The Khaki-clad Eunuch

Khakis are sexless.  I realized this the other night when we were going out to dinner, and I had to choose between the black jeans and the tan khakis. I chose the khakis only because the restaurant was “nice,” and it seemed appropriate. But I noticed how sexless I feel in them — like a eunuch.

Only, this is the uniform of modern business. Sexuality has been removed from the workplace, from “nice” restaurants, from Land’s End catalogs — at least for men. Women, that’s another story. For men, there are the pseudo-rugged looks from Ralph Lauren that I find so amusing when you compare them to, say, a real, dirty, sweaty lumberjack or a biker dude who’s not from central casting.  But mostly, there’s khaki.

Suits, though, have a kind of allure, at least based on the Don Draper character in Mad Men. It’s not sartorial sexiness, really. What makes him sexy has more to do with power.  He would be sexy wearing most anything, but — thought experiment — put him in khakis and, guess what? Especially if you add a polo shirt, he’s suddenly not (nearly as) sexy.

Why is that? Personally, I’ve always thought that “monkey suit” fairly captured how I felt wearing one. I’m pretending to be someone else, trying to be my dad or something, but it just ends up looking ridiculous. There’s something really serious about a suit, and I’m just not that serious. I don’t have that kind of power.

Do women find suits sexy?  That’s probably complicated, and I can’t answer that except to say that no one ever ripped a suit off my body. Granted, I rarely wear them, and it’s generally frowned upon to fuck someone at a funeral or a wedding, or right before a job interview. Still, I wonder if there’s some dad-thing involved, or some power thing that makes a man wearing a suit look as though he could be a serious man, and thus, sexy.

But khakis — they’re a symptom of how the modern workplace strips men of their sexuality. All khakis look the same. The mailroom boy wears them, and the CEO wears them, and there’s no difference. They don’t show the male form — in fact, they seem designed to hide it. My legs are strong, well-muscled things of beauty, if I do say so myself, and when they’re covered in khakis, they’re no different than Mister Blubber-cheeks over there in the next cubicle.

Suits don’t show much, either — or don’t they? They’re a more sophisticated look. And there is a difference between a $1000 suit and a $200 suit. It’s not just about power, about the guy who can afford the expensive suit. It’s the way it falls on the man’s body. Khakis have no grace, while a nice suit can hint at what’s beneath it.

Don Draper wears $1000 suits, for sure.



About David

Prone to musing and to being prone. Father to two, writer, engineer.
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3 Responses to The Khaki-clad Eunuch

  1. alphabetfiend says:

    We do sometimes get a peek of Draper in khakis and no, it’s not the same, though in some ways it’s better — he’s being a dad or visiting his friend in Cali. Suits that are tailored are definitely flattering to a man’s body. My dad was a dandy and wore suits like he owned them but I haven’t dated one man who had a decent suit and chances are I never will. I always joke that I want a fop and friends say, “there’s only room in the budget for your clothes — and the closet too!” That’s probably true but embracing clothes is embracing power, it’s making that choice to extend yourself, to express your own power and that’s what draws the ladies to a well-dressed man.

    • gammaword says:

      When I started my latest gig I decided to stop going casual. I don’t wear suits but have some of the nicest shirts in the office, and I feel like I finally undertand that expression, “clothes make the man” cuz people treat me differently — partly as you say, I’m expressing some power & confidence (in an understated way). The shlumpy jeans/sweats/T’s/don’t-give-a-shit-how-I-look look is so ubiquitous and boring, and quintessentially American. However, for a man especially, there’s a line with clothing — my dad used to say that if you’re too well-dressed, guys get a little uncomfortable. But not in Europe.

  2. AGREED. There are few things less sexy than khakis. Crocs would be one of those things. Heavily patterned shirts from the early nineties would be another. But put a man in a suit? Yep, that’ll do it for me. Perhaps it’s because where I come from on the West Coast, suits are a rarity. Everyone’s so casual here.

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