How to know when a pair of khakis is done.

by Kristen on March 4, 2014 · 30 comments

in Sewing

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I post a photo and just a few words.

When this happens, it’s over.

worn-out L.L. Bean khakis

I’m fairly decent at mending casual clothes, but there is no way I know of to make these pants acceptable for Mr. FG’s workplace.  A sneaky underneath patch might work if they were casual khaki shorts, but he wears to work with buttondowns, so that’s a total no-go.  And as you can see, the wear is happening all over the pants, not just in that one spot.

He’s worn these multiple times a week for years, and it’s pretty clear that they’ve done their duty.

So, they’re off to the rag bag where they’ll get used by my girls, who have an enjoyable time hacking up unmendable clothes for various crafting projects.

And I’m adding, “Buy new work pants.” to my to-do list.

We buy wrinkle-free khakis from L.L. Bean, and I used to always use Ebates when I shopped at L.L. Bean, but I’ve switched to TopCashBack because they offer 4% back vs. Ebates’ 2%.  I find TopCashBack’s rates to be higher than Ebates’ rates across the board so far.

(Psst! Those are affiliate links.  If you join a cashback program and make a purchase, I get a small kickback at no extra charge to you.  Thanks for supporting The Frugal Girl!)


Joshua’s 52 Project Post: Beacon

(Did you miss that he switched to a 52 project?  He wrote about it right here.)

Leave a Comment

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth March 4, 2014 at 7:25 am

It appears that this is a USA only site? You hooked me up with but 4% would be even better!


2 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

Hmm, I just clicked over to read the About page, and it does say US AND Canada.

There’s also a UK version (I believe the UK is where Top Cash Back started, actually.)


3 Elizabeth March 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

Thank you Kristen, I’ll give it a try and let you know how I make out.


4 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 8:05 am

Super-please do, as my other Canadian readers would probably appreciate hearing from you.


5 Nathalie March 4, 2014 at 9:16 am

I HATE when that happens, it happens to my husband’s pants as well. However I purchase ours from Kohl’s, not L.L. Bean. Have you tried contacting them to see if they’ll honor their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee? I’ve always heard that they had great customer service and their guarantee reads “return anything purchased from us at any time” so it might be worth a try.


6 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 9:28 am

Well, but my thing is…how could I be unsatisfied if the pants have worn out after years of service? I can’t really expect them to make a pair of pants that can be worn twice a week for 15 years, you know?


7 jenny_o March 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Thank you, Kristen, for that common-sense outlook!


8 Megg March 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Wow he’s worn them for 15 years! My husband wears khakis typically 4 days a week at work (jeans on Friday!) so I’m wondering if we should switch to LLBean pants. He usually gets a couple years out of his.


9 Kristen March 5, 2014 at 5:41 am

Oh, no, no…I was just saying that I couldn’t expect a pair of pants to last fifteen years. I believe this pair has been in his closet for eight years, which is still pretty impressive.


10 Kelly March 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

Waitttt a second here! LL Bean … you know they pretty much guarantee stuff for life right? I don’t know about pants, but years into use they will replace outerwear. I’ve heard they’ll replace or repair anything of theirs that comes into the store, no matter how old.


11 Julie March 4, 2014 at 9:54 am

It’s true. If you read the customer feedback on their site, there was a guy who said, it’s my fault that this is broke, and they said “our ___ doesn’t break.” But it’s up to you, if you are satisfied, then how can you argue that. I am always impressed with pants that last more than 2 years.


12 Megg March 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Yes, they will! I’ve never tried with clothes like pants but they’ve always replaced things I’ve broken! If they don’t make it anymore, they’ll just give you store credit. Maybe I should be less of a consumer and just deal with them, or try to mend. I haven’t done it in several years though.


13 Diane C March 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I consider this a personal ethics issue. Does anyone seriously expect something made of fabric to last forever? LLBean wants you to be happy with your purchase, but that does not give one the “right” to abuse their generous policy.

To be sure, if a product does not perform to reasonable standards, exercise the warranty. Anything beyond that feels like theft to me, no matter what LLBean says publicly. In the end, everyone pays for the few who take unfair advantage.

And if you buy (or receive) something from LLBean second hand, don’t even think about it!

Writing this reminds me of the time I passed along a never worn but several years old Lands End sweater to my sister. She didn’t like the color so she returned it to them for something she liked better. This was sixteen kinds of wrong to me, but she didn’t think so. I was much more careful with future hand-me-downs.


14 Victoria March 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

My daughter loves making craft projects from old clothing too! I keep a bag full of old t-shirts just for her . She makes them into doll clothes and pillows. She is actually getting so good at it I think it is time for lessons on the sewing machine (up until now she has just used a big needle and yarn to sew her seams).


15 Maggie March 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

How many pairs of work pants do you think husbands need? My husband is getting out of the Marines in November, and we know nothing about working without a uniform.


