Grab This: Bills Khakis Giveaway

And the winner is…

Josh, for his insight into the rapid change of the 1950s, and how, in hindsight, we might have done things better:

I move city planning past the awkward, in-between phase of post-war growth: ticky-tacky houses and shopping mall commerce separated by vast, boring highways. I unveil new-urbanism before old-urbanism is dead, and design communities around walkable shopping districts, green space, and public transportation. New-urban dudes emulate my khakis and oxford style.

* * *

Ivy-Style presents its second reader giveaway and battle of wits. Bills Khakis has generously donated a pair of its new trim fit M3 model khakis. Made in the USA and inspired by World War II-era khakis, the pants retail for $98, a fine prize indeed.

It goes to the reader who can leave the most creative, amusing or clever response to the following:

It’s the 1950s. You served your country in World War II, got an education on the GI Bill, are still wearing your cherished army-issue khakis, and have decided to start a business. What kind of business do you start?


a) You create a real estate company that makes residential developments with shared bathrooms to encourage interaction and combat suburban isolation.

b) You create a television that only works for a limited number of hours per week. If its owner uses up his weekly allowance by Wednesday night, he’s forced to go bowling or read books for the rest of the week.

c) You create a recording device that creates watered-down versions of black R&B music to make it palatable for white audiences, thus ensuring that when the song becomes a hit, the proceeds go to the original artist, not the later cover artist.

Use the leave-comment feature to submit your own ’50s-inspired entrepreneurial vision. And keeping with the fifties theme, let’s cap responses at 50 words. No dissertations or short stories, please.

Contest will close at 5 PM Eastern time on Tuesday.

A few rules:

1) Open to US residents only.

2) Your comment must include a valid email address. One entry per household.

37 Comments on "Grab This: Bills Khakis Giveaway"

  1. The boy’s are back. America is booming, Elvis is starting to explode, old war buddies are starting to walk around on Wall Street in their 3 piece suits by day and go home to wives and kids by night, but you? No, not Mr. Khaki the bachelor. You still put on Ellington records and ride your Harley WLA bike from the War to your new shop.

    You’ve created America’s first mass-produced microwave. Lasagna in 90 seconds? Popcorn in 60 seconds? Blue collar product crafted in your shop for the white collared world. Sure, it costs a few month’s wages, but you translated your GI Bill education into a product that housewives of your Ivy League buddies relentlessly beg for.

    Boys, don’t thank your wives for that lasagna, thank me.

  2. Corner the steel market and create the only shipping company to limit ships to 4′ x 8′ thus necessitating that future trade will be limited to tin cars and can openers. You can thank me later that your clothing is still made in the USA.

  3. Possible detrimental effect on the economy there, CJ.

  4. You manufacture shoes for the sport of basketball, which seems primed to explode in popularity over the next decade. The Basketball Association of America has just merged with the National Basketball League to form a new professional league called the National Basketball Association. At present, there is only one model on the market, the Converse Chuck Taylor, and there is plenty of room for a competitor. Maybe you could create a signature shoe for one of the game’s star players. This Cousy kid seems all right…

  5. One word – plastics.

  6. The war is over and I have graduated from UPenn with the help of the GI Bill and with a focus in chemistry. It was 1952 and working on creating a nutrient rich soil for farmers (of which my father was). After a year of research my lab coat — the only thing in between my favorite khakis and the stain inducing soil and nutrients. Having written my thesis on synthetic rubbers I decide to do some research on a permanent watered-down rubber coverage for fabric. This would be a substance that would soak into the fibers of the fabric and hence protect it from being able to soak in the stain-inducing soil and nutrients. While on the job I dropped a beaker of solvent which shatters and covered my left canvas sneaker in a half produced solvent. The Senior Chemist, Patsy Sherman, tests the product and realizes it works and a potential for the household — not my original intention. Taking my idea she runs with it and I ask for only one thing. That my fathers gets a lifetime supply for his workwear and that my favorite khakis gets a once over. That is how I invented Scotchgard and how I kept my favorite khakis till this day.

  7. You start a restaurant that makes a flavorful and filling wheat colored beef stew for the hardworking middle class. You name the restaurant Loose Khakis after your reliable and comfortable fitting army pants. The business is so successful that you start a restaurant franchise business making millions years later.

  8. Samir Mathew | November 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm |

    You open a haberdashery near the University of Chicago where you convince Indiana Jones to don a pair of World War II surplus khaki’s and Alden 405’s on his adventures throughout the world.

