If styled well, chinos can be a critical part of any man’s wardrobe, falling somewhere between denim and dress pants on the casual-to-formal spectrum. Despite their cemented place in every basic business-casual wardrobe, chinos actually have an interesting history. Similar to American denim’s roots in workwear, chinos started out as military trousers made from twill cotton during the Spanish–American War. The pants later evolved from a military garment into a mainstream piece of clothing — just like bomber jackets did when GIs kept wearing them after returning from World War II. And they later made their mark on modern American style when they became a preppy staple among East Coast Ivy Leaguers throughout the 1950s and ’60s.
Those military origins are what give chinos their casual appeal, says personal stylist Patrick Kenger of Pivot Image Consulting. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a menswear brand that doesn’t have its own version — in addition to OG options like Dockers, everyone from Bonobos to Ralph Lauren sells chinos. And although many people use the terms “khakis” and “chinos” interchangeably, khaki is a color, while chino is the style; chinos are available in a variety of colors, from khaki to black to gray to green (and beyond). To find the very best ones, we asked stylish guys to share their favorites.
Best overall chino | Best workwear chino | Best slim-fit chino with stretch | Best chino for men with big thighs | Best relaxed-fit pleated chino | Best cropped pleated chino | Best slim-fit lighter-weight chino | Best warm-weather chino | Best lounge chino | Best updated classic chino | Best made-to-order chino | Best upcycled chino
What we’re looking for
Sizing: One factor we looked at when searching for the best chinos was size inclusivity — a wide range of available waist sizes and inseam lengths. Some brands allow you to select your waist and inseam measurements independently, while others only let you select your waist measurement and pair it with a fixed inseam length. (Inseams for most styles of men’s pants fall between 30 and 34 inches on average.) To find your ideal measurements, in addition to measuring your body, try measuring the waist and inseam on a pair of pants that you already love and using those measurements as your starting point.
Cut: There are three dominant cuts of chinos: straight fit, slim fit, and relaxed fit. The straight fit, where the legs are cut straight down with a consistent measurement from the hips to the bottom of the pants, is a classic and one of the most popular options. It will accommodate a variety of body types and will endure even as trends come and go. A slim-fit cut will be snugger in the butt and thighs while also tapering toward the bottom of the legs. And relaxed-fit chinos are designed to be looser in the butt, thighs, and even in the legs, with a wider drape. Unsurprisingly, relaxed-fit chinos are more comfortable and less restrictive than the other two cuts.
Pleats versus flat front: Pleats are a familiar style detail on chinos, and they often allow for more room in hip and thigh areas. However pleats don’t determine the overall cut of the pants — you can still have pleats in a pair of trousers that have a slimmer or tapered cut in the legs. For each of our chino picks below, we’ve noted whether the pants have pleats or a flat front.
Fabric: Chinos are traditionally made from 100 percent cotton with a twill weave that is meant to be sturdy and long-lasting (a by-product of the pants’ history as militarywear). They tend to be softer and more lightweight than jeans, making them a good warm-weather alternative to denim. As with jeans these days, modern chinos are sometimes made with synthetic materials like elastane to add a bit of stretch for even more comfort or maneuverability. Giovanni Dorin, lead of sports and entertainment media partnerships at TikTok, told us that for him, less than stellar-quality fabric is a deal-breaker; he says the marker of a great pair of chinos is fabric “that allows them to easily drape versus seeming stiff or bunched up.”
Best overall chino
Waist sizes 26–38 | Inseam sizes 28–36 | Flat front | Straight leg | 97% cotton, 3% elastane
As a “Northeastern preppy American kid,” WM Brown founding editor Matt Hranek told us that he’s lived in chinos his entire life. He says he’s tried “every incarnation — expensive and otherwise” and finally found his perfect pair at the resurgent teen (and tween) favorite Abercrombie and Fitch. But 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 Abercrombie’s chinos now feature “great construction and perfect sizing.” Because they have a little stretch, Hranek says they feel “like pajamas” but assures us that the twill cotton fabric is sturdy — “kind of bulletproof” are his exact words — “and definitely carbonara-spill-proof.” Hranek is partial to the classic straight fit, which he owns in “every shade of tan.” (Abercrombie’s chinos are also available in skinny, super-skinny, and athletic-skinny cuts, and in a variety of neutral colors.)
