Skip to Content

What Are Chino Pants?

Chino pants are an essential addition to your wardrobe. Stylish and fashionable, they can go from office to night-out in the blink of an eye. But, how can chinos be both smart and casual at the same time? What are chino pants?

Chinos are lightweight pants traditionally made from cotton twill. The pants are fitted through the thighs and taper inwards towards the ankle. They are versatile and adaptable garments suitable for casual and formal wear. Since the late 1800s, chinos are now worn by both men and women as a popular men’s wear item.

In this article, we’ll take a look at chino pants in detail, from their military history to their present-day status as a wardrobe essential. Read on to find out how and when to wear your chino pants.

What Are Chino Pants?

What Are Chino Pants

Chino pants are a lightweight and comfortable alternative to jeans and formal suit trousers. Made from a cotton twill fabric, they are semi-fitted, making them ideal for casual and formal occasions. Hugging the hips and thighs, they have a gentle taper through the leg, which ends in a close-fitting ankle.

Incredibly flattering for any body shape, chino pants have been part of men’s fashion since the end of the 19th Century. Over time they have become a popular wardrobe stable affectionately known as chinos.

Originally, they were introduced as military apparel worn by Americans fighting in the Spanish-American war of the late 1800s. The war took place in the hot climatic conditions of the South Pacific. Because of this, military uniforms needed to adapt to the warmer temperatures experienced in the region.

The army needed to re-think their uniform strategy. They were looking for a long-lasting, durable fabric that wouldn’t be too hot to wear in the tropics. The answer was a cotton twill weave.

It’s no secret that cotton is one of the best materials you can wear in warm weather. This is because of its breathability and cooling properties. Another advantage is It’s an incredibly durable fabric.

When woven into a twill weave, cotton is one of the strongest fabrics you can get. So much so, people have been working in cotton twill fabrics for generations. When you think of manual labor, what’s the first fabric that springs to mind? Chances are you thought denim, the most famous twill weave fabric on the planet.

Denim is a bit too heavy for the tropics, so a lightweight twill weave fabric was imported from China and turned into a lighter, slimline version of denim pants. These days we would probably have called it denim-lite, but back then, soldiers came up with something a little closer to the situation they found themselves in.

They were fighting the Spanish, wearing pants made from Chinese fabric. What better name could they come up with, other than chinos? In Spanish, Chinos translates as Chinese men. Now, it isn’t known for certain that is the reason behind the name, but it sounds plausible and makes sense.

Modern-day chinos can be worn anywhere. Team them with a baggy t-shirt, and you have a casual look for a walk in the park. Wear them with a dress shirt and smart pair of shoes, and you’re all set for the office. This versatility makes chinos ideal for any eventuality and makes them a perfect fit for a capsule wardrobe.

What Are Chinos Made Of?

What Are Chinos Made Of

Traditionally chinos were made from a cotton twill weave. To this day, cotton twill is still the defining factor in a pair of chino pants. It’s hard to beat the cooling comfort provided by 100% cotton in a twill weave.

We’re in the 21st century and fabric design has come a long way since chinos were first introduced. Designers and fabric manufacturers are developing new and improved materials all the time.

Although it is hard to imitate the full benefits of traditional cotton twill with a synthetic fabric, it’s getting there. You can now find chinos made from a polyester-spandex blend. This option increases the stretch and comfort of the pants. It also improves the overall ultraviolet protection of the fabric.

Adding a touch of bamboo fiber, which is semi-synthetic, can add breathability to a polyester fabric. Making synthetic chino pants a more viable option than in the past.

Why Are Chinos So Popular?

It has to be said, even in today’s world of fast fashion. Men get short-changed on their clothing choices. Expressing your individuality through style can be limited when all you have to choose from are shirts and pants.

As everyone loves to be comfortable in their clothes, including men, chinos perform an important task. They bridge the gap between casual and formal wear, giving men a refreshing change from wearing jeans or suit pants.

Chinos offer a stylish yet practical option to the age-old problem of being comfortable and looking smart at the same time. You can go seamlessly from the boardroom to the bar in chinos and not look out of place. This is the reason they are so popular.

Not only that, but the classic style and cut synonymous with chino pants make them fit better. They enhance and streamline the silhouette of any body shape. Whether you’re tall or short, chinos will make you look good.

Are Chinos Considered Smart or Casual?

What are chinos

The truth is, chinos can be both smart and casual. As the pants come in a range of colors, they can adapt to any situation.

Slight alterations in how you wear your chinos can change how they look. Turning the bottom hem and wearing them with sneakers creates a relaxed beach look. The same pants with the hem turned down and dress shoes would be perfect for the office or a business meeting.

