Contrary to popular belief Chinos & Khakis are not the same garment which is why we have decided to identify the features that make them different such as the fit, construction and material used on each. This misconception which results in Chinos vs Khakis discussions has a lot to do with advertisers often marketing the 2 garments as though they are the same which we intend to clear up.
Our goal with this Chinos vs Khakis article is simple, we want to educate you on the differences, give you some brief history & assist with your outfit options.
Chinos vs Khakis (Descriptions)
What are Chinos?
Chinos are lightweight cotton pants which are tapered across the trouser inseam the lower they go all the way towards the ending. They can typically be worn with formal pieces such as a blazer or shirt for a smart casual appearance.
If you are wanting more information we have also produced a detailed post around What are chinos?
What are Khakis?
Khakis are pants made with thicker fabrics which is noticeably heavier than chinos. They are typically straight legged with no tapering and usually are pleated. These pants are usually associated with less formal activities.
Chinos vs Khakis (Comparison Table)
100% Lightweight Cotton
100% Heavyweight Cotton
As the inseam trouser is tapered the fit on the chinos will tend to be slim fitted.
Khakis will tend to have a straight leg opening.
Light ironing. Check label for instructions!
Mostly worn by men, however female variations are available.
Mostly worn by men
Either Cuffed or uncuffed
Chinos are smart casual pieces, so they are great for work, meetings, formal dinners & weddings.
Khakis are more casual pieces & great for no movement sports such as golf. Also great for long distance travelling, brunches & casual meet ups.
Comes in shorts
Comes in shorts
Chinos vs Khakis (History)
Originally dating back to the mid-19th century as garments designed for British and French military workers. The trousers were made simple, tapered and without pleated fronts which immediately appealed to the masses resulting in becoming an everyday garment.
Khakis Brief History
The first khaki trousers date back to 1846 as a response to the heat. Soldiers in India dyed the cotton pants with their plants which ultimately resulted in the beige colour we know it to be today. This then became the standard uniform at the time and is still used today.
How to wear Chinos and Khakis
Though we touched on this briefly we are going to detail the best ways for you to pair your chinos and khakis with different garments
How to wear Chinos
As the nature of chinos are smart casual & semi-formal it is best to wear this with other complimentary pieces such as a shirt, blazer and boots.
Chinos are the best alternative to trousers as they are smart enough for all formal activities while still providing a great level of comfort.
Today most Slim-fit chinos will come in stretch-cotton satin making them a great choice for stretch and comfort.
How to wear Khakis
Khakis on the other hand are greatly paired with less formal attire such as a polo shirt and shoes.
With khakis having a wider leg opening these are selected for less formal activities and in many cases are worn for sports which does not require much physical movement such as golf, pool or darts.
For a simple casual look pair your khakis with a plain long t shirt, boat shoes or boots, bomber jacket and complimentary accessories such as a watch or ring.
It should now be clear that chinos and khakis are in fact not the same garment, though similar the subtle differences as explained in this article demonstrate in detail the distinction between the 2.
At Heartafact we like to keep things simple, therefore to differentiate the 2 remember that chinos are slimmer, have tapered legs and more formal. Khakis are more casual & have a wider leg opening.
Remembering the history of the 2 won’t be necessary, however, remembering the difference while shopping is fundamental to ensure the garment of choice compliments your outfit. Talking about shopping Esquire have curated a list of the 10 best chinos for men
Should you iron chinos?
As chinos are made with 100% cotton they are generally safe to iron and should be after a wash or when visible creases start to appear.
What shirts go with chinos?
Most shirts will go with chinos such as oxford shirts, grandad collar shirts, button down, regular collar and linen shirts will work best.
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