Naval gazing

I just bought a pair of jaunty white sailor pants by Ralph Lauren. No big deal, right? Wrong. For me, this is like buying a chiffon blouse for a spin class. Somewhere there's a blueberry with my name on it, a cup of espresso perched next to a rambunctious toddler.

There is white-pant-destroying karma in my life, which explains why I haven't owned a pair in at least 25 years.
But they looked so fresh, were a hard to find wide-legged cut and fit like custom tailoring.

I found them on the day our son Jules began his pr
ocess of enlisting in the Canadian Navy. Le Duc, laughing, pointed out my subconscious support.

Someone else will keep my boy's whites pristine.

I find men in uniform–especially sailors–unbearably handsome. Once, visiting New York during Fleet Week, I delayed my flight home three times just to admire the debonair US Navy and Coast Guard crews striding through Rockefeller Center in their dress whites.

The city looked like one panoramic Norman Parks photo; I could not leave.

As for me, it's a Tide stain stick and crossed fingers.

What do you do when faced with an item of inevitable fragility?
Buy it anyway and enjoy it while it lasts, or walk on by?

Update: I noticed a woman whose white pants were splattered all around the hem simply by proximity to the rainy streets. I returned mine and am hunting a café au lait pair.


Kristine said…
I commiserate with you. I too have anti-white karma.
I confess I was waiting to see mum in her white sailor bell-bottoms (the original kind, not the 1960s takeoff) inspecting her son and the rest of his crew in their dress whites.

A black cat, work with paint and graphic elements, bad karma for spills and an ample tuchis combine to rule out white trousers for me. Though I still remember the beautiful creamy twills with brown thread my mum sewed for me back in the 60s when I was a young teen. I kept them pretty clean as I was so fond of them. Of course they eventually wore out. They weren't quite full-out bell-bottoms, more like what we'd call a bootcut nowadays.

Hope son doesn't get "In the Navy" inflicted on self too often...
Mardel said…
I had a pair of white pants last summer that I managed to wear well into the fall and winter -- go figure.

The spring pair was irretrievably stained before the third trip to the washing machine.
NancyDaQ said…
I've got a pair of white silk and cotton pants on their way to me. They're supposed to be washable. We'll see how I like them.

On the other hand, I have a pair of lightweight winter white ones that are a bear to keep nice, but I like them anyway.

Best wishes to your son in the Navy!
LPC said…
Congratulations and best wishes on your son for his naval stint - or career, whichever way he takes this.

In my very isolated opinion, life is too short not to wear white pants now and again. I can't pull off a white cashmere suit, but I could do white jeans. When they get dirty, throw them in a machine.
I am laundry challenged so white for bottoms is like asking for trouble...I have had a few pairs over the years but they are a magnet for stains!
Cafe au lait sounds about right !
Hope your son enjoys his time in the in uniform do look handsome.
Anonymous said…
Is your son's full name Julian? My son's name is Julian and I love the shortened version, Jules!

Where did you find the pants? I'm in Toronto as well and have trouble finding pants long enough as I'm 5'10".
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: His name is Jules. Pants were from Ralph Lauren dept. at The Bay, Queen St Toronto. Though we are both 5'10", fit depends on length of leg. I have a friend same height but her inseam is 2 inches longer.
Belle de Ville said…
Ah yes, Fleet Week. A sight to behold.
I'm already looking forward to attending the change of command in Rota Spain next June, with the US and Spanish Admirals, Captains, etc. in full dress summer whites....that's going to be such a treat for me. Those men are awesome.
Congratulations on your son's choice of joining the Canadian Navy. It is an incredible career choice and I'm sure that he will get a lot out of the experience.
dana said…
simple on the white: do not buy. You made a good choice. I was noticing cafe au lait linen pants at either Sundance or Garnet Hill or both.

Congrats to your son! Navy dress blues are marvelous and easy to wear, so be sure to get your hands on some during his tenure!
mette said…
White anything looks great in the summer, especially on clothes, if you have a bit of tan. As one is supposed to avoid sun, and as I have a feeling that the sprayed on tans are messy, I can only admire white on others.
Nancy K said…
I have two pieces of white pants fabric sitting in my stash, as well as several pieces of white blouse fabric. I finally actually cut out a white blouse. Lots of bleach in the house is my solution. At least white cotton can be bleached. I would never buy anything white in fabrics that can't stand good old Chlorox! That and I'm resigned to a shorter life span or to eventually dyeing them some dark, like black, color.
Frugal Scholar said…
Congratulations to your adorable son--I remember you posted a pic of your boys a while back.

So stressful do I find white, that I felt a sense of relief when you recounted the return of the pants. Plus, white can be see through in ways that don't show up till you're outside.
Glove Slap said…
Can you spray those pants down with Scotchgard?

I love sailors too! When I worked in the ticket booth at MoMA, I loved Fleet Week and it was my pleasure to let all the sailors in for free.
Duchesse said…
Everyone: Well WELL! I have company in my admiration for naval uniforms and the men who don them.

Jules has not yet been accepted, it's a long process in Canada- he should know by July or early Aug.

I might buy a pair of white jeans, which would take tougher laundering.
Tiffany said…
Yes, I share your anti-white karma, but I still have a pair of white jeans which I love to wear in summer with a floaty silk chiffon blouse. They can be soaked in heavy-duty stuff and laundered easily, so they're a good white option.

As for delicate items, I realised recently that saving them for 'special' meant that I never wore them, so now I wear them when I feel like it, and try to be philosophical about their inevitable demise.
Northmoon said…
I wore my ivory capris yesterday for the first time and got a mark on them almost immediately. Small enough that you wouldn't notice from a few feet away, but still I'm debating whether to wash them or try to get away with wearing them one more time.

I too do not buy pure whites for the two reasons mentioned - they are often too transparent! and I feel they make me look larger on the bottom.

Good luck to your son getting into the navy.
Duchesse said…
Northmoon: Yesterday was the day for it! Sometimes the first mark looks the worst, and one more isn't such a big deal.
Glennis said…
I just bought a pair of white capris for the summer, and had the same trepidation.
s. said…
White is dangerous for a rumpled creature like me, but I wear it anyway - once in a while - and try not to worry too much about the inevitable stains.

And a hearty congrats on your son deciding to try to join our armed forces. Two of my uncles served in the Canadian navy during WWII and I have nothing but respect and gratitude for our men and women in uniform. You must be very proud.

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