The Scoop on Chinos: When and How to Wear them

Trousers play an important role in a men’s suit. It can either bring the jacket and shirt together to create a stylish, cohesive appearance in which everything flows together. Or trousers can have the opposite effect by creating a clashing appearance that does the wearer no justice. This is why it’s important to choose the right trousers, whether you are wearing a formal suit, semi-formal outfit, or even a casual outfit. While there are dozens of different types of men’s trousers available on the market, chinos are among the most versatile. To learn more about chinos, including when and how to wear them, keep reading.

What are Chinos?

You can click on the link mentioned above to shop through our wide selection of high-end chinos and trousers. In case this is your first time hearing about chinos, though, let me give you a brief rundown on this popular style of pants. Basically, chinos are a slightly more formal style of trousers than khakis. In fact, many people confuse khakis with chinos and vise-versa, assuming the two trousers are the same. From an outsider’s perspective, they certainly appear similar in terms of design and construction. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll notice there are subtle nuances between the two.

The next time you go shopping for a pair of trousers, grab a pair of khakis and look along the legs and waist. You’ll probably notice the stitching is visible. This isn’t necessarily bad, but some guys (myself included) prefer to wear trousers with the stitching hidden. This creates a more formal, elegant appearance that’s perfect for suits. Now grab a pair of chinos and look for the stitching. Can’t seem to find it? That’s because chinos have their stitching hidden. Chinos, like all types of trousers, contain stitching, but this stitching is typically hidden to offer a more formal appearance for the wearer.

What About the Fabric?

Stitching isn’t the only difference separating khakis from chinos. Another difference — one that often goes unnoticed — lies in the fabric. Granted, you can find khakis available in many different fabrics and materials, but most are made of 100% heavyweight cotton. When the weather begins to cool and the fall/winter months approach, this heavyweight cotton offers a warm and comfortable solution. Until then, however, you may want trousers made of a lighter, cooler fabric, in which case chinos are the recommended choice.

While khakis are normally made of 100% heavyweight cotton, chinos are made of either 100% lightweight cotton or a cotton blend. You can typically feel the difference simply by running your hand across the surface. Khakis feel noticeably thicker and heavier, whereas chinos are thinner and lighter, making them the preferred choice of trousers during the hot summer and spring months.

One last difference between the two lies in the cut. You can find both khakis and chinos available in a wide range of different cuts. With that said, however, chinos are typically slimmer than their khaki counterpart, offering a more formal appearance.

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When to Wear Chinos

Now that you know a little bit about the differences between chinos and khakis, you might be wondering when to wear chinos. Well, the great thing about chinos — or at least, one of the great things — is that you can wear them for a variety of different occasions. Planning an evening out with friends? Wear chinos. Going to a business meeting or industry trade show? Wear chinos? Heading off to the beach for a wedding? Wear chinos. Chinos are virtually unmatched in terms of versatility, as you can wear them for just about any occasion or activity. The trick, however, is to pair them with the right clothes and accessories.

If you plan on wearing chinos to a business meeting, for instance, you should wear them with either suit or a formal button-up shirt (without the tie and/or jacket). On the other hand, if you plan on wearing chinos out to dinner with friends, you can probably get by with just a polo shirt. But if you’re going to wear them to a formal gathering, you need to wear them with a complete suit. And this means a button-up shirt, necktie or bow tie, and jacket. Chinos are great because you can dress them up, dress them down, or dress them somewhere in between. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to see what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some tips on how to choose the perfect pair of chinos:

  • Check to make sure the stitching is hidden. A good pair of high-quality chinos should not have visible stitching. If it does, it’s best to choose a different pair.
  • Consider the color when choosing a pair of chinos. While the khaki/tan is the most popular color, chinos are available in dozens of other colors, ranging from white and beige to black and brown. Choose a color that’s going to match the rest of your outfit.
  • What material are the chinos made of? As stated above, most chinos are made of either 100% lightweight cotton or a cotton blend. However, some of the newer styles may include stretch cotton, which is essentially a blend of cotton and some type of elastic fabric like polyester. The addition of polyester gives the chinos greater elasticity, allowing them to stretch more easily. As such, many people prefer stretch chinos because of their unique characteristics.
  • Make sure the chinos fit right. A good pair of chinos should sit on your waist without the help of a belt, stopping just past your ankles. But finding the perfect fit is easier said than done, right? Wrong. By ordering your chinos (or any trousers) here at StudioSuits, you can rest assured knowing they will fit just right. Simply specify your body measurements during checkout and we’ll customize your chinos according to your own measurements.
  • Choose quality over quantity. In other words, buying a single pair high-quality chinos is a smart choice than buying half a dozen pair of low-quality chinos. After all, one of the defining characteristics of chinos over khakis is their high-quality, formal appearance.