We generally think of chinos as a slightly smarter jeans alternative. And they’re great for autumn because they’re not as heavy as jeans, so they counterbalance all the boots and jumpers you can’t wait to wear once the temperature dips a bit. Best of all, they're even easier than jeans to make smart or casual.
Stylist, Alice Watt
It’s all in the cuffs. If you’re dressing smarter—with a blazer and leather shoes, say—then leave the bottoms of the trousers as they are.
To make your chinos look more casual, turn the cuffs up by an inch or so.
“If you want to throw on a pair of chinos and be confident they go with everything, you can’t beat navy,” Alice says.
“Just think of how often you wear indigo jeans or a navy suit. Navy chinos go with every other colour (including black!).”
Our rule of thumb: Think about what you normally wear casually, and then add or change one or two pieces of clothing to make your outfit smarter.
By wearing chinos instead of jeans, for example—and maybe adding a pair of smart shoes—you'll immediately smarten up.
Chinos go with basically any shoes, barring the extremes: beat-up trainers aren’t great, nor are the super-polished shoes you’d wear with your sharpest suit.
If you’re wearing them with trainers or suede boots, try turning up the bottoms of the chinos to make them look more casual.
“If you want chinos to help you look as lean as possible, take them to the tailor,” Alice says.
“If your chinos are too long, getting them taken up by even an inch or so keeps the ends from bunching around your ankles, greatly improving the way you look.”
You'll see styles that are reminiscent of jeans—with rivets and jeans-like pockets—but chinos are more versatile if they’re more like tailored trousers, with flat, subtle front and back pockets. This makes them smarter, so they’re fit for a wider range of occasions.
Cotton twill's the classic chino fabric, and it's also the sturdiest option. It's woven in a similar way to denim, making it thick and hard-wearing.
If you're after a smarter pair of chinos, you could also opt for plain cotton. Lots of the pairs here have a small percentage of spandex, which makes them more comfortable.
Go for slim or straight chinos if you want to wear them both smartly and casually.
Skinny chinos can look too young and casual to dress up, and because they’re usually stretchy, skinny fits aren’t as durable or long lasting as slim or straight chinos are.
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