Photo: The Strategist; Photos: Erin Schwartz
Like David Lynch, I’m always searching for the perfect pair of pants. (“It’s a fit; it’s a certain kind of feeling,” Lynch says. “And if they’re not right, which they never are, it’s a sadness.”) I’ve found great pants — a pair of perfectly floppy hand-me-down wool trousers; color-blocked cowboy jeans from New Zealand — but never a pair so exceptionally well fitting, singular yet universally wearable, that I could consider my search complete. As a result, I have an aversion to buying multiples of the same pants. I’d estimate I buy three to four new pairs of pants a year, so I’ve had about two dozen chances to find the perfect pair so far — thinking in these terms, the act of buying new pants is a finite resource, one I ration carefully. It might take a lifetime; why waste a slot on a pair you already own when the perfect ones may be out there, waiting to be discovered?
I spent about six months trying to convince myself that this made sense before caving and buying my second pair of skateboarder Dickies. I bought my first pair last summer while searching online for a pair of medium-blue pants that weren’t jeans; they’re made from the brand’s signature twill, a tightly woven, rigid fabric composed of 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton. They quickly became my favorite pants — plausibly nice enough to wear out or to work, slouchy and crisp in the right places. They’re a dusty blue, the color of antique Levi’s found in abandoned mine shafts. This past fall, when looking for a better pair of black pants, I realized I was imagining a black version of my blue Dickies as the ideal. I waffled for a few weeks before buying my second pair.
The pants are a version of Dickies’s classic 874 pants, redesigned “specifically for the skateboarder.” I sent editor and skateboarder Andrew Luecke the product page and asked what that meant. One tweak he noticed is that the pants are looser — “Having worn the original 874, those can be a bit restrictive in the waist and rise, especially in the classic Dickies poly-cotton twill, which doesn’t give much” — with a wider leg opening, which changes “the way they sit on the shoes, which skaters would care about. On the original’s, the leg is very straight, so they’ll sit on top of a shoe and stack up. On the skate pant, the leg opening is wider, so they sort of settle over the shoe.”
Hem fray after eight months.
Although I’m not skating in them, I’ve noticed the same thing: The pants hang nicely over pretty much any shoe, from Vibram-soled Chelsea boots to chunky dad sneakers. I also love that the Dickies pants come in a size range from a 38 all the way down to a 26, a rare find in men’s pants. (They run on the small side: I normally wear a 26 and had to size up to a 28, which gives me a perfect loose-but-not-baggy fit.) They’re too long for me at five feet tall — I had to chop a few inches off the hem — but the twill weave means you can leave the hem raw without worrying about the fabric unraveling, similar to denim. (You’ll get the cleanest results if you use a sharp pair of fabric scissors, which can be any scissors you use only to cut textiles, preventing them from dulling.)
I was right about the black skateboarding pants; since they arrived, a pair of black Carhartt jeans that never fit quite right have languished at the bottom of the drawer.
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