The Ultimate Guide To Chinos

Gone are the days of wearing traditional khakis when you need to look sharp. Welcome to the wonderful world of chinos! Chinos have taken the menswear world by storm and it’s for the better. Blue, green, burgundy, grey, you name a color, they exist. Chinos are the perfect choice when you need something more casual than dress pants, but dressier than jeans. You might be thinking “great, now I have to learn another category of clothing”; not quite, when I say ‘chino’, picture an upgraded version of khakis. Don't forget to select your height and bodytype to filter the information applicable to you!

Photo Credit: Magic Fox

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: He Spoke Style

3 pointers to get you started: Chinos can replace your khakis They can be dressed up or down, going with everything from t-shirts to dress shirts They make it easy to add color to your bottoms It’s important to pay attention to outfit and color combinations in the photos you see throughout this guide, don’t focus on fit, we’ll cover that further below

Feel free to read it in order or check out the table of contents to jump to sections.

Too Long; Didn't Read;

  • They make a great alternative to jeans and dress pants
  • Chinos can be worn with everything from a t-shirt to a dress shirt
  • From sneakers to dress shoes, chinos go with all sorts of footwear
  • Rolling your chinos at the bottom is a stylish look
  • Unwashed chinos are more dressy than washed chinos
  • Your body type determines what fit style you should go for
  • A tailor can hem your chinos to the right length for you
  • Chinos comes in many different colors
  • Wash your chinos in cold water to avoid shrinking them
  • Chinos are different from Khakis

What Are Chinos

Chino pants are trousers made from chino cloth, which is a twill fabric made of 100% cotton. Chinos were originally part of a military uniform because of their durability, but were soon adopted as day to day wear.

Chinos Vs Khakis

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Pleated Khakis

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Flat Front Khakis

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Chinos

Your mind may have jumped to khakis as soon as you saw chinos. However, chinos and khakis differ in a few ways:

  • Chinos are made of a lightweight cotton fabric, while khakis are made with a heavier weight fabric
  • Chinos fit more snugly, making them more modern and stylish
  • Chinos always have a flat front, where khakis can have a pleated front
  • Chinos come in wide variety of colors, whereas “khakis” (which is actually just a reference to the khaki color of the pant) are available in traditional colors like cream, navy, and of course khaki

Chinos can be worn exactly as you would wear your khakis and then some. If you are choosing between khakis and chinos, you should definitely choose chinos because they look more modern and are so much more versatile.

Chinos Vs 5 Pocket Cotton Pants

Sometimes you’ll see pants that almost look like chinos, but they have similar details to jeans, like full back pockets. These pants are called “5 pocket cotton pants”. 5 pocket cotton pants are between chinos and jeans on the dressy scale and are a good option for those who like to keep things on the casual side versus going full chino.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
5 Pocket Cotton Pant Front

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
5 Pocket Cotton Pant Front

You can wear cotton pants as you would wear chinos, with a few exceptions. For example, 5 pocket cotton pants are closer to jeans than dress pants, so if you were to wear them with a blazer, you wouldn’t pair them with a dress shirt and wear them to a wedding or a formal business meeting. Instead, treat them as you would wear jeans with a blazer and understand they don’t belong in formal settings.

How to tell the difference between chinos and cotton pants? Check out the pockets. Chinos always have slit back pockets, whereas a cotton pant will have full back pockets. You will also notice a difference in stitching details; chinos have subtle stitching while the cotton pants have obvious stitching details like you would see in jeans.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Chinos Back Pocket

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
5 Pocket Cotton Pant Back Pocket

These cotton pants have 5 pockets just like jeans do, 3 in the front and 2 in the back (there is a pocket in pocket in the front), whereas chinos have side slit pockets. Rivets near the belt loops is another marker of the cotton pant, just like jeans have.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Side Slit Pockets

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
2 Pockets and Rivets Near Belt

Which should you go for? It depends on your personal style. If you are more of a casual person, 5 pocket cotton pants will work fine for you. If you want the flexibility to dress them up a bit, chinos are your go-tos. It’s also nice to mix it up and have one of each and see what you end up wearing more.

Chinos Vs Jeans

Chinos and Jeans are two different things. Chinos are more "dressed up" than jeans. However, you can practically wear any top and shoe that you would wear with jeans with chinos. Swapping out jeans for chinos will give you a smarter and more professional look when you need it.