That’s the key with chinos. What you wear them with and how you style them will carry you through the day. Some colors work better in some situations. A pair of chinos in black, for instance, will work better for black tie events. But overall, a simple change of shirt or shoes can uplift or dress down your ensemble.

Buying Chinos to Fit You and the Occasion

With so many different brands, styles, and colors of chinos available, it can be tricky to pick the perfect pair for you. Some chinos can be too tight or too short. So what should you watch out for to ensure you get a great fit?

Let’s take a look at the points you need to keep in mind when buying your next pair. Follow these top tips and you’ll be looking fantastic in chinos whatever occasion you’re wearing them for.


The first thing you need to get right is the fit. A badly fitting pair of chinos isn’t going to do much for your street cred.

You need to make sure the waist is not too tight. The last thing you want to be doing is unbuttoning the waistband so you can sit down. Chinos should rest lightly on your waist, just enough to not fall.

Pay particular attention to your thighs. A slim, thigh-hugging fit is fine. But don’t overdo it! Your chinos shouldn’t be stretched so tight they risk tearing like the Incredible Hulk’s.

Next up are your hips. It’s important to make sure you can bend, sit, walk, and generally move around freely. Try the chinos on and test them by walking and bending. If they catch or feel too tight, they are the wrong size for you.

The length of your chinos is a personal choice. It’s also down to what you want your chinos for. The ankle-skimming style can create a chic and relaxed persona for a casual approach. Slightly longer pant legs, you’re a professional entrepreneur with a no-nonsense vibe.


Although chinos can be worn to any event or occasion, some styles are better suited to formal attire than others. As chinos can be purchased in a range of colors, with or without a multitude of pockets, the style you buy is just as important as the fit.

Too many pockets, for instance, can portray an image of being over casual. Particularly if they are bright yellow and you are going to an important meeting with your boss.

A more somber color like dark green or navy blue would look better and enhance your professionalism rather than your fun side. Overly bright colors can cause a mismatch between what you are trying to achieve and the impression you are making.

Don’t get me wrong, having a fun side is fantastic, but there is a time and place to show it off. Make sure your chinos help you send the right message for the right occasion. You’ll look confident and in control if they match the situation.

Are Chinos Business Casual?

Are Chinos Business Casual

Chinos are the perfect match for business casual. This is where you can look smart yet still embrace your inner self’s fun and style. Better still, you can do so in comfort. Chinos are cool to wear and stretchy enough to allow free movement even if you are sitting in an office chair all day.

It’s easy to comply with the office dress code in a pair of chinos. Particularly if you team them with a suit jacket and smart pair of office shoes, even in offices where the dress code is more relaxed, a smart shirt and a pair of loafers can also lift your chinos into the realm of business casual.

Best Chinos Brand

Chinos are such an integral part of fashion, especially for men. Because of this, many manufacturers who make men’s clothing have chinos in their portfolios.

This can make finding the perfect chinos for you a lot easier. It can also make it a bit harder. How do you know you’re getting value for money? In this section, we’ll look at some of the top brand names in the chino world.


The Dockers brand was introduced in 1986 by Levi Strauss & Co. Already a well-known producer of denim products, you know you are buying quality when your garments are linked to Levi’s name.

These days Dockers are one of the industry leaders in business casual clothing. Originally producing garments for men, they started producing a women’s range of clothing in 1987.

Banana Republic

Founded in 1978 by a husband and wife team, Banana Republic is an American clothing and accessories retailer. Their parent company is Gap Inc.

The Banana Republic is well-known for selling high-end quality garments. Appealing directly to the fashion-conscious in any body shape or type, they are a household name for casual style that embraces inclusion.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is a world-famous American designer. The Ralph Lauren Corporation has been offering high-quality designer clothing since 1967. These days their clothing collections cater to men, women, and children.

As well as being a designer of fashion, Ralph Lauren is also highly regarded in the world of designer furnishings. With a focus on sculptured forms and rich, opulent fabrics, the furnishing range is timeless and refined.

Simply hearing the Ralph Lauren name conjures images of quality, finesse, and style, seeing the clothing cements those ideas into reality.

Old Navy

Old Navy is another American clothing and accessories retailer. Like the Banana Republic, they come under the umbrella of the Gap Inc. corporation. They sell clothing both online and in brick and mortar stores as a retailer.

Chinos from Old Navy are stylish and practical but tend to run a little cheaper than some of the other names on this list. The Old Navy brand is synonymous with affordable and inclusive fashion.

