How to Style Chino Pants (Ultimate Guide)

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How to Style Chino Pants

Here is my definitive guide for choosing the perfect pair of chinos for men.

Why Do You Need Chinos?

Before I explain why you really need a pair of chinos, I should dispel the myth that chinos are only worn by dads.

You should carefully read this article if you’re one of the guys who thinks that jeans and jean shorts are the only types of pants a man needs.

I believe that every man, regardless of age or physical characteristics, needs at least one pair of chinos in his wardrobe.

The reason for this is that most guys don’t realize how much more versatile and comfy they really are.

Depending on the accessories you choose to wear them with, they may be effortlessly dressed up or down thanks to their sophisticated yet laid-back look. Actually, crewneck sweaters, Oxford shirts, and t-shirts all look great with chinos. Additionally, there are numerous different types of shoes.

In comparison to fabrics like denim and wool, they are also significantly softer and more breathable thanks to the lighter fabric.

This means that, in contrast to wool pants and jeans, you may comfortably wear them all year long.

Am I persuading you yet? Great!

What Are Chinos?

Let’s discuss what chinos are, and perhaps more significantly, what they are not.

Let’s start by dispelling the most common myth regarding chinos, which is that khakis are not chinos, once and for all.

You got that right.

Since the term “khaki” truly refers to a certain shade of brown, referring to your chinos as “khakis” is similar to referring to your jeans as “blues.”

Chinos are generally made from a sturdy cotton 12 fabric known as chino fabric, which gives them their name. Today, however, you can purchase versions manufactured from a variety of fabrics that allow for additional elasticity and weather protection.

The side loading pockets, which differ from the front or top loading j-shaped pockets typically found on other pants, such jeans, are the chinos’ most distinguishing feature.

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Chinos shouldn’t have any of the following because they are not dress pants or trousers:

  • added pockets
  • hammer loops
  • additional stitching
  • pleats
  • purposeful creasing
  • pre-cuffed hems

I beg you to avoid any chinos if you find them to have any of these.

Chino Colors

Let’s talk a little bit about the specific colors you need to get for your chinos.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are more colors for chinos besides khaki and brown. They are actually available in just about every color you could pretty want.

But if it’s your first pair, I certainly suggest choosing a traditional light sand color. Since the lighter shade makes it possible to pair them with so many different colors, I personally prefer this shade over traditional khaki.

Then, I would advise choosing traditional neutral colors like navy and olive. Regardless of a man’s skin tone, this will look great.

Avoid white, though, as it can be challenging to carry off this look. If I wear white pants, I get them dirty in two seconds, I don’t know about you.

My best piece of advice is to pick a shade that complements your specific skin tone if you want to go for some more playful colors.

For instance, if your complexion is quite pale, stay away from red or pink since they would contrast with your skin’s pale complexion.

Black is the one color that I never recommend anyone to wear. Although the shade can look great with other types of pants like jeans, it really screams waiter with chinos, so avoid it at all costs.

Fit of Chinos

To get the perfect fit, there are a few things you must look out for while choosing your chinos.

First of all, like your jeans, your chino should be able to stay up without the need for a belt. In addition, the waist of your chino should sit a little lower than it would with a pair of suit pants, often somewhere between the middle and upper part of your hip bone.

Your chinos’ seat should just barely embrace your booty without being too baggy or too tight.

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The last thing you want is for them to sag like a pair of parachute pants down your butt. If so, either have them fitted or simply get a size smaller.

The fit should be a little looser around the leg than it is with your regular pair of jeans. On either side of your thigh, a b should ideally be able to pinch one to one and a half inches of fabric.

If you can grab any more than this, it might be best to just obtain a smaller size or a slimmer fit since hiring a tailor to correct this would be overpriced.

Always aim for a slight to no break in the length of the pant leg, and never opt for anything longer than a quarter break. This makes it possible to have a truly polished and put together appearance that works for almost every guy, regardless of his height or body type.

Type of Chinos

Speaking of body types, chinos are available in a variety of fits for you to choose from based on the unique shape of your body, much like your jeans.

You should always choose a slim fit chino if you happen to have a slim to average body. You don’t want them to be saggy in any manner. A excellent slim fit pair will gently embrace your thighs and taper from the knee to the ankle for a clean and fashionable appearance.

If you’re a bigger guy, you should always choose a chino with straight legs. In addition to being more comfortable, straight-leg chino will balance out your proportions and create your wider frame for a more aesthetically pleasing profile.

How to Wear Chinos

Chinos, as I mentioned before, are pretty the most versatile pants a guy can wear, but how exactly can you start combining them into your current collection to create fresh and fashionable outfits?

You can easily create together a casual yet classic look by pairing them with a neutral colored or striped t-shirt and a pair of white basic sneakers.

Simply replace the tee with a great Oxford linen or chambray shirt and perhaps the sneakers with some nice loafers, such as a leather penny loafer or a suede driving mock, if you want something a little more refined.

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Finally, add a bomber jacket over either of these looks for a straightforward yet chic ensemble that works practically year-round.

Pairing On Shoes With Chinos

But what if you wore chinos with the accessory that ultimately determined whether your ensemble worked or not? Now is the time to talk your shoes.

The good news is that your chinos may be worn with practically any type of shoe, depending on the color.

My standard choice is a pair of white leather sneakers. However, you could always choose a more casual canvas style, such as a pair of vintage Converse All-star low tops.

Chukkas, Chelsea, and lace-up boots, among other types, are all great choices.

If you want a slip-on shoe specifically for the summer, you may always choose loafers, boat shoes, or espadrilles, provided you wear no-show socks with them.

Pro tip

While we’re talking about summer, here’s a piece of advice.

In warm weather, one of my favorite ways to wear chinos is to just raise the leg cuffs one and a half to two inches to expose a small portion of the ankle. Simply said, it’s such a stylish and laid-back appearance, plus it spares you from having to have your chinos expertly trimmed by a tailor.

So you can easily uncuff them if you want to wear them safely throughout the fall or winter, which is unquestionably a time when you shouldn’t be showing your ankle.

chino pants guide


  • Christopher

    Christopher has 9+ years of experience as a creative fashion designer who stays current with the latest trends.

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