9 Ways to Wear Men’s Chinos

Perfecting the Chino look is easy with this simple yet extensive guide to a wardrobe essential.  Here we take a look at how to style your chinos properly, whatever the occasion.

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Today the Chino is an essential item of clothing for millions across the globe. Its popularity has seen it become a permanent fixture on our busy high streets. You can now find the Chino in almost every store in a number of styles, cuts and colours and in a variety of prices. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know where you are going right and wrong. Worry not, we have got you covered.

What are chinos?

Chinos, by definition, are a cotton twill fabric, typically khaki coloured. That doesn’t mean they have to be khaki coloured, don’t worry. Chino’s are one of the most versatile fashion pieces in your wardrobe. Take a look at this guide to the humble chino and how you can wear them anywhere.

Design and Fit

Before we really get into the depth of different styles of chinos for men, check out this video which gives you a quick overview of how they should be fitting. Ok, Ready? There are three basic cuts to pick from; Wide Leg, Slim Fit and Straight Leg. Here are the details to help you narrow it down.

Slim Fit

Tight enough to flatter but loose enough to move around in, the slim fit chino is perfect for the active man who wants to maintain a high level of style. Often used in junction with a blazer, slim fit chinos are the perfect suit trouser replacement.

Another reason to pick the slim fit option is that it enables you to avoid cuffing but still allows you to create a gap between chino and shoe. Slim fit chinos are also cunningly deceptive. The slender look creates the impression of increased height. Perfect for the shorter gentleman looking for a few extra inches.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Straight Leg

Straight leg is the best of both worlds, it is where the wide leg and the slim fit meet. Men with a lot of leg muscle tend to avoid the slim fit but lament the fact that they miss out on the sleek look offered.

This is where the straight leg comes in, as it bridges the gap between the wide leg and allows you to achieve a comfortable, balanced and ultimately stylish look. The complete package in many ways and ideal for pretty much any occasion.

fredrik risvik black t-shirt and chinos mens street style
PHOTO CREDIT: Fredrik Risvik

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Wide Leg 

Ideal for the built gentleman, the wide leg option will create a more natural body balance between the torso and the leg. Another great thing about the wide leg is the possibility for modification.

Cuffing the bottom will not only work wonders on those hot summer nights, but also let everyone know you are one fashion conscious guy. Try to avoid wide leg chinos if you have short legs as it can create the illusion of being even shorter.

Wide legged chinos are definitely a style that is here to stay
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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 What to Wear with Your Chinos

Now that you have decided on the ideal pair, its time to choose the rest of your outfit. Whilst the number of colours on offer can give you a lot of options, it can also lead to some fashion faux pas. So to prevent this from happening here are a few tips on styling your chinos.

White T-shirt

One fashion motto is, “when in doubt, get the white t-shirt out.” For all of you guys out there unsure about coloured Chinos, why not try a white t-shirt. The brightness offered by the white will increase the depth of a darker shaded pair and really look slick.

For those feeling a tad more adventurous why not add a white t-shirt with horizontal navy lines for that classic sailor look. On that front you could also team your white t-shirt with another coloured t-shirt on top if you feel like injecting a bit more colour.

Alternatively for those chillier autumn afternoons a long sleeved t-shirt works just as well.

alkarus navy bomber jacket white t-shirt black chinos mens street style
PHOTO CREDIT: Alkarus

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Denim

Denim and chino are like chocolate and strawberries; good apart, but even better together. A personal favourite of mine, denim when combined with chino offers the perfect contrast in material. The tougher denim when placed against the softer chino stands out and adds an extra degree of texture to any outfit.

Best of all, you can rock this look safe in the knowledge that you haven’t committed one of the cardinal sins of fashion, double denim! Pairing the two with a lightly coloured boot will give any man a rugged sophisticated look.

White Shirt

In the same way that white t-shirts work wonders on darker chinos, white shirts will do the same. Try rolling up the sleeves and donning a light jumper on those relaxed summer evenings. If a more formal look is required why not do the buttons up and add a fetching grey or silver tie.

There may be some of you out there desperate to wear white chinos, but wonder if it would pair well with a white shirt. Luckily for you, there is a way.

Just make sure to add colour throughout the rest of your outfit, sporting a navy coloured blazer and shoe can really make your predominately white outfit, pop. For inspiration on that front, take a look at how Jep Gambardella, from the Oscar winning movie, La Grande Bellezza does it.

white shirt black satchel chinos
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man

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Navy Gilet

Great for those early Spring days, the Gilet offers comfort and warmth in equal measure. A number of colours, such as grey and silver, will also complement darker chinos. But if you’re looking for that extra touch of sophistication – team them with a navy gilet and an equally dark shirt.

