Since their first introduction, chinos have come a long way to become a timeless staple in men’s wardrobes. Chinos are comfortable, appropriate for many occasions from casual weddings to Friday nights out and are easy to combine. What more do men need?
Let’s begin stepping into the world of chinos and at the end of this blog post you will know what chinos are and how you should style them to look your best. No worries, you will not feel overwhelmed as they are versatile enough.
What Are Chinos?
Chinos are pants or trousers made of lightweight cotton-based materials. Its most known feature is the partially hidden back pocket (or pockets). Chinos come in all forms and styles but what they have in common is the comfortable feeling when wearing them. Stretchy cotton fabrics make even the slim fit chinos pleasant to wear and they are lightweight enough to have become the most beloved summer piece. Nowadays, they are worn by millions of men everyday thanks to being affordable and easy to find in all colors, shapes, and fabrics. The navy blue chinos, olive green chinos, beige colored or black ones get the most wear.
A Quick History
The origin of chino pants can be traced back to the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century. Originally designed as military uniforms, they were called ‘Pantalones Chinos’ which means 'Chinese Pants'. This was because the fabric was sourced from China. Their comfort and durability soon made them a wardrobe staple around the world.
What are Chinos made of?
Chinos are predominantly made from 100% cotton. The cotton used in chinos is woven in a twill fabric, which is identifiable by its diagonal rib pattern. This makes chinos exceptionally sturdy, while still maintaining a lightweight, breathable quality.
Despite that, the exact composition can vary based on the chinos style:
Classic Chinos: Usually made of 100% cotton, these are the traditional chinos known for their comfortable fit and casual look.
Dress Chinos: A more refined version, often blended with synthetic fibers for a sharper silhouette and used in semi-formal settings.
Summer Weight Chinos: Lighter in weight and perfect for the warmer months, these chinos are often made from a blend of cotton and linen.
Performance Chinos: These are designed with a mix of technical fabrics to enhance stretch and durability, making them perfect for active lifestyles.
Selvedge Chinos: Made using the traditional edge-to-edge weaving technique, selvedge chinos are known for their premium quality and attention to detail.
Are Chinos Formal?
The short answer is no, chinos are not inherently formal, but their versatility allows them to be dressed up for semi-formal occasions. Now, let’s unravel this sartorial puzzle piece by piece.
Chinos: The Hybrid Wardrobe Essential
Imagine a scale of attire, with casual wear on one end and formal wear on the other. Chinos comfortably sit in the middle, like a bridge that connects two worlds. Made from twill cotton, chinos blend the relaxed vibe of denim with the sharpness of dress pants.
Casual Chino Outfits
For a casual look, pair your chinos with:
- A simple t-shirt or polo
- Sneakers or loafers
- Choose jogger dress chinos
- Optional: Add a casual watch or bracelet to accessorize
Stepping into Semi-Formality
Elevate your chinos to semi-formal status by:
- Pairing them with a crisp button-up shirt
- Adding a smart blazer or sports coat
- Opting for classic dress shoes
- Accessorizing with a leather belt and wristwatch
Setting Boundaries: Formal vs Semi-Formal
While chinos can be dressed up, it’s essential to note that they are not suitable for strictly formal events like black-tie occasions, where a suit or tuxedo is expected. Chinos are best for events where dress codes are less rigid, such as business casual settings, dinners, and social gatherings.
In summary, while chinos are not formal in the traditional sense, their adaptability makes them a valuable asset in your wardrobe for various occasions, from laid-back outings to sophisticated semi-formal events.
How Should Men’s Chinos Fit
Do you know what else makes chinos the men’s best friend? Their fit. As we all know, many pants are super baggy and simply do not sit well on men’s bodies. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are extremely slim, tight pants that are far from comfortable.
The best fitting men’s chinos come in a tailored fit so that they underline the figure but do not put much pressure to feel extremely skinny. The cotton fabrics will also allow the pants to stretch and the body to move a bit. Another tip: Chino pants will make you look taller, so if you are on the shorter side, pick slim fit chinos to prolong your legs and look taller and leaner. On the other hand, if you are tall enough to want to look smaller, try cuffing your chinos to make yourself look shorter.
The general rule applies to chino pants too, so if you want to look skinnier, wear black chino pants. In any case, try ordering a made-to-measure chino pants to get the best fit for your own body.
How to Style Your Chinos
We have already mentioned the incredible versatility of chinos. They can be dressed up and down as you like to achieve a more casual or dressed-up look. Basically, you cannot go wrong with a combination of chino pants + almost anything.
Chino Pants with a Shirt
Semi- formal outfit for all the occasions you need to look your best (but not formal enough to suit up). Choose contrasting colors to avoid a dull look and win the outfit game at that event. This look can be worn to many events from exhibitions through casual weddings to formal family dinners. To achieve formal look, we recommend opting for slim fit chino pants that will look great with any tailored shirt. As for the colors, try wearing your navy blue chinos with a crisp white cotton shirt or olive chino pants with a beige linen button-down shirt. Do not forget that you can always put on your favorite blazer with your chino pants on colder days. This way you will achieve a look that is also considered office-friendly and business casual.
|Navy Blue Chino Pants with White Cotton Shirt||Light Blue Chino Pants with Blue Cotton Shirt|
Chino Pants with a Polo Shirt
If chinos with shirts are a semi-formal combo, chinos, and polo shirts should be called quarter formal. Yes, you are right, this look can be worn in everyday life in case you still want to look put-together and well-groomed. If you want to upgrade the look, bring your blazer, too.
Chino Pants with a T-shirt
Old but gold, chinos with a T-shirt are a basic combination for every day. In this case, you can also opt for a more casual fit of your chino pants to stand out from the crowd or pick a vibrant color t-shirt to make them look fresh.
What Shoes to Wear with Chinos
The rule with men’s chinos is very easy – you can wear any shoes you want, except for flip-flops (obvious, right?). Shoes are a helpful addition to differentiate between formal and informal styles of your whole outfit. Decide which style you want to pull off and choose your shoes accordingly. Starting with sneakers to get a laid-back casual style, upgrading with loafers for an everyday semi-formal style, and crowning it with dress shoes to look formal for the most important occasions (still not talking about Black Tie events).
Pick suede leather to keep it relaxed and shiny polished leather to look formal. Don’t worry, your chino pants will still add some level of laid-back look.
Keep the color combinations simple and apply the same rules as for suits. This means, if you wear a navy blue chinos, combine them with a brown or black Oxford or Derby shoes. Brogue shoes are the perfect choice for formal occasions, as the perforation itself looks very professional.
For a more casual look, you can pair chinos with sneakers. White sneakers especially, are easily combined with chinos, as they are very versatile. Just make sure your chinos aren't too light of a color, or else your outfit may appear flat.
Pants and shoes always come hand-in-hand when combining a stylish outfit. That's why it's essential to pair the right types of shoes with matching pants. Discover our blog post: What Dress Shoes and Sneakers to Wear with Chinos, and learn how to come up with a charming and effortless outfit.
Now you know what chinos are, but what about slacks? Learn about slacks in our blog.