Choose Chinos

Craig from Eldred Grove chats about chinos and takes us through their history and our wearing and buying options.

A rainbow of colours. Image courtesy of

We all know about chinos right? The easy to wear, cotton trousers that have crept in to every mans wardrobe over the last year or so? We all know that they’ve quickly become the legwear of choice for the modern man but where did it all start and how should you wear them? Let me take you on a journey.

Casual or dapper chinos are a versatile essential. Photo by

Chinos: The History

With their origins deeply rooted in the military as a lot of menswear is, Chinos were a staple part of the army uniform during the second world war. With the need for a hard wearing item of clothing for the troops a twill cotton fabric was used. The name of this cloth? Well, chino of course.

Originally khaki or sand coloured to offer protection and camouflage while on the front line, chino trousers were manufactured in their thousands. After the war, huge surplus resulted in every father, brother and Son wearing chinos and we haven’t looked back since.

During the 1950’s America chinos saw a re-emergence with non other than James Dean and Marlon Brando wearing them

James Dean chilling in chinos
Marlon Brando
Steve McQueen wearing pale chinos

The 1980’s saw them come back in a big way with the ’80’s does 50’s’ trend that swept the UK but they were a slightly different design, higher waisted, pleated and fuller in the thigh and narrower at the ankle compared to the straight leg design previously seen.

Courtesy of Apple clothing line from the 1980’s
80’s heartthrob Nick kamen wearing his chinos

Modern Chinos

These days, chinos are everywhere, every store has their own range of colours and while they’ve generally gone back to the straight leg design, Next have released some 80’s inspired pairs which have pleats at the waist and are slightly fuller in the thigh for those that don’t like a slim or skinny fit version.

A dapper look by Debenhams: Red Herring jacket £95, chinos £30,

Jeff banks jumper £35, shirt £30, tie £20

I have a huge range of colours from black through reds and blues to canary yellow. They can be dressed up with a shirt, tie and blazer of just as easily dressed down and worn with a basic T, pumps or boots and a denim jacket. Chinos truly are a mans best friend and a wardrobe must have.

You can expect to pay between £10 and £100 for your chinos. Primark has a good range for the gent on a budget but I have found the sizes to be amis and the quality not so great but hey, you get what you pay for there. At Next I pay around £25 which is an average price for most high street chains. Of course if you’re a designer chap you’re going to pay considerable more with Paul Smith offering a range from £135 to over £200 and Ralph lauren now offering three styles in a great variety of colours.

Ralph Lauren embroidered chinos £145

An Autumn look with Chinos by heatons: Gilet 18GBP 22.50Euro,

Chinos 13GBP 18Euro, Boots 18GBP 22.50Euro, Jumper 18GBP 22.50Euro

Weekend looks. Chinos by Jasper Conran at Debenhams at €46
A smart look with Chinos J By Jasper Conran for Debenhams:
Blazer €159, Chinos €53, Hemd €53, Schuhe €185

How to wear chinos

If you are a daring fellow, go for pink, red or bright yellow, show your personality and go sockless with a pair brown leather brogues and a floral shirt. If you’re a more sedate chap navy is always a great option. Again you can wear them with a classic pair of brogues and a less exuberant shirt and a blazer.

Your very own TDC in my brick red chinos from Next, dressed up with blazer and bow tie
Bright chinos at Marks and Spencer
That dapper Chap again wearing a less formal look with navy chinos. Chinos by

At the weekend chinos are still your friend and you should feel free to pull on a sweater and a pair of boots with your chinos for that walk in the park.

Embracing the military look in my trench coat and army green chinos, both by
The range of chinos available at Next

So however you choose to wear them, shirt and tie to the office or with boots and a wooly hat to the coast for that much needed weekend break, buy a pair that fit well and feel comfortable. Feel free to give them a little turn up and show your coloured socks. Wear a matching or contrasting belt or sew on some buttons so that you can wear those vintage braces, their versatility is endless.



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