Vocab

Know Your Terms: Khaki

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.

A pair of vintage army chinos, in khaki

In the 1840s, when British colonial soldiers in Peshawar used mulberry juice to dye their uniforms the color of the surrounding Indian landscape, “khaki” was born. Referring originally only to the color (but now a byword for any sand-colored, cotton-y fabric) khaki traces its name from the Hindustani (and, ultimately, Persian) word for dust, khak. “Chino,” on the other hand, a play on the fabric’s original point of manufacture in China, was a slang name for the all-cotton twill pants those soldiers first wore as desert camo—but which now will help you sneak into a business casual Friday in Hewlett Packard’s middle management cafeteria.

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