When it comes to men’s pants, chinos are one of the most popular styles around. They’re versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the formality of any occasion.
However, some guys can become confused by chinos. Are they slacks? Are they formal pants? Are they somewhere in between?
As ever, I’ve got you covered. In this guide, we will take a look at what chinos are, how to buy them, and some of the different styles that are available. We’ll also cover some tips on how to wear them in different social settings.
So whether you’re looking for your next pair of go-to pants or just want to learn more about chinos, read on and take note as we cover:
- What Are Chino Pants For Men?
- What Are Chino Pants For Men Made From?
- The History Of Men’s Chino Pants
- Cheap Vs. Expensive Chino Pants For Men
- Where To Buy Men’s Chino Pants
- How To Style Men’s Chino Pants
What Are Chino Pants For Men?
As I mentioned earlier – a lot of guys get confused when talking about chinos. To be honest, most men don’t actually know the definition of chino pants and start making mistakes as a result.
Simply put, chinos are men’s trousers that are lightweight, tapered, and made from cotton or a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. However, to break this down even further, we need to look at the finer details.
What’s the Difference Between Chinos and Khakis?
Here’s a question you’ll see on every menswear forum out there — just what’s the difference between khakis and chinos?
Unfortunately, most places try to answer the question by diving into the history of the two words. And while that’s interesting, it doesn’t actually help someone who’s shopping for dress-casual trousers.
So here’s your definitive answer, insofar as there is one. Manufacturers and advertisers have strayed from these boundaries enough that you’ll have to take this with a big old grain of salt, but broadly speaking here are the differences:
- Khakis are thick, straight-legged, and typically pleated (although plain fronts are available from most brands these days). They have cuffs at the bottom hems.
- Chinos are lightweight, tapered so that they narrow as they go lower on the leg, and can be either cuffed or uncuffed. They are generally flat-fronted.
- Both styles are made from cotton twill, and are traditionally dyed somewhere in between a very pale cream color and a dark tan.
Of the two, khakis are more toward the sturdy work-wear end of things, while chinos are lighter and a bit dressier.
Now, are you going to find exceptions to these rules? Of course you are.
Manufacturers have been labeling any old cotton dress trousers as either one of these words, or sometimes as both, for years. It’s entirely possible to find something being sold as “khaki chinos.”
So don’t take any of this as gospel. There’s no real guarantee that chinos from Brand A are going to be lighter and dressier than khakis from Brand B. You’ll have to look at specific types of pants, see what their materials and details look like for yourself.
But in general – khakis, sturdy and utilitarian. Chinos, lighter and a bit dressier. Khakis will look more blocky; chinos more streamlined. Or at least that’s the theory.
What’s The Difference Between Chinos And Dress/Suit Trousers?
The common thread between chinos and dress/suit trousers is that they’re both made from cotton. However, there are some more specific features that you’ll want to look out for if you want to tell the difference between them.
Chinos are often lightweight, tapered towards the ankle, and either cuffed or uncuffed. On the other hand, men’s dress/suit trousers tend to have less of a taper and can be made from a wider variety of materials.
While chinos pants for men are usually made from cotton twill or a blend of synthetic and natural fibers, men’s dress/suit trousers are almost always made from a cotton-wool blend (or sometimes linen).
Finally – men’s chino pants look more casual than dress/suit trousers thanks to their softer, more laid-back appearance.
What’s The Difference Between Chinos And Jeans?
Chinos and jeans are different in many ways. For starters, men’s jeans are typically made from heavier denim fabric with more texture and structure than chinos.
Chinos, on the other hand, are usually made from lighter cotton twill or a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. They also tend to have a softer drape than jeans and can be either cuffed or uncuffed.
Jeans often come in darker washes such as navy blue, charcoal gray, olive green, etc., while chinos for men are generally available in lighter earth tones.
In terms of when to wear each style – men’s chino pants are considered dress-casual trousers so they’re perfect for smart-casual occasions like brunch or dinner parties. Jeans are a bit more informal and should be worn when the dress code isn’t strict.
What Are Chino Pants For Men Made From?
I’ve mentioned multiple times now that chino pants for men are made from lighter cotton twill or a blend of synthetic and natural fibers… but what exactly does this mean and how does it affect the wearability of this style of garment?
Cotton twill is a sturdy and durable type of fabric. It’s made from tightly woven threads which makes it resistant to tearing and wear-and-tear. Chinos also tend to have less drape than other men’s trousers due to their cotton twill construction.
As for the blend of synthetic and natural fibers – this is usually used in order to give chinos pants for men an extra bit of stretch or comfort. The synthetic part (typically elastane) works together with the natural cotton to provide a garment that fits close to your body shape but gives you enough freedom of movement when you’re wearing them during everyday activities.
