHAKI GOES TO WORK, 1910–1919

Khaki was mainly the stuff of military uniforms in the 1800s. In 1899, however, khaki “Rough Rider” suits for boys and khaki bicycle pants for boys and men hit the civilian market.

By 1900, the civilian facet of khaki clothes had gotten larger, inasmuch as in that year khaki suits for men and khaki skirts for women were being advertised as warm-weather clothing. New York City’s Brill Brothers placed an ad in 1900 stating that the “throat of war” had given the go-ahead for men to wear khaki suits in the warm months. (The “war” referred to either the recently-concluded Spanish-American War or to the ongoing Philippine-American War.)

As the first decade of the 20th Century progressed, khaki’s presence in the civilian world expanded further as khaki clothes for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and “motoring” were marketed to men and women.

By the start of the 1910s, this civilian line of primarily recreational khaki was growing an offshoot of its own: khaki as workwear. For the remainder of that decade, khaki for “outings” and khaki for hardscrabble work co-existed.

Thus, the evolution of khaki clothing, by the beginning of the 1920s, had taken this path:

MILITARY

CIVILIAN
Children’s play suits
Bicycle pants for boys and men
Warm-weather suits for men, skirts for women
“Outing” attire
Blue-collar/outdoor workwear

(The Boy Scouts uniform, made of khaki, was introduced in 1910, which certainly represented a civilian use of khaki clothing. Because the history of that uniform has been written about in detail elsewhere, I won’t cover it in this thread, other than to point out when the uniform originated. My objective here is to briefly present a history that hasn’t yet been well illuminated.)

In this section I’ll describe a few newspaper ads from the 1910s in which khaki clothes are presented as (or implied to be) workwear rather than “outing” attire. The section after this one will contain some stories about khaki in the 1910s. And after that: on to the 1920s, finishing up with the 1930s.

******

The city of Bakersfield, California, is about 113 miles north of Los Angeles. It is in agricultural and oil country. The Bakersfield Morning Echo for January 3, 1913 carried an ad from I X L Clothing Company, in which khaki trousers were explicitly categorized as being for work. For the sake of context, I’ll list some of the other trousers that were on sale at I X L in the first days of 1913:

Dress Trousers

All $2.50 dress trousers, now $1.90
$3.00 worsted trousers, now $2.25
$3.60 dress trousers, all wool, now $2.75
$4.50 imported-fabrics trousers, $3.40
$5.00 “famous” all-wool trousers, now $3.95
$6.00 hand-tailored trousers, now $4.45

Work Trousers

“Best” $1.50 khaki trousers, now $1.15
Regular $2.00 whipcord trousers, now $1.45
Fine $2.50 corduroy trousers, now $1.65

******

Santa Ana is a suburban city about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. (Nowadays you could call it a suburb of Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm. But not in 1914.) The March 3, 1914 edition of the Santa Ana Register contained this announcement from a retailer:

“Men’s Outing and Work Pants and Coats Greatly Reduced”

The specifics:

KHAKI COATS

$1.75 Khaki Norfolk Coats, now $1.25
$1.50 Khaki Coats, $1.15
$1.50 Khaki Coats, 75¢

KHAKI PANTS

$1.50 Khaki Pants, now $1.05
$1.25 Khaki Pants, 95¢
$1.00 Khaki Pants, 80¢

CORDUROY AND WHIPCORD PANTS

$4.50 Men’s Corduroy Pants, now $3.25
$3.50 Men’s Corduroy Pants, $2.75
$2.50, Men’s Corduroy Pants, $1.75
$1.50 and $2.00 Whipcord Pants, $1.15

BIG VALUES MEN’S TROUSERS

$6.00 Men’s Trousers, now $4.10
$5.00 Men’s Trousers, $3.50
$4.00 Men’s Trousers, $2.75
$3.00 Men’s Trousers, $2.25
$1.00 and $1.25 Work Pants, 75¢

The above ad represents the evolving nature of khaki trousers in the 1910s. Is the retailer’s inventory of khaki pants for outings or for work? For both, possibly. The ad doesn’t say. Khakis, which in the previous decade had been heavily marketed to sportspersons, were now—in the 1910s—assuming a dual role as workwear and as outing wear. Hence the ambiguous flavor of the ad.

******

Santa Ana again, a year later. The Santa Ana Daily Evening Register for February 12, 1915 had an advertisement from The Santa Ana Clothing Store, which billed itself as “THE WORKINGMAN’S STORE.” It offered as follows:

$1.00 and $1.25 Khaki Pants, on sale for 79¢

These were work pants. After all, they were for the working man.

******

Corona, California is about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It’s jammed with tract houses now; 100 years ago, it was agricultural. (Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball owned a ranch there. The ranch is long gone, but I read that the Arnaz house still exists, although it was moved to a different location.) On September 15, 1916, in the Corona Independent, The National Clothing Store advertised a big sale that included the following:

DRESS TROUSERS

$1.50 Value, Special at 98¢
$2.50 Blue Serge Trousers, $1.45
$3.00 Blue Serge Trousers, $1.69
$3.50 Trousers, Sale Price $2.89
$4.00 Trousers, $2.45
$5.00 Trousers, $2.95

TROUSERS

$1.25 Khaki Pants, 93¢
$1.75 Extra Quality, $1.39
$2.00 Whipcord Pants, $1.59

Here again, the retailer did not categorize the khakis in any specific way. Considering the rural nature of Corona at the time and that the store also sold bib overalls, perhaps it wasn’t necessary to do so. In that town, men wore khakis for work. Probably.

******

In the Bakersfield Californian for November 29, 1918—a little more than two weeks after the armistice that ended World War I—the store I X L announced a “From War to Peace” sale. “The sun of peace is shining through the war-clouded skies. Mills and factories all over our land are readjusting their plans to a peace-time basis.”

“Whether you want a pair of trousers for dress or work; whether you want the finest wool, khaki, or cotton garments—they are here for you at prices you will gladly pay.”

The prices of the “Dress Trousers” are in one column and another column has the heading “Men’s Khaki and Cotton Trousers.” Nowhere in the ad does the word “outing” occur, or any other language suggesting a recreational use for khakis. The implication is that the khaki trousers are for work—although by 1918 consumers may have taken it for granted that the trousers were equally appropriate for work or sport. Contrast this ad with I X L’s advertisement from January 1913, in which the store explicitly categorized its khaki trousers as being for work (as opposed to leisure). Perhaps in those early years of the decade, when the function of khakiwear was gradually expanding, the retailer had to make that category clear.

*****

So there you have the Great Khaki Trousers Bifurcation of the 1910s. These comparatively inexpensive trousers were taking on increasing responsibility as workwear in addition to their original role (in the civilian world) as recreational action wear. This development was an evolution—albeit a relatively quick one—rather than an abrupt event. That might be why retailers sometimes—but not always— blurred the lines between the two classifications. It’s almost as if the advertisers were telling their customers: “Either/or. Vacation or work. We won’t say. Khakis are versatile. You know about them by now. And you know what your needs are.” It was, as I said in the previous section, a transformative decade for the khaki trouser.

To be clear: I don’t want to leave the impression that what I jokingly refer to as a “Bifurcation” started in 1910. We’re dealing with a process. There are advertisements from 1909 and 1908–-maybe earlier—in which clothiers don’t label their khaki trousers in any particular way—or in which they imply that the trousers are for work. But generally speaking, prior to 1910 or a bit earlier, khakis tended to be identified as vacation clothing, and work trousers were likely to be made of some kind of wool.

NEXT: Stories from the 1910s featuring khaki trousers
 
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
PART VIII—KHAKI GOES TO WORK, 1910–1919

Khaki was mainly the stuff of military uniforms in the 1800s. In 1899, however, khaki “Rough Rider” suits for boys and khaki bicycle pants for boys and men hit the civilian market.

By 1900, the civilian facet of khaki clothes had gotten larger, inasmuch as in that year khaki suits for men and khaki skirts for women were being advertised as warm-weather clothing. New York City’s Brill Brothers placed an ad in 1900 stating that the “throat of war” had given the go-ahead for men to wear khaki suits in the warm months. (The “war” referred to either the recently-concluded Spanish-American War or to the ongoing Philippine-American War.)

As the first decade of the 20th Century progressed, khaki’s presence in the civilian world expanded further as khaki clothes for camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and “motoring” were marketed to men and women.

By the start of the 1910s, this civilian line of primarily recreational khaki was growing an offshoot of its own: khaki as workwear. For the remainder of that decade, khaki for “outings” and khaki for hardscrabble work co-existed.

Thus, the evolution of khaki clothing, by the beginning of the 1920s, had taken this path:

MILITARY

CIVILIAN
Children’s play suits
Bicycle pants for boys and men
Warm-weather suits for men, skirts for women
“Outing” attire
Blue-collar/outdoor workwear

In this section I’ll describe a few newspaper ads from the 1910s in which khaki clothes are presented as (or implied to be) workwear rather than “outing” attire. The section after this one will contain some stories about khaki in the 1910s. And after that: on to the 1920s, finishing up with the 1930s.

******

The city of Bakersfield, California, is about 113 miles north of Los Angeles. It is in agricultural and oil country. The Bakersfield Morning Echo for January 3, 1913 carried an ad from I X L Clothing Company, in which khaki trousers were explicitly categorized as being for work. For the sake of context, I’ll list some of the other trousers that were on sale at I X L in the first days of 1913:

Dress Trousers

All $2.50 dress trousers, now $1.90
$3.00 worsted trousers, now $2.25
$3.60 dress trousers, all wool, now $2.75
$4.50 imported-fabrics trousers, $3.40
$5.00 “famous” all-wool trousers, now $3.95
$6.00 hand-tailored trousers, now $4.45

Work Trousers

“Best” $1.50 khaki trousers, now $1.15
Regular $2.00 whipcord trousers, now $1.45
Fine $2.50 corduroy trousers, now $1.65

******

Santa Ana is a suburban city about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. (Nowadays you could call it a suburb of Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm.) But not in 1914. The March 3, 1914 edition of the Santa Ana Register contained this announcement from a retailer:

“Men’s Outing and Work Pants and Coats Greatly Reduced”

The specifics:

KHAKI COATS

$1.75 Khaki Norfolk Coats, now $1.25
$1.50 Khaki Coats, $1.15
$1.50 Khaki Coats, 75¢

KHAKI PANTS

$1.50 Khaki Pants, now $1.05
$1.25 Khaki Pants, 95¢
$1.00 Khaki Pants, 80¢

CORDUROY AND WHIPCORD PANTS

$4.50 Men’s Corduroy Pants, now $3.25
$3.50 Men’s Corduroy Pants, $2.75
$2.50, Men’s Corduroy Pants, $1.75
$1.50 and $2.00 Whipcord Pants, $1.15

BIG VALUES MEN’S TROUSERS

$6.00 Men’s Trousers, now $4.10
$5.00 Men’s Trousers, $3.50
$4.00 Men’s Trousers, $2.75
$3.00 Men’s Trousers, $2.25
$1.00 and $1.25 Work Pants, 75¢

The above ad represents the evolving nature of khaki trousers in the 1910s. Is the retailer’s inventory of khaki pants for outings or for work? For both, possibly. The ad doesn’t say. Khakis, which in the previous decade had been heavily marketed to sportspersons, were now—in the 1910s—assuming a dual role as workwear and as outing wear. Hence the ambiguous flavor of the ad.

******

Santa Ana again, a year later. The Santa Ana Daily Evening Register for February 12, 1915 had an advertisement from The Santa Ana Clothing Store, which billed itself as “THE WORKINGMAN’S STORE.” It offered as follows:

$1.00 and $1.25 Khaki Pants, on sale for 79¢

These were work pants. After all, they were for the working man.

******

Corona, California is about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It’s jammed with tract houses now; 100 years ago, it was agricultural. (Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball owned a ranch there. The ranch is long gone, but I read that the Arnaz house still exists, although it was moved to a different location.) On September 15, 1916, in the Corona Independent, The National Clothing Store advertised a big sale that included the following:

DRESS TROUSERS

$1.50 Value, Special at 98¢
$2.50 Blue Serge Trousers, $1.45
$3.00 Blue Serge Trousers, $1.69
$3.50 Trousers, Sale Price $2.89
$4.00 Trousers, $2.45
$5.00 Trousers, $2.95

TROUSERS

$1.25 Khaki Pants, 93¢
$1.75 Extra Quality, $1.39
$2.00 Whipcord Pants, $1.59

Here again, the retailer did not categorize the khakis in any specific way. Considering the rural nature of Corona at the time and that the store also sold bib overalls, perhaps it wasn’t necessary to do so. In that town, men wore khakis for work. Probably.

******

In the Bakersfield Californian for November 29, 1918—a little more than two weeks after the armistice that ended World War I—the store I X L announced a “From War to Peace” sale. “The sun of peace is shining through the war-clouded skies. Mills and factories all over our land are readjusting their plans to a peace-time basis.”

“Whether you want a pair of trousers for dress or work; whether you want the finest wool, khaki, or cotton garments—they are here for you at prices you will gladly pay.”

The prices of the “Dress Trousers” are in one column and another column has the heading “Men’s Khaki and Cotton Trousers.” Nowhere in the ad does the word “outing” occur, or any other language suggesting a recreational use for khakis. The implication is that the khaki trousers are for work—although by 1918 consumers may have taken it for granted that the trousers were equally appropriate for work or sport. Contrast this ad with I X L’s advertisement from January 1913, in which the store explicitly categorized its khaki trousers as being for work (as opposed to leisure). Perhaps in those early years of the decade, when the function of khakiwear was gradually expanding, the retailer had to make that category clear.

*****

So there you have the Great Khaki Trousers Bifurcation of the 1910s. These comparatively inexpensive trousers were taking on increasing responsibility as workwear in addition to their original role (in the civilian world) as recreational action wear. This development was an evolution—albeit a relatively quick one—rather than an abrupt event. That might be why retailers sometimes—but not always— blurred the lines between the two classifications. It’s almost as if the advertisers were telling their customers: “Either/or. Vacation or work. We won’t say. Khakis are versatile. You know about them by now. And you know what your needs are.” It was, as I said in the previous section, a transformative decade for the khaki trouser.

To be clear: I don’t want to leave the impression that what I jokingly refer to as a “Bifurcation” started in 1910. We’re dealing with a process. There are advertisements from 1909 and 1908–-maybe earlier—in which clothiers don’t label their khaki trousers in any particular way—or in which they imply that the trousers are for work. But generally speaking, prior to 1910 or a bit earlier, khakis tended to be identified as vacation clothing, and work trousers were likely to be made of some kind of wool.

NEXT: Stories from the 1910s featuring khaki trousers
⇧ Another great post @Charles Dana. Thank you.

To some extent, that "bifurcation" (or really "mulit-furcation") continues to this day.

Companies like Dickies still sell khakis as work pants even noting their military origins:

Slim Fit Straight Leg Work Pants, Military Khaki
https://www.dickies.com/pants/slim-..._WP873_color=KH#q=Dickies KHAKI&sz=24&start=1


Then, of course, today, a billion menswear companies carry "khakis" (often time called chinos) for everything from casual to dress up to "outdoors" (LL Bean has a section of such).

And from time to time, companies like J.Crew in its "Wallace and Barnes" line will put out an "authentic military khaki." Polo does this quite frequently too.
https://www.jcrew.com/p/mens_catego...ace-barnes-military-officers-chino-pant/AB251

Even the khaki "suit" is still around as can be found at companies like J.Crew again or Banana Republic:
https://bananarepublic.gap.com/brow...PBoCmPAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds#pdp-page-content


It's interesting to see how all these modern day "uses" (often times, just marketing angles) - military, workwear, outdoors/casual, as suits - have roots going back over a hundred years.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART IX—KHAKI IN SOCIETY, 1910–1919

Here are brief excerpts from articles showing khaki in the context of upper-class, middle-class, and working-class life in the second decade of the 20th Century:

The San Francisco Call, on January 9, 1910, reported as follows:

“TREES ARE BOOKS in the YALE FOREST SCHOOL

“Mr. Gifford Pinchot’s Pennsylvania Estate the Training Ground for Students Who Seek to Solve the Mysteries of Dendrology

“[T]wo miles from the little town of Milford, Pa., the Yale [University] forest school has pitched its camp. Here for 10 healthy outdoor weeks those who...[w]ant to be a forester...assemble, from the snows of Oregon to the sunshine of California, to receive their first instruction in the profession of forestry.

“The students live in army tents....Luxury creeps in in the form of bookcases, improvised from fragments of packing boxes, and a straight limb swung from the ridge pole of the tent, on which a man may hang his other flannel shirt and khaki trousers....”

[Gifford Pinchot was the first head of the Unites States Forest Service. Later, he served as governor of Pennsylvania.]

******

The June 1, 1910 edition of Vogue magazine contained an article titled “In the Western Shops.” (It concerns womenswear, but its assertions can be extrapolated to include men’s attire.) Here’s a bit of it:

“TO BE suitably clad is one of the first requisites in out-door sports, and as each sport demands certain particulars of cut, style, and material, the list of clothes for the woman who goes in for athletics or hunting is a long one. The larger shops have always carried in ready-made garments excellent models for golf, tennis and riding, and to these have now been added suits for hunting, fishing and camping out....For this purpose the best material is duck, or if for very hot weather, khaki, both of these materials being strong and durable, and when well-made, the garments look smart and keep their shape in spite of very hard wear....”

******

The San Francisco Chronicle for July 8, 1912 carried a long column advising readers of the most up-to-date sporting and leisure attire for the well-heeled. The passages that are most relevant to this thread:

“SOCIETY CHAT by LADY TEAZLE

“At the seashore resorts blue coats, white flannel trousers and tan shoes hold their own as the proper garb for promenading, with the tenacity of the full-dress coat for the ballroom. But in the country places the popularity of the blue coat is shared with all-white suits and pongee silks and the ever-present [flannel] blazer....A man would not consider his wardrobe complete without a Panama hat, which must be supplemented by auto caps, Alpines of different shades and textures and the omnipresent straw sailor....On the trout streams and in camp the khaki and corduroy suits that have been standard sporting garments for years are quite...in evidence, nor has anything new been developed for horseback riding or cross-country skiing....”