  9. What better way to share my vision of the future with the citizenry, than to open up a series of box-stores selling box-frame eye-glasses.

  10. With my good friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, I would start a time-traveling vacation tour company. First stop: exotic Hill Valley, 1985. Our vehicle of choice: Ford’s new “E-car” prototype (Edsel). Should make it easy to remain inconspicuous, as this car is destined to be the car of the future!

  11. After graduation, I left New Haven to aid the reconstruction effort in Europe for a few months. I ended up settling down in Paris for a while and landed a job peeling vegetables at La Tour d’Argent. I met and married a beautiful girl named Marigny, and after moving up in the brigade, convinced her to move back to the states with me to open our own restaurant.

    With the help of a few buddies on Wall Street, I opened La Mer in the Spring of ’56. Business was slow at first, but it soon picked up and we’ve stayed busy ever since. Every morning I tie my apron around that same pair of khakis I was issued back in ’44. They’ve been with me through war, marriage, fatherhood, and opening a restaurant. What’s best though is that I know they’ll be around for a lot longer, and that maybe one day my son will get as much out of them as I did.

  12. WWII is over and so is the Korean Conflict – which has much of the US holding their breath for a bit (if it were as portrayed in the sitcom M*A*S*H – it may have been considered lighter duty – but definately was not).

    Anyway – you become a SCHOOL BUS DISTRIBUTOR and purveyor of previously run school busses and coaches – You begin this business since there has been a influx of school children, fondly known as the “babyboomers” and they all need to be educated in the new suburbs which have sprung up like mushroom farms just outside of the the city limits. This business holds great promise and provides well for your family.

    Normal business dress for this type of work is sturdy khakis, white or blue OCBD shirt, rep tie, and blue blazer. This is work-wear for climbing around busses and and working with mechanics and meeting with school transportation officials around the state.

  13. I’ve settled down with my wife in a small college town to run a young gentleman’s outfitter. We’re located mid-campus, next to the bookstore. When you stop in for your seasonal toggery, be sure to check out our selection of albums in back—Frank, Dino, Lady Day… all the greats!

  14. The use of back pack sized and hand held radio communications having inspired me to take on electrical engineering at college. I soon decide that I should start buying up radio frequency space from the FCC to create a dedicated network of communications devices that with the help of operators and direct dialing could be used for personal communications.

  15. Your physics degree helps in making model rockets with your son. When Sputnik makes news, all the neighborhood kids are suddenly interested. You form the Rocky Mountain Rocket Club, then a mail order company that makes model kits. Glenn and Shepard endorse. Sales explode, and every kid in the original RMRC works for NASA 20 years later. As for junior, he makes it to orbit in ’84 and in ’89.

  16. You do nothing but tinker on cars for 50 years but then in the year 2000 you invent a flying car that can be cheaply mass produced . You make millions by fulfilling magazine predictions and by selling your car to “Buy American” guys. Sadly in 2008, your business goes bottom-up due to greedy men on Wall Street and the Feds buy it so hardworking people don’t lose their jobs. It’s not that big of deal for Americas consumer, due to Japan’s mass subsidies of Honda, Japan exports a better flying car than you can ever make (AND IT’S A HYBRID!).

  17. After several unfulfilling jobs (auto sales, advertising), I created a line of high quality clothing and offered it at a discount to anyone who “traded in” their old military clothing. These shirts, trousers, and shoes were laundered and donated to those not participating in the booming economy of the 1950s.

  18. 1953, I got my English degree and all I want to do is get stoned. I supply Jazz records to enthusiastic youth. Vladimir Nabokov comes to my store and asks for some hot tunes. I sell him Jazz at Massey Hall and he compliments me on my pants from the War.

  19. You were a First Sergeant during the war and returned to Massachusetts to study engineering at MIT. You abandoned your dream to join the USACE to begin a start-up business with your younger brothers. You began building self sustaining, family-sized underground shelters for paranoid, wealthy families.

  20. Road equipment. Ike’s building the interstate highway system and America needs bulldozers, graders, cement trucks … Build a better bulldozer and you can beat your own path to any door you want.

  21. Buy surplus jeeps and sell them to vets who miss the one they drove for Uncle Sam. They’d be fixed by Rosie the riveter and her gang (they shouldn’t unemployed just because it’s peace time), with a discount for any vet who in came wearing his G.I. khakis.

