Most of us have heard fellow travelers warn against wearing tennis shoes on vacation because you will “look like an American.” Let me expand the tennis shoes argument, however, to specifically include what I consider to be a more egregious travel foul: wearing khaki.
For those of us who travel a fair amount, we always want to pack what is easy, washable, and matches other things in our suitcase. Those khaki pants may work well for us as a “uniform” for our weekly 9-to-5, but there is no place on a vacation for khakis to truly be the right choice. Let me elaborate:
Point 1 – Khakis – all colors, all styles – just don’t look polished. If your pants are two days old or two years old, all khakis wrinkle and show wear. If you sit, stand, or breathe, you are guaranteed to look unkempt.
Point 2 – If there is something in the area that can leave a mark during vacation – ketchup, grass, dirty water from a puddle – you can be sure that it will find your khakis and make a statement. They are literally the “white pants” of travel.
Point 3 – Like it or not, you can’t truly dress them up or down. Khakis just “are”. A pair of khakis is like a bandaid; it will buy you some time, but it is not a statement on its own.
There are many good reasons that khakis are not a “go to” item of clothing in other places around the world. Black – absolutely! Brown – why not? Even navy has its place. All are dark neutral colors that wear well, can be casual or dressy, and always look appropriate. There are many great fabrics and styles available, and you just can’t go wrong with a pair of solid dark pants for any destination or activity.
I, myself, have been guilty of taking khaki pants on vacation, but never again… My rule of thumb going forward is to decide if the item is something I would wear out to to a client dinner. If yes, it can fly with me. If not, that item does not go anywhere near my suitcase. Though this approach will require a little more planning (and shopping!) to enact, I think the end result will be well worth the time and effort!