What Is the Difference Between Chinos and Khakis?
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What Is the Difference Between Chinos and Khakis?

It can be confusing to understand different pant styles, whether you shop online or in a store. You may wonder whether chinos are dressy enough for business casual or whether khakis will endure a long hike. Furthermore, what is the difference between chinos and khakis when it comes to pants?

Chinos have a dressier style than khakis, which is the primary difference between the two. The tapered leg of chinos is made of lightweight cotton twill. A sturdy, straight leg and exterior stitching make khakis suitable for rough wear.

We will explain the key differences between khakis and chinos in this article. In addition, you can find useful information about the differences between trousers and slacks and pants. The last part of this article by SewingWithEase will show you how to wear each type of pants!

Khakis vs. Chinos: Key Differences

There are several key differences between chinos and khakis, including their traditional cuts and styles. You can learn more about the most distinctive features of each type of pants by looking at this chart!

Design / CutTapered leg, more fitted appearanceStraight or pleated leg, looser appearance
Fabric Type and WeightThin, lightweight cotton twillHeavy, thicker cotton twill
StitchingInterior seamsExterior stitching common
ColorsMany different colorsKhaki only
UsesFor business casual, formal, or in place of dress pantsFor more casual wear
PriceThe price depends on the brand, but many high-end brands sell pricy chinosThe price depends on the brand, but often affordable

What Are Chino Pants?

Chinos are trousers that have been popular in Western countries since the early 20th century. They were originally worn by Chinese laborers working on American railroads during the late 19th century.

In general, chinos are fitted, slightly tapered, made out of a lightweight cotton twill fabric, and come in a wide variety of colors. When paired with the right shoes and shirts, these pants have a dressier appearance, suitable for business casual attire or even formal occasions.

There is a breathable, comfortable feel to cotton twill. Twill weaves are commonly seen in pants because they have diagonal lines of thread! Many companies use synthetic fabric instead of cotton in the twill weave today because cotton is much more expensive.

As a result of the Spanish-American war, chinos entered the fashion world. The fact that so many fashion and fabric innovations arise during wartime is really fascinating! Americans and Spaniards fought for control of South Pacific territories during this war during the late 1800s.

During World War II, American soldiers stationed on island nations in the South Pacific quickly adapted to uniforms made of cotton twill. They were able to stay cool and mobile as a result.

Since the cotton twill fabric came from Chinese manufacturers, the pants were referred to as “chinos” by American soldiers. These slim, lightweight trouser styles remain popular in the US today because soldiers brought them back from war!

Many school and military uniforms also feature chinos as a common pants style. Alternatively, you can pair them with a nice t-shirt for a smart-casual look or a business casual look. When paired with the right shirt, blazer, and shoes, chinos can also be worn for formal occasions.

Lands End, Abercrombie & Fitch, and J. Crew all sell trendy lines of these pants if you want to buy them. The chances of finding a menswear brand that doesn’t sell chinos are slim to none!

Women can also wear chinos, even though they originated as a military uniform and then as a staple of men’s fashion!

What Are Khakis Pants?

Khaki pants are usually worn in summertime. They have become very popular among men because they can be used for different occasions.

A dusty light brown color is always associated with khakis, which are generally made of sturdy, heavyweight cotton twill. In addition to having a looser or pleated cut, they may also have pockets and trousers cuffs. In spite of the fact that khakis can be found in more modern cuts, they traditionally have a workman’s look.

A khaki shirt is simply a shirt with a khaki color. Khaki, if you want to get down into the weeds, is a pale light-brown with a hint of yellow, different from tan or beige, which are both pale, creamy browns.

However, this can get confusing, since some brands and manufacturers also call their chinos “khaki”! A pair of khaki pants is technically a pair of chinos in dusty colors. Khakis have, however, evolved into a unique style of pants for all practical purposes.

What is the origin of this type of pants? In what is now Pakistan, the British army fought another war that led to khaki pants becoming popular in the Western world.

British officers realized in the mid-1800s that their soldiers should not be dressed in the traditional, swelteringly hot wool uniforms of the British army, which were also shipped from England to India!

