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Men’s chinos

Men’s chino trousers are an ideal alternative to denim jeans in smarter situations, whilst still retaining a casual air. Versatile and easy to dress up (I find that wearing chinos for dinner with the in-laws goes down very well for example) or dress down (when I’m attending, say, a friend’s summer barbeque), they are an essential item of clothing in a gent’s wardrobe. Here are the most popular questions I’m asked about men’s chino trousers.

What’s the difference between khakis and chinos?

They generally refer to the same thing. ‘Khakis’ comes from the term the Indians used to describe the colour, which means ‘dust coloured’ or ‘earth coloured’, back in 1848. It is thought that during that year, a British regiment commanding officer Sir Harry Lumsden came up with the idea to dye his men’s white uniforms with a mixture of coffee, curry powder and mulberry juice to disguise the dirt they gathered where they were stationed in India. Khaki trousers were born.

Where does the term ‘chinos’ come from?

The term ‘chinos’ wasn’t used to refer to khaki trousers until the twentieth century. A batch of cotton trousers made in Manchester was sent to China, and then to the Philippines which was under American rule at the time. The American soldiers brought the trousers back to the United States and called them ‘chinos’ because of their origin. The U.S. navy approved chinos for off-duty wear in 1942 and in turn, Dockers K-1, similar military trousers, also became popular.

What should I look for when choosing a pair of chinos?

When buying a pair of men’s chinos opt for 100% cotton, especially in the summer, because it’ll allow your skin to breathe and will be the most comfortable in the heat. The best men’s chino trousers have four pockets – two front slanted pockets and two back jet pockets. Slimmer gents may prefer tailored fit chinos which are slightly more tapered down the trouser legs for a more fitted effect.

What should I wear with my chino trousers?

For casual situations men’s piqué polo shirts or t-shirts are the most popular choice of casual top to wear with chinos. When a more formal situation arises, choose a casual shirt, such as a short sleeve shirt or a lightweight Oxford shirt (from the Tyrwhitt range of course). Men’s blazers also look fantastic with chino trousers for a smart-casual look. Don’t worry too much about your chinos creasing; often, the more worn-in they are, the better they look.

What shoes should I wear with my chinos?

The popular chino colours, such as stone, mushroom and navy look superb with brown leather loafers or boat shoes. Dark green and grey chino trousers can also look good with black casual shoes. Modern and younger gents may choose to wear their chinos with Converse trainers, albeit at the most casual of occasions.

Should I choose pleated chino trousers or flat front chino trousers?

It depends. Flat front chinos are viewed as neater, tidier and more contemporary than pleated chinos. However, the fuller figured gents among us may find pleated chinos more comfortable and forgiving.

Who wears chinos today?

Celebrities wear chinos too. Steve McQueen is probably the most famous chinos fan. George Clooney is a pioneer of the humble chino trousers and helped to increase their popularity in the 1990s. He wore them often with a simple black t-shirt and leather lace-up shoes. Actors Jude Law, Ed Westwick and Dominic Cooper have been spotted in chinos, as have television presenter Michael Palin and artist David Hockney. Women’s chinos are also popular, with actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba regularly sporting a pair.