Look fellas, we get away with a whooole lotta shit as guys—from big-picture stuff, such as our charmed life in a patriarchal society, to smaller things, e.g. the world not really caring what we look like or how we dress. The latter, then, begs the question: Why should men have more than one pair of pants? Well, as I, a dude, recently found out, a gentleman at least needs a backup pair, because until a few weeks ago, I had one singular pair of pants. One.
OK—technically I had several, but a few never really fit me, another was the bottom half of my only suit, and I really only wore the one pair of light-wash denim Levi’s. Now, I know that I was living on the edge, but honestly, I never really considered the possibility of something happening to my beloved Levi’s. But after a friend spilled a full, denim-staining pint of Guinness on them, I had to face a hard truth: I needed more pants. So, I was predictably psyched when a coworker clued me into the lightweight, versatile trousers called chinos.
Now, you may already be familiar with chinos. But for those who aren’t acquainted, chinos are not, in fact, just any pants that aren’t jeans, which is what I’d originally assumed. They were actually developed in the mid-19th century for British and French military uniforms, and have evolved into the casual pants we know today, made from chino cloth, which is a soft, cotton twill fabric. They’re also leaps and bounds more comfortable than your average non-stretch denim or polyester pants. In fact, they’re almost like a cheat code: In situations where you’d love to be wearing sweatpants—the bar, a date, work—you can sub in chinos and revel in the comfort, business-casual look, and ease of mobility they provide. Plus, the need for more than one pair of everyday pants goes beyond accidental spills and stains: It’s about growing up! And, yes, while jeans go with everything and can be dressed up or down, real denim—though durable and amazing—gets hot in the humid New York summers. I’m also not the biggest shorts guy (though when I wear ‘em, I wear ‘em short) so having a closet full of chinos has been a huge game-changer.
I’ve come to find out that a lot of men don’t know how to shop for pants, or what the best types of pants are for dudes. Obviously, there are many choices out there, but if you’re someone who’s always reaching for jeans and wants a comfortable cotton option that you can wear to literally any event or occasion, believe me when I tell you that chinos are the move.
That’s why I scoured the net, asked every virtual shopkeeper I could find if they had any extra pairs “in the back” (does that ever work?), and put together this list of the best chinos for men. Get ready to get comfy.
It’s in the name
These Athletic Slim Chino Pants from Madewell are indeed as high-quality as the brand’s name suggests, made using fabric sourced from the Kurabo mill in Japan for optimal comfort and durability. They have a little more room in the seat and thigh with a slightly tapered leg for a muscle-friendly fit, as well as COOLMAX technology, which “keeps you feeling air-conditioned in the summer (and warm and dry the rest of the year),” according to the product description.
Off duty, on the clock
Have you ever actually seen a bonobo? They’re tight—but not as (figuratively) tight as The Off Duty Pant from menswear brand Bonobos. The relaxed-fit pants are actually a hybrid style, which the brand calls the “comfy sweet spot between chinos and joggers,” and are made with high-quality cotton and cut into an easy, tapered silhouette. Perfect for lounging at home, running errands, and accepting participation awards.
Don’t call me basic…
… Just because I love the Japanese basics brand UNIQLO and its insanely affordable slate of T-shirts, pants, puffers, and more. These Slim-Fit Chino Pants are made with a finely brushed, dense cotton twill that has a premium feel, and have a straight silhouette with a relaxed fit below the knee for a tapered, form-fitting look. These are great for dressing up or down, especially with the button closure and hand-stitched, suit-style front pockets.
You’re a high-performance kinda guy
While not as delicious as the fruit they’re named after, these Performance Chinos in Dark Olive from Everlane are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to comfy trousers. They’re part of the brand’s Uniform collection, which is backed by a one-year guarantee, meaning Everlane will “gladly replace it” should anything happen to them. They’re also sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and have four-way stretch technology for all-day comfort.
Tried and true
You simply can’t beat Levi’s in terms of durability, price, and style—if they were good enough to outfit the 49’ers during California’s Gold Rush, they’re good enough for you and your cushy desk job. These slim-fit chinos have a soft and comfortable feel, a tapered fit, are made with stretchy cotton twill, and—get this—are created with Levi’s sustainable Water<Less techniques, which means you can wash them less. Read that again: THEY’RE TELLING YOU TO DO LESS LAUNDRY, BOYS!
You have no excuse not to cop these
They literally cost as much as a fancy cocktail (with tip). These Cigarette Fit chinos from ASOS feature belt loops, pleat details, side pockets, and a relaxed, tapered fit. With a short, cropped leg, these are perfect for showing off some skin during the warmer months, a.k.a. Ankle Season.
Skater boi approved
Is he going to his office job, or is he heading to the skatepark to tell girls about the latest film he saw at the “cinema” near his sublet? The world may never know—but that’s not important. What is important is how good these chinos will look paired with your “I <3 Enya” T-shirt. These Khaki Straight Chino Trousers from Nanamica have a five-pocket styling and gold-toned hardware, and are ~made in Japan~.
You’re squared away for spring—nice—but once it gets really hot, you might have to bite the bullet.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.