16 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

We currently have 5 pairs, I believe, although we used to have fewer, which is why he had to wear these a few times a week for a while (I did wash them between wears!).

I like having five because then that’s enough to get him through a week. I usually do laundry three times a week, but five pairs mean that if I miss a day of laundry, it’s not the end of the world.


17 WilliamB March 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Maggie – Have you contacted Navy/Marine Corps Relief or your Marine Corps Community Services? They may have answers as well. But in the end, it’ll depend on what work environment he enters. I had one friend, at the time a broke laywer, who managed on two suits, a few white shirts, snd a lot of ties; but he had to be ~really~ careful when he ate.


18 Blaze March 4, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Just a question, why do these pants become a rag just because they are no longer suitable for the office? When my DH’s casual pants start to show wear they become weekend pants – plenty good enough to run errands, and the previous weekend pants get downgraded to work pants, and by work we mean, change the engine oil, cut the grass, paint the guest room etc. The current pair of work pants now goes to the rag bag if it’s not too marked up with paint splatters, engine oil stains I couldn’t get out etc. My DH wears dryclean only dress pants to the office and when they wear out they are donated and a replacement bought, but his khakis have a three stage life to get the maximum wear out of them.


19 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Well, Mr. FG hates khakis with a passion, and so he always wears jeans when he’s not at work. Also, these are fairly dressy pants, not casual khakis, so it would be a little odd to wear them to run errands and such.


20 HeatherS March 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm

My hubby turns those kinds of pants into work around the house pants so they get used for yard work/painting/house fixing projects etc.


21 jenny_o March 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The other way I know my husband’s pants are finished is when the hems fray, although if the pants are otherwise okay, you can chop off the legs and make khaki shorts.

When hubby’s pants can no longer be worn, I cut the material into smallish pieces (4 inches or less) and stuff them into a tube of sturdy material, to make a draft blocker for in front of the door. The material is heavy enough to keep the draft blocker in place, it’s free (would be going in the garbage otherwise) and it doesn’t attract pests like rice might.


22 Katie @ The Surly Housewife March 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The best thing about my husband being super skinny is he can always get pants off the clearance rack. Ya know those 5 paris of $3 30x30s ya see hanging there? That’s him lol. I’m not complaining. We have gotten some great deals on 80 dollar pairs of pants. He is lucky he gets to wear jeans to work so I have luck at yard sales also. It’s amazing how your simple photos can start such a conversation!


23 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Mr. FG is fairly thin and so is Joshua, but unfortunately, they’re both pretty tall too, so it’s really challenging to find pants that are thin enough AND long enough.

That’s awesome that you can use 30×30, though!


24 Katie @ The Surly Housewife March 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Luckily my husband is 5’8 so he has a little leeway in the pant length. Now if only I could fit into those size 0′s I would never have to pay full price for pants haha


25 WilliamB March 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I thought about Mr. FG’s pants and your not-leather shoes last night as I was mending a backpack I got in a give-away. Both shoulder straps had pulled away from the shoulder seam. I also saw a lot of loose threads, lining stitching coming undone, and nylon weave wearing out just like Mr. FG’s pants. Only five years old, people! I spent half an hour fixing it. Not because it’s valuable but because I wanted to keep it out of the landfill.

My Jansport backpack, on the other hand, is in perfect shape after at least 25 years’ service that included 5+ years of heavy textbook carrying. I just looked it up online – the Big Student, $45 now. So that backback cost me less than $2/year and no fixing necessary.


26 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm

That’s me too…fixing stuff just so that I won’t have to throw it out!


27 EcoCatLady March 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I totally agree on this one. There comes a point when it no longer makes sense to try to mend things… like when the fabric itself is starting to disintegrate.

I have the same experience with jeans. Generally the knees go first. I used to try to patch them – which is a good plan if they tear from getting caught on something. But if they just tear because the fabric is wearing out, there is no point in patching them, because generally they tear again after one or two more wears. Just not worth the effort. At that point I make them into cutoffs, which usually last one summer before the rear end starts to have the same problem. After that – to the rag bag they go!


28 WilliamB March 5, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I have the knees patched then oversewn with denim patches. (Put patch on inside of knees, sew edges down, then sew around in the patch as well.) The reinforcement gives me up to a year’s more use before the fabric arond the patch wears out, and the jeans turn into painting pants.


29 EcoCatLady March 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Hmmmm… somehow it just never seems to work for me. But it might be because I have tended to wait until the thing has ripped all the way across before I ever got around to trying to patch it. Maybe if I patched at the first sign of a hole rather than waiting I’d have better luck.


30 WilliamB March 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

That could definitely be it. I get mine patched when the fabic has worn thin but (hopefully, ahem) not yet worn through. Always the same knee, too – I’m trying to train myself to drop down on either knee and just the favored one.


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