Spring is swingin’ and summer is coming in hot. If you haven’t already ditched your wool pants, chances are you’re sweating, shopping for spring clothes or both. Men’s chinos are everywhere right now and are exactly what you need to crank your work wardrobe into high gear.
The best men’s chinos, like your stay-at-home sweats, are built for both speed and comfort, especially when the weather heats up. They’re a great change from the typical suit pant or the trouser you’ve been wearing since October and offer something more appropriate for the warm-weather seasons. Even during the work-from-home grind, wearing actual pants and not just sweats can help increase productivity by putting you in the right mindset.
IS IT CHINO OR KHAKI?
Maybe you’ve heard “chino.” Maybe you’ve heard “khaki.” If you’re from Boston, like I am, you’ve also heard “cah keys,” a real engine-revving pair of men’s pants. Are they different? Does it matter how you say it? Consider this.
Both chinos and khakis, like so many things we wear today, were first used as part of military uniforms.
Khakis came first, in the mid-19th century, after the British military adopted them as a cooler, lighter-weight alternative to wool while stationed in a very hot colonial India. The term “khaki” translates to “dusty” in Hindi.
Chinos were born during the Spanish-American War, when US troops were stationed in the Philippines. The troops’ uniforms were made of a twill material sourced from China. “Chino,” literally means Chinese in Spanish.
Today, we’ve adopted the word “khakis” as the term for the garment rather its color. Furthermore, when many people hear the term “khakis,” a professional setting comes to mind. Traditional khakis have taken on more of a business-casual role, not too far from their proper military roots. Chinos, on the other hand, have developed a whole new personality and are suitable for both casualwear and semi-dressy occasions. They also come in a wider variety of colors.
Bottom line: They’re a category and a subcategory. If you’re wearing chinos, technically you’re wearing khakis, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true.
1. Dockers Slim Fit Workday Khaki Smart 360 Flex Pants
THE NEW CLASSIC
Any conversation about the best men’s chinos that doesn’t mention Dockers isn’t worth hearing. With that said, Dockers technically aren’t even chinos, they’re khakis! Dockers, since 1986, has had a stronghold on the American man’s choice for casual work pants as does their parent company, Levi Strauss, as the face of American denim. But these aren’t your dad’s khakis.
They’ve completely revived their lineup by introducing brand new fits and their 360 Flex technology, which allows for a full range of motion, even when bending over. They’ve also included a conveniently hidden fifth pocket that zips shut. Wear this dressed up with your work shoes and a nice button-down shirt or casually with a cuff, white sneakers, and a comfortable hoodie. I’ve worn these myself and they’re far better than originally anticipated.
2. Banana Republic Aiden Slim Rapid Movement Chino
FROM OFFICE TO DRINKS
Banana Republic’s Rapid Movement Chino was (before COVID-19) often seen riding on trains in subways. They’re the go men’s pants among young professionals because of their high quality, affordable price and frequent seasonal color drops. Banana Republic developed its Rapid Movement technology to add stretch and shape retention to the pants along with semi water and stain repellent technology for messy commuter days. The Aiden fit is Banana’s slim option among four other fits in the Rapid Movement Chino line. This chino is perfect for working through the day and heading to a bar or restaurant with coworkers afterward. Dress them up with a shirt and tie. When you’re ready to let loose, they’ll keep you comfortable for the duration.
3. Banana Republic Slim Traveler Pant
BEST BLACK CHINO
This is Banana Republic’s “anti-chino.” It’s still lightweight but it’s far softer than any other chino-type pant. It’s all in the name — traveler. If you’re somebody who runs around the city or is constantly moving from place to place everyday, you need a pair of pants that can keep up and stay comfortable. That’s what the Traveler Pant does. I have four pairs myself and they’re still just as comfortable today as they were the day I got them.
I think they look best with a rolled cuff, a clean sneaker, a t-shirt and a casual button-up over that. The black, however, is perfect for dressier occasions. The material Banana Republic uses for the black Traveler Pant doesn’t fade and doesn’t collect dust like other black chinos do. Whether you’re rocking the sneaker look or you wear it with a black leather shoe, you’re going to look great. If you’re looking for the best chinos for everyday wear, you can’t beat these pants for comfort, fit and style.
