So this ad has gotten a lot of attention recently.  There are people who love and people who hate, and I understand both sides, but just wanted to voice my opinion.

It’s a clever ad campaign; drawing on the current “vocalness” of a traditional-values- America facing more and more issues that push their moral compasses.  Even down to its typography it’s clever.  It declares itself a “Manifesto” and uses a layout visually similar to the American declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.  But, it generally rubs me the wrong way.

This is the part wear I go a little history nerd on you, I apologize.

So many people weighing in on this subject have been throwing around the word “chivalry” and the phrase “men should wear the pants”.  Really people?  Really?  I’ve always hated this term to begin with, especially when related to chivalry and I’ll break it down for you quickly

  1. Chivalry is a relatively ambiguous term mainly defined by the time, place and culture of the “definer”.
  2. Chivalry was an ideal, often a literary ideal and should not be believed to have been a common social norm.  In reality it stands to realize that real chivalrous men were probably about as common then as they are now.
  3. Pants, or trousers as the should be called, that we would recognize didn’t come up into common wear until the early 1800’s.  Knickers became fashionable about 50 years earlier.  Before then its was the codpiece + hose look (think Romeo and Juliet).
  4. When the IDEAL of Chivalry was originated men’s clothing could have varied like this

If we go back any further you begin to see that men and womans clothing, though different in style, were almost as androgynous as todays “jeans and t-shirt” variety.

Medieval versions of tights – yes.

“Pants” – no.

To the people at Dockers to more points –

Khaki’s as civilian wear didn’t become fashionable until the 1950’s, not exactly a long running clothing tradition and your ad campaigns call for men to “Get their hands dirty” while wearing your pants does not make sense.  No one, man or woman, wears their nice pair of Dockers brand khaki pants (not even your utility “cargo pant” option) when they’re driving a tractor, driving cattle, building a building, laying a road or fixing machinery – you know, all that work that literally makes one get their “hands dirty”.

I don’t mind what the ad says necessarily.  I can see that in our cultures attempt to give and accept equality, too many people have interpreted equality to mean “Now that I have equality I can act the like worst example of what I was fighting against” instead of  “Now that I have equality I can still act according to my original moral compass, just now with access to the new ability to participate actively in my society without fear of recrimination”.  I too wish that more people would show signs of common courtesy and various traditional values that the ad campaign is geared toward, but I don’t appreciate that they using that to sell pants.  To me the ad screams, “Look we’re trying to extol traditional values out the wazoo so that you will feel that buying our merchandise will some how improve society”; and it’s probably working – because we all know that what’s in your closet makes the man or the woman or the family for that matter.

We hear it all the time that we need to but less emphasis on the idea that “the clothes make the woman” so why is it okay to do the same with men?  To me its trying to tell me that the only way to be an acceptable man in our society is to have a job or social life that includes the wearing of khaki pants.  So all the men I know that wear Carhart work-wear or baggy pants with chains or tights and pumpkins pants cannot possibly be “real” men?  I, for one, don’t appreciate that.  What my father, husband, and male friends and family wear defines them as much as my clothes should define me.

In fact, and yes this is a generalization so move on, when I lived in a larger metro area the door was held for me more the guy in the urban street wear, complete with baggy pants and pristine baseball cap than the business man in his Dockers and suit coat.

So I say, Dockers, make your ads what you wants; we’ll probably still purchase your pants for my husband at work.  However I don’t believe you actually care about any traditional values except when they can make you a profit.

A man can be “a man” whether he wears jeans to work or khakis or camouflage; whether he works at at the corner gas station or the corner office.  It’s not about what he wears, but rather how he acts and we’re not going to fix our “flawed society” by telling him that he doesn’t have to act like a man if he doesn’t have the money or the job to back up his wardrobe.  I’ve said it before on various subjects from clothing  to computer control, gadgets and gimmicks aren’t go to fix us.  We have step away from the television, the computer and the magazines and focus on fixing these problems ourselves and no amount of stuff is going to fix a flawed moral compass.

Children don’t need all their clothes from Kids Gap to be kids.  Women don’t need clothes cut down to there and up to there to be a woman.  And I’m sorry Dockers you can keep your poly-cotton, stain resistant permanent pleat khakis, my husband doesn’t need to wear your pants for me to know that he’s a kind, courteous gentleman.

P.S.  It’s also fun to watch people’s mouths drops when he picks up other peoples litter on the sidewalk, holds doors, gives up his seat or assists that little old lady on the street when he’s wearing his favorite black and neon green baggy pants… you know the ones with the millions of pockets and chains.