What are men’s chino pants?

The word chino is the Spanish word for the country of China. How did that come to chino pants? Well, you see, China was at one point a large exporter of cotton textiles. One of these exported fabrics was the cotton twill fabric. It is this fabric that was used to make the first chinos. 

The first men’s chino pants emerged when the British military in the nineteenth century India made the khaki coloured pants their uniform. With a mid-waist rise, which is comfortable and flattering, and the lengths just a little above the ankle. These made the first chino pants both – allow enough flexibility and the colour looked less dirty – two really good qualities anyone in the military would look for. Later, the US Army too adopted chinos in the twentieth century, along with many other countries around the globe.

Hence, one can describe chino pants as trousers which end a little above the ankle because they fold at the bottom. Chinos are available in skinny, tapered and straight fits, though the classic and more popular chinos are the ones in a straight fit. A big reason for that is straight fit bottoms allow for more mobility, as compared to the other two styles.

The good things about these pants!

Firstly, they are super comfortable to move around in. They do not inhibit mobility and their fabric and stitch make them suited for everyday outings and work. 

Secondly, the chinos are also popular because of the way they fall on your legs. The silhouette created by these pants is flattering on all body types. The structure of the fabric is such that it does stick to the skin or form odd creases when worn. This structured quality of the fabric and the tailored shape also allows the chinos to be worn as semi-formal and smart casuals.   

chino pants
courtesy: Samuel Windsor

And thirdly, men’s chino pants are one of the few men’s clothes which are available in such a variety of colours, especially among the bottoms. Usually,  men can only play with colours with their shirts and tie. There do exist colourful jackets and shorts, but they are not really appropriate for a lot of occasions. Chinos, on the other hand, have the benefit of being versatile and acceptable, regardless of their colour. This is due to, as mentioned above, because of their structured fabric and tailored stitch shape.

How to style men’s chino pants?

1. With a t-shirt

If you wish to dress down and keep things simple, the easiest way to do that is to pair your chino pants with a basic t-shirt. Tee with a pair of jeans can look too casual and not well put together, whereas, wearing the same tee with a pair of chinos will immediately elevate your style into effortless chic. 

A classic combination of this smart casual is appropriate for more outdoorsy dates, where you want to dress up in something casual and comfortable, but at the same time, look your best and a certain degree of stylish too.

2. T-shirt and jacket

If the temperatures get low in the place you are, pair your chino and tee combination with a light jacket or cardigan on top. The chino pants with their smart casual look, and the cardigan with its sophisticated and mature look, will together make for a great ensemble. Changing up the colours of your pants, tee and jacket, and the type of shoes to wear can make the outfit look whatever degree of formal or casual you want to look. 

3. With a shirt

Switching the top with a shirt will create a classy semi-formal look. This is a great outfit idea for restaurants and dates, for overwork at the office over the weekends, or to any celebratory event, but not enough to wear a full suit and tie. You can choose any colour shirt, as long as it goes well with the colour or your chinos.

The best shirt that will go with any colour chino would be a white shirt. Since the colour white is like a blank canvas, you can go wild with the colour of your chino pants. Leave the first two buttons open and roll your sleeves to just below your elbows, and you are good to go. 

If you want to go for a more formal look, keep the buttons closed and sleeves full length. Here you need to keep your chino colour darker and muted – something like a black, navy blue, dark brown or olive, or grey.

4. Shirt and sweater

Like most winter outfits, a shirt and sweater add a certain suave to the person wearing it. We encourage you to experiment with colours on your pants and patterns and prints on your sweater. For a more formal setting, keep the sweater plain and chino muted; and for a more celebratory event or a festival, match it with the occasion. 

5. Blazer or overcoat 

Depending on how cold it is, throw on your blazer and/or an overcoat to make a perfect winter-appropriate outfit to match your chino pants. 

We suggest that you go for black or any other dark colour for your chinos in such an ensemble. This is because, in winters, you want to keep your colours dark or earthen as they look cosy and go well with the whole winter aesthetics. Moreover, black and other dark bottoms make it easier to match any colour blazer or overcoat you would like to add on top. This is because a black or dark bottom doesn’t interfere with the colour scheme you would like to create on your top half. 

If you want to wear coloured chinos with a blazer or overcoat we recommend to either keep your top half black; or if you want a coloured top half too, make sure that the whole ensemble is in a cohesive colour scheme. 

Styling chino pants with an outfit is honestly one of the easiest things to do. Not only do they go well with any top, but they are also really comfortable too! And with the variety of colours they are available in, it becomes really interesting to play and experiment with different colour schemes you can come up with. 

Style your men’s chino pants like you would any of your bottoms. They have the advantage of having a tailored shape, which makes them similar to trousers, and hence you can pair chinos with any such top that you would usually pair with a pair of trousers. And secondly, since the fabric of the chino is cotton, it gives off a casual look too, which allows you to pair it with tops you would usually pair with jeans on joggers. Wow! Just look at that versatility!