Finding the best chino pants amid a sea of formless khakis can be a painful ordeal. Especially given what a crazy couple of years it’s been for pants generally. Weirdness abounds. Swishy is king, pleats are back, dress pants are enormous, and it all can be a little overwhelming at times. Thing is, far-out trousers being in doesn’t mean that more earthbound bottoms are suddenly out. There’s plenty of room under the Golden Age of Pants umbrella for the classics, and it doesn’t get any more classic than some hardy, reliable chinos.
As far back as World War II, guys have turned to chinos for their functionality and versatility. There aren’t many types of pants, after all, that feel as at home covered in grease in a mechanic’s garage as they would at a garden party in Martha’s Vineyard. Chinos are the crème de la crème of casual pants, just the sort of bottoms to make you toss your joggers into the back of your closet and consider (gasp!) swearing off sweatpants for good. You can wear them with a beefy oxford cloth button-down and slip-ons at home, a crisp white t-shirt and scuffed sneakers to the bodega, or a blazer and loafers at your friend’s laid-back barn wedding upstate. Point is: Regardless of what you wear ‘em with, a trusty pair of chinos will never do you wrong, no matter how attached you’ve become to your loungewear.
And if you’ve been off the chino train for a minute, right now is a great time to hop back aboard—after a decade or so of slim fits dominating the conversation, designers are shifting back toward a straight-fit silhouette that’s more comfortable, universally wearable, and altogether timeless. When you’re sick of all the bonkers prints and voluminous cuts dominating the rest of your wardrobe, these fifteen unflappable pairs—yes, the very best men’s chino pants on the market today—will be just the palate cleanser you need. If you’re looking to get back into the chino game for less, you’ll find plenty to work with, but you can also check out our favorite khaki pants under $100.
The Overall Best Chinos
J.Crew’s been on a tear recently. With Noah founder Brendan Babenzien at the helm, the catalog brand-turned-mall-stalwart has made some stylish shakeups, all while referencing what they’ve always done well in the past. That includes their chinos. To be clear, they were never really bad to begin with, but for several years, the focus has been on the brand’s slim-fitting silhouettes. Rebooting its relaxed-fit chinos—the kind you remember from vintage J.Crew campaigns of the ‘90s—is one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. They’re elegantly relaxed but not overly baggy, and the fabrics used are the best of the mall brand bunch. Plus, they boast details normally featured on their higher-end counterparts, like waist curtains and bound seams. Are there nicer chinos out there? Sure. Are there nicer chinos for the price? No way.
The Best Workwear Chinos
We’ve sung the praises of Dickies’ signature work pants so many times in the past year or so, you could probably write this blurb for us. They’ve got the higher-waisted, wider-legged cut we’ve been digging lately. They’re made out of a hearty cotton twill, which means they’re tough enough to stand up to construction sites and skate sessions, versatile enough to wear to the office or the bar, and come in roughly as many colors as a bulk pack of Crayola. Oh, yeah, and they only cost $23, which leaves plenty of room in your budget to tailor ‘em down a smidge or simply stock up on extra pairs. All of which is to say: this is by no means the last time you’ll read about Dickies 874s on GQ.com.
The Best Of-The-Moment Chinos
The big pant train has been chuggin’ along steadily for years, and we’ve now fully arrived in the wide-leg era. And if there’s proof of the silhouette’s mass appeal, it’s at none other than the Gap. Yes, they still make khakis, and they’re still doing them very, very well. Their relaxed vintage pleated khaki pant is hitting all the right notes of a right-now pant. Full fit? Check. Pleats? Check. Slightly higher rise? Yep. And, thanks be to Mr. Gap, they’re priced oh so well.
The Best On-the-Go Chinos
In pre-pandemic times, you had a lot on your plate—meetings, dinner dates, maybe a flight in the mix—and you needed pants that could keep up. Now, with life starting to approach something resembling normalcy, you’ll want to reacquaint yourself with pants designed to handle that degree of wear and tear. That’s where these stretch chinos come in. They’re fashioned from a super breathable and weather-resistant fabric that’s a polyamide-elastane blend that wards off any wrinkles. They won’t sag in the face of constant movement, or weigh you down in a gross pool of leg sweat. Wear them all week at home, toss ’em in your suitcase before your first post-vax trip, whatever: they’ll stay looking fresh and crisp through it all.
The Best Fashion Guy Chinos
For years now, fashion types have flocked to Lemaire in droves to scoop up the label’s deceptively simple designs. Co-helmed by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran, the brand carved out a niche for itself selling the sort of cerebral, subtly luxurious clothing that remains catnip for a certain kind of thoughtful dresser. Every season, Lemaire’s pants tend to be a standout. This time around, it’s the brand’s chinos we’re, ahem, completely losing our shit over. Cut voluminously and done up in a graceful twill fabric, they emphasize silhouette above all else, sure to pool elegantly on top of every pair of shoes you wear them with. Throw ’em on at any point over the coming months and you might feel obligated to sashay around whatever outdoor space you find yourself in—negroni in hand—while whoever’s on the aux cranks the SOPHIE up to the max. Trust us: The power of a really good pair of chinos is that potent.