******

The July 7, 1913 issue of the New York Times had this report:

“WOMEN IN TROUSERS

“Accepted Style Among the Campers at Lake Hopatcong

“LAKE HOPATCONG, N.J., July 6,—Women campers on the lake shore have taken quite a fancy to male attire, and they are wearing khaki trousers almost universally.

“Most of the women don skirts when they leave camp, but some of the less timid...appear in stores and other places...in their trousers. Some of the more puritanical are discussing having measures taken to prevent their sisters from ‘parading’ in anything but the accepted feminine attire.”

(It’s a good thing for those “puritanical” women that they didn’t meet up years later with the tough-as-nails Katharine Hepburn, who knew what she wanted and knew that she wanted her khaki trousers.)

******

From the New York Times, July 5, 1914:

“IN A CANOE ON STREAM AND LAKE

“How to Take a Delightful Paddling Trip Through the Fulton Chain in the Adirondacks

“As soon as the trees of Central Park begin to turn green, thousands upon thousands are haunted with visions of the country, and begin to plan vacations....

“Planning vacation is not easy. The object of this article is to outline a vacation for men and women of moderate means or, otherwise, who are tired of the ordinary Summer resort life and wish to enjoy nature without restrictions, and live as much as possible in the open. Such people are advised to take a canoeing trip....

“The most practical way of dressing is to wear flannel shirt, khaki trousers, leggings, moccasins, coat, and poncho....”

******

On June 24, 1916, the San Francisco Chronicle had a lengthy article about what and what not to take on a camping trip. After itemizing all of the miscellaneous equipment that one would need on such an excursion, the author gets to the important part:

“As for the costume, a khaki suit or walking dress, a sweater, heavy socks or stockings, and strong, easy common-sense walking shoes about fill the bill.”

******

The New York Times for April 14, 1917 disclosed this news:

“WOMEN TO TEACH FARMING

“Society women in khaki trousers and shirts hoeing potatoes and milking cows on a big Long Island farm—that is what is to be accomplished by the Women’s Section of the Navy League if plans announced at a meeting at the Hotel Astor yesterday afternoon succeed. Last night fifteen women had enrolled for the agricultural class..., which will be opened at the New York State School of Agriculture at Farmingdale, L.I.....”

******

The Bakersfield Californian for January 28, 1918 reported as follows:

“The boys of the Glendale Union High School voted as a patriotic conservation measure to substitute in the place of new suits, which it would otherwise be necessary to buy, a costume composed of khaki trousers to be worn with coats from old suits, and canvas leggings. The purchase of puttees was denounced as unpatriotic by the president of the senior class, who presided at the meeting. The adoption of the resolution was intended as a means of saving wool as well as money.”

******

And now for the working man. (Remember, the decade of the 1910s is when the Great Khaki Bifurcation took place. Khaki clothing as attire for the outdoor/blue collar worker ascended to the point where it seemingly achieved equal popularity with khaki clothing as “outing” attire for the relatively well-off. [I’m going to keep using the term “the Great Khaki Bifurcation of the 1910s” until somebody wisely tells me to knock it off.])

I said in the preceding section that Bakersfield, California is in agricultural and oil country.

An article in the Bakersfield Morning Echo for January 12, 1919 stated that oil field and refinery workers—who had been in a dispute with their employers over wage increases—had explained “their side of the issue to the federal oil conciliation board.”

The workers’ advocates presented to the federal agency a list showing how the prices of necessities had risen significantly in 1918. For example, a dozen work shirts cost $8.50 on January 1, 1918, but $15.50 on September 1, 1918. During that same 8-month period, the price of khaki trousers rose from $18.00 to $31.50 per dozen. “All shoes went up 10 per cent” in price.

The list of clothing items does not mention jeans.

******

NEXT: Khakis in the 1920s
 
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
@Charles Dana good stuff / well done as always.

Have you run into the term "chino" at all in your research? The word chino for pants (from the Chinese cloth used to make a type of Spanish pants, that's what I've read anyway) dates back to the 1800, so I thought you might have encounter it.

It will be interesting to see when "chino" begins to compete with "khaki" for the name. Today, I'd say "chino" has pretty much won the naming war for cotton-twill pants; whereas, "khakis," for many, is thought more of as a tan-colored chino.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
@Charles Dana good stuff / well done as always.
Thank you!

Have you run into the term "chino" at all in your research?
Well...there’s a city in Southern California named “Chino”....

But in relation to cotton trousers—the earliest reference I encountered was a clothing store’s advertisement in the late 1930s mentioning “khakis/chinos.”

It will be interesting to see when "chino" begins to compete with "khaki" for the name.
The late 1940s in the civilian world.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
Thank you!



Well...there’s a city in Southern California named “Chino”....

But in relation to cotton trousers—the earliest reference I encountered was a clothing store’s advertisement in the late 1930s mentioning “khakis/chinos.”



The late 1940s in the civilian world.
Probably coincided with the return of soldiers from WWII, and the use of khaki in civilian dress. It may also have been because more khaki cloth was imported from China. Interestingly, the usage seems to be American. I have never heard khakis being called chinos in India, for instance.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
A BRIEF DIGRESSION TO TALK ABOUT THE WORD “CHINOS” IN REFERENCE TO CASUAL COTTON DRILL TROUSERS—

Drpeter stated that “chinos” used in this manner “[p]robably coincided with the return of soldiers from WWII....”

What a difference a war makes.

(Note: Due to copyright protections, I am not permitted to reproduce the advertisements I will be referring to in this post.)

I don’t know exactly when the word “chinos” got its start in the civilian world as the name of casual cotton twill trousers. It was certainly in the mainstream by the end of the 1940s.

We can get some clues—and do some reasonable extrapolations—by taking a look at Stanford University.

On October 20, 1933, the Stanford Daily ran an article about trousers. According to the piece, “the traditional cords and moleskins that have been so prevalent on the Quad for lo these many years” were now being replaced by “slacks, tweeds, flannels, and linens.” At one clothing store that served the Stanford community, the demand for slacks had “completely supplanted the cords and moleskins,” which were regarded as “depression pants.”

The article further noted that slacks with a checked pattern were popular, but “of course the solid-color flannels will be seen.”

There is not a word about khakis. (Or chinos.)