Best workwear chino
Waist sizes 28–58 | Inseam sizes 28–39 | Flat front | Straight leg | 65% polyester, 35% cotton
Two of our panelists enthusiastically endorsed the classic 874 work pants from Dickies, which Noah Johnson, a senior editor at GQ, told us are the “ultimate egalitarian chino.” He appreciates that they come in different inseam lengths ranging from 28 to 39 inches, meaning that even people who are on the shorter side might be able to avoid going to a tailor to have them hemmed, and taller people will likely still find a pair that’s long enough (note that the 37- and 39-inch inseams will come unhemmed). Johnson also appreciates the “subtle sheen” of the fabric and the “flawless factory crease” you will find in any new pair. Fashion writer and DJ Isaac Hindin-Miller also loves Dickies — 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,” but they come in more than a dozen colors to suit all seasons and tastes.
Best slim-fit chino with stretch
Waist sizes 27–42 | Inseam size 34, with free alterations | Flat front | Slim fit | 60% cotton, 37% polyester, 3% Spandex
When we asked UX designer Nehemiah Blackburn who makes his favorite chinos, his answer was the same one we often hear when discussing men’s basics: “Uniqlo, Uniqlo, Uniqlo.” Blackburn says he has worn the same pair of these slim-fit chinos for three years, and they’re “still in great shape.” They’re made of cotton, polyester, and spandex to provide comfort and stretch. The inseam for all sizes is set at 34 inches by default, but if you know exactly what length you need, you can order them online and Uniqlo will shorten them to your preferred length (from 16 inches to 32.5 inches in half-inch increments) for free. Uniqlo also offers free in-store hemming within 30 days of your purchase and “usually turns them around in a single day,” according to Blackburn. Nicolás Lazaro, a community specialist at the menswear-resale platform Grailed, is also a fan of Uniqlo’s chinos, telling us they are the first pair of “non-Dockers” chinos he ever bought. He calls them “the best under-$100 chinos you’ll find anywhere,” adding that “with a little tailoring or a folded cuff, they can look as good, if not better than, most luxury options.”
Best chino for men with big thighs
Waist sizes 28–40 | Inseam sizes 28–36 | Flat front | Athletic cut | 97% cotton, 3% elastane
If you tend to feel like some chinos are too tight in the thigh area, these stretch chinos from Bonobos might offer a more comfortable fit. Calvin Stowell, the chief growth officer at the Trevor Project, says that his bigger size means most chinos don’t fit him well, but chinos from Bonobos “fit nicely over my butt and thighs without being too baggy at the ankle and last longer in the seat than other chinos.” He prefers the brand’s “athletic” cut for its roominess, but you can also choose from a slim taper or straight design for a more fitted option. Kenger also likes Bonobos’ collection of chinos for the sheer number of choices in terms of fit, sizes, and colors (more than a dozen), so “you’re bound to find something.”
Best relaxed-fit pleated chino
Waist sizes 28–44 | Inseam sizes 29–34 | Pleated front | Relaxed fit | 100% cotton
Ralph Lauren’s chinos came up a lot in our research, with different guys each recommending different pairs. If you like a wider leg, brand consultant Kapil Sehgal suggests these relaxed-fit chinos. He calls them a wardrobe staple and says their “soft cotton-twill fabric is super comfortable, and their oversize fit is perfect for working from home.” Sehgal, who has worked in menswear for 13 years, adds that pleated chinos are very “of the moment” for 2022: “The trend in menswear for the past few seasons has been toward oversize, comfortable fits, and I don’t see that changing for a while.” Embrace the pleats and the relaxed fits and let them drape over you. The Ralph Lauren Whitman Chino is available in four different colors: white, aqua, forest green, and tan.
Best cropped pleated chino
Waist sizes 28–38 | Inseam sizes regular or long | Pleated | Relaxed fit | 98% cotton, 2% elastane
Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa loves his Alex Mill chinos, which he has been able to wear on repeat throughout three of the last four seasons (fall, spring, and summer) because of the looser, airier fit in the thigh. If you’re looking to dip a toe into the world of pleated pants, these are the chinos for you. Because the single pleats are so subtle, Rellosa says, he can dress them up or down and, depending on how high or low he wears them on his waist, he can really show off the pleats or hide them. They have a little bit of stretch for comfort, and a flap coin pocket adds a unique detail. When we asked Rellosa to tell us more about the cropped length, he noted that the cuffed hem is stitched around the ankle, so you won’t be able to uncuff the pants unless you’re very handy with a seam ripper. But he’s into the look. “I ended up liking the cropped length because I can show off my socks on taller boots like my Blundstones or desert boots. And the cropped length looks great with loafers too.”
