Cordial Camo? An Experiment
I don’t hunt. I’ve never even considered joining the military. I’ve never been paint-balling. I don’t even care to go outdoors, really. I have never discharged a firearm. While I’m thankful for the liberties I enjoy and am proud of my grandfathers’ WW2 service, I am more than a little ambivalent about militarism. After all, I have a master’s degree in European history, and am very aware that nineteenth-century nationalistic fervor and militarism made the twentieth century the bloodiest in history.
All of this might suggest that I would be the least likely person to purchase camouflage pants.
But when I made a recent trip to my local purveyor of Levi’s, I stumbled upon these. Next thing you know, I was saying “yes, yes, I know” to friends and parishioners who stood baffled at my unlikely choice of trousers.
There are a couple of factors that went into my admittedly hasty purchase.
First, there was not a cargo pocket anywhere in sight. I assume that I do not need to explain why that would be a deal breaker. The rear pockets do have flaps, which I quickly tucked in so as to de-macho-ize them in one fell swoop.
Second, these trousers essentially fit like something between a pair of relaxed chinos and cozy jeans. The fit pretty much banished the possibility that someone would mistake me for an army chaplain heading to deployment.
I immediately thought of these as the sort of thing Nick Wooster would pair with a coat and tie, just to be … pushy.
Turns out I was right:
But the question remains: Can camo be cordial?
“Cordial”, to me, anyway, is another word for gentlemanly. When it comes to what one puts on, it all has to do with the crucial question a gentleman asks: Am I, by wearing this, stepping into the tradition of style and adding my own interpretations and innovations here and there, while dressing appropriately for the occasion–putting others at ease and perhaps even contributing to their delight?
Here’s where I come down, therefore: if the occasion makes it appropriate to throw on a pair of camouflage trousers, then sure–it’s plenty cordial to do so.
I wouldn’t wear them in place of chinos to a traditional church. But I’ve enjoyed wearing them with a coat and tie and brogues at the fairly casual church I started. Not every week, but now and then. And, seeing as my line of work allows me to wear jeans, which I often do with a bow or neck tie, swapping the denim out for camo actually dresses my Tuesday up a tad.
Of course, this may not be your style. Or, you may have the kind of lifestyle in which the only appropriate context for these suckers is when you’re out hunting. In either case, move along–nothing to see here. To each his own.
Today I threw on a classic blue oxford cloth button down, a thrift store waistcoat, the Janningsnecktie — a rust herringbone tweed with a point-end from The Cordial Churchman, which you can certainly own yourself. (Grab it here.) I know that my ancient Allen Edmonds penny loafers need polished something fierce. But for whatever reason, I feel like the beat-up state they’re in makes sense given, you know, I’m wearing camo. (I also like to wear my Wolverine 1000 Mile boots with them.)
So, the trousers themselves: Mine are Levi’s. Nick Wooster’s are Dockers.
In any event, I’m curious what you think. Ridiculous? Genius? You tell me.