Flash forward to the Stanford Daily for October 14, 1949. It contained an advertisement for Roos Brothers, a successful clothing store chain at the time. The ad proclaims “JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY ON CAMPUS HAS A PAIR OF CHINOS....And the smarter bodies have several.” Roos Brothers was selling khaki-colored chinos for $4.45 and grey ones for $4.95.

Now let’s go back a little earlier. On September 9, 1949, a newspaper near San Francisco had an ad for Smiths clothing store. One of the products that was mentioned: Dickie’s “tan chinos,” which were “long-wearing...yet always neat and smart-looking. Tunnel belt loops, zipper fly.” Either $2.98 or $3.98, depending on the waist size.

And earlier still. A Roos Brothers advertisement in the Berkeley Daily Gazette—also near San Francisco—on June 15, 1949 announced that the store had “565 pairs of men’s slacks! If you can’t find them here—men just don’t wear them!...They’re cut full and roomy for lots of that easy-going freedom you like.”

Among the trouser inventory were “Chinos, khaki cotton...$4.95.”

(Also in the Roos store in June 1949 were corduroys; gabardine in rayon and wool; Donegal tweeds; tropical worsted; golf knickers; white cotton tennis trousers; and English “Daks” brand in flannel and worsted. Levi’s jeans, too, for $3.45. The Daks were the priciest trousers at $32.50 per pair.)

Even earlier: Back to Stanford and the ever-popular Roos Brothers. It’s March 30, 1949. In the Stanford Daily, Roos shouts (because apparently Roos likes to shout) that it has “TREMENDOUS—BUT REALLY TREMENDOUS—NEW SLACK SELECTIONS!”

Roos notes that “CHINOS ARE SWELL for school. They’re tough, washable and as comfortable as an old shoe. Zipper closure and deep, roomy pockets. $4.95.”

(I wonder if the Stanford debaters ever went back and forth about whether comparing trousers to old shoes is good salesmanship. Comparing new trousers to favorite old trousers works for me. I guess mentioning old shoes gets the point across, and getting the point across is the point of advertising.)

Other trousers that Roos was promoting to the Stanford scholars on March 30, 1949: Levi’s blue jeans (“Swell for school or just knocking around the house on Saturday”); white cotton twill slacks, pleated, for tennis; gabardines (they “wear like mad”); and wool cords.

And the earliest use of “chinos”—in reference to civilian trousers—that I found among California newspapers was an ad in a newspaper called the Bakersfield Californian for October 2, 1947. (October again. And I’m writing this in October. What is it about October and chinos?) Anyway, the ad is for Parker’s Men’s and Boys’ Shop. They are selling “slacks” (100% wool gabardines starting at $13.95). And in a separate category called “Work Pants,” they list “chinos, black whipcords, green herringbones and blue or green cotton gabardines. Broken sizes....All sizes, but not in all materials.” Regularly $2.95, on sale for $2.00.

[EDIT: Around 6 weeks ago I stumbled upon an old newspaper ad from the late 1930s in which a clothing store referred to their khakis as “chinos.” I didn’t make a note of the ad because it wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, and now I can’t find it. The ad, in any case, seems to have been an outlier.]
 
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TKI67

Super Member
A BRIEF DIGRESSION TO TALK ABOUT THE WORD “CHINOS” IN REFERENCE TO CASUAL COTTON DRILL TROUSERS—

Drpeter stated that “chinos” used in this manner “[p]robably coincided with the return of soldiers from WWII....”

What a difference a war makes.

(Note: Due to copyright protections, I am not permitted to reproduce the advertisements I will be referring to in this post.)

I don’t know exactly when the word “chinos” got its start in the civilian world as the name of casual cotton twill trousers. It was certainly in the mainstream by the end of the 1940s.

We can get some clues—and do some reasonable extrapolations—by taking a look at Stanford University.

On October 20, 1933, the Stanford Daily ran an article about trousers. According to the piece, “the traditional cords and moleskins that have been so prevalent on the Quad for lo these many years” were now being replaced by “slacks, tweeds, flannels, and linens.” At one clothing store that served the Stanford community, the demand for slacks had “completely supplanted the cords and moleskins,” which were regarded as “depression pants.”

The article further noted that slacks with a checked pattern were popular, but “of course the solid-color flannels will be seen.”

There is not a word about khakis. (Or chinos.)

Flash forward to the Stanford Daily for October 14, 1949. It contained an advertisement for Roos Brothers, a successful clothing store chain at the time. The ad proclaims “JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY ON CAMPUS HAS A PAIR OF CHINOS....And the smarter bodies have several.” Roos Brothers was selling khaki-colored chinos for $4.45 and grey ones for $4.95.

Now let’s go back a little earlier. On September 9, 1949, a newspaper near San Francisco had an ad for Smiths clothing store. One of the products that was mentioned: Dickie’s “tan chinos,” which were “long-wearing...yet always neat and smart-looking. Tunnel belt loops, zipper fly.” Either $2.98 or $3.98, depending on the waist size.

And earlier still. A Roos Brothers advertisement in the Berkeley Daily Gazette—also near San Francisco—on June 15, 1949 announced that the store had “565 pairs of men’s slacks! If you can’t find them here—men just don’t wear them!...They’re cut full and roomy for lots of that easy-going freedom you like.”

Among the trouser inventory were “Chinos, khaki cotton...$4.95.”

(Also in the Roos store in June 1949 were corduroys; gabardine in rayon and wool; Donegal tweeds; tropical worsted; golf knickers; white cotton tennis trousers; and English “Daks” brand in flannel and worsted. Levi’s jeans, too, for $3.45. The Daks were the priciest trousers at $32.50 per pair.)

Even earlier: Back to Stanford and the ever-popular Roos Brothers. It’s March 30, 1949. In the Stanford Daily, Roos shouts (because apparently Roos likes to shout) that it has “TREMENDOUS—BUT REALLY TREMENDOUS—NEW SLACK SELECTIONS!”

Roos notes that “CHINOS ARE SWELL for school. They’re tough, washable and as comfortable as an old shoe. Zipper closure and deep, roomy pockets. $4.95.”

(I wonder if the Stanford debaters ever went back and forth about whether comparing trousers to old shoes is good salesmanship. Comparing new trousers to favorite old trousers works for me. I guess mentioning old shoes gets the point across, and getting the point across is the point of advertising.)

