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Five shoes to wear with chinos

Five shoes to wear with chinos

The beauty of chinos is their flexibility. Something as subtle as switching your jacket from a blazer to denim means the same trousers can look just as stylish at work as at the weekend. And they’re equally accommodating to your feet. “They work with any kind of shoe, from a canvas trainer to a heavy work boot,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “They’re a real all-rounder.”

Not that you can quite slip on anything. Chinos cover a big chunk of the smart-casual spectrum, but don’t reach either end. “So you don’t want to wear ultra-formal styles like cap-toe Oxfords or patent leather shoes. Save those for your suit or tuxedo,” says Luke. The same is true of their opposite – flip-flops are too dressed-down, but a leather sandal feels the right kind of relaxed.

The tricky part isn’t matching your shoes to your chinos, but what sits above them. It’s worth the effort, though. “If you’re wearing chinos with a blazer then it makes sense to wear more refined shoes, like a loafer or a suede derby,” says Luke. “If you’re in a sweatshirt then trainers or desert boots. By echoing the smartness of what’s higher up, you pull the entire look together.” And it doesn’t look like you stepped out in whichever shoes were nearest the door.

Stick to muted colours like olive, tan or navy and the process becomes a lot simpler. “They’re the easiest to match to a wide array of footwear,” says Luke. “It can be a bit trickier when you get into pastels and jewel tones because the trousers start to draw a lot of attention and can clash with the things that they sit against.” Follow Luke’s guide to matching your shoes to your chinos, and you’ll never put a foot wrong.

1. For an impromptu pub trip

Outfit: Navy chinos, black work boots, overshirt, striped tee

Why it works: With a pair of trainers, this is a simple but safe look. “But a black boot matches the military feel of the olive shirt,” says Luke. “It’s the kind of thing that makes an outfit that little bit more interesting. You’re put-together, but don’t look like you’ve spent hours thinking about it.”

Navy chinos and black boots

2. For when you don’t know how smart the restaurant is

Outfit: Navy chinos, desert boots, unstructured blazer, navy jumper

Why it works: They say it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. But best of all is right in the middle. If you’re unsure of the dress code, a desert boot’s silhouette is smart, but the texture of the suede keeps things from straying too formal. “It’s the ultimate smart-casual shoe,” says Luke. “Especially with an unstructured blazer – one with little or no padding. It gives your look a relaxed, Steve McQueen feel.”

Navy chinos and desert boots

3. For a Sunday dinner with the family

Outfit: Navy chinos, canvas trainers, knitted jumper

Why it works: Chinos and a cable knit jumper is a look that could go either way, says Luke. “It’s smart if you wear it with smart shoes. But trainers take away any formality, without making you look scruffy.” Your gym shoes won’t cut it, though. “White trainers echo the jumper and also don’t make a statement. Their canvas fabric also offers a nice contrast to the cotton in the trousers and wool in the knit, which gives the entire outfit depth.”

Navy chinos and trainers

4. For a creative office

Outfit: Navy chinos, brown derbies, blazer, white polo

Why it works: In no-dress-code offices, men often steer too casual. Leather derbies are the perfect way to stay smart but not seem square. “It’s perfect for the creative who wants to look elegant, but not stuffy,” says Luke. “It’s like a dressed-down version of the Oxford lace-up, just like the polo is a dressed-down version of the white shirt.”

Navy chinos and derbies

5. For a weekend to yourself

Outfit: Navy chinos, slip-on trainers, hoodie, white t-shirt

Why it works: “This is as relaxed as it gets,” says Luke, “but without tipping into sloppy.” After all, you never know who might pop round. “These shoes, with their California roots, have a great off-duty vibe. And because you can get in and out of them easily, they’re ideal for slipping off when you want to put your feet up, then back on if you need to need to answer the door.”

Navy chinos and slip-on trainers