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Jeans and trousers

How chinos should fit

How chinos should fit

Chinos are the sartorial embodiment of the phrase ‘smart-casual’, endowed with the superpower of looking just as good with a blazer as a hoodie. But they also have a kryptonite; bad fit. Go too tight or too loose and they’ll look terrible, no matter what you pair them with.

Fit is particularly important with chinos because of their military heritage. A staple of the American army, they were actually inspired by the khakis worn by the British forces in India in the 1800s. Unlike denim, which has always been casual and so ranges from spray-on to super-wide, chinos’ time as uniform means less room for experiments. Literally.

There are, of course, exceptions; skate-influenced style, for example, tends towards baggy chinos since it’s tough to kickflip in anything skinny. But for pretty much anywhere else, from work to weddings, this is the fit to shoot for if you want to avoid looking like an American tourist who’s stumbled off the golf course.

1. Chinos should fit comfortably on your waist

“Just because there are belt loops doesn’t mean you have to wear a belt,” says Brooke. “Chinos should sit comfortably on your waist. If you need to size up to fit your legs, then wear a belt to make sure your chinos sit properly. Or even better, have the waist taken in by a tailor.”

2. Avoid anything too tight

“A slim fit is the most flattering but you don’t want skin tight,” says Brooke. “A good rule to follow is to look to the fit of any suit trousers that you own and try for a similar fit. Avoid anything too tight or that pulls when you sit down. But don’t go too far the other way, baggy chinos are not your friend. If there’s a couple of inches of fabric in the thighs, you’re about right.”

3. Your chinos should end at your ankle if rolled

“Thanks to their lighter fabric, typically cotton-twill chinos lend themselves to a roll up,” says Brooke. “But only roll them once or twice up on the hem so they end at the ankle. Anything else looks like you’re going wading. If you’re wearing them unrolled, the hem should hit the top of your shoes.”

4. Style matters

“There’s more than one type of chino,” says stylist Brooke Philips. “If you’re not sure if yours are smart, look at the pockets – flat pockets on the back are more casual. Look at the material weight too. As a general rule the heavier the weight, the more casual the chinos”. 


Words: Nadia Balame-Price