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss is a luxury fashion company based in Germany. Their headquarters are in Metzingen and the company is more commonly known as Boss. They have been producing clothing since 1923.

Although the company has a slightly checkered past, thanks to the 1930s and 40s, they are known for quality designer garments and sustainable styles.

Khakis vs Chinos: What’s the Difference?

Khakis vs chinos

The difference between khakis and chinos is down to the weave, cut, and color selection. Khakis are made from a heavier twill weave and are normally sandy-brown. They can have pleated fronts. Chinos are a lighter twill weave available in a range of colors. They don’t have pleats.

Internal stitching gives chinos a more refined look. The external stitching on khakis creates more of a working pant feel. Coupled with the heavier weight of the fabric, khakis are more suitable for relaxed or casual wear. The kind of event you can wear your jeans to.

Confusingly, khaki, which is a dusty brown color, is one of the shades chinos can be found in. Khakis, the pants, are normally always khaki in color. Although you can find khaki pants in other shades, the range is considerably limited compared to chinos.

What to Wear With Chinos?

What to Wear With Chinos

Chinos are versatile and adaptable pants that can suit any occasion. What you wear with your chinos can take them from a day at the park to a day at the office. All you have to do is dress them up or down. To do that, you need to think about accessories and the style of chinos you own.

There is no right or wrong way to wear chinos. Whether you wear them with turnups or without is entirely up to you. So too is the color you choose. Your choices are limited only by your personal preference and the look you want to achieve.

For some occasions, though, there are some looks that don’t fit the situation. Wearing the wrong outfit can make your chinos look tacky rather than chic. Let’s take a look at some style suggestions so you can get the best out of your chino’s, whatever the event you wear them to.


Of all the accessories you can wear with chinos, your shoes will set the tone of your outfit more than anything else. Sneakers, for instance, are the epitome of relaxed and casual. Suitable for the beach or park. This is a dress-down mode.

For a more formal occasion, like a business meeting or wedding, you should be looking at pairing your chinos with dress shoes or smart loafers. You’ll portray a smarter, more professional image.


Chinos can be worn with the hem of the legs turned up or turned down. That’s one of the great things about chinos. Wearing them differently makes them look like a different pair of pants.

Turn-ups are perfect for your trip down to the beach wearing your sneakers or even tennis shoes. To be taken seriously at work, wear your hems down, so they touch your smart office shoes.


Everything looks fantastic when paired with chino pants. From the distressed t-shirt, or muscle-back tank top, to the button-up shirt for a night out on the town.

Your choice of the top will take your chinos from playtime to worktime. Stick with button up or dress shirts for formal events. Keep your tees and tank tops for chilling with your friends.

Blazer or Suit Jacket

Blazers and suit jackets work with chinos like they do with jeans. Adding a jacket to turned-up chinos, paired with a t-shirt and sneakers, you’re the relaxed super-cool man about town.

Smart shoes and a dress shirt worn under a tailored suit jacket uplift your whole persona. Now, you’re the professional businessman, confident and in control.


While style and accessories are important, you also need to pay attention to color. Chinos can be found in most of the colors of the rainbow and every shade in between.

The thing is, color sends subliminal messages to those around you. Different shades are associated with different emotions. Red, for instance, is dangerous, and blue is cool.

You’ll get a better reception at a job interview if your chinos are black, navy blue, or dark brown. These colors are associated with professionalism and confidence, especially if you team the chinos with smart shoes and a suit jacket.

Any color will work for a fun night out or a walk around town. To embrace your individuality and tune in to your fun-loving personality, give some of the lighter pastel shades a try.

Can Women Wear Chinos?

Can Women Wear ChinosYes, chinos can be worn by women. The style and tailoring of chino pants designed for women tend to be slightly different from men’s chinos. This allows for the changes in shape between a male and female outline, particularly around the hips.

Women’s chinos tend to be more figure-hugging. Because of this, you’re less likely to find a 100% cotton twill chino for women. The addition of spandex gives greater flexibility and allows for a better fit.

Women don’t have to stick with chinos designed specifically for them. Traditional chino styling is universally popular with all members of society, regardless of size or shape. As a garment, they are fairly gender-neutral. Simply choose the style you like best.


Chino pants are comfortable, flattering, and stylish. They can be worn to any event and look great on everyone. They truly are a versatile and essential part of any wardrobe, regardless of gender, shape, or size.

If you only have space for one pair of pants in your closet, make sure they are chinos. These are the only style of pants you’ll ever need.

Do you own a pair of chinos? Has this article encouraged you to try some out? Let me know in the comments.