Real shopping: Style Police - Back in uniform

JAMES SHERWOOD does a U-turn on Utility-wear and explains how to wear army gear without looking like a Village People fan

We've all been there. You wake up hungover and ponder the mortification of the night before. It's that three vodka and Red Bulls feeling when you've done the actions to a Steps number, told the waiter you're in love with him then passed out cold on the dance floor. It is called getting carried away.

This week, Style Police has a fashion hangover. Yes, we said pedal pushers suit everyone. And then we saw a girl wearing white pedals so tight and transparent you could see her kidneys through them. So strike that. Pedal pushers suit everyone except for that girl smoking a Senior Service outside the Brixton McDonald's last Friday at 2am.

We've also been banging on about floral frocks, kitten heels and cerise sequined pencil skirts since January. We've declared a fatwa against Utility fashion and went so far as to suggest public burning of combat pants and trainers in Trafalgar Square.

But, oh the shame of it! OK, it's not nearly as bad as the idea of Jennifer Aniston falling in love with a mousse. But Style Police is smitten by a pair of khaki pants. This particular pair are Dockers K-1 khakis and this time it's for keeps.

When you get into a new season, you've got to go full-on. It's no good being half-arsed about it. We talk up the trends and would rather surrender the blood of our first-born than admit egg yolk yellow may not be a look.

But that little voice in your head advocates caution. Sometimes you've got to sip rather than slam. Khaki pants are like the soda in a spritzer. Sure, they aren't going to give you the intoxicating kick but they work as the balance. Real life dictates that we aren't always allowed to go full-on with fashion. You need to dilute and khaki pants are the mixer you must buy this season. After all, some mornings you just want a pair of trousers that goes through the wash on a fast coloureds cycle and makes your bum look like a peach.

How to wear it

"You're in denial," says She's Gotta Have It fashion victim Angela Buttolph. "You remember all those preppy connotations of khakis and it's giving you a mental block. You've dissed Utility so many times that you can't tell the difference between khakis and combats." How right she is. Dockers K-1 khakis are cut in two-ply cotton to the same specifications as the originals commissioned by the US Armed Forces in 1932. They are performance pants. But that doesn't mean they have to be worn as if one is being drafted to Kosovo.

It's all about that balance again. Style Police invested in a John Smedley pale yellow sea island cotton tank and couldn't make it work. The answer was easy. Put a seasonal piece like the yellow tank with a blank canvas like khakis and the look starts to make sense. Khakis are the foil for florals. They work with a white cotton peasant blouse or a Helmut Lang hot pink tulle vest top. Utility is utility only when you do the whole soldier clone story. The dog tag necklace, flak jacket and regulation Ray Bans are - how shall we put it - a bit Village People.

Where to buy it

Now this is why we love K-1 khakis. They are going back to source. When you have a design classic, there's no point reinventing it for the Nineties with beads, feathers or too many pockets. (We mean you, Gucci.) The design, fabric and details were perfected in 1932 and they remain unchanged in the Nineties K-1. With a design classic, you must remain true to the heritage and don't think about compromising with rip-offs. They are pounds 80 but you're talking timeless here.

What we really love about the K-1 is its limited edition status. There are 1932 numbered pairs worldwide. There are 300 in Europe; 36 of which are winging their way to Britain. Every damned pair has been bagged by Browns Focus. Despair not because the (unnumbered) K-1 will be available this season in the UK. But if you are a limited edition junkie, bear in mind that, now I've nabbed a pair, there are only 35 pairs left and remember the bit about the peachy butt and the spin cycle.

Address book

Browns Focus: 0171 629 0666. Dockers K-1 Khakis enquiries: 0171 394 3300.

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