The Men’s Chino Guide For Winter
Thursday 18 February 2021
How to wear chinos when the weather gets cool.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to get you through the winter months: if in doubt, wear chinos. Men’s chino pants are probably the most versatile thing in your wardrobe. They come in more colours than the average Skittles pack, and you can dress them up or down for pretty much any occasion. Just a head’s up: summer chino pants and
winter chinos pants are slightly different. Winter chinos tend to be woven a bit thicker, and you can generally leave the pastel shades at home (but hey, if you want to rock salmon pink chinos in July, we’re not going to stop you).
Buckle your tan leather belt. This your winter chino crash course.
Everybody knows chinos when they see them, but you might not know exactly where they came from. Chino pants for men started as a military style back in the 19th century, during the Spanish-American War. ‘Chino’ comes from the Spanish name for China, which is where most soldiers sourced their hard-wearing cotton twill fabric. Today’s chinos haven’t changed much: they’re still made mostly from cotton twill (we like to add a little elastane in there, for stretch),
and they tend to follow the shape of your leg, tapering down towards the ankle. If your chinos are baggy and sitting around your knees, you’re doing it wrong. Remember, you’re looking for that ‘fitted’ look, neither too tight or too loose, with enough give that you can sit down for dinner without covertly undoing your pants. And of course, all our chinos are made from sustainable, Better Cotton Initiative cotton.
Chinos vs jeans
Chinos and jeans have a lot in common. They’re both made from cotton, although denim tends to be thicker and tougher than your average chino. In terms of cuts and styles, jeans probably have a slight edge (there’s just so much to choose from: skinny, low rise, boot cut, baggy, distressed, straight leg etc). But chinos take the cake when it comes to colour and versatility. Not only do chinos come in every shade under the rainbow, they’re more flexible, too.
You can wear men’s chinos to formal events, cocktail parties, brewery lunches and afternoons in the park, and cotton twill is way more breathable than heavy denim (not such a big deal in winter, but your thighs will thank you come December). Every guy should own a pair of jeans, but your chino collection is limited only by your imagination—and maybe your wallet.
Men’s chinos come in regular fit, slim-stretch and skinny. All three of these can work for the right occasion, but slim-stretch is going to be your sweet spot most of the time. It’s comfortable to wear on weekends, and smart enough for anything with “semi formal” on the invitation. As a rule of thumb, skinny-leg chinos are strictly for casual wear (just pair them with a knit sweater and bomber jacket).
Regular fit chinos will take you almost anywhere, but they’re a little less flattering than slim-stretch. Remember: good fit is everything with chinos. It’s more important than colour or cut. Your chinos should fit comfortably around your waist, without a belt to keep them up, and the seat should be fitted, but not skin-tight. A little wiggle room in the thighs is okay—aim for about 1 inch of loose fabric—but again, they shouldn’t balloon out from your body. Think sharp, slim and tapered.
This is where men’s chinos get fun. Chinos come in pink, blue, green, red, white, plum, burnt umber and dozens of other colours. For the colder months, it’s usually better to steer clear of pastels and stick to dark, moody, earthy tones. Black chinos and navy chinos are both great for winter, and they’ll sit comfortably under knitwear, light jackets or even peacoats. You should also invest in a good pair of beige or tan chinos.
Think of these as your gateway chino: they go with loafers, brogues and boots, you can dress them up or down, and they’ll never ever go out of style. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Green chinos are a fantastic trans-seasonal piece, and white chinos have been a spring racing staple for years. For the peacocks out there, pink and red chinos are obviously going to turn some heads, but remember to keep things simple: just a sharp white shirt and white low-top sneakers, nothing crazy.
Winter chino pants are all about layering, so try and dress from the head down. Once you’ve nailed your jacket, shirt and knitwear combo, you can easily find the chinos to match. This is why having a pair of beige, khaki or navy chinos is so important—they literally match with anything. For a timeless winter look, try a navy overcoat with beige chinos and a simple charcoal scarf.
Khaki chinos with Chelsea boots and a brown leather jacket is a great winter roadtrip ensemble. Or for something more corporate, think about grey chinos with black Oxfords and a subtle geo print shirt. Don’t be afraid to mix things up with seasonal shades, either. Colours like teal, petrol, wine, burgundy and rust are all fantastic for winter.
There are a few specialty chino styles you might want to keep in mind for winter, too. The first are the ‘engineered’ chinos, with their fishtail back and darted knee, made from super stretchy cotton. They’ve got a more tailored, ergonomic feel than your traditional ‘casual’ chino. The next is the ‘jogger’ chino, an athleisure blend between chinos and track pants, with a drawcord waist, cuffed hem, zip back pockets and
a lower seat (perfect for gym commutes or Sunday brunches). The last is the ever-reliable ‘dress’ chino, which is about as close as you’re going to get to chino suit pants. These guys have a skirted waistband, and they’re woven from a more compact cotton, for that pleated, formal vibe. Just pair with some good quality loafers and a smart, tri-knit blazer.
As a rule, you should always cuff your chinos. What you’re looking for here is the ideal ‘break’: the subtle crease that forms when your pant legs hit your shoes. Too much break and you’ll look like an extra from Clueless, but cuff your chinos too high and people will think you’re off to Math Camp or something. Men’s chinos should generally have a ‘natural’ break, which means the bottom of your pants should be just resting on your shoes.
A natural break is perfect for everyday chino wear, or semi-formal occasions. You can definitely hem your chinos a little higher, but keep in mind this probably won’t fly at cocktail parties. High-cuffed chinos are more of a street style statement (match khaki chinos with white high-top sneakers and you’re off to a good start) or a summer beach thing (think boat shoes, no socks).