My “off duty” pants

Canon_powershot Occasionally, I venture an opinion on the best equipment for the traveling ethnographer.  And this trip, I tested something new.  I called them my "off duty pants." 

All this begins with the fact that airlines continue to choose new and unexpected destinations for my luggage.  As nearly as I can tell, my Tumi bag has been to South America several times.  I’ve been there only once. 

And this means we must never, and I mean never, surrender our bag to the airlines.  And this means that everything we take with us must fit in a bag that must fit in the overhead compartment. 

And this means a 2 suit, 5 day rotation: alternating suits and just enough shirts, shorts and socks to last five days. (Even with a 5 day rotation, I end up getting caught between hotels.  I am unable to get things into the laundry service, (or, horrors, out again), and I’m obliged to buy things to "tide me over."  I have made some really put fashion choices in this way.  (Or at least, that’s my excuse when Pam, her exquisite aesthetic faculties on alert, says, "where in God’s name did you get that shirt?")

The trouble with the two-suit-5-day rotation is that we are always wearing our "on-duty" outfit, even when sitting in our room, waiting for the day to start or stop.  From a sartorial point of view, I are never off duty.  Psychologically, I never detach from life on the road.  This may in fact be my reality but what’s the point of saying so with my clothing code. 

This trip, I tried something new.  They are standard issue, beige, American, Khakis, made of distressed cotton, by Ralph Lauren (the Andrew pant, RL calls them).  They are roomy and comfy.  Just the thing.  The effect is not quite as dramatic as the one achieved, rather more famously, by the Elizabethan Lord Burghley who is reputed to have removed his robe at a formal occasion and said something like, "lie thee here, counsellor, while I go off to dance" but it is vastly better than sitting in your room in your suit.  I mean, how sad.  It’s a little like wearing your Little League outfit to bed when you’re a kid.  Talk about over-committing to role!

So far my off duty pants have made a signal contribution to my journey.  I wear them around the hotel room and that’s all.  But even this makes me feel like I am on a little vacation.

The perfect black bag addendum

I have made a substitution to  the "perfect black bag" (see the post below).  This used to contain a Nikon Coolpix 3700. But this proved to be a counter intuitive piece of design, the designer’s way of showing the consumer’s who’s boss.  (Not you, poor, wretched consumer.)   

This trip I have been using, and can now heartily recommend, the Canon Powershot, SD1000 (pictured, get the one on the right).  It is perfect: little, elegant, great memory, flawless in execution, and a joy to be with (not at all like its owner). 


McCracken, Grant.  2006.  The Perfect Black Bag.  This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  October 24, 2006. here.

McCracken, Grant.  2006.  Advice to a young consultant.  This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. June 20, 2006. here