Denim jeans are the perfect all-around pants for casual events and occasions. They are comfortable, strong, durable and easy to match with other garments. Jeans, however, lack the formality needed for certain formal events and occasions. This is why it’s a good idea to diversify your wardrobe with a slightly more formal pair of pants, such as khakis or chinos.
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While similar in appearance, khakis and chinos are two unique garments with their own respective characteristics. Some men assume they are the same, but each of these garments are different. So, what’s the difference between khakis and chinos, and which style should you choose?
Khakis are usually thicker than their chinos, offering a greater level of warmth for the wearer. They are often make of either cotton or a cotton-polyester blend, with the latter being used for “stretch” khakis. You’ll also notice that khakis are available in both pleated and non-pleated fronts. Pleated fronts were once a popular choice but have declined in popularity over the years. Today, most men prefer non-pleated khakis. This doesn’t apply strictly to khakis, however. Non-pleated pants are often preferred for their clean and modern appearance.
Chinos, on the other hand, are usually lighter and thinner than their khaki counterpart. While they are also available in cotton and cotton-polyester blends, chinos are usually made in a lighter fabric like linen. This makes them preferable for warm-weather. Chinos also tend to taper through the leg, becoming more narrow the further down they go. Chinos can be either cuffed or uncuffed.
So, should you wear khakis or chinos? It really depends on your personal style and the occasion during which you’ll wear them. In addition to the nuances listed above, another difference between these two pants lies in their formality. Chinos are typically more formal than khakis, offering a cleaner appearance. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid wearing khakis for formal occasions, but it’s still something to consider nonetheless. Chinos often have hidden stitching, adding to their formality, whereas khakis have exposed stitching.
Whether you choose to wear khakis or chinos, however, it’s important to pair them with the right shirt. Assuming you choose the traditional “khaki” color (for either khakis or chinos), you shouldn’t have a problem finding a matching shirt. This is because a variety of colors match with khakis, making the process of creating a matching outfit just a little easier.