Chinos Vs Dress Pants

Chinos are slightly more casual than dress pants and that’s because of their material. Chinos are made of cotton where as a good pair of trousers is made out of wool and in turn has a drapey look. A dress shirt or button down can easily be worn with chinos and, optionally, a formal shoe to dress it up. However, it will be less formal than the same outfit worn with dress pants.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Wool Dress Pants

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Cotton Chinos

Different Styles of Chinos

In the chino family, there are a few different details that can make the pants more dressy or casual. Let’s go over them!

Washed vs Unwashed

Sometimes you’ll see Chinos say “washed” or “broken in”, this just means they don’t look “new” and were pre-washed by the manufacturer. Some people prefer washed because they look more casual and are more comfortable than a brand new crisp chino. However, you will notice the “unwashed” chinos have a bit of a shine to them, which are better for dressing up.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Unwashed (Shiny)

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Washed (Matte)

For example, if you wanted to pair your chinos with a blazer, for say a wedding, go for unwashed as it will complete the look nicely. However, if you wanted to keep the look slightly casual and with a blazer, say for work, a matte finish could work.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Unwashed with Blazer

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Washed with Blazer

Washed chinos will also fade naturally, keeping up with the casual side of things, whereas unwashed chinos are not meant to fade and will keep that sheen.

Which one should you go for? If you like to look sharp and dressy, get unwashed chinos. However, if you’re naturally a casual person who likes a slightly rugged style, go for the washed chinos. Keep in mind, washed chinos pair better with a t-shirt and sneakers look, whereas unwashed chinos pair better with a dress shirt and dress shoes look. Can you dress up washed chinos? Totally. Throw on a button down, tuck it in, and pair the look with a dress shoe.

Creased vs Uncreased

Some chinos come with a vertical crease at the front of the pants, which makes them more dressy. Wearing creased chinos with a casual outfit like a t-shirt and sneakers will throw off the look, so stick to a dress shirt, button down, or sweater if going for the crease.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
With Crease

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Wihout Crease

To crease or not to crease? No crease is more of a modern look and makes your chinos more versatile, especially if you like to wear them casually. On the other hand, having a crease can make your chinos look more formal, especially when wearing them with a blazer. It’s also worth noting a crease makes the leg from knee to ankle look slimmer, which works for guys who like a slim leg, but can’t wear slim pants.

Photo Credit: Blake Scott
A modern way to wear creased pants - notice the length and slimness

Although having a crease is a traditional look, it can be made modern by wearing them at a shorter length like in the photo above.

Note : If your chinos already come with a crease, keep them creased by folding them at the line when hanging them in your closet. It’s hard to add a crease to non-creased chinos, it will just come undone throughout the day.

How to Wear

Chinos can be worn in a wide variety of ways, which makes them so versatile and fun to wear. Whether you want to wear them with a t-shirt or dress shirt, there are a couple details to keep in mind.

Length

When it comes to length of chinos it’s best to either go for no break or a slight break in your pants. A break is the amount a pant dents at the bottom.

Photo Credit: He Spoke Style
No Break

Photo Credit: He Spoke Style
Slight Break

Photo Credit: He Spoke Style
Medium Break

Photo Credit: He Spoke Style
Full Break

Chinos should have a clean finish, so I advise against going for a full break. If you like some breaking at the bottom, medium break should be your maximum. You can ask a tailor to hem the bottom for you to get your perfect length.

No Break

Having no break in your pants is a modern look. If you like showing off fun socks or like the no-show sock look, this is a great choice since it exposes some of the foot when wearing a low cut shoe. When going for no break, the chinos should stop at the lower ankle, near the ankle joint.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
No Break Front

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
No Break Back

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
No Break Side

Examples of how to wear no break:

Photo Credit: Pinterest
No Break with No Show Socks

Photo Credit: Pinterest
No Break with Sneakers

Photo Credit: Pinterest
No Break with Socks

1/4 to 1/2 Break (Slight Break)

Having a little bit of a break won’t expose sock and foot, unless you sit down. If you work in a professional setting or prefer a classic look, this might be the one for you. The pants will hit the top of your shoe and will bend slightly. The pants shouldn’t go past the middle of the back of your shoe.

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Slight Break Front

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Slight Break Back

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Slight Break Side

Examples of how to wear a slight or medium break:

Photo Credit: Pinterest
1/4 Break

Photo Credit: Pinterest
1/2 Break

Break or no break? The choice is totally yours. Do you like to show off socks or like the no-show sock look? Go for no break. If you like stick to a classic look, do a slight break.

Multiple Breaks on a Slim Leg

Multiple breaks can be tricky. It’s not the end of the world if your chinos have multiple breaks, however they do give your pants a very casual and rugged look. If you want to go for multiple breaks, keep the leg slim to skinny, which prevents the chinos from folding over your shoes and looking frumpy. If your chinos end up having multiple breaks when worn with boots, it’s okay. More on boots and chinos in the next section.

Photo Credit: ASOS
Multiple Breaks

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Multiple Breaks

Full Break on a Straight Leg

Full or multiple breaks with a looser leg will make your chinos look like they are bunching at the bottom and are too long for you. Chinos should have a clean finish and wearing the right length will help achieve that. Bonus: Chinos at the no break or a little break length will make you appear taller, as the bunches will weigh you down. Check out the following examples for what NOT to do.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
A clean leg would look better

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Looks frumpy

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Way too much fabric gathering at the bottom

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Does not look modern
Note : If you chinos or pants do this, you can get a tailor to "hem" the bottom for you to your correct length. More on that in the tailoring section.

Rolling and Cuffing Chinos

Photo Credit: Iconnico

You might have noticed in some of the photos that the chinos are rolled or cuffed at the bottom. This look is a very casual, yet style forward way to wear them, especially in the warmer months. You can pair the rolled up look with anything from sneakers to boots.

When To Roll Them Up

Roll up your chinos when you want to look casual and relaxed. Rolling is great for warmer days unless worn with boots. Avoid rolling in formal settings.

How To Roll
Photo Credit: Cool Men's Gear

Rolling your chinos is easier than you think. The photo above shows three rolls you can try: (1) pin-rolling; (2) messy roll; (3) cuffed

A couple of notes:

  • It’s ideal to roll them a maximum of three times, as the more times you roll, the bulkier the bottom will get
  • You can show a little bit of ankle, but don’t go too high (refer to photo above)
  • Chinos that are slim or taper at the bottom will work better for rolling as a wide leg can unroll easily
  • It’s best to practice rolling when wearing the pants
How To Do a Basic Cuff

Step 1:Fold chinos at the bottom about ½ an inch. If you want to keep the roll low, you can fold ¼ of an inch or at the hem stitching at the bottom. If you’re rolling your pants while wearing them, have your thumbs on the outside of the pants and fingers inside of the pants and then fold up. It’s easy if you fold at the front of the pants first, then continue the fold at the back.

Photo Credit: Fashion Stork

Step 2:Roll once more, this time the roll will be about an inch. This is the step where you can decide how wide you want the roll to be, so feel free to go up or down from an inch. Smooth out the fold. If you like this length, you can stop here.

Photo Credit: Fashion Stork

Step 3:Repeat step two. If you feel the roll is too high, put your thumbs inside the roll and push down a bit until you get to your desired length.

Photo Credit: Fashion Stork

Voila! There you have it. Keep practicing and it will get easier and easier, I promise. For more precision, wear your shoes while rolling to get the right length.

Note : If you prefer the messy roll, don’t smooth out the folds.

Wait, I have GIFs:

Photo Credit: Gear Patrol
Basic Roll

If you're working with "skinny fit", don't make your cuff as wide:

Photo Credit: Gear Patrol
Skinny Roll

If you want to pin-roll your chinos, your first step is to fold the extra fabric to the side and then start folding up.

Photo Credit: Gear Patrol
Pinroll

Socks and Chinos

More and more men are showing off their fun socks or going for the no-show sock look as a stylish statement, especially with chinos. In order to do this successfully, avoid ankle cut or low cut socks, the last thing you want to do is show sock and foot at the same time.

Full Length Socks

You can have fun with prints or keep it solid when choosing socks. If you’re exposing socks, make sure no skin on your foot is showing. It’s pleasing to the eye if the sock color compliments a piece of your outfit (i.e. blue chinos + green socks = works!).

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Note : If I just confused you about color matching, here's a quick lesson using the color wheel:
Photo Credit: The Martingale Blog

Colors opposite of each other, including the colors to the right and left of that opposite color, work well together. Example: Yellow works with purple (opposite), purple-blue (left of purple), and red-purple (right of purple).

Also, any three colors next to each other work well together. Example: Yellow works with green-yellow (left of yellow) and yellow-orange (right of yellow).

No Show Socks

You might have noticed in a number of photos it looks like the guys are not wearing socks. However, the trick to save your shoes and feet from odor is wearing “no show” socks.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

You can wear no-show socks with everying from dress shoes to sneakers. However, skip the no show sock look for formal occasions. The example below is an easy look to try as a stepping stone to wearing cuffed chinos and no show socks. The casual look with fresh white sneakers and a rolled up button down is perfect for testing out on the weekend or on vacation.

Photo Credit: Lifestyle by PS
A casual and easy look

Shoes and Chinos

A lot of styles of shoes work with chinos and that choice can easily dress up or down your outfit.

Sneakers

Sneakers, including slip ons, will dress chinos down, but you can keep them stylish by going for a leather or suede sneaker as opposed to a running shoe. No break and rolled chinos work really well for this look. This combination is perfect for weekends and travelling, as it provides form and function.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are a step up from sneakers and are great for looking smart and casual at the same time. From a t-shirt to a casual blazer, boat shoes work well with a number of looks. Avoid boat shoes for any formal occasions.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: I Am Galla
Loafers

Loafers pair well with chinos for guys who like to dress up thier look a bit. From penny loafers to tassels to suede to leather, they come in a number of styles for you to experiment with. You can show your socks with loafers or opt for no-show socks.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Derby and Oxford Shoes

Oxfords and Derby shoes look great with chinos and can easily be dressed up or down depending on what your pair the look with. Wearing suede styles can help keep the look slightly more casual, while leather can really dress it up. This is a great shoe to pair when wearing chinos with a blazer for a formal look.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Monk Strap Shoes

Monk strap shoes pair really well with chinos. Although on the formal side, you can wear them with something as simple as a t-shirt to something as formal as a blazer and decide where you want to take the look.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Unkept Gentleman

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Boots

Pairing chinos with boots is a very modern and fashion forward look and can be worn in a number of ways. Keep in mind, when wearing them with boots, they may slightly bunch at the bottom and it’s okay.

Rolling Chinos with Boots

There are a couple ways to wear rolled chinos with boots and it depends on your boot style. If your boots have a wide opening, you can roll your chinos to the top of your boot.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If your boot has a slim opening, you can roll your chinos to the middle or right below the top of your boot

Oxford boot has a slim opening

You can also roll and tuck the front part of your chinos under the boot tongue.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Rolled and tucked
Over Your Boots

If your boots are slim at the ankle, you can wear your chinos over your boots for a clean and classic look. Make sure the chino fits comfortable over the boots. When wearing boots with chinos, multiple breaks will naturally occur and it’s okay.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
No break and boot

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Break with boot
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Over Chelsea boots
Half Tuck

If your boots have a tongue that sticks out (like in a desert boots), you can tuck the chino into the tongue and have the rest of the chino naturally fall to the sides and back. Chinos with a slim ankle work for this look, whereas a wide chino would have too much excess fabric hanging off the side.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Chinos tucked into tounge of Chukka boot
Full Tuck

Fully tucking in your chinos into your boots is a casual and rugged style. Slim chinos work better for this look. You can either fold the chino out like in the example on the left or tuck your chinos nice and tight into your socks and let them naturally fall out as you walk. Make sure your chinos are not ballooning out at the ankle.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Folded out and tucked into boot

Photo Credit: I Am Galla
Tucked into boot

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Tucked into boot and tongue

Belts and Chinos

Wearing a belt with your chinos is optional. You’ll notice in some photos guys are wearing tucked in shirts without a belt, this works fine for a casual look. Not wearing a belt when wearing monochromatic colors streamlines the body and makes you look taller.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
No belt and tucked in with chinos

On the other hand, wearing a belt with a tucked shirt is a smart and professional look and will tie your outfit together nicely. If you’re worried about the belt causing a break in your body, go for a belt and shoe color that is close to the color of your chinos (i.e. navy chinos and black belt and shoes; green chinos and brown belt and shoes).

Photo Credit: The Modest Man
Sublte belt with chinos

What to Wear With Chinos

What to wear with your chinos can be broken down by Casual, Smart, and Dressy. You can mix and match the tops, outerlayers, and shoes to make something casual look more dressy and vice versa.

A couple of notes:

  • (1) Avoid mixing casual tops with very formal shoes (dressy boots are fine, but not dress shoes)
  • (2) Mixing casual shoes with the dressy category can make a stylish statement, but remember it dresses the look down (i.e. dress shirt, chinos and fresh white sneakers = stylish, but should not be worn to a formal setting.)
Top
  • Casual: T-shirt, Henley
  • Smart: Button Down Shirt, Polo
  • Dressy: Dress Shirt
Mid-Layer
  • Casual: Sweatshirts, Hoodies
  • Smart: Cardigan, Sweaters
  • Dressy: Blazer
Top Layer
  • Casual: Denim Jacket, Bomber Jacket, Parka
  • Smart: Suede Jacket, Leather Jacket, Harrington Jacket, Quilted Jacket
  • Dressy: Peacoat, Over coat
Shoes
  • Casual: Sneakers, Street Shoes, Casual Boots
  • Smart: Oxfords, Derby, Loafers, Nice Boots
  • Dressy: Dress Shoes, Dressy Boots
Style: Casual
Items:
Chinos; T-Shirt (Casual); Sneakers (Casual)
Stylist Note: This is as casual as you can get with chinos. The no break in the chinos combined with no-show socks and white on white sneakers makes this look modern.
Photo Credit: Magic Fox
Style: Casual and Stylish
Items:
Chinos; T-Shirt (Casual); Sneakers (Casual); Bomber Jacket (Casual)
Stylist Note: Not only does the bomber jacket make the perfect layer, it’s a stylish piece to add to an otherwise basic outfit.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Casual and Smart
Items:
Chinos; T-Shirt (Casual); Boots (Dressy)
Stylist Note: Notice this outfit is similar to the first one, however, the footwear is switched out from sneakers to Chelsea boots. The boots turn this look up a notch, but still keeps it relaxed.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Casual
Items:
Henley (Casual); Sneakers (Casual)
Stylist Note: Think of a henley as an upgraded long sleeve t-shirt, which can be dressed up especially when worn with chinos. They pair really well with everything from casual sneakers to smart boots and are great for showing off some arm muscle.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Smart
Items:
Chinos; Polo (Smart); Loafers (Smart)
Stylist Note: Switching out your t-shirt for a polo shirt is a good technique to look more mature. Your choice of footwear can decide which direction you want this look to go. For example, wearing a loafer or boat shoe keeps it smart-casual, while pairing it with a white on white leather sneaker makes it casual, but still stylish. You could also go for a smart boot like a chukka and transform the look.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Smart and Stylish
Items:
Chinos; Sweater (Smart); Boots (Smart); Denim Jacket (Casual)
Stylist Note: For those days you need to layer up, a denim jacket can help keep things stylish and casual. The sweater keeps the look smart.
Photo Credit: Extra Inches
Style: Casual Modern
Items:
Chinos; Button Down (Smart); Sneakers (Casual)
Stylist Note: Button downs and chinos go together like white on rice. Since both pieces are so versatile, your footwear can determine whether to dress up or down the look . In this case, a combination of sneakers and an untucked button down make this look casual.
Photo Credit: @ChrisSleman
Style: Smart and Classic
Items:
Chinos; Button Down (Smart); Oxford Shoes (Smart)
Stylist Note: Pairing your chinos and denim button down and brown Oxfords makes this look very smart. Keeping the shirt untucked keeps the look relaxed, while not rolling up the sleeves keeps it classic. The watch ties this look together nicely.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Smart Casual
Items:
Button Down (Smart); Sweater (Smart); Boots (Smart)
Stylist Note: Chinos and sweaters make stylish Fall/Winter/Spring outfits that look modern and smart. You can leave your button down tucked for a smart look or untucked for a touch of casual.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Smart
Items:
Button Down (Smart); Oxfords (Smart)
Stylist Note: Tucking your button down into your chinos and pairing the look with some oxford shoes is an easy smart look perfect for everything from the office to a date.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Smart and Dressy
Items:
Chinos; Dress Shirt (Dressy); Monk Strap Shoes (Dressy)
Stylist Note: Chinos can easily be dressed up with a dress shirt and dressy shoes, which works for when you need to look like you’re ready for business. Going for unwashed chinos (vs washed) can further dress up this look.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Style: Dressy
Items:
Chinos; Blazer (Dressy); Dress Shirt (Dressy); Shoes (Smart)
Stylist Note: If you’re ready to take your chinos to the next level, pair them with a dress shirt, vest (optional), tie and blazer to create a faux suit. This look is very fashion forward and beats wearing a monochromatic suit.
Photo Credit: The Big Fashion Guy

There you have it, all the diverse ways you can make outfits with chinos. Keep in mind, you can easily switch out certain pieces like shoes or jackets to easily dress up or down a look. Use the examples above as a base and make edits to fit your personal style and occasion.

Overall Fit

Fit Styles

Wearing pants that fit well can take your look to the next level and make you look more put together. Luckily, brands make a number of fits that can help you achieve a polished look no matter your size. Your chinos should be comfortable, but also give you some shape.

Note : Wearing well fitted pants will help lengthen your body. Baggy pants can make you appear shorter.

Common Fits:

  • Classic/Relaxed Fit: Roomy through seat, thigh and leg. Straight from knee to ankle.
  • Straight Fit: Regular fit through seat and thigh. Straight from knee to ankle.
  • Athletic Fit: Roomier in the seat and thigh. Slightly tapered from knee to ankle.
  • Slim Fit / Trim Fit: Close fit through seat and thigh. Tapers from knee to ankle.
  • Skinny Fit: Very close fitting through seat, thigh and leg.
Note : Tip: your chinos shouldn’t hug your thighs to the point where you can see every single muscle, but keep in mind pants do stretch out, so it’s okay if they are a little snug at first.

What Fit Should You Go For

The bigger you are on the top half of your body, the less taper you want in your pants. The slimmer you are, the slimmer in the leg you can go. Just make sure you are balancing your body out. Here’s a test: If your body starts feeling like a popsicle, unproportionately big at the top and really slim at the bottom, try a looser fit (i.e. from slim to straight). Just because something is trending, doesn’t mean it’s for you.

Photo Credit: eMaze
If your body starts to look like this, your pants are too tight
Note : If you like the rolled chinos look, a slimmer leg from knee to ankle looks better and will stay in place.

The best way to understand what type of leg you should go for is by working with the shape of your body. If the examples below look really similar to you, pay attention to the fit from the knee to ankle to understand how the pants change from fit to fit. We’ll go over exact fit notes further below.

Fit Notes

Note : If you can’t live without the dryer or washing your clothes in warm to hot water, account for a ¼ inch shrink.
Waist

Make sure the waist is snug enough, but not to the point where it’s very uncomfortable and you get a muffin top. The pants should be able to stay up without a belt.

Test: Put a finger in your waistband and pull it, if it’s pulling more than an inch, go down a size. Keep in mind chinos will stretch about a ¼ inch as you wear them.

Note : Note: It’s important to wear chinos at the right level on the waist, which is about an inch or 2 below your belly button or highest part of hips. Doing so will make your legs look longer and balance out your body. Avoid wearing them too low or your upper body will look unproportionately long and your legs will look short.
Photo Credit: Fashion Beast
Don't do this
Thigh

It’s okay for the chinos to initially be fitted around your thighs as this is the area where chinos will stretch out the most.

Test: You should be able to pull about an inch of fabric. However, you shouldn’t be able to pull more than 1.5 inches, otherwise they are on the loose side and will get more loose with wear.

Photo Credit: Ashley Weston
You shouldn’t be able to grab more fabric than this from your thigh.
Taper

The shape from your knee to ankle can be the difference between a modern fit and a classic fit. For a modern fit, the chinos should slim down from the knee to the ankle. A more classic fit can slightly taper or go straight down. Check out the body types section to learn what kind of leg is good for you.

Test: There should be no pulling at your calf, if there is, your pant leg is too slim. If you can grab more than 2 inches, your leg is too wide.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Too tight

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Too loose

Photo Credit: Bonobos
Just right
Length

Go for no to 1/2 break. Avoid excess bunching at the bottom of your chinos. If you’re going for a skinny leg, some bunching is okay since the chinos won’t fall over your shoes.

Test: Fold your chinos in to test out different lengths and breaks. Make sure this length works with all the shoes you plan to wear with your chinos. Once you settle on the length you like, the amount of chino folded in is how much fabric needs to be cut off. A tailor can assist you with this. Make sure you account for any shrinking if you are getting them hemmed when you buy them.

Note : Washing your chinos in cold water and avoiding the dryer not only preserves the color, but will give you minimal shrinking.
Seat

You want your chinos to fit well around your butt and somewhat shape it. Keep in mind chinos will stretch, so if they are a little snug around your butt at first, it’s okay. If you can see the whole shape of your butt and see pulling (horizontal lines) at the seat seam, they are too small. At the same time, avoid diaper butt, which is when a bunch of excess fabric gathers under your butt.

Test: Your chinos should be comfortable and not have excess fabric at the back nor should it have pulling. See examples:

Photo Credit: Apparel Illustrated
Too tight

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Too loose

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Just right
Leg Opening

Refers to how wide the opening is at the bottom of the chinos. Each fit has a different opening. For example, a slim could have a 15” opening whereas a straight could have 16”. If you’re online shopping, it’s always good to compare your favorite pair of pants (jeans included) to the leg opening listed.

Tailoring

A tailor can make slight adjustments to your chinos to make them fit correctly. Some things will be worth it, while other things may not be and it’s better to get a new pair.

Note : Before taking your shirt to a tailor, make sure your shirt lines up well at your shoulders. This can be a hard part to fix, so it might not be worth the cost.
Things a tailor can fix
  • If the length is too long, a tailor can hem them to the correct size. Price: $20
  • If the waist is too big, a tailor can take it in slightly. Price: $20
  • If the the leg is too wide, a tailor can taper the leg for you, but it depends on how wide. Price: $30
  • If you ripped your chinos in between the thighs, a tailor can patch them. Price: $20
  • If you rip your pants easily between the thighs, a tailor can secure them. Price: can vary
Note : Account for shrinking when getting them hemmed or tightened. If you are unsure, wash them first then get them hemmed. However, a good tailor will account for shrinking if you are buying them brand new and getting them hemmed on the spot.

Bad Fit

A bad fitting chino will make you look shorter and wider than you are. Chinos are meant to look polished, so it's important to find ones that fit well to achieve a modern look. Baggy chinos don't look good.

Colors

One of the coolest things about chinos are the color options. Some colors are easy to pull of, while others are can be a bit more of a challenge. Chino colors can be split into 3 categories: classic, earthy and bright. Classic colors are the easiest place to start, but earthy tones are a perfect way to transition into colored bottoms. If wearing colored bottoms seems out of this world to you, seeing full outfits will help.

Keep in mind all colors can work with anything from a dress shirt to a t-shirt.

Note : Darker colors can work all year round. Brighter colors are better for Spring and Summer.

Classic Colors

Charcoal

Charcoal is a very neutral color that pairs really well with most colors. Instead of black shoes, try wearing medium brown shoes, which adds the perfect pop of color.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Green shirt with charcoal chinos

Photo Credit: Pinterest
monochromatic grey on grey with brown shoe
Beige

Beige is a very common and traditional color when it comes to chinos, which might remind you of boring khakis. However, wearing them with casual clothing, like sneakers and a casual jacket, can make them look more modern. If a classic beige is too boring, try a color like a “chai” or dark khaki instead.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Beige, green and light blue go really well together

Photo Credit: Pinterest
A denim jacket always compliments beige chinos

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Beige, white and a pop of color

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Wearing beige professionally
Brown

If beige isn’t your thing, brown chinos are a great alternative. Brown chinos pair really well with blues, greens, black, white and earthy colors. Make them modern by wearing them with a pair of boots like Chukkas.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: I Am Galla

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Blue

Blue chinos are as classic as you can get. They are very versatile and can easily be worn on weekdays and weekends with some slight adjustments. Tuck in a button down or dress shirt to dress them up for work or keep it casual with a t-shirt and sneakers for the weekend.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Unstitched

Photo Credit: Otokomaeken

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Black

Black chinos make the perfect canvas for wearing stylish pieces such as a statement jacket or printed shirts. Pair black chinos with colored shoes to bring the look to life. You can also treat black chinos like a black dress pant and pair them with a sports coat for a modern suit look.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: What My Boyfriend Wore

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest
White

White Chinos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re ready to step into a pair, welcome! Spring and Summer are perfect for white chinos and they pair well with every color. If white seems to bright, try cream. Not sure where to start? Try pairing them with a blue shirt and brown or grey shoes.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Hespoke Style

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Magic Fox

Earthy Colors

Tobacco

Tobacco is a great option for those who don’t like beige pants. They pair really well with blues and other earthy colors like burgundy and forest green. Wearing brown shoes helps keep up the earthy look.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Big Fashion Guy

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Extra Inches
Burgundy

If you’re ready to step out of the box, burgundy (or wine) is an easy neutral color to start with. Burgundy makes a subtle style statement and works really well with a number of colors, especially blues and browns. You can go for more of a dark purple plum color if a brighter burgundy isn’t your thing.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Blake Scott

