The essential trousers for the modern man.
Developing and refining a great wardrobe often comes down to the best menswear you can trust – like chinos. Start with the right building blocks and you’ll be rewarded handsomely down the line, in matters of style and utility in equal measure. And the chino is a must-have that works particularly well in autumn and winter.
Like other reliable staples for men, such as field jacket or that white T-shirt, The chino’s roots were purely functional at first – they began as a Chinese cotton twill trouser worn in the Spanish-American War before slowly but surely transitioning into civilian life. Chino, as luck would have it, is the Spanish word for “China” – actually not far from the Philippines, and the rest is history.
Short lesson aside, why do you need chinos in your cold weather wardrobe? The style is a bit more streamlined than blue jeans, making them reliable business casual style option, of course. Chinos are an ideal option for fall because of their substantial, polished look drape – perhaps one reason the cotton twill fabric was preferred by the armed forces. You will also find chinos in lots of autumn-ready colours, such as different shades of deep brown, tan or rust.
Plus, who doesn’t love to move their wardrobe away from shorts, light wash jeans or linen trousers for something more hardy for autumn? Chinos are your best bet in that case. The good news is that modern pairs more often than not have a decent amount of stretch, making them a comfortable move on the road, in the office or around town.
But beware: Most guys should stay away from pleats and overly baggy or relaxed fits these days – although we find both ends of the style spectrum wearing them, the out-of-touch guy and the bleeding fashion guy. For now, we’ve got some Primer-approved picks that fit the bill nicely. Chinos might just become your new favorite pants this season.
If you’re talking best chinos for men, you’d do well to talk bonobo. The NYC-based company was founded with a simple goal: Make the best-fitting pair of chinos on the market, and well over a decade later, they’re still going strong. The key to Bonobo’s chinos is the use of helpful stretch for comfort, but it’s the company’s signature curved waistband that helps deliver an extremely comfortable, mobile fit. These are priced at nearly $100, but given your choice of six fits, a variety of waist and inseam sizes, and more than 15 color options, you could argue they’re worth the higher price tag.
Remember what we said about reliable building blocks? J.Crew, like any major brand, excels at delivering classics in a modern way, classics that look good on any guy. Our experience means that buying from J.Crew doesn’t mean compromising on quality, fabric or fit, and the price for its wear-with-anything chinos (under $80 without discount) is very affordable. This pair features a timeless design with slanted side pockets and a slimmer leg. Note that J.Crew also offers its chinos in straight-fit and athletic fit, and in a stunning array of fall-ready colors.
You could say that Dockers helped bring the chino into the mainstream (think: Casual Fridays or the business casual style we talked about earlier), but the good news is that things have gotten sleeker, cooler, and more stylish since those days. Take the Ultimate Chinos with a fitting name, a clean fit and no annoying pleats. We’re big fans of colors like Dark Ginger, which make these a seriously fall and winter-inspired pair of pants in terms of style potential. Throw in the sub-$50 price tag and you’ve got yourself a decent pair of chinos for men.
As with the trusty blue jean, it can be difficult to find pants that work well if you have larger thighs or a larger rear. Still, you don’t want to move too far into “relaxed fit” either. What’s a guy to do? Choose some extremely affordable chinos under $40 in athletic fit designed for those with more built legs. The use of 2 percent spandex here gives them crucial comfort, while the leg opening is still tapered for a clean finish.
It makes perfect sense that Buck Mason – a brand that often nods to the past in its classically inspired designs – would produce a pair of eye-catching chinos for men. The details here are timeless, from a mid-rise to a fit that tapers just below the knee. For those who prefer more room to move, these chinos are available in cotton slub twill in one straight fit (Ford, shown) as well ill (Maverick). Either way, you’ll get a sturdy yet soft, garment-washed set of cotton twill chinos, available in a range of pleasantly faded, versatile colours.
The chino is about as American as it gets, right up there with the blue jeans and white T-shirt, and American Giant takes that ethos to the next level with the Sawbuck Chinos. They are made the old fashioned way in Texas using a heavy stretch cotton chino twill fabric for durability. Suitable for fall and winter in that respect, they boast a more classic fit that should fit in nicely with as wide a range of styles as robust leather boots (that Red Wing Iron Ranger comes to mind). Just know that the US-made construction makes them quite expensive compared to others on this list (they’ll set you back nearly $200).
At the other end of the spectrum from expensive, USA-made chinos sits Uniqlo, always a reliable purveyor of budget-friendly men’s style staples. Its chinos are slim, but come in a range of waist sizes. They are also perfect if you prefer more minimal style, with dressy colors such as dark grey, black and navy readily available. They are so well priced that you can get several pairs for your office wardrobe without breaking a sweat.
The Amazon Essentials line aims to corner the market on your wardrobe in multiple categories, all at great prices. These chinos tick several boxes, from the stretch fabric to the highly wearable athletic fit. Colors like Dark Burgundy are seriously cool and suitable for autumn, especially with rich brown leather boots, a white henley and a gray shawl cardigan. And just like with Uniqlo and other affordable pairs of the best chinos for men, you can grab multiple pairs without thinking twice.
The Devil-Dog Dungarees name dates back to New York in the late 1940s, and while the company no longer makes its durable jeans or chinos in the US of A., they are still a brand committed to accessible quality and reasonable prices. . This writer tested the brand’s form-fitting stretch jeans—which aren’t nearly as skinny as other stretch jeans can be—and the Performance Twill Chinos seem to fit much the same mold. Think: A no-nonsense design, a timeless cut with a straight fit and a color that works well with blue chambray shirts, a brown corduroy jacket or an olive henley.
The Western Rise trousers have been developed with the modern man in mind – its durable stretch fabrics are made to resist stains and moisture, and they have plenty of useful pockets to take you from the city to the open road. While some of the company’s styles feature an elasticated waistband, the Evolution Chino is an all-new product that features four-way stretch Evolution fabric, crucial stain resistance and useful modern details like a media pocket for your phone. Chinos you can wear to the office as well as out on a moderate hike are rare, but this pair delivers (trust us, we’ve tried them).
If you’re looking for chinos that feel more like wearing tailored sweatpants (with polished style still at the fore), you’ll want a pair of chinos from Mugsy Jeans. The stretch chino fabric is probably the “stretchiest” of any pair on our list of the best chinos for men, while the Olive color is crisp, versatile and suitable for autumn’s darker tones. They are more expensive than other options at just over $100, but totally worth it considering the mix of comfort and fit.
If you’re looking for a pair of polished chinos to wear with closet staples – anything from a pocket T-shirt to one chambray shirt to one navy blazer and merino tee – Spier & Mackay ticks the right boxes. Even more amazingly, they do it for under $50 for a pair of cotton chinos finished with a soft garment-dyed process. Choose from eight colors that are guaranteed to get better the more you wear them, and be sure to check out Spier & Mackay’s three fit options, from Extra Slim to a more sensible Contemporary. Note that the inseam is unobstructed, but at that price you’d be wise to grab more than one pair.