4. Bonobos Slim Fit Stretch Washed Chinos
BEST CHINOS FOR ALL SIZES
Bonobos broke menswear when they said, “You know what, people are different shapes and sizes, let’s make clothes for them all.” In the last five years, Bonobos has blown up because they make the widest selection of off-the-rack sizes. This chino runs from a 28-54 waist size, when most other pants only run up to 38, and the inseam is available up to a 36. As if they hadn’t set themselves apart enough, they went ahead and designed this chino with a mid-rise waist for extra pouch space and optimal comfort. For spring and summer, the Nopales color, seen here, is a great way to add color to your wardrobe during the warmer months. Wear this with a patterned dress shirt and a work-appropriate pair of sneakers.
5. H&M Slim Fit Cropped Chinos
Chinos look better cuffed. Why? It doesn’t even have to do with the drape of the pant as much as it does that ankles are a great accessory. H&M did us all a favor by giving us this cropped chino. Available in dark beige, navy, green and light beige, this chino allows you to spend a day looking effortlessly stylish. Wear this with a basic tee, dark casual shirt, and a low profile sneaker to complete the look correctly. Simple is better. If you’re dealing with COVID-19 weight, make sure to order one size larger. Most chinos cost about $100 (seriously, almost all of our favorite chinos this season cost exactly $98.00), but if you’re looking for the best chinos under $50, H&M should be your first stop.
6. ASOS DESIGN Relaxed Skater Chino
TRY THIS FIT
Relaxed fit, not baggy, is making a comeback. ASOS is all over it with its Relaxed Skater Chino in the silver sage color. Why should guys consider this? First, it’s probably a departure from the slim styles most guys reach for when pants shopping. Second, it cuffs up even as a relaxed fit and arguably looks cooler than a slim fit cuff. Third, ASOS partnered with Better Cotton Initiative to help improve cotton farming and environmental impact on a global scale. Fourth, they just look really comfortable. Make this your new weekend pant for lounging in style.
7. Everlane The Performance Chino | Uniform
365 DAY GUARANTEE
You’ve got navy, grey, tan and black chinos. Cool, but you need to try green, and it should be Everlane’s Performance Chino from their Uniform line. Performance and techwear is a booming trend right now in menswear and, to a degree, it’s not going anywhere. Everlane’s chino was designed with four-way stretch fabric that is also moisture-wicking and quick-drying to keep up with a long day of wear. As part of Everlane’s Uniform line, these chinos come with a 365-day guarantee that states “in the unlikely event that a tee gets a hole, a sweatshirt collar shrinks up, an oxford loses its color—don’t sweat it. We’ll gladly replace it with a new one.” Everlane is making some of the best basic men’s apparel right now, so it’s no surprise they also have some of the best chinos for spring and summer.
8. Mugsy Jeans Morgan Chino
This is BY FAR the stretchiest chino I have ever worn. One of the new kids on the block, Mugsy’s mission is to “#FreeYourBalls.” Mugsy Jeans was born after the founder was told his baggy pants looked like garbage. Still needing extra room for the boys, he designed a product that was the perfect balance between a slim and a straight fit with the added bonus of stretch. My Mugsy chinos look great, but there have been specific times when they’ve come in clutch, like for indoor rock climbing, riding the bike to the office and just living in the hot Los Angeles summer. Guys with a more athletic build, you know, thighs like telephone poles, benefit in a big way from this lineup. Rock these either with your regular work outfit or your favorite casual ensemble. You’ll be glad you did.
9. ASOS DESIGN Relaxed Chinos
MANDATORY FOR SPRING
The infamous white chino. The white chino has the power to sway opinion and mold first impressions from the get-go. There’s something so luxurious and, somehow, so opportunistic about styling a white chino with new spring and summer colors. ASOS did a relaxed fit chino in white and we’re here for it. Style this with lighter blues, pinks, and yellows. Match it back with either canvas and espadrille shoes or your choice of leather, although a British tan works best.