Other trousers that Roos was promoting to the Stanford scholars on March 30, 1949: Levi’s blue jeans (“Swell for school or just knocking around the house on Saturday”); white cotton twill slacks, pleated, for tennis; gabardines (they “wear like mad”); and wool cords.

And the earliest use of “chinos”—in reference to civilian trousers—that I found among California newspapers was an ad in a newspaper called the Bakersfield Californian for October 2, 1947. (October again. And I’m writing this in October. What is it about October and chinos?) Anyway, the ad is for Parker’s Men’s and Boys’ Shop. They are selling “slacks” (100% wool gabardines starting at $13.95). And in a separate category called “Work Pants,” they list “chinos, black whipcords, green herringbones and blue or green cotton gabardines. Broken sizes....All sizes, but not in all materials.” Regularly $2.95, on sale for $2.00.
In the mid-1950s I had just gotten out of shorts, and we moved from the east coast to the Bay area. I got my first pair of khakis at Roos Atkins at the Stanford Shopping Center. Nice memory.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
A BRIEF DIGRESSION TO TALK ABOUT THE WORD “CHINOS” IN REFERENCE TO CASUAL COTTON DRILL TROUSERS—

Drpeter stated that “chinos” used in this manner “[p]robably coincided with the return of soldiers from WWII....”

What a difference a war makes.

(Note: Due to copyright protections, I am not permitted to reproduce the advertisements I will be referring to in this post.)

I don’t know exactly when the word “chinos” got its start in the civilian world as the name of casual cotton twill trousers. It was certainly in the mainstream by the end of the 1940s.

We can get some clues—and do some reasonable extrapolations—by taking a look at Stanford University.

On October 20, 1933, the Stanford Daily ran an article about trousers. According to the piece, “the traditional cords and moleskins that have been so prevalent on the Quad for lo these many years” were now being replaced by “slacks, tweeds, flannels, and linens.” At one clothing store that served the Stanford community, the demand for slacks had “completely supplanted the cords and moleskins,” which were regarded as “depression pants.”

The article further noted that slacks with a checked pattern were popular, but “of course the solid-color flannels will be seen.”

There is not a word about khakis. (Or chinos.)

Flash forward to the Stanford Daily for October 14, 1949. It contained an advertisement for Roos Brothers, a successful clothing store chain at the time. The ad proclaims “JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY ON CAMPUS HAS A PAIR OF CHINOS....And the smarter bodies have several.” Roos Brothers was selling khaki-colored chinos for $4.45 and grey ones for $4.95.

Now let’s go back a little earlier. On September 9, 1949, a newspaper near San Francisco had an ad for Smiths clothing store. One of the products that was mentioned: Dickie’s “tan chinos,” which were “long-wearing...yet always neat and smart-looking. Tunnel belt loops, zipper fly.” Either $2.98 or $3.98, depending on the waist size.

And earlier still. A Roos Brothers advertisement in the Berkeley Daily Gazette—also near San Francisco—on June 15, 1949 announced that the store had “565 pairs of men’s slacks! If you can’t find them here—men just don’t wear them!...They’re cut full and roomy for lots of that easy-going freedom you like.”

Among the trouser inventory were “Chinos, khaki cotton...$4.95.”

(Also in the Roos store in June 1949 were corduroys; gabardine in rayon and wool; Donegal tweeds; tropical worsted; golf knickers; white cotton tennis trousers; and English “Daks” brand in flannel and worsted. Levi’s jeans, too, for $3.45. The Daks were the priciest trousers at $32.50 per pair.)

Even earlier: Back to Stanford and the ever-popular Roos Brothers. It’s March 30, 1949. In the Stanford Daily, Roos shouts (because apparently Roos likes to shout) that it has “TREMENDOUS—BUT REALLY TREMENDOUS—NEW SLACK SELECTIONS!”

Roos notes that “CHINOS ARE SWELL for school. They’re tough, washable and as comfortable as an old shoe. Zipper closure and deep, roomy pockets. $4.95.”

(I wonder if the Stanford debaters ever went back and forth about whether comparing trousers to old shoes is good salesmanship. Comparing new trousers to favorite old trousers works for me. I guess mentioning old shoes gets the point across, and getting the point across is the point of advertising.)

Other trousers that Roos was promoting to the Stanford scholars on March 30, 1949: Levi’s blue jeans (“Swell for school or just knocking around the house on Saturday”); white cotton twill slacks, pleated, for tennis; gabardines (they “wear like mad”); and wool cords.

And the earliest use of “chinos”—in reference to civilian trousers—that I found among California newspapers was an ad in a newspaper called the Bakersfield Californian for October 2, 1947. (October again. And I’m writing this in October. What is it about October and chinos?) Anyway, the ad is for Parker’s Men’s and Boys’ Shop. They are selling “slacks” (100% wool gabardines starting at $13.95). And in a separate category called “Work Pants,” they list “chinos, black whipcords, green herringbones and blue or green cotton gabardines. Broken sizes....All sizes, but not in all materials.” Regularly $2.95, on sale for $2.00.

[EDIT: Around 6 weeks ago I stumbled upon an old newspaper ad from the late 1930s in which a clothing store referred to their khakis as “chinos.” I didn’t make a note of the ad because it wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, and now I can’t find it. The ad, in any case, seems to have been an outlier.]
Really good stuff as always.

The note at the end about seeing an ad for "chinos" in the late '30s is really interesting from a dating-the-term-in-the-US perspective.

What would be really cool to find, and it would have to be a stumble-upon-it moment, is the why?

Was it because some company started importing its khakis from China and saw "Chino" stamped on the shipping crate. But then that doesn't really make sense as isn't the story the word "chino" gained currency in Latin America as they were "Spanish" pants made from Chinese ("chino") fabric.

So, somehow, that Latin American phraseology drifted to the US, but how? Maybe out there is some local-color article in small newspaper written in, who knows, 1936 that noted a retailer who was "brining Spanish Chinos" to America. Maybe they were first marketed as Spanish Chinos and then the Spanish was dropped and Chinos term no longer capitalized.

Somewhere, probably is the clue, but where?
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART X—KHAKI TROUSERS IN THE 1920s

In the second decade of the 20th Century, khaki trousers in the civilian world developed two major uses: as “outing” wear and as workwear. They did not expand beyond these roles until after World War II.

