Difference Between Khakis and Chinos: A Guide for Men!

chinos vs khakis

In the realm of men’s fashion, the enigmatic duo of khakis and chinos reigns supreme, captivating style enthusiasts and baffling novices alike. These two seemingly similar yet distinct types of pants have sparked debates, inspired fashion choices, and left many pondering their true differences. 

In this blog post, we will explain the difference between khakis and chinos in terms of material, cut, and design, exploring their definitions, style variations, and how to wear them confidently. We’ll also give you some tips on styling khaki pants and chinos. So, let’s dive in and enhance our understanding of these wardrobe staples!

What Are Chino Pants?

Chino Pants
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Chinos have a fascinating origin that dates back to the Spanish-American War. Initially worn by military personnel, chino pants were crafted from twill fabric. Today, chinos are synonymous with versatility and a smart-casual aesthetic. 

These pants are typically made of cotton twill fabric, known for their lightweight, breathable, and durable nature. Chinos come in various styles, including straight fit, slim fit, and relaxed fit, providing options for different body types and preferences.

What Are Khakis?

Khaki Pants
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On the other hand, Khakis trace their roots to British military uniforms during the 19th century. The term “khaki” refers to the color of the fabric, which is a light tan or beige hue. 

Khaki pants are traditionally made from heavier cotton twill, making them more sturdy and suitable for rugged use. Khakis often feature a straight or relaxed fit, offering comfort and a classic aesthetic.

Chinos vs Khakis: A Detailed Comparison

The easiest way to tell the difference between khakis and chinos is by looking at the fabric, the cut, and the style of the pants. Here are some tips to help you distinguish them:

1. Fabric Variations and Texture

One of the key differences between chinos and khakis is the fabric used. Chinos are usually made using lightweight cotton twill, resulting in a softer and smoother texture. This fabric choice gives chinos a more refined and dressier appearance, making them suitable for casual and semi-formal occasions. 

On the other hand, khakis are crafted from a heavier cotton twill fabric, providing a slightly rougher texture. This sturdier fabric makes khakis more resilient to wear and tear, ideal for activities that demand durability.

2. Fit and Silhouette

Another notable distinction between chinos and khakis is their fit and silhouette. Chinos often come in a slimmer fit, hugging the legs and offering a more tailored look. This sleek silhouette gives chinos a modern and sophisticated edge, making them suitable for formal and casual settings.

In contrast, khakis usually have a looser fit, providing comfort and a relaxed aesthetic. The relaxed fit of khakis makes them perfect for casual outings and activities that require unrestricted movement.

3. Style and Pairings

Chinos offer immense versatility when styling them with other clothes. Their clean and tailored appearance makes them a fantastic choice for casual and semi-formal outfits. Pair slim-fit chinos with button-downs and loafers for a smart-casual look. 

Go for a relaxed-fit chino paired with a simple T-shirt and sneakers to achieve a more relaxed vibe. Chinos also lend themselves well to layering, allowing you to experiment with blazers, sweaters, and jackets for different occasions.

With their classic and laid-back charm, Khakis are ideal for creating effortless casual ensembles. Pair straight-fit khakis with a polo shirt and boat shoes for a timeless preppy look. 

Are Chinos and Khakis Business Casual?

Both chinos and khakis come in various colors, but khaki is also the name of a specific beige shade that is common for both pants. Are chinos and khakis business casual? Yes, but as long as you follow some basic guidelines! Here are some tips on how to wear chinos and khakis in a business casual setting:

1. Choose the Right Fit

Chinos and khakis should fit you well, not too tight or loose. They should sit at your natural waist and have a slight break at the hem. Avoid pants that are too long, short, baggy, or skinny.

2. Choose the Right Color

Chinos and khakis come in many different colors, from neutrals like navy, gray, black, and tan to brighter shades like red, green, yellow, and pink. For business casual, stick to the more subdued and classic colors, and avoid anything too flashy or loud.

3. Choose the Right Top

Chinos and khakis can be paired with different types of tops, depending on the level of formality and the season. Go for a button-down shirt in a solid color or a subtle pattern for a formal look. You can also add a blazer or a sweater for extra warmth and style. You can wear a polo shirt, a T-shirt, or a henley shirt for a casual look. Just make sure they are clean, wrinkle-free, and fit you well.

4. Choose the Right Shoes

Chinos and khakis can work with different types of shoes, from dress shoes to sneakers. For business casual, however, you want to avoid anything too casual or sporty, such as flip-flops, sandals, or athletic shoes. Instead, go for sleek and stylish shoes, such as loafers, oxfords, brogues, derbies, or monk straps.

5. Choose the Right Accessories

Chinos and khakis can be accessorized with different items to finish your outfit and add some personality. For example, you can wear a belt that matches your shoes or contrasts with your pants. You can also wear a watch, a tie, a pocket square, or a scarf for some extra flair. Just make sure they are not too flashy or distracting.

How to Style Khaki Pants

Khaki pants are a versatile and timeless wardrobe staple that can be worn for various occasions. Whether you want to dress them up or down, khaki pants can help you create a stylish and comfortable outfit.

1. Simple Shirt

One of the easiest ways to style khaki pants is to pair them with a simple white shirt. This classic combination works for men and women and can be adapted to different seasons and settings. For a casual look, you can opt for a white T-shirt or polo shirt and some sneakers or loafers. For a more formal or business casual look, you can choose a white button-down shirt or blouse and some leather shoes or heels.

