Get Chinoed: Wearing Khakis Without Looking Like an Old Man

Thought khakis were about as cool as tapered leg jeans? You couldn't be more wrong -- as long as you've got the right fit and style, khakis are a rugged and casual alternative for the weekend as well as the workplace. Ditch the pleats: get chinoed.

Chinos (also known as Khakis) are the next best thing to denim. The comfort one feels when wearing a worn out pair is like wearing a pair of flannel pajamas. It's that soft, and yet most men find it difficult to pull off a pair of chinos. I coined the term “Chinoed” a few years ago. It means “to carry a sophisticated, effortless look using one chino element in your wardrobe.” To accomplish that, here are some tips to make chinos work for you.

Chino Jackets and Coats

Don't be mistaken, however, chino isn't limited to pants alone. It makes for some really cool jackets as well.  What does it go with? Black, Navy, Gray or White Denim. Because chinos tend to be in lighter, earthier colors, their beauty comes out when mixed with contrasting colored pieces and fabrics. Dark denim, chino blazer and crisp dress shirt is a sure fire look for an evening out on the town. Gray denim, v-neck tee, a khaki trench coat and a spotless pair of white sneaks makes a great look for Sunday brunch.

A man wearing a Jcrew Harrington jacketJ. Crew Baracuta Jacket $275

It's okay if your jacket is a bit wrinkly. Unlike linen, chinos are made from cotton twill which makes them a bit more wrinkle resistant. A few crinkles on the sleeve or back are okay. But try to have a pressed finished upfront, and by the lapels of the jacket. This is what people see first. And you know how much first impressions count.

Man wearing a trench coat

J.Crew Sutherland Trench Coat $198

Slanted pockets give a cleaner, slimmer look to your torso. If you're going for the more common two flap hip pockets, make sure that the pockets are not wider than the palm of your hand. Anything bigger will give you an oversized silhouette. You can fold the flaps into the pocket for a more European look.

Chino Trousers and Shorts

Back in the day, khaki trousers were associated with being geeky, socially inept and backdated. Today, chino trousers and shorts in various shades of khaki can be sexy, manly and contemporary if worn properly. Chinos can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion or the corporate culture you're in. Either way, you have a flexible alternative to denim. And like your denim jeans, its fit first, style second.

Ditch the pleats. Unless you have an inferiority complex about what's in your pants, there's no need for pleats. Pleated pants create a pouch where you don't need one. Keep it slim with a flat front trouser. This also applies to shorts.

A man wearing banana republic chinos

Banana Republic Sahara Khaki Straight Gavin Chino $49.50

Slim vs Straight cut

Note that I did not mention Relaxed as on option for fit. Most relaxed fit trousers are cut in a way where the top half is slightly looser than the bottom half. Relaxed trousers are usually tailored in from the knee down. For a more modern look, opt for a low rise, slim leg trouser. For a more conventional look, stick with a classic rise, straight leg. For shorts, the relaxed cut is great for walks on the beach or the Promenade. But for more formal summer events, a slimmer cut short works best.

Man wearing DockersDockers by Levis Slim Fit City Chinos $52.00

Like other trousers, chinos come with four pockets, two upfront and two in the back. The two upfront are critical style points. The more modern man will go for the slant front pockets. It gives them a leaner, contemporary look. Others will go the side seam pocket which you find on most trousers out there. This is still a clean option, but less of a slimmer look than the slant front.

Regardless of your chino item of choice, make sure that you balance your outfit with a pop of color or pattern. Chino on chino is bland and lacks pizzazz. Chino with checks, pinstripe, and coral blue, emerald green or sunshine yellow are just a few mix and match options you can try. And the next time you see a guy wearing chinos with style, regardless if its jacket or a trouser, walk up to him and say “You're chinoed. Nice work!'

Paulo Vallejo is a Vancouver-based style artistwho is a true master of his craft. His knowledge of fashion is driven by his personal style and creativity. His work graces various print media in fashion and advertising. He’s also a freelance writer who pens on topics around personal style and the latest fashion trends across the globe. He also works privately with individuals to define their image, create their unique style, and shop for the right pieces to complement their existing wardrobe. He can be found on Follow him on Twitter @istyleu.