I remember my first kiss like it was yesterday. It was with DJ, my best buddy and neighbor. We were in the fifth grade. We’d started our weekly play date on the swing set like normal, but then he suggested an unsuspecting game of tag. As I chased him behind his parents’ barn, he grabbed me and smooched me on the cheek. I was beyond mortified. 

I’ll never forget it. The day was hot and sunny and the air smelled of dirt and wild ramps. It was the first time I’d ever felt embarrassment creep into my face and sting my cheeks. Even though I liked him and even though the kiss made my heart flutter, my instinct was to flail about. So, I closed my eyes and kicked out my right leg as hard as humanly possible. It was official; I had developed my first major crush and well, DJ, he had quite the bruise on his shin.  

My first boyfriend holds a stronger memory. His name was Shannon and he was the captain of the soccer team. He was a major hunk, with blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. I was an awkward, lanky teenager with really bad hair and just like something out of the movies, he asked me to be his girl. I was a freshman, he was a senior and just like that, he catapulted me to popularity. I literally became the IT girl overnight. Eventually, Shannon graduated, got a new girlfriend and I would go on to college (with good hair and more confidence.) It was there that I would meet my first serious boyfriend. His name was Jason.  

Shireen Sandoval Koko PalenkiJason and I met at a 10K cross country race. I won the women’s category, he won the mens. Shocking, I know, that I can actually do other cardio besides shopping. At the end of the race, they accidentally bequeathed Jason the woman trophy with boobs and me, the man trophy with a slight bulge in its crotch. We reluctantly exchanged statuettes so all would be right with the world. We became friends, running partners and then lovers. After graduation, life naturally pulled us apart, but the loss would become a gain, after I met the love of my life, Ken. 

Ken was a budding television agent and I was a struggling reporter. We met at the beginning of our careers in New York City. We would grow into our lives separately, have success in our respective careers and settle down in different parts of the country, but eventually, forces of nature would pull us back together. It reminds me of that saying: “You can’t choose who you love, love chooses you.” 

A life-long friendship turned into an undeniable, unrequited bond. We became engaged on a gorgeous winter evening and got married on a beautiful summer day. We lived, laughed and loved until it was time to part ways. We did so as amicably and as gracefully as possible. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

Each of these major moments in my life were part of my transition into womanhood. They were also the first instances that made me realize romance, intimacy and love could be expressed through an article of clothing. Not necessarily the article itself, but rather what it represents when given as a gift. When a lover generously gives “the shirt of his back,” metaphorically speaking, it’s to capture….

A year, a day, a night, a moment in life when things were/are so special, that the matters of the heart seem to be intricately woven into the material itself. It becomes a keepsake, a souvenir, a reminder of sorts, of when things in life seemed perfect, or as good as they could possibly get. 

I know it sounds a bit fashionably far-fetched, but when you think about it, a letterman’s jacket, a collegiate sweatshirt or just a beat-up old concert t-shirt can literally transport a person back to a place and time that holds precious memories. 

That’s why the boyfriend clothing trend isn’t surprising. Matter-of-fact, because of its emotional and sentimental connections, I don’t think it will ever fully be unfashionable. It does, however, ebb and flow its way in and out of popularity (like most things do.)

Last summer, the oversized nostalgic look (that had been in style back in the 80’s,) started making a slow, romantic comeback with roomy, off-the-shoulder t-shirts. The trend stretched its way into Fall with spacious sweaters and baggy blue jeans. I’m not gonna lie, I was a tad bit happy to see the skinny jean dethroned. Now, it’s all about “The Perfect Pair of Pants (boyfriend style).” 

They’re a little more tapered and tailored than the boyfriend jean, but they still have that effortless ease of, say, a borrowed pair of trousers from your tried-and-true. The perfect BF pant should hang slightly off your hips, be baggy in the butt and get a tad tighter in the leg. Muted colors like slate and olive green will compliment and blend beautifully into just about any wardrobe. Plus, they’re the type of colors that transition easily from Winter to Spring. 

I like to give my man pants (as I so endearingly call them) a kick of high style, by pairing them with a flowing top or a bedazzled tank (pictured in the blog.) As a rule of thumb, if my pants say less, my blouse always says more. “The Perfect Pair of Pants (boyfriend style)” goes great with cool kicks, chic flats, or sexy heels. 

And while your BF of days gone by may not have always been honest with you, I will be: this is the kind of purchase that you need to spend a little bit of money on. The relaxed look should never be confused as disheveled. There’s a method to this madness, meaning it’s not about looking like a hot mess, it’s about keeping it clean and comfortable. Speaking of boyfriends…

DJ would always lend me his cotton jacket on chilly spring nights, so we could keep playing on his swing set. He’d walk me home and insist I keep it until I wasn’t cold anymore. I’d fall asleep with it over my flannel nightgown. He’d collect it the next day at school and secure another play date. D-J grew up to be a commodities broker. 

Shannon gave me his letterman’s jacket to wear to school, soccer games and cheerleading practice. He never asked for it back when we broke up. I cried for weeks and cornered him outside our neighborhood Pizza Hut (with his new girlfriend.) When I saw him I begged him to take me back. He smiled and said: “Change is good.” I handed him his jacket and walked off. Shannon grew up to be an airline pilot. 

Jason generously gave me anything in his wardrobe. I loved his long sleeve college running shirts the most. I wore them to class all the time. I still own one of them. Jason nicknamed me ‘champ’ back in college. He always said that I could be anything I wanted to be. Jason grew up to become an ER doctor and a proud American soldier. 

Kenny’s starched business shirts always found their way into my wardrobe one way or another. I’d wear them to bed, or out and about in New York City with faded jeans and a pair of Converse. They were sexy and grown-up, like the way he made me feel at the time. Kenny was already a young adult, but he grew into the most magnificent man, spear-heading his own entertainment company.

I loved all those sentimental articles of clothing throughout the years like they were my own, but perhaps the best part of the “The Perfect Pair of Pants (boyfriend style)” is this: I don’t have to try to squeeze into someone else’s fit, I can finally have my own and that’s why they’re one of my favorite things.

Shireen Sandoval Koko Palenki

Blog wardrobe available at www.kokopalenki.com 
Twitter @KokoPalenki  
IG KokoPalenki 
FB Koko Palenki 

Twitter @ShireenSandoval 
IG @ShireenSandoval 
FB Shireen Sandoval 

photography by tod p/t4twophotography 
Twitter @todp_t4twophoto
IG @Tod_p 

Editor: Matthew Auerbach 

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox