Chinos should be a staple in any man’s wardrobe. No matter how much you dress jeans up, they will always appear casual due to their very nature. Chinos on the other hand, when worn with the right clothing will keep you looking stylish and get you into the most prestigious of clubs. They are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing that you can own and can be worn for a wide range of occasions, from dinner with your partner’s parents to a friend’s barbecue.

Chinos were originally designed for British and French military uniforms in the mid-19th century and were known as khakis, due to their light brown colour used. The chinos were made to be comfortable and hard-wearing for the soldiers wearing them. They gained popularity amongst the civilian population and have evolved into a fashionable item of clothing which can now be worn either casually or formally.

Coloured chinos
Source: Lemon Chutney

What to look for

When purchasing a pair of chinos, make sure to buy only those made of 100% cotton. Cotton is a breathable material, preventing you from sweating profusely in summer and allowing your skin to breathe whilst keeping you warm in the winter. Well designed chinos will have four pockets, two on the front and two on the back. Use a measuring tape or visit a professional who is able to measure you to ensure that you avoid ruining your chinos due to having a poor fit. There are plenty of tailored fit chinos for those with a slimmer build and pleated can help those who have a slightly fuller figure.

Different Styles

Selected Homme Chino
Selected Homme: Red Chinos: £42.00. Source: Zalando

OK, this is important. There are various styles of chinos and it is important to understand that not one style is suitable for all looks you want to achieve.

Be careful when buying chinos by ensuring that they are appropriate for their intended use. They come in a wide range of styles from casual to smart, so make sure that they match the occasion. A smart shirt and blazer looks great with the right pair of chinos. Matched with a pair of casual chinos however would result in a noticeable mismatch.

How to wear: The Smart Look

Gant Butter Twill Navy Chinos
Gant: Butter Twill Navy Chinos: £70.00. Source: Gant

One of the main reasons why chinos have become so popular is due to the wide range of styles and colours available. The smart chinos will come in at a higher price than the more casual, high street chinos and will often be of a higher quality, both in terms of material used and the finish of the pair.

You are able to wear them during the week for business casual attire and can be paired with a dress shirt, blazer, tie and loafers. Other than loafers, chinos can be worn with a pair of brogues or Oxfords to perfectly finish your outfit and create a professional and stylish look that will be sure to impress in the office.

Smarter chinos can also be used in more casual styles as well, adding to their versatility. Be sure to avoid matching them with an overly casual look and never commit the sin of matching with sportswear such as trainers or hoodies. A pair in neutral, darker tones will pair well with a number of outfit combinations. Slimmer fitting chinos can be worn rolled up and without socks. To complete the look consider driving shoes, suede loafers or moccasins.

How to wear: The Casual Look

Jacks Wills Barberry Slim Fit Chino
Jacks Wills: Barberry Slim Fit Chino: £54.50. Source: Jack Wills

The more casual styles of chinos can be found on every high street store across the UK in a plethora of colours and have some very distinct differences from their smarter counterparts. The first noticeable variation will be in price. Whilst a smart pair of chinos will cost in the region of £70.00 and upwards, a casual pair from the high street will be closer to the £30.00 mark. This is due in part to the cheaper materials used.

For outside of work, casual chinos can be worn to create the perfect casual look. We would suggest consider pairing them with an Oxford shirt, t-shirt or polo shirt. If you are feeling adventurous, a great tip is to roll up the chinos and pair with Converse trainers.

Due to the fit of the casual pairs, which tend to sit lower than smarter pairs, be sure to avoid wearing them with more formal pieces such as dress shoes or smart blazers and stick to the more traditional clothing options out there.


Final Thoughts

Unlike jeans which are always associated as a casual piece of clothing, with limited options of styles and colours, chinos offer a world of opportunity for the fashion conscious male. You are able to choose from a range of different styles such as casual and formal, and also a multitude of colours. Chinos are able to be worn throughout the year, and a pair of smart chinos will stand you in good stead for a wide array of occasions. Just remember a few key points when purchasing yours, including the importance of getting the right style for the look you want to achieve and getting the right fit.

Let us know your thoughts? Do you prefer chinos or jeans for achieving your casual look? And do you favour chinos in a smart look or think they should only be worn casually?