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Jeans and trousers

What are 5-pocket trousers?

What are 5-pocket trousers?

In a nutshell

The cut and shape of a pair of jeans, made in chino fabric. The material makes them a notch smarter than the former, but the relaxed shape means they’re more dressed down (and more comfortable) than the latter. Which positions them right in the smart-casual sweet spot.


The first pair of jeans was invented in 1871 by tailor Levi Strauss and riveter Jacob Davis, who teamed up to create a pair of hardy, denim trousers for workers during the gold rush. The first pairs had four pockets – two at the front, one in the back and a miniature version in the front right pocket, designed to protect a pocket watch. A fifth pocket, on the back, was soon added

As jeans crossed from workwear to style item, their signatures – a more relaxed cut, that extra pocket – came too. Designers experimented with different fabrics and came up with a style that felt like jeans to wear, but looked like chinos: the 5-pocket trouser.

How to wear them well

“Five-pocket trousers are like a child of jeans and chinos,” says Thread stylist Kasia Katner. “In smartness, they sit between the two. They’re ideal if you think chinos are a bit preppy but you’re going somewhere that jeans aren’t going to work. They’re also great for in-between weather, because they’re that little bit lighter than denim so you don’t get quite as hot if the sun does make an unexpected appearance.

“I’d advise wearing them in exactly the same way as smart jeans. Because they’re a hybrid, they’ll work with sweatshirts and trainers as well as a blazer and brogues. Particularly if you go for a tapered silhouette. It’s that little bit smarter.”