  22. Dressed in a white t-shirt, my army issue khakis, and pre-war Chuck Taylor’s, I started a science fiction magazine in my parents’ basement called “Tales of Incredulity”. I reserved the last page of each issue for secret messages communicated from the US Army through the radio program Amos and Andy.

  23. I move city planning past the awkward, in-between phase of post-war growth: ticky-tacky houses and shopping mall commerce separated by vast, boring highways. I unveil new-urbanism before old-urbanism is dead, and design communities around walkable shopping districts, green space, and public transportation. New-urban dudes emulate my khakis and oxford style.

  24. You created a toy-gadget sensation. The Rock and Roller. It’s an unstable device that kids and teenagers stand on while listening to their favorite hit songs. It rocks, rolls and shakes on wheels, bearings, rockers and springs. It’s so shaky that the kids flail everywhere trying to keep their balance. The strange gyrations they go through to keep from falling down are the first official Rock and Roll dance moves. Your product appears on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. You ship 10s of millions of units in 6 months before the fad dries up. You become a multi millionaire.

  25. I would start a clothing company that specialized in producing quality World War II-era khakis that were also made in the USA. I’d name it Matt’s Khakis, and provide myself with a seemingly endless supply of khakis. Eventually I would also expand into and corner the khaki shorts market. Ladies would love my keen business sense, war stories, and most importantly my dapper dress.

  26. Tired of getting coffee stains on my favorite khakis, I’d develop a new pair made of synthetic, no stain, no wrinkle material. However, I would undoubtedly come to my senses and realize what a disservice I’d done to man, country, and style – and promptly set that shit on fire.

  27. I start a travel business for the middle-class to travel to far off and exotic locales at a moderate price. Tahiti, Rio, Casablanca. Our mission is to make the everyman feel like he is traveling like a millionaire. On my first work related trip, I am asked by a beautiful stewardess if I am traveling on business or pleasure. I respond slyly by saying, “Pleasure is my business.” Thus becoming our company motto.

  28. Clad in my rugged pair of Bills, I’d head to Hollywood to start a new, exclusive business: An under-the-radar service to the big studios to shield their stars from any scandals and unwanted publicity. Without 24-hour cable news and the Internet, keeping movie stars away from bad press won’t be that hard. And, as far as I can tell, there’d be no shortage of clients. Come this way, Rock Hudson.

  29. There once was a guy from the Cape,
    The dapper lad fought for the state.
    In sharp khaki slacks,
    With two hidden gats,
    He now guards Sinatra’s front gate.

  30. Railway line. See America from the comfort of the bar car.

  31. John received his honorable discharge and paid for his final years at college on Uncle Sam’s chit. Soon he went to teach chemistry & tennis at his boarding school in Pennsylvania. While splitting time between classroom and court he discovered the potential of composite materials. He built a sporting empire.

  32. I create a social networking and communications firm that connects World War II veterans with their children being born overseas.

  33. My degree in marketing makes me uniquely qualified to run this record company and I want you to be part of it! KHAKI RECORDS!!

    Yes, Swing is on the Up-Swing in the go-go 1950’s! We’ve got a new president in the White House and memories of Ike will no doubt fill the record shops with the jazz-tapping feet of Swing lovers remembering that happy sound that got us through the big one. Named after the trusty uniforms that got our boys through, KHAKI RECORDS is poised to be on the CUTTING EDGE of the Resurgent Sound!

  34. I’d start a bomb shelter construction business and offer the following amenities:

    – a B/W TV (the latest technology) to follow the mayhem outside whilst securely ensconced in the shleter

    – Stockpile of TV dinners (to eat whilst watching said mayhem)

    – Back issues of LIFE magazine to remember “the good old days”

  35. Dissatisfied with modern trends in design and fashion, I would start my own clothing line with inspiration from the past. My first product would be a pair of trousers modeled after the American Revolution army uniforms, satisfying America’s new found patriotism and love for vintage clothing.

  36. I would develop a device tracks the available parking spaces in a parking lot, patent it, and sell it to Brookstone.

  37. I start up a hot, new, small business in the early ‘50’s – a ham radio store. But I soon see that it’s too technical to ever grow beyond neighborhood size. So I start selling televisons and console hi-fi’s. Before long I’m making $250,000 a year. By 1956, I’m rich!

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