Photo Credit: J Crew
Green

If you’re not ready to step into burgundy quite yet, but still want to play with color, try green. Green adds the perfect pop of subtle color without going overboard. Green can range from the khaki family, which is more subtle, to bright green, which adds more pop.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: J Crew

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: I Am Galla

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Bright Colors

Bright colored chinos work well for Spring and Summer. If you’re not sure where to start, go monochromatic or pair them with a neutral color like grey or blue. If bright colors seem a bit out of this world for you, stick to earthy colors or deeper shades like teal.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: I Am Galla

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Notoriously Dapper

Photo Credit: Notoriously Dapper
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Printed Chinos

Printed chinos are more of a style statement, rather than a necessity. If you love having your clothes speak for you, you can play around with printed chinos. Since your pants are busy, keep the shirt solid. Going for geometric patterns or plaid is a safe stepping stone for those who want to try prints, but don’t know how far to push it. If prints seem a bit out there, try different textures instead. Here are some looks for inspiration:

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Fabrics

Chino cloth is made of cotton, however, some brands like to add spandex for stretch, making them a cotton-blend. Chinos themselves are lightweight, but you can find different weights during different seasons or even find ones lined with flannel for winter. Chino cloth is a twill fabric, meaning the fabric is woven and has diagonal lines throughout.

Photo Credit: Proper Cloth
Chino Cloth

Care

Wash your chinos in cold water and hang dry them. Putting chinos in the dryer will make the fabric weaken and could shrink them.

Unless you are a naturally sweaty person who needs to wash their clothes after each wear, wash your chinos after about 4-8 wears.

Shopping Notes

Try 3 Different Cuts

If you’re going in-store, take 3 different fits in the change room and give them a go (i.e slim, athletic, straight). You can do the same for online shopping, just pick a store with an easy return policy.

Should Be Snug at First

When purchasing a new pair of chinos, you want them snug in the waist. They don’t need to be uncomfortably tight to the point where they create a muffin top, but keep in mind Chinos will stretch out a bit as you wear them. Depending on a the material, you can expect about a ¼ inch stretch.

It’s okay for the chinos to initially hug your thighs as thighs is the area where chinos will stretch out the most. You want your chinos to give your legs some shape, but not hug them to the point where you can see each muscle.

Play with Length

If you like the no break look, but your correct length in chinos (say 32) is giving you a break, try one length down (i.e. 30). If they are too short, get a tailor to hem them for you.

Try Rolling

If you like rolling your chinos, go for a slim or tapered leg. Practice in the change room to make sure the leg cut you picked looks nice rolled.

Think Outside the Box

Don’t be afraid to try colors beyond neutrals and classics. Burgundy or green chinos is a great place to start since blues shirts go well with both.

FAQ

Can I wear chinos to a wedding?
Unless it says black tie on the invite, you can wear chinos to a wedding by creating a faux suit with a dress shirt, tie and blazer. Keep a look for unwashed or twill chinos, which will complete the look nicely.

Photo Credit: I Am Galla
Unwashed Chinos

Photo Credit: What My Boyfriend Wore
Washed Chinos
Can I wear chinos year round?
The great thing about chinos are that they can be worn year round and brands create different weights to accommodate the seasons. Chinos come in lightweight fabrics for summer, which are awesome for guys who don’t like wearing shorts. For Fall/Winter, you can go for a thicker fabric chinos.
What about chinos that are joggers style?
Joggers are chinos that have a jogging pant feel to them. They have the elastic band at the ankle and sometimes a drawstring top closure. Jogger style chinos are meant to worn casually and look good with sneakers and no-show socks. If you want to wear them with other types of footwear, stick to casual or smart footwear. Don’t wear joggers to a formal setting.

Photo Credit: AE
The ankle cuff makes it a jogger pant

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Joggers worn casually

Photo Credit: J Crew
Joggers worn casually

Photo Credit: Nordstrom
Dressed up joggers with boots
What’s up with cropped chinos?
It’s better to go for a rolled or no break chino rather than a cropped style. Cropped styles are trendy and limit you to warmer months. Also, if worn wrong, it can just look like your pants are too short for you. Cropped chinos fall above the ankle, while no break fall at the ankle. You will get more use out of rolled chinos than cropped capri style chinos.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Cropped pants with and without socks

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Cropped pant worn casually

Congrats, you made it to the end! You're an expert on chinos now. If you have questions or feel like I missed addressing something, feel free to tell me in the comments. The next step is to check out the other guides. Boot and Button Downs pair really well with chinos, so check those out to start creating outfits!

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