If you’re a fan of slimmer-fit trousers, then buying a pair of chinos with a more stretchy construction is definitely a good idea so that you can get a comfortable and flattering fit.
A Quick History of Chinos
Much of the confusion between khakis and chinos can be traced to the origin of the latter style: “chinos” were khakis, of a sort.
Chino cloth was a lightweight twill weave from China (hence the name). The British and French military were both using chino to make their khaki uniform trousers by the latter half of the 19th century.
When American soldiers serving in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war needed uniform trousers, they found it cheaper and quicker to import from China rather than the United States. Their trousers were made simple and tapered, without pleated fronts, to save on cloth costs, resulting in a smooth, simple style.
The same basic style was used for uniform trousers during World War One, and returning soldiers from both wars brought them into civilian settings. University students in particular took to chinos after WWI, and they have been part of the fashion landscape ever since.
So why are they called khakis? Here’s your basic breakdown: khakis originated as a broad category of military trousers, and one specific subset of them evolved into chinos. Buyers have been confused ever since!
Read more about military inspired pieces of men’s clothing here.
Cheap Vs. Expensive Chino Pants For Men
So what’s the difference between cheap and expensive chino pants for men?
Good question – after all, with many garments nowadays, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.
However, when it comes to men’s chino pants, there are certain perks to buying a slightly pricier pair. Generally speaking, they tend to be made from higher quality fabrics with more attention paid to the details (such as fit and stitching).
Cheap Vs. Expensive Chino Fabric
Cheaper chino fabrics are usually made from a cotton twill blend with a lower thread count. While you’d still get the same basic look and feel as higher quality fabrics, they tend to be less durable and may not fit as well as more expensive options.
On the other hand, if you have the budget for it – splurging on a pair of men’s chinos that are made from 100% cotton twill or cotton poplin will ensure that you get a garment that is breathable, comfortable, and looks great.
Cheap Vs. Expensive Chino Construction
In terms of construction, cheaper chinos tend to be made with thinner, lighter fabrics and fewer details (such as pleats or belt loops). Meanwhile, higher end men’s chinos usually come with a better fit due to their sturdier construction.
They also often feature additional features such as pocket linings, button-down fastenings, and reinforced seams so that they can last longer and look better.
Cheap Vs. Expensive Chino Production
While not always the case, it’s common for more expensive chinos to be made more ethically than cheaper garments. This means that they may be produced in factories that pay workers a fair wage, use eco-friendly fabrics, and comply with other ethical production standards.
Not only does that mean your chinos will have a smaller ethical footprint, it also means that they’ll likely be better-made thanks to the better working conditions in which they were produced! After all, a happy worker is a better worker.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to men’s chino pants, there are definitely advantages to purchasing higher quality pieces – but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank! Consider your budget, your lifestyle, and what kind of occasions where you’ll be wearing the chinos before making a purchase. That way you can find the perfect blend of style, comfort, and value for money! Good luck with finding your new favorite pair of chinos!
Where To Buy Men’s Chino Pants
You won’t be surprised to hear that most men’s clothing companies produce chino pants. However, for men’s chinos that are really worth their price tag, there are a few retailers you should take note of.
High-End Italian Chinos For Men: Tom Ford
Anyone who’s interested in men’s style knows how stylish (but expensive) Tom Ford’s clothing lines can be.
When it comes to staple menswear pieces, their chinos are no exception. Their chinos come in a range of colors, cuts, and fabrics to suit men of all styles. However, expect to pay a minimum of $700 for a single pair – a price tag that many men would consider completely out of the question!
So what do you get for that higher price tag? What makes Tom Ford chinos better than a mid-range pair from Ralph Lauren?
Well, as with any high-end men’s fashion designer, you’re paying for the craftsmanship and quality of the material. Tom Ford chinos are made from a superior quality cotton twill that is designed to last longer and feel softer than cheaper alternatives.
The stitching on these chinos is impeccable, so you can be sure that your trousers won’t come apart at the seams after just a few wears.
Mid-Range Chinos For Men: Ralph Lauren
If Tom Ford’s prices aren’t exactly in your budget but you still want a great pair of men’s chinos then take a look at Ralph Lauren.
Ralph Lauren men’s chinos come in a range of styles, cuts, and fabrics – from classic men’s khaki chino pants to slim-fit navy blue chino trousers.
They tend to be made from a heavier-weight cotton twill that is both durable and comfortable but won’t cost you an arm and a leg like Tom Ford does.
Not to mention, many of Ralph Lauren men’s chinos also have pleats that add a touch of sophistication to your look – making them perfect for wearing to the office or out on the town!