If you are still feeling a tad exposed to the elements, a zipped cardigan and a scarf should do the trick. Again keep it simple and stick to the darker tones, perhaps burgundy or a dark green.

What Shoes to Wear with Chinos?

Ok so I have got my chinos sorted, but what type of shoe do I pair it with? I hear you scream. Fret no more there are a number of shoes that will compliment the chino look.

Loafers

Choosing which loafers to pair with your chinos is very simple, keep the loafers dark, preferably brown, and you can do no wrong. These shoes work best when paired with slim fit chinos and a casual shirt.

Browns Suit Street Style
PHOTO CREDIT: GQ

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Brogues

Perfect for those looking to cuff their chinos. Both Oxford and Derby Brogues can be teamed with a variety of colours. Those of you who prefer the chinos to sit naturally can also opt for an equally stylish Brogue Boot.

dr-martens-brogues-and-sand-chinos
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man

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Trainers

For a more casual look, why not pair your chinos with a classic trainer. Perfect for any man who spends most of the day on his feet. The best thing about choosing trainers is that they work well with both light and dark Chinos. So if your Chino collection is still quite limited, you can’t go wrong with a white trainer and Navy Chino combo.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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What to Wear with Blue Chinos

Now we know you’ve probably seen navy chinos before but here’s a quick guide on how to wear them. Much like normal khaki or beige chinos, navy also requires some simple partnerships. The beauty of the navy chino is their similiarity so navy suit trousers, meaning you can wear them to the office or a wedding.

We’d recommend a simple white T-Shirt or polo and some classic slip on loafers. It’s a combination that’s been around for decades and still continues to impress us.

white t-shirt navy chinos mens street style
How to wear blue chinos in an outfit 
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man

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Where it all Began

Now that you are equipped with all the chino know how, its about time you got to know where the chino came from. So lets rewind the clocks and take a look back at chinos early days.

If you have ever used a microwave, a GPS or even duct tape, you have, unknowingly, benefited from a product initially developed for military use. However such was the genius of those products that their usability would go on to extend well beyond the field of combat. Another such product is the Chino. Yes the popular trouser, began its life as a staple of military uniform.

The Chino was initially developed as an off shot of the khaki trouser, whose ruggedness and versatility helped thousands of British soldiers, stationed in India during the mid-19th century, handle the tempestuous weather conditions. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before the Khaki was adopted by the armed forces all over the world.

mens chinos ww2
PHOTO CREDIT: Cafe du Cycliste

However, It was only during The Spanish-American War, that the Chino came into being. Chinese manufactures, adapted the original Khaki trouser and made it lighter and able to stretch further. In order to achieve this a much lighter cotton cloth was used.

Because of this, it didn’t take long for the new-found Chino to overtake the Khaki as the military’s go to trouser. The post-war years could have easily seen the Chino’s popularity decline. However, after noticing the Chinos cost-effectiveness and versatility, many American Ivy league students began rocking the trouser.

As a testament to the Chinos timeless quality, many of the same styles and uses of the Chino can still be seen across campuses, the world over. Further afield the Chinos revival in the mid 1990’s has since seen the trouser become the indispensable item in any mans wardrobes.

Today the chino sits alongside the denim jean as a piece of clothing that emancipates daily fashion choices. Its utility and relative inexpensiveness have increased peoples styling freedom, making it a universally popular piece of clothing. It’s safe to say that chino fashion has come a long way.

mens chinos 1900s
PHOTO CREDIT: Gentleman’s Gazette

Chino vs Khaki

Despite the chinos popularity, there are many out there who routinely struggle to spot the difference between the chino and Khaki.

If you are ever in doubt, remember this, Khaki stitching is visible whilst the stitching on Chinos is concealed, hence why the chino has become a formal favourite because of its sleeker look.

Best Men’s Chinos

Here we pull out the best in men’s chino fashion, and our favourites at The Idle Man. Chino fashion is an easy one to get right, but with these choices you can’t go wrong.

toppicks

How to Wear Chinos

  • Keep it simple – chinos require simple pairings, keep your style clean
  • Formal – dress your chinos up with a blazer and shirt
  • Casual – a white T-Shirt and some trainers are perfect for the summer
  • Shoes – loafers or trainers are best
  • Accessories – hats, bags and braces are all great ways to dress your chinos up or down

On That Note

Chinos are cool, we’ve proven that. The great thing about chinos is that they can be worn almost anywhere. The versatility of the humble chino is what makes them such a staple item for your wardrobe. Your chinos should be considered a go to for any event, from clubbing to fine dining. Be bold in your chino choices and show confidence!

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