2. Mix Them With Some Colors and Patterns

Khaki pants have a neutral tone that can complement many other colors, such as navy, black, burgundy, olive, or mustard. You can also experiment with some prints and textures, such as stripes, plaid, floral, or denim. For example, wear a striped shirt or sweater with khaki pants and some boots or flats for a cozy and chic look. 

3. Accessories

A third way to style khaki pants is to accessorize them with belts, hats, scarves, or jewelry. These items can add some interest and personality to your outfit, as well as accentuate your waistline or highlight your face. For example, you can wear a belt with khaki pants and a tucked-in shirt or sweater for a flattering and sophisticated look. 

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your khakis:

  • Pair your khakis with a white T-shirt, a denim jacket, and casual sneakers for a stylish and effortless everyday look.
  • Combine khakis with a blazer, a button-down shirt, and leather loafers for a sophisticated yet relaxed office-appropriate outfit.
  • Wear khaki shorts with a colorful polo shirt and boat shoes for a preppy and comfortable outfit during warmer months.

What to Wear With Chino Pants

Chino pants are versatile and stylish pieces that can elevate any outfit. Whether you want to dress them up or down, there are different ways to style chino pants for different occasions.

1. The Fit

Chino pants come in various fits, such as slim, straight, relaxed, or tapered. The fit you choose should match your body type and personal preference. Generally, slim-fit chino pants are more flattering and modern, while relaxed-fit chino pants are more comfortable and casual. 

You should also ensure that the length of your chino pants is appropriate for your height and shoe choice. Your chino pants should end at or slightly above your ankle without bunching up or dragging on the floor.

2. The Color

Chino pants are available in various colors, from neutral to bright. Your chosen color should complement your skin tone and the rest of your outfit. You can opt for neutral colors like beige, navy, khaki, or gray for a classic and versatile look. These colors can match almost any shirt, jacket, or sweater. 

3. The Top

Depending on the weather and the occasion, you can pair your chino pants with different types of tops. For a casual and laid-back look, wear a simple T-shirt, polo shirt, or hoodie with your chino pants. 

4. Shoes

The shoes you wear with your chino pants can make or break your outfit. You can wear sneakers, loafers, or boat shoes with your chino pants for a casual and sporty look. Moreover, you can wear dress shoes, oxfords, or brogues for a formal and elegant look with your chino pants. You should also pay attention to the color and style of your shoes and how they match your chino pants and top.

5. Accessories

Accessories can add some flair and detail to your outfit. For example, you can wear a belt, a watch, a hat, or a scarf with your chino pants. You should also choose accessories that suit the occasion and the mood of your outfit. 

DOs and DON’Ts

Chino and khaki pants are versatile and stylish options for men and women who want to look sharp and casual. However, there are some dos and don’ts when styling these pants. Here are some tips on how to wear them right.


  • Choose the Right Fit

Chino and khaki pants should fit snugly but comfortably around your waist and hips and taper slightly toward your ankles. Avoid pants that are too tight, too loose, or too long.

  • Match the Color

Chino and khaki pants are available in different shades of beige, brown, navy, olive, and more. You can pair them with almost any shirt, jacket, or shoe color, but make sure they complement each other. For example, a light beige chino would look great with a navy shirt and brown shoes, while a dark olive khaki would go well with a white shirt and black shoes.

  • Mix and Match the Styles

Chino and khaki pants can be worn with different tops and accessories to create different looks. For example, you can wear a button-down shirt and a blazer for a smart casual look or a T-shirt and a denim jacket for a laid-back look. You can also add some flair with a belt, a scarf, a hat, or a watch.

  • Experiment With Different Occasions

Chino and khaki pants are suitable for various occasions, from work to weekends to travel. You can dress them up or down, depending on the situation. For example, you can wear a crisp shirt and a tie for a business meeting or a polo shirt and sneakers for a picnic. You can even wear khaki shorts for different occasions. 


  • Don’t Wear Them With Formal Attire

Chino and khaki pants are not meant to be worn with suits, tuxedos, or evening gowns. They are too casual and informal for such events. Stick to dress pants or skirts for formal occasions.

  • Don’t Wear Them With Wrinkled or Stained Clothes

Chino and khaki pants can easily highlight wrinkles or stains, so make sure you iron them before wearing them and wash them regularly. Avoid wearing them with wrinkled, stained, faded, or torn clothes.

  • Don’t Wear Them With the Wrong Shoes

Chino and khaki pants can be paired with various types of shoes, from loafers to boots to sandals. However, there are some shoes that you should avoid wearing with them. For example, do not wear them with high heels, flip-flops, or sports shoes.

  • Don’t Wear Them With the Wrong Socks

Chino and khaki pants look best with socks that match the color of your pants or shoes. Avoid wearing socks that are too bright, too dark, or too patterned. Also, avoid wearing socks that are too long or too short.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between khakis and chinos is essential for building a versatile wardrobe. Chinos offer a refined, tailored look suitable for smart-casual and semi-formal occasions, while khakis exude timeless charm and a relaxed vibe perfect for casual outings. By embracing the unique qualities of each pant style, you can confidently create outfits that reflect your personal style and make a statement wherever you go.

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