Since I’m taking a decade-by-decade approach to the history of khaki trousers, it’s time for me to deal with the 1920s. During that entire decade, khaki trousers were advertised as clothing

(a) for “outings”—that is, hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping, and

(b) for work (that wasn’t white collar)

They were not promoted as clothes that would be worn to school, to a house of worship, to the office—or anywhere other than those places associated with (a) and (b) above. There were no “dress” khaki trousers. Men were not urged to relax around the house in khakis. (Of course, khakis were the de facto casual pants for some men because—why not? Not everyone could afford a different type of trouser for different activities.)

It was a different matter with khaki suits (as opposed to just khaki trousers). Khaki suits were sometimes appropriate in town during warm weather.

I will now present some 1920s newspaper advertisements from the New York Times and various California newspapers that mention khaki trousers. In some cases I will list the trousers that stores were selling besides khakis so that you can get an idea of the other trouser options that were available at the time. Note how inexpensive the khakis were relative to most of the other kinds of trousers. (As I mentioned previously, I am not at liberty to reproduce the ads due to copyright protections. Links won’t work because of how the ads are embedded in the newspaper archives. No loss, really, because, unlike magazine advertisements, these old newspaper ads are mainly text-only. When there are graphics, they are rather primitive.)

Although many stores mentioned whether their khaki trousers were for outings or for work—or if they were for either endeavor—some merchants didn’t feel the need to specify the purpose of their khakis.

We’re familiar with Bills’ Khakis and Dockers. Evidently, a brand of khaki trousers called “Can’t Bust ‘Em” was popular in the 1920s.

*****

January 21, 1920

Sebastian’s clothing store in suburban Los Angeles was having a “rapid disposal sale” to clear their shelves for the spring merchandise. Khaki-wise, these were the bargains to be had:

Men’s khaki trousers, normally $3.50, reduced to $2.35

Men’s “work pants, cotton and wool mixed”—regularly $4.00, on sale for $3.25

******

January 29, 1920

Taylor’s Cash Store in suburban Los Angeles stated, “We find we must have more room for our Ladies’ and Children’s Ready to Wear so we have decided to close out all of our Men’s Goods.”

KHAKI AND CORDUROY PANTS

Khaki pants, regularly $3.50, $3.00, and $2.50, now $2.89, $2.39, and $1.98 respectively.

Khaki coverall suits, regularly $5.00, reduced to $3.98

******

April 21, 1920

Spiro’s was a sporting goods store based in San Francisco with one satellite store across the bay in Oakland. Spiro’s boasted that it was “the largest sporting goods store in the west—everything for every sport, greatest variety at lowest cost.”

On April 21, 1920, Spiro’s said in an ad:

“A Sensible and Saving Fad. WEAR KHAKI CLOTHES. They’re neater in style and color than OVERALLS and just as cheap and durable.” Here’s what Spiro’s had in mind:

Khaki breeches, $3.75
Wool breeches, $8.50
Army shoes, $7.50
Khaki trousers, $3.00

(Plus “women’s khaki outfits.”)

******

May 25, 1921

Spiro’s again, to announce on this date that they are opening “the vacation season with a vast sale of suitable Camp Outfits and Correct Equipments for all outdoor sports. The right clothing for men and women;...just what you’ll need for fishing, for hunting, for golf, for tennis, for baseball....”

The hiking outfits for men included the following:

Tweed hats, $3.50
Khaki outing hats, $1.00
Panama cloth suits, $18.50 (“Very modish, 2-piece lounge suits for the beach and summer resorts.”)
Khaki breeches [not to be confused with full-length trousers], $2.95
Wool breeches, $5.95
White duck trousers, $2.75
White flannel trousers, $12.50
Khaki coats, $3.75
Khaki trousers, $2.75

******

January 6, 1922

A clothing store in suburban Los Angeles had a sale on a variety of men’s attire, including:

Heavy khaki trousers, $1.65
Corduroy trousers, $2.75
Wool dress trousers, $2.45
Work pants, $1.85

[The advertisement does not explain how the “work pants” differed from the “heavy khaki trousers.”]

******

May 12, 1922

In Oakland, California, a clothing store called Whitthorne-Swan (“Oakland's store that undersells”) was selling Can’t Bust ‘Em brand khaki trousers “made of heavy twill” for $2.19.

******

June 7, 1922

On this date, the Mattson Brothers of Bakersfield, California (an oil and agricultural area) was purveying these items to the good citizens there:

“Men’s, Women’s, Boys’ and Girls’ Outing Clothing”

Men’s trousers in khaki, wool, and corduroy
Khaki shirts and hats
Women’s knickers, shirts, middies, hats and caps
Wool roll stockings in foot and footless
Leggins in leather, canvas and wool

[The ad did not specify the prices.]

******

I’ll end this section here because it’s getting long. The rest of the 1920s is coming soon, followed by a few stories from that decade to give context to the khakis.
 
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eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Great stuff, as always, Charles. When you are done, perhaps these can all be collected together and archived as a group on this site for future reference. I'd love to see that.
+1. I can't help but wonder what a vintage pair of those "Can't Bust-Em" chinos would cost today. Vintage pairs of Levis have sold for $2000+. ;)
 

drpeter

Senior Member
I know! The Japanese used to buy utterly thread-bare US jeans falling apart for a thousand or more dollars. I think my dozens of Bill's Khakis, some of them too big for me now, after weight loss (alterations get costly, LOL), could be flogged to the highest bidder in a Khaki Auction.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART X: Continued—More newspaper advertisements from the 1920s:

May 17, 1923

Spiro’s sporting goods store (“Everything Outing and Athletic”), located in San Francisco with one satellite store across the bay in Oakland, announced on this date a sale on men’s and women’s “hiking togs.” For men, that would be:

Khaki breeches, $2.35
Khaki shirts, $1.25
Khaki trousers, $2.50
Army wool shirts, $2.50
Canvas leggins, 45¢
Wrap wool puttees, 90¢
Hiking boots, 12 inches, double soles, $5.85

******

May 24, 1923

A California merchant was selling khaki trousers for $2.15:

“Heavy Weight Khaki Pants—just the thing for vacation and hikes. You don’t have to be careful with these pants—for they’re made of good, stout material, and well sewn thruout.”