Best slim-fit lighter-weight chino
Waist sizes 28–36 | Inseam sizes 30–34 | Flat front | Slim fit | Cotton and elastane blend
According to Strategist contributor Chris Black, you can’t say chino without paying respect to J.Crew, a brand known for preppy basics that are “usually on sale.” The 484 Slim-Fit Stretch Chino is made of a cotton-and-elastane blend to offer some stretch. The pants have a slim cut throughout the thighs and legs — perfect if you’re looking for a foil to the relaxed chinos from Polo Ralph Lauren. Black describes 484s as “not exactly light” but still “fine in the warmer months.” They come in 12 colors, including black, navy, lighter and darker shades of khaki, and an olive-toned Catskill Green.
Best warm-weather chino
Waist sizes 28–38 | Inseam sizes 30–34 | Flat front | Straight fit | 85% Tencel, 15% linen
This pair of lighter-weight chinos came recommended to us by model Dougie Joseph, who says he can wear them 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 unique look.” The Venroy Lounge chino has a straight cut throughout the leg and an elastic waistband for additional comfort, putting a spin on a more traditional structured chino.
Best lounge chino
Sizes XS–XXL | Inseam sizes regular and tall | Flat front | Tapered fit | 54 % Linen, 44 % Cotton, and 2 % Elastic
Though Dorin’s ideal pair of chinos is from Italian luxury brand Loro Piana (and costs over $500), he is also a fan of these more modestly priced loungy chinos from American designer Todd Snyder. Part of the brand’s Traveler series, they are made using a blend of cotton and linen from Italy’s famed Solbiati mill, and they have a touch of stretch that gives them a handsome drape — and makes them perfect for situations where you want to be comfortable but still look a bit polished, like on a long-haul flight. The drawstring and elastic waist certainly aren’t typical for chinos, but the hemmed cuffs and back button pockets very much are. In terms of quality, comfort, and style, Dorin says he’s been “very pleased” with the pants and has been “throwing them on for almost every flight as of late.” And though he’s not usually the most casual dresser, he told us he’s even come around to the elastic waist (when appropriate).
Best updated classic chino
Waist sizes 26–42 | Inseam sizes 30–34 | Flat front | Straight fit | 100% cotton
According to Lazaro, spending a little more on this pair of Ralph Lauren chinos will be an investment in pants that “only get better with age.” Ralph Lauren’s ranch-inspired RRL line, he says, is “every menswear enthusiast’s go-to when it comes to vintage washes and true-to-era details.” It centers on wardrobe stables based on ranch and midwestern designs, and it’s known for both its high prices and its incredible quality. Lazaro bought his pair of RRL Officer’s Chinos 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 says. They come in two colors, khaki and olive.
Best made-to-order chino
Waist sizes 44–54 (based on European sizing) | Custom inseam length | Pleats | Straight fit | 100% cotton
Several guys have told us how much they love Stoffa, a New York City–based clothing brand that sells made-to-order menswear. Sehgal says the brand’s cotton trouser is an elevated chino that he wears when he wants something more formal than his Ralph Laurens. He likes that they are “comfortable and can be dressed up and down,” adding that “the price is a great value for a made-to-order trouser if you’re very particular about fit.” Each pair is cut and sewn in Pavia, Italy, by a third-generation trouser-maker. They have a single pleat, a straight fit, and side adjusters that allow you to tighten or loosen the waistband; you can also choose from a handful of colors and decide whether you want a plain hem, cuffed hem, or unfinished pant break. (Note that Stoffa’s made-to-order service takes approximately five weeks from the order date.)
Best upcycled chino
Waist sizes 29–38 | Inseams vary | Pleats | Straight fit | 98% cotton, 2% elastane
Atelier & Repairs upcycles vintage denim and chinos by making any necessary repairs and then applying small embroideries, patches, and clever detailing to make them unique. This particular pair of repurposed vintage Dockers has a strip of woodland camo running along the outer seam. 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. 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.” Waist sizes range from 29 to 38, but there are no inseam measurements or a sizing guide available on the brand’s website, so we recommend you contact Atelier & Repair for more details before you order.
• Nehemiah Blackburn, UX designer
• Chris Black, former Strategist contributor
• Isaac Hindin-Miller, DJ
• Matt Hranek, WM Brown founding editor
• Noah Johnson, senior editor at GQ
• Dougie Joseph, model
• Patrick Kenger, personal stylist at Pivot Image Consulting
• Jeremy Kirkland, creator of the menswear podcast Blamo!
• Nicolás Lazaro, community specialist at the resale platform Grailed
• Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman
• Calvin Stowell, chief growth officer at the Trevor Project
• Giovanni Dorin, sports and entertainment media partnerships at TikTok
• Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa
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