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The Best Chinos for Men, According to Stylish Men

Steve McQueen on a motorcycle, wearing chinos. The Strategist on best chinos for men.
Chinos suggested; motorcycle not required. Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

While the global pandemic and the work-from-home culture it has spawned have sidelined a lot of garments guys might normally wear this time of year, the chino — a softer, more urbane cousin to khakis — is surprisingly not one of them. (Technically, chinos don’t show any stitching and are more of an indoor garment than a pair of khakis. Also, khaki is a color; chino is a style.) Rather, the style is having a bit of a renaissance among stylish guys, who see it as the perfect bottom for a WFH fit: Unlike some denim, most chinos are comfortable enough to lounge around in, and they’re also smart (looking) enough to trick your brain into thinking you’ve dressed up for the workday.

Seeing as just about every menswear brand offers a chino (or three), we asked a bunch of stylish guys to tell us about their favorite pairs to help separate the good from the great. Read on for their suggestions, which include affordable workwear staples, instant classics from lesser known brands, and reimagined vintage pairs with no detail left unperfected.

Best under-$100 chinos for men

Two of our cool guys enthusiastically endorse the classic 874 work pants from Dickies, which Noah Johnson, a senior editor at GQ, told us are the “ultimate egalitarian chino.” His favorite Dickies details include the fact that they come in different inseam lengths, meaning you might be able to avoid going to the tailor, and the “subtle sheen” and “flawless factory crease” you will find in any new pair. Fashion writer and DJ Isaac Hindin-Miller also loves them — and has since he was a teen: “They are the sturdiest pants on the market, they’re stain-resistant, classic, and will never go out of style.” Hindin-Miller adds that he wears his favorite 874s in white all year round, “Labor Day be damned.”

As a “Northeastern preppy American kid,” WM Brown founding editor Matt Hranek told us that he’s “lived in chinos my entire life.” He says he’s tried “every incarnation — expensive and otherwise” and finally found his perfect pair at Abercrombie and Fitch. Hranek promises these are not your cologne-soaked Abercrombie chinos from yesteryear: “The new designer they brought in to make the brand a little less ‘shirtless men and perfume’ has a long history in menswear,” he tells us, adding that the chinos the brand now offers have “great construction and perfect sizing — they never require tailoring.” Because they have a little stretch, Hranek says they feel “like pajamas” but assures that the twill cotton fabric is sturdy — “kind of bulletproof” are his exact words “and definitely carbonara-spill-proof.” The chinos come in three different leg widths, though Hranek is partial to the classic straight fit, which he owns in “every shade of tan.”

According to Strategist columnist Chris Black, you can’t say chino without paying respect to J.Crew, a brand that is “usually on sale” — a declaration that, following recent reports, is especially true right now. Black describes the brand’s 484 slim-fit stretch chino as “not exactly light” but still “fine in the warmer months.” He also likes the range of colors they come in, which include a “lighter blue-gray and dark ‘eucalyptus’ green” (some of which are … currently on sale).

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Nicolas Lazaro, a community specialist at menswear platform Grailed, told us these chinos from Uniqlo were his first pair of “non-Dockers” chinos. According to him, if you’re looking for a “classic fit with vintage details (like the clutch coin pocket), they’re the best under-$40 chinos you’ll find anywhere.” Doubling down on that claim, he adds that they may just be the best chinos you’ll find, period. “With a little tailoring or a folded cuff, these will look as good, if not better than, most luxury options.” Lazaro notes that their mid-weight, garment-washed twill fabric will not only hold up but soften with age, making these a great alternative to sweatpants when “lounging at home.”

While the three pairs of chinos above are likely ones you’ve seen (or at least from brands you’ve seen), if you’re looking for a tapered chino from a newer (but still Chris Black–approved) label, he says this well-priced pair from Kotn is just as classic as any of the above. “Made from Egyptian-cotton gabardine twill, these will be breathable enough on stressful workdays and brisk weekend walks,” according to Black.

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If you’re a guy who feels squashed in any pants that aren’t sweats, Calvin Stowell, the chief growth officer at The Trevor Project, says that his “bigger” size means most chinos don’t fit him well, especially over his thighs. Chinos from Bonobos, however, have been his saving grace. “They fit nicely over my butt and thighs without being too baggy at the ankle and last longer in the seat than other chinos.”

Photo: retailer

This pair of chinos came recommended to us by model Dougie Joseph, who promises they can be worn all summer “without overheating.” According to Joseph, that’s because Australian brand Venroy makes them “from a mixture of linen and Tencel, so they don’t have that usual heavy feel of cotton chinos.” He goes on: “The Tencel-linen fabric creates a whole new realm of comfort, while also giving the chinos a really unique look.”

[Editor’s note: Venroy’s site lists prices in Australian dollars, so the price shown is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]

Best under-$200 chinos for men

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Writer Zachary Weiss told us he’s been “living” in these Lululemon pants that the brand describes as “inspired by chinos.” According to Weiss, they may not be formal enough for a night out (a concern to very few people right now) but are a “true life hack” for day-to-day life, travel, and lounging at home. “They’re comfortable without looking sloppy, and I love that Lululemon hems them for free, too, if you want a more tailored fit.” For a pair of stretchy Lululemon pants that would pass muster at a restaurant or bar, check out these ones that Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw calls “sweats in disguise.”

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Hertling Sport makes one of the two pairs of chinos Lazaro will put on when he isn’t in his Uniqlo ones. He says that the Brooklyn-based company has been making “private-label trousers for your favorite brands and retailers since before you were born” and likes the cut of its in-house chino, which he describes as “the perfect balance of a slim, tapered fit with a medium rise.” Lazaro adds that the stretch cotton the brand uses is “lightweight and breathable, with just the right amount of give.”

Fortela Pences Trousers

Jay Fielden, the former editor-in-chief of Esquire, tells us that for years he preferred how chinos looked on everyone else because he never could find a pair that suited him. That was until he stumbled upon Fortela, “a small shop in Milan that makes its own line of broken-in staples.” According to Fielden, the brand’s pants are cut in the Italian style — so roomy pleats and a narrow leg — but made with Japanese selvedge. “It’s there I found my hearty cotton gabardine pair. They can’t stand up without me, but almost.”

Best splurge-worthy chinos for men

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According to Lazaro, spending a little more on this pair of RRL chinos will be an investment in pants that “only get better with age.” Ralph Lauren’s ranch-inspired line, he says, is “every menswear enthusiast’s go-to when it comes to vintage washes and true-to-era details.” Lazaro bought his pair a decade ago and tells us they’ve remained a favorite, year after year. “They have a great slimmed-down profile with an ever-so-slight taper for a more contemporary straight fit, all done up in a nice, mid-weight twill with a perfect sun-faded finish you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else,” he sums up.

Atelier & Repairs upcycles vintage denim and chinos, then applies small embroideries, patches, and clever detailing to make them unique. Podcast host Jeremy Kirkland is a fan, as is Bergdorf Goodman men’s fashion director Bruce Pask, who told us his go-to pair of chinos come from the brand. “They’re quiet enough to be my go-tos but with enough originality to stand apart,” Pask says of these repurposed vintage Dockers. If, like Pask, you seek chinos that are “fuller, with wider, straight legs,” he says Atelier & Repairs may be the brand for you, because it has “a broad variety” of styles in that fit, “ranging from more colorful and statement-y to more subtle, like mine.”

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The Best Chinos for Men, According to Stylish Men