What were or are "suntans" (trousers, 1950s-early 60s usage)

In the Rabbit tetrology, several mentions are made of “suntans” which I assume from the context to be pants of that color. And now that I’m reading In Cold Blood, I find a similar mention of “suntans and denim trousers” in the crate that Perry had shipped to himself at the Las Vegas Post Office.

It seems that suntans were the latest rage around 1960, but what exactly were they? Suntans, even just on white people, seem to me to be too variable to allow you could walk into a clothing store and say you want a couple pairs of suntans. Or were they pants of any color that let the tanning rays reach your legs, much like some swimsuits do today?

When would you have worn them? Were they considered strictly casual, like for barbecues and picnics, or could you wear them in some dressier situations?

When my dad, who was in the Air Force until the mid-60s talked about “suntans,” he was referring to the summer AF uniforms that were tan in color, as opposed to the usual blue. That’s the only time I ever heard the term used.

Just another term for khaki. Scroll down a bit here.

Yes, “suntans” was the common terminology for the light weight summer uniforms, as opposed to OD’s (for olive drab) for the heavy, wool, winter ones.

So then it sounds like a usage that started with returning vets from WWII and the Korean War.

I believe you will also hear them refered to as "chinos."

Nope Silenus ---- Chinos were faded blue jeans.

I’ve never heard them refered to as that. When I was growing up, chinos were what today would be Dockers and the like. Light cotton pants in a variety of colors. Jeans were always just jeans.

Back in the sixties, at least here in New England, the word “chinos” meant medium weight cotton trousers. They were always beige in color and were slightly dressier than blue jeans.

Chinos are made from cotton twill, not denim. They are not faded blue jeans

Suntans is an older term for khaki, primarily used by military personnel. Chinos were a style of close fitting cotton trousers popular in the 60’s and 70’s, they could be many colors, black was popular.

Lots of people still call those pants chinos today.

The suntan Class A uniform was a trousers and blouse, shirt and tie get up, all khaki-tan and classically made of gabardine with flaps on the rear trouser pockets. The uniform went out in the mid-1960 but a lot of guys continued to use the suntan trousers as part of the summer uniform with the sleeves cut off the old suntan shirt. Because the shirt collar was pretty stiff and the fabric shed wrinkles it was a pretty sharp uniform. Better looking than the cotton khaki summer uniform but terribly hot. Not machine washable either.