Chinos have been around for over 170 years. That’s longer than blue jeans. Originally known as khakis, a Hindustani reference to the sandy-colored cotton twill fabric, chinos as a term began to take hold during the Spanish-American War in the late 1800s. It’s derived from the Spanish word for ‘Chinese’ and is a shortened version of chinos pantalones or ‘Chinese pants’.
They originally featured slanted or on-seam side pockets, belt loops and a wide fit, and were introduced to militaries around the world before making their way to civilian society. Today every brand has a version of its own, from the ubiquitous and affordable to the esoteric.
When we’re not wearing jeans, we’re wearing chinos. The understudy to the classic blue jean may get more shine than actual understudies and may even outdo the star on occasion. It’s about as versatile and certainly as classic, so here are our picks for the best chinos out there right now.
Dickies 874 Work Pant
Admittedly built and marketed as a work pant, the Dickies 874 is the brand’s quintessential pant. But don’t let its rough-and-ready connotation limit you. It’s made of tough, wrinkle-resistant poly-cotton twill in a classic straight fit and comes with a flat front and creased leg for a dressy appearance. The 874 will stand up to skating, manual labor and whatever outfit you have in mind for the day.
J.Crew 484 Slim-Fit Pant in Stretch Chino
The upgrade to the 484 from the 874 is more than just numbers. J.Crew’s popular Stretch Chino goes a few steps further in quality with a lined waistband and chambray binding at the seams. Also, they come in the full spectrum of colors.
Stan Ray Easy Chino
Stan Ray’s been making tough goods like chore coats and fatigue pants in the U.S. since the 1970s. Its version of the chino brings the same level of quality with all-cotton twill and a tapered fit.
Gramicci NN Trouser
Who says chinos couldn’t work for mountain climbing? Gramicci’s bouldering-friendly entry features strategically placed gussets, a flexible waist with an included nylon webbing belt and velcro rear pockets.
Bill’s Khakis M2P Classic Fit Pleated Vintage Twill
Bill’s Khakis makes some damn fine khakis. It’s in the name after all. Designed with a double pleat for the brave/old school, 7.5-ounce cotton twill and Stateside production, Bill’s, unlike many chinos, are cut like dress trousers, meaning you can get them altered easily.
Officine Generale Italian Cotton Pleated Chino Pants
Officine Generale’s entry elegantly balances dress and casual with a pleated front, creased leg, relaxed fit and self-fabric belt.
Polo Ralph Lauren Iconic GI Khaki Chino
Though more subtle, chinos can patina really nicely, another reason to love the classic trouser. Ralph Lauren’s beat-up version may not be an actual vintage pair, but you get a pretty good idea without having to hunt through flea markets or wear a pair in for yourself.
The Armoury Selvedge Twill Cotton Army Chinos
Or, you can really try and wear them in your damn self. From premier tailoring retailer, The Armoury, its in-house trousers are made in the same US factory that still produces chinos for the military. Paired with Japanese selvedge twill fabric that’s sturdy and primed for patina, bound seams, a button fly, a garment wash for the slightest head start on break-in, you’ll want to enlist these into your rotation.
Cushman Lot 22040 8oz Denim Pant
Denim in chino form, you can have your cake and eat it too with Japanese repro brand Cushman. These trousers come in a wide-leg 1940s fit with classic chino details but a familiar indigo denim fabric.
Bode Ladder Hem Side-Tie Trousers
Bode’s known for exalting vintage and antique fabrics to modern appeal. These trousers use one-of-a-kind antique French linens and include rakish side ties and a ladder-stitched hem for a little extra spice.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.