Men’s Chino Pants: All You Need To Know

Sometimes the convenience of falling into a pair of denim jeans at the weekend or before an evening out is too much for anyone to resist. Comfort and durability are combined in what has become the default uniform of the modern world. Nevertheless the next contender for ease, comfort and possibly better style are common cotton men’s chino pants.

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What Are Chino Pants?

Men's Chino Pants amazon
Amazon Essentials Men’s Slim-Fit Wrinkle-Resistant Flat-Front Chino Pant

Made from soft cotton twill, men’s chino pants are an American favourite that have spread throughout the world with good reason. The tan colour is neither too casual nor too formal and suitable for all seasons.

What to buy

Skinny chino pants have been a recent trend that we would not advise to anyone old enough to shave. However, a slim cut can really enhance the figure. Ironing creases are of course preferable but this is not common and the cotton struggles to hold this shape. Instead, focus on finding a cut that is not too baggy or too low rise. 

In terms of length a shorter leg can be very effective, ending just at the top of the shoe. For the more traditionally minded go for the usual heel-length with a break at the ankle like a normal suit. As for the best chino brand the vast difference in styles means this is largely a matter of personal taste.

Men's Chino Pants
Men’s Flannel-Lined Slim Chino Pants – Goodfellow & Co™

The wide variety of colours available is certainly to be taken advantage of. Reds, pinks, greens and blues are easy ways to break the monotony of tan. White and black are both very effective and flexible with multiple outfits.

How to Wear Men’s Chino Pants

Generally jeans and chinos have the same guidance, so if you are confident with one the transition is quite simple.

The Shoes:

With tan chinos it is best to stick to brown loafer-style shoes or casual coloured shoes in suede or canvas.

These demonstrate that with dressing down there is no need to lose beautiful works of craftsmanship, and these will become more of a statement with slim chinos showing the full shoe.

With any other colour of chino the choice is more complex and requires consideration of the colour palette of your outfit. This does not need to be as complex as it sounds but does take practice. For the purposes of this article just consider standard outfit pairing principles.

If coloured chinos are the accent colour then match them to your pocket square while the jacket, shoes and shirt are more subdued neutral colours. With plain tan chinos the jacket and shoes can be a bolder colour like burgundy.

Wear a belt:

Strictly speaking this should be brown if it matches your shoes. This was the classic ‘casual’ colour when work and casual or formal and informal were more binary terms. If you have opted for coloured shoes then just match the belt to the trousers for a look that is both casual and stylish.

Wear socks:

Along with the rise of the cropped trouser leg, abandoning socks has become a prominent trend with casual trousers. This not only looks out of place with sturdy shoes but reduces their longevity. Moccasin and slipper style ’driving’ shoes are fine without socks, implying leaving home for a gentle local saunter, but these are the only exceptions. The cropped trouser should only allow around half an inch of sock to be seen so plain black is fine but feel free to create an accent by matching them to your pocket square.

Rolling chinos:

The guidance on the cropped leg applies the same to rolling chinos which makes a very relaxed look and therefore should not be taken above the ankle.

Can you wear chinos with a suit jacket?

Not a suit jacket but a sports jacket or blazer certainly.  Again, try to avoid matching these items as no matter how close a colour you find they will always be a different dye batch, texture and tone. Besides which, why wear chinos only to try and imitate a suit? Again the key is contrast, light with dark and suitably distanced colours.

The shirt:

Generally we advise the choice of shirt is best left to your personal preference, as anything from a white t-shirt, through check shirts to crisp double-cuff shirts can be worn well depending on your situation. The obvious ‘all-rounder’ would be a button down shirt in a light colour or white.

The tie:

While it is firmly agreed a tie should never be worn with jeans, no such rule applies to chinos. We would advise that if an event is of such code that ties are compulsory, chinos may not be recommendable in the first place unless worn with a navy blazer for a boat club or regatta style function. Straighter cut chinos will welcome a tie better than slimmer fits but the choice is largely open.

Alternative casual trousers

While jeans certainly have their place at both ends of the menswear spectrum from high fashion to DIY coverings, it remains that many casual trouser alternatives have been forgotten. If we consider the benefits of denim and chino cotton to be comfort, durability and flexibility with outfits and season, then the following may be easily substituted.

Corduroy and Moleskin are fabrics produced by weaving cotton fibres and cutting them so they fan out to form these relatives of velvet.  These may carry images of academics or daytime television dramas, but it remains that the soft, hardwearing fabric is widely available in many colours, from fine needle-cord to bulkier varieties. A set of trousers in deep burgundy will span the breadth of most wardrobes through tweed, navy blazers, light casual jackets, jumpers and simple shirts. A pair in blue will almost seamlessly replace the appearance of faded jeans with a luxurious texture in rich colour that can still be machine washed. For these we recommend traditional brown brogues for a quintessential look.

Plain wool trousers are also available and a set in black or dark brown will become a wardrobe favourite with a set of button braces. These require slightly more care as they are dry-clean only and will attract moths in the summer and so should be stored appropriately.

When to go smart casual

The etiquette of dress is more confusing than ever, largely due to the relaxation of codes generally. Many ‘black tie’ events are now interpreted as merely ‘wear a tie’.

Currently an outfit of chinos and blazer represents a popular fashion that is a universal outfit for parties, bars, walks, dinners and travel. This is definitely to be encouraged as effortless yet distinguished style.

Nevertheless, there are times when the simple formula of the suit cannot offend and this is one of the hard rules of thumb rather like whether or not to wear a tie. Events such as weddings may well be a chance to stand out with a relaxed yet elegant look.

However, there is an element of risk management with any important occasion. At this point one must step back and consider if it is worth turning up avant-garde only to stand out as a poseur or instead retreat into conformity and don a plain dark suit and tie. Only one of these ensures the satisfaction of you, your host and future viewers of the photographs.

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