The Chino Pants Rules Most Guys Break
I see a boatload of guys making the following mistakes, so I want you to be aware of them:
- Do not wear or own black chino pants. You’ll look like a waiter or valet guy.
- Chinos are not dress pants or trousers. They’re the middle ground between casual and formal and should not be worn for anything above a business casual event.
- Unless you know what you’re doing, stick to pairing them with a polo or dress shirt, v-neck sweater, or harrington jacket. Pairing them with a blazer or suit jacket will go horribly wrong if you’re not sure about what you’re doing.
- Chinos should be worn with a quarter or no break. They can even be worn at ankle length in some cases, but never, ever longer than a quarter break.
- Chino pants do not have extra pockets on the legs, hammer loops, stitching, etc. Those aren’t chinos, no matter what their name says.
- Don’t wear pleated chinos. See the pleats section below for an explanation of why you should never wear them.
- Pressed creases on the legs are the devil’s work. Don’t ever buy them like this or add them yourself.
- The same goes for pre-cuffed hems. Don’t wear them, please. You can roll the cuff later on, but don’t buy the ones that come pre-cuffed.
- To see more style mistakes that men make and how to fix them, click here.
What are Chinos?
The word “chino” means “toasted” and is derived from Latin American Spanish. Chino pants are named after the cotton twill fabric they’re constructed from, often called Chino Cloth. Another distinguishing characteristic is that chino pants will also usually have side-loading pockets, which are different than the traditional front or top-loading pockets as traditionally found on jeans.
Khaki vs Chino
In the most simple terms possible: Khaki is a shade of brown. Chino is a type of pants and called this because they’re usually made from Chino cloth.
The original khaki (light brown) is the traditional and most popular color, but chinos are come in many shades. See my color preferences for men below.
To pleat or not to pleat
As I said in my wool trouser article, I frickin’ hate pleats with a passion.
I don’t care how old or young you are or what your body type is – whether you’re thin or a larger guy, you should NEVER, EVER have pleated chino pants. Honestly, I f*#@%ing hate them because they’re so unnecessary and are unflattering on every guy. I’ll be the first to dance on their grave if they ever completely go away. I’ve never seen a guy look good while wearing them – ever.
To Cuff & Crease or Not
You can, and sometimes should, cuff or roll up chino pants. But don’t ever buy a pair of chinos that are pre-cuffed. It’ll be very hard to get that crease out and the hem will likely be very thick, which won’t look that great.
As for creasing the front the of leg, if you’re looking at a pair of chinos that’s creased like this, run for the hills! They should never be creased like dress pants because… repeat after me: They’re not dress pants.
What colors should you get?
You should at least have two colors of chinos because they’ll pair well with all the other items in your Essential Wardrobe. A quick note about colors: Whatever you do, make sure the colors you choose are not too shiny or glossy looking. You’ll know it when you see it. You want a more matte finish to your chinos.
- Sand – I prefer this lighter brown/tan color than the darker, flatter khaki color. Some brands will call sand colored pants khaki, so just go for lighter brown colors regardless of what the brand calls them. The model in the image at the top of this article is wearing, what I’d consider, the perfect sand color. Shoot for something similar.
- Navy – Whatever you do, just don’t get such a dark navy that it looks black. That’s a big no-no. The navy in my first “Best Ways To Wear” image below is what I’m talking about.
If you already own these colors and want to add more, then go for gray/charcoal or an olive color. If you want to try other colors, just make sure you understand what colors work best with your skin tone.
The Best Chino Pants For Your Body Type
Slim or Regular Build
You’ll want to get a “Slim” fit chino pant that will hug the thighs, knees, and calves while tapering down from your knee to ankle.
A lot of my slim & regular built clients initially believe this style will make them look too skinny. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that they’re used to wearing super baggier clothes to try and hide their slimness, which, coincidentally, just makes them look slimmer. A proper fitting pair of chino pants just looks right, regardless of your build, and doesn’t make you look one way or another – I promise.
Determining the ideal cut of your chinos depends on your physique.
If you’re a heftier guy or have larger thighs, I recommend a straight leg chino. It will give your body a trim, well-proportioned appearance. Slim fit chinos that taper slightly in the leg will make you look somewhat imbalanced—giving you a top-heavy look with skinny legs. Unless you’re on the shorter side, then a slight taper is OK, but under no other circumstances should your chinos be tapered.
The classic “Straight-Leg” fit is perfect for you. No matter a man’s build, but especially in your case, it’s all about balancing your body’s proportions to make sure your bottom half complements your upper half. So stick to this cut of chinos for your physique and you’ll look fantastic.
HOW SHOULD MEN’S Chino Pants FIT?
See my Chino and Khaki Pants Fit Guide for details.
The Best Chino Pants for Men
I’m a huge fan of each of these designer’s chinos as the construction, quality, and fit are spot on. You won’t go wrong with any of these, but just remember to choose the right fit for your body type.
If you’re on a budget, all three of these are great. Each brand offers a few color choices, which are usually the typical khaki, navy, and gray. A great thing about Uniqlo is that they offer free hemming service so there’s no excuse to have your chinos be too long 🙂
Club Monaco Connor Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Twill Chinos (Ecru or Midnight Blue)
3 Ways to Wear Chino Pants
(Sunglass lenses sold separately)