Affordable Everyday Chinos For Men: Uniqlo
Their men’s chino pants come in a variety of colors and styles, as well as fits (including slim fit). The best part? They are incredibly affordable! Uniqlo is the perfect option for men on a budget who still want to look great in their chinos.
The great thing about Uniqlo is their quality-to-cost ratio. Not only are their men’s chino pants incredibly affordable, but they are also made from high-quality cotton twill fabric that is designed to stand up to everyday wear and tear. Plus, many of their chinos have pleats for a more sophisticated look.
How To Style Men’s Chino Pants
As you’ve undoubtedly established by now – chinos are pretty darn versatile! Which is both a positive and a negative depending on how you look at it.
As a positive, it means that chinos can be worn with almost any men’s wardrobe. Whether you’re wearing a casual t-shirt, an Oxford button-down shirt and blazer, or just a simple polo shirt – chinos will look great!
But it can also be overwhelming to figure out how to style them in the best way possible. So here are some tips to help!
How To Wear Chinos With A Blazer
The key to wearing men’s chino pants with a blazer is making sure that the fit of the chinos isn’t too tight or too loose. If it’s too tight, it will look uncomfortable and if it’s too loose it will look sloppy.
When it comes to color, there are two ways to approach chinos and a blazer. You can either match the color of your chinos and blazer exactly or opt for a complimenting color. If you’re feeling bold, you can even wear patterned chino pants – like checked or plaid pants – with a solid-colored blazer.
Whatever you do, make sure that the fit is just right and your look will be complete!
How To Wear Chinos With An Oxford Shirt
The key to wearing men’s chino pants with an Oxford shirt is making sure that the fit of both items is spot-on. The chinos should be slightly tapered and not too tight, while the Oxford shirt should fit snugly around your neck and shoulders without being too baggy or restrictive.
To keep the look casual – skip the tie and unbutton the collar of the Oxford shirt. The great thing about men’s chino pants and Oxford shirts is that they come in a variety of colors – so you have plenty of options to choose from.
When it comes to footwear, office-casual men’s dress shoes (like loafers or brogues) work best. White sneakers can also look good too, just make sure they’re minimal in design and clean!
How To Wear Chinos With A Casual T-Shirt
When it comes to men’s chino pants and casual t-shirts, the key is to keep things simple. Chinos should be tapered and slightly fitted (not too tight or loose) and t-shirts should fit snugly without being too baggy or restrictive.
As for color choice – you can go with a classic white t-shirt and navy chinos. Nothing says timeless and stylish like this classic men’s look! However, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous – try pairing chinos with a brightly-colored t-shirt or one with a fun graphic or pattern.
When it comes to footwear – anything goes! From sneakers to boat shoes and loafers – they will all work nicely with men’s chino. Just make sure that your footwear is clean and suit the formality of the occasion you’re attending!
FAQs: Chino Pants For Men
What’s the difference between chinos and khakis?
While they’re often confused, khakis are generally a color, and khaki pants are a style of casual, cotton trousers. Chinos refer to a style of lightweight, often colored or patterned trousers.
How should chinos fit?
Chinos should fit comfortably around your waist without a belt. They should be slim around the thighs, not too tight, and taper slightly towards the ankle.
Can chinos be worn in all seasons?
Absolutely! Chinos are great year-round. You can choose lighter colors and fabrics for spring and summer, and thicker, darker chinos for fall and winter.
Are chinos suitable for business casual attire?
Yes, they are perfect for business casual. Pair them with a crisp button-up shirt and a blazer or smart sweater for a professional look.
Can I wear a belt with chinos?
Yes, a belt can add a nice touch to chinos, especially if you’re tucking in your shirt. Choose a belt that complements the color of your shoes.
Can I wear chinos to a wedding?
For a casual wedding, definitely. Pair them with a dress shirt and a sport coat to elevate your look.
Is it okay to roll up the hem of chinos?
Yes, cuffing the hem can give a more casual, relaxed look, especially in warmer weather or with casual footwear.
Can chinos be altered easily?
Yes, they can be tailored for a perfect fit just like any other trousers. It’s especially common to adjust the length.
How do I choose the right color of chinos?
Consider your existing wardrobe and choose colors that will complement it. Neutral colors like beige, navy, and grey are versatile and easy to match.
Can I wear chinos with a tuxedo jacket?
It’s not traditional, but for a modern, eclectic look, you can pair slim-fit chinos with a tuxedo jacket for creative semi-formal events.
Are chinos appropriate for a job interview?
For most business casual interviews, yes. Pair them with a smart shirt and maybe a blazer, depending on the company culture.
Should chinos be ironed?
Yes, to maintain a crisp look, especially for dressier occasions, it’s a good idea to iron your chinos.
Can I wear patterned chinos?
Absolutely! Just balance them with a solid-colored shirt to avoid clashing patterns.