Monday, June 16, 2014

Bills Khakis - A Quick Update

Today we wanted to just chime in real quick with an update to last week's look at Bills Khakis (and interview with their founder, Bill himself). A few days after posting, we received our samples in the mail and wanted to give you our in-person evaluation!

The folks at Bills were kind enough to send the following items:

Selvedge Cramerton chinos in M2 Standard Fit (Plain Front)

Poplin Shorts in M2 Standard Fit (Plain Front)

Kingston Plaid Shirt from the Tea Label Collection

Newport Stripe Polo

The samples we all sent in size medium and 32 inch waist, and unfortunately I'm a size small and 30 inch waist, but while I was unable to get a good feel for the fit and sizing of the items, I did get to check out the fabric, construction and design. Here are my thoughts:

Selvedge Cramerton Chinos: 
Right off the bat, my first reaction to these is that they feel tough. And in a good way. The fabric isn't rigid or stiff, but it definitely has some heft and feels like it could take a beating. I'm digging these less for the fit (which seems a bit relaxed to me) or super-fashionable styling, but because I really feel like I get a sense of the origins of Bills Khakis - which was originally inspired by a pair of WWII khakis. Unlike a lot of 'fashion' chinos, which you'll be lucky to maintain through a couple-dozen washes, these are a real pair of work pants, more than up for the challenges and wear of ever day life. I also like that they offer them in finished inseams or an unhemmed length if you want to take them straight to the tailor for a perfect fit.

Poplin Shorts: 
For these, I had an almost opposite reaction as to the chinos. Again, the fit seems more relaxed that something I'd prefer, but the fabric is great. Instead of being a standard twill chino, these come in a poplin fabric - interested in the difference? We've got an article on twill in our 'Know Your Fabrics' series and one coming up on Wednesday diving into poplin, but long story short, the poplin is lighter and breezier - perfect for a pair of summer shorts.

Kingston Plaid Shirt:
Of all the items, this is the one I want to keep the most. While they don't advertise it directly as such, the fabric is very lightweight and breathable, and with the bright plaid pattern it immediately brings to mind an outside-the-box madras (read more about madras here). I could see this easily becoming a go-to casual summer shirt, with a distinctive laid-back rumpliness (is that a word?) and actually one of the slimmer fits of the items sent - maybe indicative of their younger Tea Collection line. Thumbs up.

Newport Stripe Polo:
Big fan of this one as well, which comes in a jersey fabric as opposed to the more traditional pique. Honestly, that's what I like most about this - I'm really not a fan of standard pique polos, something about it just says frat boy to me, and this comes as a great alternative. The navy and orange horizontal stripes are a nice stylish touch as well, with a vaguely nautical vibe, interesting colors, but nothing that will stick out like a sore thumb. Again, can't really get a feel for the fit, but it does look to be a little looser, so keep that in mind.

In conclusion, I think the items really emphasize some of the points that were made in last week's article - each has some decidedly modern and stylish aspects (selvedge detail on the chinos, poplin fabric on the shorts, slimmer fit and bright colors on the shirt, and non-traditional fabric on the polo), but hold onto a more classic relaxed style that dads, older men or more conservative dressers will definitely feel comfortable in. The prices are a bit out of Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets ideal budget, but after getting a feel for the products I think I can confidently say you're paying for quality, so if you have the funds, Bills duds would be a great investment.

This was a sponsored review, and the products reviewed were lent to me free of charge. The article, however, remains objective and unbiased and is published without prior editing or review by Bills Khakis. While I love to be given products to review, don't worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn't wear myself.

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