Lands’ End has released a new pant called the Spring Chino that features double-flap pockets in the rear.
It’s a detail I wrote about previously, having spied them in the 1984 prepsloitation flick “Making the Grade”:
Curious about the origins of double flaps and how they might fit in the Preppy/Ivy/Trad/Americana pantheon, I asked around. Here’s what Bruce Boyer had to say:
The influence of back pocket flaps is military, and I remember seeing many family photos from World War II showing uniform trousers with flaps. I like the look of flaps, but can’t wear them because I think my posterior’s thick enough already.
There’s a history of flaps on the side pockets of Western trousers, and even a tendency for English tailors to put a flap on the waist-seam change pocket. Since WW II these flaps come and go merely as style trends, as far as I can see.
Hmm, no campus connection. Richard Press agreed: He has no recollection of double flaps being part of the Ivy League Look during the heyday.
Next I tried Ivy Style’s Elder Statesman Bill Stephenson, who had this to say:
My khakis had double flaps in the Air Force. But my impression is that the double flaps originally started with hunting clothing. Much prep stuff comes from hunting garb, so probably a merger of the two. LL Bean boots morphed from the hunting world to the prep world. You see a lot of Bean hunting boots on PJ Clark customers, who have never been closer to the hunting world than the Bronx Zoo.
You might remember a superb brand of luggage and outdoor clothing called Hunting World,” originally designed for hunting types. It migrated rapidly to the jitney leaving for the Hamptons in the summer. Barbour outerwear started with hunters and equestrian types before become part of the trad genre.
It would seem that hunters/outdoors types preferred double flaps to keep contents secure in the field. To my knowledge, preps never insisted on them, as they did with cuffs, and plain front trousers.
Stephenson then said he owns a pair of these LL Bean chinos.
So military and hunting origins, and as everything in menswear ultimately serves a utilitarian purpose, the notion that flaps were added to keep pocket contents secure sounds pretty reasonable.
So the double-flapped trousers in “Making the Grade” suggests the outdoorsy, LL Bean-Lands’ End aspect of prepdom, rather than the campus, country club or business dress.
Lands’ End also features double flaps on its new Cotton Linen Herringbone Shorts. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD