Men’s Fashion Basics: Jeans or Chinos?

At one time posing this question would have caused an almost unanimous sneer of derision, but there’s no denying the recent surge in popularity of chinos in top men’s fashion as well as their invasion into the average man’s wardrobe. Whatever your personal opinion of chinos, they’re becoming increasingly popular with the ladies, so it’s time you considered your leg-wear and the when, where and who can of wearing both.

What are chinos?

First and foremost, what are chinos?

Jeans have been a staple of menswear for long enough that we know all what they are, what they’re made from and who makes the best quality, but chinos are less well known to men.

Chinos often appear to be the dressier cousin of khakis. Khaki is the colour as well as the fabric. They often have more pockets and are loose fitting. Most importantly, khakis and denim are heavier than your average chinos, so if you aren’t sure what you’ve got, feel the weight compared to pants that are obviously chinos.

Denim is also cotton, but the material is thicker and both khakis and denim have obvious stitching. A pair of chinos can come in a variety of colours and stitching should be clean and hard to see.


We’d all like to think we’ve got the body of a god (whether that’s Hercules or Buddha is up for discussion) but there’s no denying that weight and build matters.  The truth is that jeans can hide a lot; if you’re conscious that your lower body is noticeably thinner than the top and you want to cover it, baggy jeans are a great disguise. This also works the other way around; if you’re on the heavy side, jeans (especially if they’re dark) cover large legs and create the illusion of v-shape. If you get the right fit a wide waist can be somewhat disguised.

If you’re convinced of your Adonis-like figure and want to let everyone (of the female persuasion) know it, chinos are the best choice as they generally have a closer fit and the thin material shows off those calves and quads you’ve been sweating over. If you have a balanced build and you’re neither thin nor packing the pounds chinos are an option for you too. There’s no real need for hiding under the flattering denim fabric if you’re average or built, though jeans would also suit this figure. If you really want a pair of chinos but you’re build is better for jeans, choose a light coloured baggy style if thin, or dark and roomy (but not baggy) in a larger size.


Let’s face it, it would be madness to wear chinos if you’re doing yard work, fixing the car or going out hiking; only jeans can survive the strain of practical work. The biggest influence on your choice is usually occasion. Casual days in the house or meeting up with friends during the day call for jeans; as does a dressed-down Friday or going out to the local pub. Chinos are far more suitable for those important yet casual events such as family get-togethers and dinner parties, work outfits in the creative or IT sector or going clubbing/drinking at mid-market places. If you’re planning on clubbing abroad most club and bars ban jeans, so remember to pack some chinos.

Final Verdict – Jeans or Chinos?

Of course your choice also depends on what you wear every day. If you’re a creative type or your appearance is very important to you (you’re all for quality and you create your outfits) you probably already look like a chinos guy. Chinos let you match colour and fabric far easier and tie in a smart casual look very well.

For a man who wants to project a more rugged image or prefers throw-on clothes that still look good opt for jeans. As long as the top-half is casual or in darker colours no-one can go wrong. Rugged and simple doesn’t have to compromise quality and appearance.

About The Author:

This article was written by Fit Fashion, an online retailer of mens fashion; stockists of top brands at affordable prices such as Diesel, G Star Raw and Levis.  Every man should have one pair of good quality jeans for lunch with a date or an extra promising house-party.