Few things capture the brash and bold spirit of East Coast trad more than a pair of go-to-hell pants. Born in New England vacation communities such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket during the 1950’s, go-to-hell pants exemplified the WASPy attitude of being well dressed and making sure that everyone else knew it. Wearing bright pants at the golf course had been common within these elite communities for decades, a practice that was made popular by pro-golfers who could afford to show off a little. Eventually the competitive nature of the game transferred over into rivalries about who could wear the most flashly pants. The pants also acted as a way for the wealthy upper class to distinguish themselves by wearing colors and patterns that no working class man would ever even consider wearing in the city. Pretty soon the pants spread throughout New England, with local stores constantly experimenting with increasingly more extreme fabrics to meet the demands of the trad community.
In 1976, prominent author and dandy Tom Wolfe coined the term “go-to-hell” in an Esquire article about country club communities and the preps that inhabit them. Wolfe explained that the pants were prevalent throughout these regions, as men paired them with their traditional navy blazers and OCBD’s making the pants nearly impossible to miss. Around the same time that Wolfe came out with his article larger menswear companies such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Ralph Lauren began producing their versions of the pants, making the pants a cornerstone in any traddy summer wardrobe. Nowadays, go-to-hell pants are available in everything from Nantucket Red to Forest Green as well as patterns such as floral and embroidered critters.