Wait, Why Is Everyone Dressing Like a Park Ranger?

It's fair to claim that a significant percentage of trends we've embraced over the years have been derived from some sort of utilitarian background or another. Just think about it: trench coats, lace-up workwear boots, overalls… The common thread with all of these stylish pieces is that they have roots in functionality before fashion. Such is the case when it comes to today's spotlight: khakis (aka park ranger pants).

These slightly stiff bottoms evoke various memories for all of us. For many, it's horrible school uniforms. For others, it's questionable fashion choices in the '90s. But much like any trend that's granted the opportunity to revive itself in a contemporary context, khakis are actually proving to be an MVP for the arrival of fall. Lately, we've spotted the preppy pants on some of our favorite (and might we mention, not preppy) stylists, editors, and off-duty models during fashion week. The result? We want in on the action.

Not only do khakis work similarly to denim in the sense that they can act as a neutral and thus pair well with every other color and pattern, but they also innately feel more dressed up than jeans. Scroll down for spot-on ways to style khakis right now and to shop our picks to test-drive the trend yourself. If it doesn't work out, at least you know you have a future as a park ranger (maybe).


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

Give your khakis the downtown treatment and style them with a lived-in tee, a crossbody bag, and your favorite heels.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

Translate your khakis to 2018 with a sky-blue blouse with puff sleeves.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

Half-tuck a crisp white shirt into your khaki trousers for a modern look.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Elle.com Style Director Nikki Ogunnaike opts for a classic, flattering combination.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

Stylist Shiona Turini enlivens her khakis with an off-the-shoulder ruffled blouse.

Want to see more fall trends? See four flattering ones for under $150.

Nicole Kliest
Freelance Contributor

Nicole Kliest is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City who focuses on fashion, travel, food, wine, and pretty much anything else that's amusing to write about. After graduating from Pepperdine University with a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing, she started her career back in 2010 as Who What Wear's photo editor and throughout the last decade has contributed to publications including Fashionista, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, The Zoe Report, PopSugar, Fodor's Travel, and several others. She also copywrites and has worked with clients such as Frame, Sea, 3x1, Intelligentsia, and others to develop brand voices through storytelling and creative marketing. She's very passionate about the ways we can improve our sustainability efforts in the fashion industry as well as cultivating content that's diverse and inclusive of all people. When she's not checking out the latest restaurant opening in her West Village neighborhood or riding her bicycle along the West Side Highway, she can be found scheming her next trip somewhere around the world. (Up next is Vienna.)