Khaki; the perfect neutral.

Its stay in spring collections has certainly been a prolonged one. In fact, one could go as far as to say spring – without khaki – is like April without showers. It’s a rare phenomenon.

Khaki’s presence has been consistent, and most definitely understated, to say the least. It remains the often-unsung hero if you will. It’s easier on the eye than black, fresher than your run of the mill grey or brown, more practical than white, yet when paired it oozes sophistication and chic in all directions.

For the 2011 spring/summer seasons, Khaki is ready to break out of its shy-boy mould and become the focal point of your outfit. Khaki is the double-sided coin when prepared to anchor for any colour that may be brought into the fold. With the emphasis on tailoring, clean lines and colour this spring, khaki has a central role to play in any man’s wardrobe; irrespective of the direction your outfits are taking.


So yesterday we introduced to you the colour khaki and the variations it comes in. We broke down how you can wear lighter and darker tone khaki, and showcased some of the latest releases for this season. If you missed it then you can catch up here.

Today we are going on to some more advanced techniques for utilising khaki in your looks this spring/summer. We will start by showing you how to mix khaki with bold colours (utilising colour is something we have been championing on Fashionbeans this year), as well as mixing khaki shades together in order to form sharp block khaki outfits. We also take a look at the latest look books from the major high street retailers to give you some inspiration about how they are interpreting the look this year, and break down some khaki mini trends which are set to take men’s fashion by storm.

So without further ado…

Khaki High Street Look Books

To show you just how hard this colour is being pushed this season, and to give you some all important outfit inspiration, we have collated some of the best outfits from all the latest high street look books. Below you will find look book images [from top to bottom row] by ASOS, River Island, Urban Outfitters and Zara for the spring/summer 2011 season:

Khaki High Street Look Books

How to Wear: With Colour

I’d hope you’re all aware of the vibrancy that is currently establishing a foothold in our wardrobes. With the state of men’s fashion in recent years, you may well be wondering what to wear with your new found colour? First, read up on the basics:

Now we’re all clued up, let’s get back to khaki.

A neutral tone will happily play anchor for a wide spectrum of colour. Khaki is a fantastic option for your basics if you’re planning on fully embracing colour this season. It’s a solid alternative to your standard monochromes and will really help create a look that sets you apart from the average Joes.

The easiest way to utilise khaki is the same way you would use your monochromes or neutrals – as anchors. Feel free to use a light khaki shirt as an anchor with some bold blue/green chinos, or use light khaki chinos to anchor your bottom half whilst donning the brightest pink polo shirt you can find.

Darker shades of khaki can also be used to tone down an outfit and give off an altogether more chic and formal vibe. Dark green khaki slim fit trousers will look great with a black shirt and tie, whilst you can quite easily throw on some sharp grey trousers and a dark khaki cardigan over the top of a fitted polo shirt. It really can be used as a straight substitute to navy, brown and grey – and just gives your outfit that little touch of individuality.

In terms of runway inspiration, Calvin Klein heavily featured khaki in their shows, often utilising simple khaki anchor tees with light blue suits. As for Canali, their image below shows its ability to work very well with yellow and mustard. Khaki is equally a safe bet to partner the Pantone colour of the year – honeysuckle – as shown by Tommy Hilfiger’s take on the khaki suit.

Khaki & Colour Look Book

Khaki with Colour Look Book

How to Wear: Block Khaki

It is perfectly acceptable to build an outfit using various hues of one colour. In fact, it’s always a safe bet when creating a stylish look with bags of sophistication. Varying shades of khaki will do just that.

Own this look by adding accessories to break up your outfit; summer scarves, bags and even hats will add those or so crucial finer details. Brown and tan accessories work particularly well with khaki due to the earthy tone it emits – so look for thin or plaited tan leather belts, or utilise brown leather shoes or boots that I know you all own in your wardrobe by now – right?

Avoid combining shades that are too similar and err away from hues that are nigh on impossible to tell apart. It has a similar effect as a badly coordinated double denim effort and any potential style will evaporate quicker than you can say Ed Hardy. This is one of the reason’s we broke down khaki into 2 different shades initially – you want to create outfits which use a mix of the lighter beige shades and the deeper, darker green and brown shades available. This is especially important when layering items.

Top tip: Another way of making sure that you provide some differential between your khaki hues is by the use of texture. You can find beautiful khaki coloured denim, tweed, nylon and wool clothing these days that you can mix with your basic cotton pieces to create an altogether more interesting look.

Block Khaki Look Book

Block Khaki Look Book

  • ASOS Military Jacket
  • J.Lindeberg Chaze JL Twill Chinos
  • Khaki Crop Cotton Twill Trench
  • Neil Barrett Knitted Leather Patch Biker Cardigan
  • Kitsune Flight Jacket
  • gucci Cotton twill jacket
  • lanvin Linen trousers
  • Hudson Blazer
  • Hudson Shorts
  • Ridge Crew
  • Byron L/s Crew
  • Gap Dyed denim jacket
  • Khaki Wool Mix Carrot Trousers
  • Ralph Lauren Aberdare Tweed Sport Coat
  • Shore Leave Lightweight Nylon Jacket
Mini-Trend: Khaki Shirts

A Khaki shirt: this springs most versatile dress shirt. It will serve you just as well in or out of the office. We are not going to break down the full trend right now, as another member of the Fashionbeans team will be covering this in the very near future. However, suffice to say you need one of these in your wardrobe this year, and the versatility of the garment makes them a must buy. Look for military detailing on casual shirts, whilst lighter beige khaki works very well for dress shirts when paired with a bold coloured tie.

Outfit Ideas:
Wear with a dark grey to charcoal blazer or cardigan, couple with a bold plaid tie – another of this season’s big hitters – and earn extra points for utilising this years key double breasted cut for the cardigan or jacket.

Alternatively, you can rock it with a Harrington or denim jacket (dependent on your preference) and jeans for an off duty look that carries just as much flair as your formal wear. A plaid tie can again easily work its way into this look for a sharper, more semi-casual approach. Just remember to keep the top button undone and loosen the tie a little.

  • 100% Cotton Khaki Shirt
  • Khaki Oxford Shirt
  • ASOS Workwear Shirt
  • Kaufman L/s Shirt
  • Yamagata L/s Shirt
  • Nom De Guerre Twill Cotton Shirt
  • NATIVE SON Classic pocket shirt
  • GUCCI Button up shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Slim Military Shirt
  • Burberry Prorsum Slim Military Shirt
  • lanvin Curved seam shirt
  • dolce & gabbana Safari shirt

So is khaki the perfect neutral? I’ll let you decide. However its credentials as a definitive essential cannot be undermined. Whether it’s used as a staple or anchor; khaki will command a spot in any wardrobe or trend in SS11.