Khaki shirts were available, too, for $1.35 each.

******

July 29, 1923

Hamburger’s clothing store in Los Angeles was selling:

White duck or khaki trousers, $2.25

“Nothing like them for beach or camping wear. Sturdy white duck or khaki trousers, full cut, made with belt loops and cuff bottoms.”

******

July 3, 1924

The Kennedy clothing store in New York City advertised on this date these “Outing Suggestions”:

White flannel trousers, $7.50
Duck or khaki pants, $2.00
Oxford tennis shirts, $1.35
All-wool swimming suits, $4.95

******

May 29, 1925

To the well-heeled sportsman, Gimbel Brothers in New York City advertised its “Correct Apparel for Decoration Day:”

“Whatever clothing you may need for the day here it is in splendid variety. The styles are correct, the workmanship and quality of materials good and the fabrics in the latest shades....”

Four-piece golf suits (jacket, vest, trousers, and plus-four knickers), $35.00 to $75.00
“Col. Bogey” linen golf knickers, $2.95

“Other Outing Apparel”—

Sport coats (“Blue and Coffee color flannels”), $6.50 to $19.50
Flannel trousers (“white, grey, and fancy”), $7.50 to $13.50
Warm-Weather Suits (“Palm Beach or Tropical or Mohair”), $12.50 to $24.50
Knickers (“Tweeds, Flannels, Palm Beach, Linen and Khaki”), $2.95 to $7.50

Khaki pants, $2.95
Khaki breeches, $3.95
White duck pants, $2.95

[“Decoration Day” was the original term for the observance now known as “Memorial Day.” The former term got its name from the custom of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. As you can see, the practice of exploiting a solemn day of remembrance for the sake of the old bottom line is nothing new.]

******

June 12, 1925

In Spokane, Washington, the Top-to-Toe Co. claimed to have “the Best for the Least.” Some of “the Best” would be:

Men’s khaki summer hats, 50¢
Men’s heavy-weight blue denim overalls, $1.25
Men’s “high-grade” khaki pants, $1.75
Men’s “heavy fast-colored” breeches, $2.00
Men’s “best grade” 1925 summer straw hats, $2.50

******

July 14, 1925

Near Los Angeles, the Spencer Collins Men’s Shop in Santa Ana, California announced: “Work Clothes! Look out! Here are some wonderful bargains!”

For example:

Can’t Bust ‘Em brand khaki trousers, “full cut, good grade; at $1.85” and

All blue and gray chambray shirts, 95¢

******

NEXT: The final batch of newspaper advertisements from the 1920s
 
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Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART X: Continued—Newspaper ads from the rest of the 1920s:


September 28, 1925

Hill & Carden clothiers in suburban Los Angeles “is a store of workers—so what could be more natural than we should have the correct work clothes!...Your apparel—for your trade—at costs that will win trade for us....”

Heavy khaki pants, $2.25
Triple-stitched blue denim overalls, $1.49
Work shirts, 75¢

******

January 11, 1927

Another clothing store near Los Angeles was called Sweets (“Everybody knows that the Nationally Advertised Goods when sold at Semi-Annual Clearance Sale Prices are REAL BARGAINS.”) At Sweets, there were:

Work shirts, 98¢
Corduroy trousers, $4.35
Stronghold brand khaki trousers, $2.19
Dress trousers, 20% off

******

March 6, 1928

We have to mention good old reliable J. C. Penney when talking about cheap trousers for Everyman. At that J.C. Penney, March 6, 1928 was “Work Clothes Week....Workmen and women who shop for Workmen know and demand real values for every dollar they spend. Our work clothes have become famous for Staunch Quality....” Some of the offerings:

Work pants of khaki drill (heavyweight, with two button-flap hip pockets, belt loops, and cuffs), $1.98

Work shirts (indigo blue chambray, popover style with a pocket and a four-button front), 49¢

“Pay Day” blue denim overalls, “cut big and roomy all over.” Made to J.C. Penney’s own specifications. $1.29

******

April and May, 1928

Of course, Montgomery Ward must be mentioned. The Ward’s in Oakland, California was selling these:

Men’s “Outing Breeches,” regularly $1.49, now $1.19
“Made of excellent grade khaki twill to the exacting U.S. government specifications. Unusually well constructed, with all strain points securely bar tacked.”

Men’s khaki trousers, normally $1.39, now 98¢
“We put into these work or outing trousers the most enduring fabrics that can possible be offered at this low price. Made from medium weight khaki material. All strain points reinforced. Sizes 30 to 44.”

******

October 4, 1928

An authorized dealer in Can’t Bust ‘Em brand trousers advertised, among other things:

“Khaki and Work Pants. For work or outing. Fine heavy grade khaki, with two flap pockets and tunnel belt loops. Also: whipcord, moleskin, and white duck pants. White suits for service station use.”

“Frisko Jeens. The ‘heavy duty’ black work pants, of 9-ounce fast black twill. Good-looking and stand the gaff! Snag-proof—spark-proof—don’t show dirt.”

******

October 23, 1928

Wineman’s clothiers in Southern California has:

Angelus 1000 Khaki (“Extra heavy khaki twill, canvas pockets, guaranteed”), $1.98

Can’t Bust ‘Em brand corduroy trousers (“New light and pastel shades, college cut”), $3.98

******

January 25, 1929

J.C. Penney again, near Los Angeles:

Khaki pants (“For work or outing”), heavyweight, $1.98

******

May 21, 1929

Near Yale University, Lou’s Army and Navy Store announced, “Spring Sale On, Supplies for Civil Engineering Course and Campers,” including:

Camp shoes
Canvas leggings
Ponchos
Sweaters
Khaki pants
Khaki shirts
Flannel shirts

******

And that completes my presentation of advertisements from the 1920s.

In the 1920s ads for khaki trousers that I sampled (and I’ve quoted only a small fraction of them here), I did not see any indications from 1920 through 1929 that the trousers were intended for school or office or general casual wear. In that decade, khakis were still being consistently promoted as clothing for “work and outings.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that kids and adults did not adapt khakis for general casualwear in the 1920s. Some of them did. I am talking here about the retailers’ intentions. “Work and outings.” Just as in the previous decade.

NEXT: Stories from the 1920s
 
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