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What are Chinos? And How to Wear Them

Last Updated: September 29, 2021

Men’s pants are a wild world, full of different styles and materials battling for attention. These pants work with that outfit, but those pants won’t work with this; it all gets a little overwhelming.

But what if there was a pair of pants that could make all those troubles go away? Pants that fit in just about anywhere and never brag about it.

Made for war, but loved by all, chinos are just that—the pants that can do just about anything. Super pairable, usually neutral, and really damn comfortable. All of these make the chino unbeatable.

But what are chinos, exactly?

What are Chinos?

The chino is a cotton, sometimes cotton-synthetic hybrid, material pant that follows a twill pattern. They’re lightweight, breathable, and come in a wide variety of styles.

They usually have a neutral appearance, both in terms of style and colorways, and thus can be paired with a lot of different outfits. They’re a pair of pants that are welcome at the club and at your boss’s house for dinner.

They’re like jeans, just with a lot more options.

History of Chinos

Do you like the way a pair of military pants look?

Well, the chino is the same thing. In fact, chinos were originally designed for use by American soldiers for a more durable uniform starting in the 1800s. Since then both have evolved.

And yet Chinos and military pants largely still follow the same production techniques and materials. Thus, making them a testament to both our armed forces and the American spirit of innovation.

Their style and durability made them an easy no-brainer for civilians to adopt and soon appeared in people’s wardrobe rotations much like jeans.

Chino Characteristics

One of the most important aspects of the chino is the way it fits the body. Many pants don’t contour to the body’s natural shape. Chinos are different.

They have a more tailored look, often adding lines to your legs to make them appear longer. In addition, they usually taper out as the leg goes on. This makes for clean-fitting pants that won’t sag.

Material is another huge factor in what makes a chino a chino. They were initially made with 100 percent cotton to offer stretch to the pants. But for military use, this was too impractical.

But with new advancements, the pants evolved into hybrid blends that use both cotton and synthetic materials. This made the pants both comfortable and great for outdoor activities in the hot sun.

Luckily this is the modern age, so we have even wider access to different chinos with different uses. So find the one that fits you! (Keep reading to found our recommendations!)

Styling Tips

Styling chinos come with an unfair advantage: it’s ridiculously easy.

Because of the neutral nature of chinos, they can be dressed up and down seamlessly, working with whatever pieces you have.

However, dressing them up means you should stick to having them tailored just above your lower ankle. This keeps the pants smart and free from wrinkles

It also keeps the pants from grabbing attention away from the rest of your outfit. Turtlenecks also tend to look great with chinos.

If you’re keeping it casual, you should think about rolling up your sleeves. This keeps the pants from being too square and gives you a little more breadth in your undercarriage. Not too much, though.

Where to Buy Chinos

Looking for a couple of good pairs to set you straight? We got you!

Abercrombie and Fitch 90s Prep

Here is a pair of loose chinos harkening to its adoption by skating and grunge culture in the 90s. Lightweight and perfect for the office and shredding the street with your bros.

Dickies 874 Work Pant

The pants of choice for blue-collar professionals who get down and dirty. These pants are for the everyday man and can take a beating while never failing to look great.

Dickies carries a wide variety of colors for the 874, but if you want a true punk look, you’ll go with the camo option.

Banana Republic Fulton Rapid Movement Chino

A slimmer chino with enough stretch to not rip when you bend down. Suitable for those who want their pants a little more tailored while keeping the classic chino look.

Available in regular and big & tall sizing, so everyone is included.


Overall, chinos are a style of men’s pants with a tailored look that has a dressier nature than khakis. They are practical, versatile, and welcomed in many different settings.

Up Next: Chinos vs. Khakis: What’s the Difference? + How to Style Them


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