Embroidered pants are as closely associated with warm weather as they are easy to mock. You could keep wearing those dark trousers, but it's more fun to have a laugh. Embrace the idea of having little animals or college mascots on your legs and go with it. Whether you succeed or fail, you'll get comments.
"The key to pulling off embroidered pants for any occasion is to not take yourself too seriously," says Shep Murray, co-founder of preppy staple Vineyard Vines. "It's a fun look, and should be paired with an equally fun attitude."
The first step is to find something in the vicinity of understated. The second, is to simplify everything else about your outfit and let the pants speak for themselves. "Embroidered pants are a statement piece," says Murray. "Pair them with boat shoes, driving moccasins, or flips flops and a simple oxford or polo in a neutral color."
You can dress them up too, but that's more of a regional issue than one of taste. Murray says Charleston and Cape Cod have a different take on this uber-preppy look. "In the South our customers love to wear their embroidered pants with jackets and bowties. In the Northeast you see embroidered pants worn more casually." We'd suggest an extremely casual take – an untucked white oxford should do the trick – and starting out with one of these pairs of memorable pants:
Altru Apparel Surfboard Pants: A more casual take on the look with crossed boards against a pleasantly pink background. [$96; altruapparel.com]
Vineyard Vines Tuna Club Pants: The classic prepster brand leans heavily on nautical themes because their customers need something to wear on the yacht. [$135]
J McLaughlin Kerouac Embroidered Twill Dog Pants: These chinos inspired by the dog who ate the first manuscript of "On the Road" depict an obedient Golden Retriever and come in a vibrant blue. [$185]
Brooks Brothers Clark Fit Garment-Dyed Horse Pants: These bright red (not to be confused with Nantucket red) preppy classics show a horse jumping and go very well with a dressage jacket. [$128]
Bonobos Crown Prints: A hipper take on the embroidered pant, these dark blues are covered in snowflake-shaped designs for a pointillistic effect. [$128]
Castaway Clothing Harbor Pant Nantucket Navy with American Flags: Just because you keep your money offshore doesn't mean you aren't a patriot. [$135]
Pennington & Bailes University Pants: P&B sells chinos for fans who want their college logos embroidered on their khakis. The purple LSU pants are unforgettable. [$145]