chinos vs khakis

Men’s pants have a long history and sometimes, there are some confusing contradictions. Khakis are both a classic American men’s pant and a popular pant color. Chinos are…the same? Even top fashion reviews use the two terms interchangeably. So what’s the difference between chinos vs. khakis? And how do you know which one to pick for your style? Let’s go over everything you need to know about these two popular types of pants.

What Is the Difference Between Khakis vs. Chinos?

These popular pant styles both have their roots in military history (more on this later). Khaki is often used as an umbrella term that covers all types of military pants. Chinos, cargo pants, and other men’s fashion items like t-shirts are also military-inspired. This makes it easy for people to confuse the two.

While both are timeless classics, there are some clear differences between these two pant styles. The first difference between chinos and khakis is that chinos are tapered, while khakis are straight-legged. Another major difference between khakis and chinos is that chinos usually have a flat front, while khakis tend to have a pleated front.

Another common question is: what are khakis made of, and how does it compare to chinos? While lightweight fabrics are common in chinos, and heavier cotton fabrics are typical in khakis.

With the influence of fashion design, manufacturing, and influencers, the comparison of chinos vs. khakis vs. slacks can get quite muddy. As the name suggests, Slacks offer a looser fit and are often made of a woolen material. Slacks are often used for more formal occasions and they differ quite a bit from chinos and khaki pants in pure appearance and the material they’re made of.

So, are chinos khakis? Once you get beyond the basics, it becomes clear that they are not. Let’s delve into the specifics of chinos vs. khakis.

What Are Chinos?

Chino was an alternate word for China in the 19th century. This is also when chino pants served as military uniforms in the Spanish-American war. They required less fabric than other styles because of their slim fit and smaller pockets.

Chinos are versatile men’s pants that combine style with function. They have a sleek fitted cut, so they are the more fashion-forward of the two pant styles. These are a great alternative to classic dress pants and they’re popular in workplaces with a business casual dress code.

Unlike many other men’s pants styles, chinos are designed to fit each person differently, and there are many different styles for every body type. Athletic-fit chinos work well for men with thick waists and thighs. Slim fit is an option for any man looking for a tailored, but not tight, pants style.

Chinos vs. Khakis Fabric

We touched on this earlier, but the difference between their fabric is quite different. Chinos were originally made from lightweight cotton twill or a cotton synthetic blend, while khakis were heavyweight 100% cotton twill. Advances in fabric technology mean that both pant styles are available in a range of fabric types.

Fabric and styles vary by designer and manufacturer though. For example, reputable manufacturers typically use a high-quality nylon spandex mix. If you’re looking for khakis to do yard work or chinos for an upcoming conference, take a close look at the tags in the store. You can also read customer reviews online to make sure they fit your needs.

Types of Chino Pants

Today, there are many different types of chinos for both men and women. Men’s chino pants could be skinny fit made from sweat-wicking fabric or classic fit with a comfortable waist and tapered ankle. Tech chinos offer extra stretch and comfort for long commutes, easy movement, and year-round wear. Stylish relaxed-fit chinos come cropped or with an elastic waistband to fit your life and style.

What Are Khakis?

So, what are khaki pants? A British officer made the first pair of khaki pants in 1846 while looking for a lighter and looser alternative to his wool trousers. Not long after, khakis became a popular category of military trouser.

What are khakis good for? Khakis are usually made to be worn as heavier workwear. They typically come with:

  • A single or double pleated front
  • Straight leg
  • Exterior stitching typical of the army uniforms that inspired this style

If you work somewhere that allows jeans, khakis are a good go-to. They are also popular for casual wear in fall and winter when temperatures drop.

Khakis are more casual and outdoorsy, while chinos tend to be more fashion-forward. For example, khaki design is practical, with a boxy fit and bigger pockets to hold keys, wallets, and other necessities.

Types of Khaki Pants

Many designers and fashion writers combine chinos and khakis into a single super casual pant. But khakis are a distinct men’s pant style great for casual workwear, running errands, or time outside. 

Khakis are a popular heavyweight alternative to jeans, and many jeans enthusiasts find khakis to be a great alternative to jeans at work. Classic khakis are a heavy straight leg work pant that’s great for work and fun, inside and out. Basic khakis offer hidden stitching for the workplace while khaki jeans are a popular denim alternative that highlights the popular color.

Find Your Style with UNIONBAY

If you’re looking for a quick answer in the chinos vs. khakis debate, here’s a good rule of thumb to go by: chinos tend to be the right choice for formal events like a work party or business meeting, while khakis are a better fit for repairs around the house or a hike at your neighborhood trail.

Browse UNIONBAY’s collection of stylish men’s pants to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for chinos, khakis or cargo pants for men, we’ve got you covered. Need something for the warmer season? Choose shorts instead! We offer the best men’s shorts styles for the modern man.

Browse our latest men’s fashion collection or shop our clearance to find your style at the right price. Visit us today!

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