I enjoy wearing a nice pair of trousers. But my day to day life sometimes requires something less formal. At the other end of the spectrum, I love wearing jeans, but there are occasions where they would be too casual of a choice. That’s where chinos come into play.
Chinos are a casual pant made of cotton. They do an extraordinary job of filling that no man’s land between formal and casual, and can be worn in most scenarios you find yourself in during your day to day life.
Chinos are the bread and butter of my closet. They are versatile enough for me to wear to work, or just out and about doing errands. Versatility in my clothing is important to me seeing that clothing can be pricey, so I ensure that I get the most out of mine. For work I pair slimmer cut chinos with button down shirts (including button down collars) with a more casual tie and blazer. It’s a smart but not overly dressed professional look that can transition into nightlife activities. Or you can match them with a polo shirt on the weekend while munching on $15 avocado toast and mimosas.
Chinos come in a variety of fits, just like jeans. Each brand fits differently. Some have multiple styles or different types of fits. For example, my Brooks Brothers chinos are loose through the thigh and leg, with a wide opening at the bottom, and sit on my hips. It’s just the style that Brooks Brothers likes to produce. I have chinos from J. Crew that fit the exact the same way. But J. Crew also offers multiple levels of slimmer fitting chinos that vary in degree of how tapered they are through the thigh and down to the ankle. Most of those will sit on or below your hips.
They also come in plenty of colors, some more appropriate for work then others. Start with khaki (tan) and navy, preferably two pairs each so they don’t get worn out fast. These are the most versatile colors and will go with any shirt you already have in your closet. After that you can get into the greys, olives, reds (nantucket anyone?), and pastels if you so desire. Do your due diligence and figure out what style or look you like.
All of my chinos are from J. Crew Factory, except for a few from Brooks Brothers that I found at thrift stores (I love you Brooks Brothers, I’m just not $80 - $180 for chinos in love with you). They usually have a decent selection but sizing may be an issue at times since it is their outlet store. The price point is great at $34 - $39, and you can find some under clearance sitting at $29. For your awareness, I’ve read criticisms about J. Crew Factory chinos, stating that the quality was poor. I haven’t had that issue with any of my chinos. Just make sure to wash them correctly or they will fade and you will get fewer wears out of them. Finally, once you have your chinos find a reputable tailor or alterations shop and get them hemmed.