D.L. STEWART: Keeping up with the latest fashions can be tiring

Every so often my wife will survey the contents of my closet and decide that some part of my wardrobe needs to be replaced. Recently, for instance, she declared that my khaki slacks were “tired.” And they were out of style, because they had wide legs and pleats in the front.

I have no idea how my pants got tired, because they spend most of their lives just hanging in my closet, but I knew that meant I was supposed to buy new ones.

So I donated my tired khakis to Goodwill and bought three pairs of khakis that had lots of energy, narrow legs and no pleats. My wife said they made me look younger. I don’t see how pants could make me look younger, unless I wore them over my head to cover my increasingly gray hair; I think she just said that to counter the shock of seeing the charges on my credit card.

But the fickle finger of fashion never stops pointing out I’m one or more steps behind. Because according to a story last week in The Wall Street Journal, khaki slacks with wide legs and pleats are in again.

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Reading The Wall Street Journal for fashion advice may seem like checking People magazine for hedge fund news, but according to the article’s headline, “No longer the bland conformist, khakis freestyle into fall with a flattering cut and distinctive details that give them a stylish new profile.”

The caption of a photo showing two guys in baggy pants and high top tennis shoes declared, “Wider (but not flared) legs and soft pleats gives these pairs an edge over your granddad’s Dockers.” I don’t remember my grandfather ever wearing Dockers. But if he did, I doubt it was to have a stylish new profile. Mostly it would have been to keep legs warm and prevent him from being arrested for indecent exposure.

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Accompanying the article were other pictures of khakis with flattering cuts and distinctive details. One pair was described as “rake-the-leaves-and-crack-a-beer-in-October pants.” They cost $228. Another had a cross-front fly, an elastic waist and a stitched-in crease, which explains why they cost $415. A pair of Gucci’s included something called a grosgrain strip in the back, which apparently makes them worth the $660 price tag.

I’ve never understood who gets to decide what’s in style and why I should care about what they think. All I know is that somewhere there are guys who shopped at Goodwill wearing my tired, baggy, pleated khakis, which now are more fashionable than the new khakis I just bought.

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