Cotton twill was substituted for heavy wool pants, and the fabric was dyed locally with coffee, curry, and tobacco juice. It created uniforms that blended in with the countryside, making them more camouflage-friendly.

Urdu is the language from which the word “khaki” originates. The word means dust-colored or dirt-colored. The British army uniform pants were made from cotton twill and khaki in 1900. Returning soldiers wore these comfortable, sturdy pants when they returned home, just like chinos!

Throughout the fashion world, khakis are often seen as more rugged than chinos. Chinos have a looser leg and may have pockets, a pleated front, and heavier cotton twill than classic chinos.

Due to this, khakis don’t always look great when worn for formal occasions or in business casual settings. They can be worn around town or out hiking, but probably not in the office. Think of them like jeans. As you will discover later in this article, there is one exception to this rule: khaki chinos!

It is literally impossible not to find khaki pants for men and women in any store, from Target to Kohl’s to the Banana Republic to Gap.

Chinos vs. Khakis: What’s the Difference?

Khakis, on the other hand, have a more bulky cut and tend to use heavier cotton twill, whereas chinos tend to use lighter-weight fabrics.

There may be variations based on a pair of chinos or khakis’ brand or manufacture, of course, but this comparison will show you what the typical differences are between the two kinds of pants.

Design / Cut

The leg of chinos is typically tapered, which means the leg narrows towards the ankle. The leg of khakis is often looser and straighter than the leg of jeans. It is also possible for khakis to have bulky pockets with cuffs at the bottom.

The tapered cut has become more fashionable and sleek in today’s fashion as styles change. In contrast, bulkier khakis are usually relegated to rougher tasks like hiking or yard work, as they look more dressy and trendy. The Carhartt company, for instance, offers durable, tough khaki workwear.


Chino pants are traditionally made of lightweight, super-breathable twill, whereas khakis are made from a heavier fabric.

Today, both types of pants are more likely to be made from a blend that contains at least some synthetic material. However, synthetic materials are much cheaper than cotton and don’t have the same stretch and breathability. Make sure you read the product description before buying your pants if you want real cotton twill!

Basically, cotton twill is a cotton fabric woven with a twill pattern. Repeating diagonal ribs are created in the thread pattern by using an offset thread structure. It is also common to find twill weaves in materials such as gabardine and denim.

Fabric Weight

Heavyweight cotton twill is often used in khaki pants, while lighter weight cotton twill is used in chinos. Depending on the brand and manufacturer, however, thickness and durability can vary greatly, so you may want to test the fabric yourself by rubbing it between your fingers.

A heavier version of the material is generally made with thicker, heavier fibers. Despite having twill weave diagonals, this type of cloth has a greater thickness and weight than summery, lightweight cotton twill.


Chinos rarely have exterior stitching, while khakis often do. Khakis often feature exterior stitching, just like jeans. Khakis have nice sturdy seams and thicker fabric that needs to lay flat where the topstitching is present. In addition to being functional, many jeans have topstitching for decorative purposes.

Conversely, chinos are usually only stitched on their interior, allowing them to maintain a sleek appearance. In general, topstitching isn’t necessary for lighter fabrics because they don’t require any assistance in hanging.


There are a variety of colors available for khakis, while chinos are always khaki in color. If you compare these two pants styles, you’ll find lots of confusion when it comes to khaki-colored chinos!

Although dusty khaki is a popular color, you can also find navy blue, grey, and brown chinos.


Classic dress pants are generally uncomfortable, while chinos are stylish and comfortable. In some circumstances, they can be worn as formal wear in a business setting.

Generally, khakis are suitable for any situation in which jeans would be comfortable. In the office, you may get away with wearing a nice sweater and khakis if you can wear jeans! Although khakis are better suited to more rugged environments, chinos are better suited to formal and business casual settings.


There is a wide range of pricing for chinos and khakis depending on the brand. In spite of this, lots of high-end brands sell chinos, which are typically more expensive than Walmart or Target’s khakis. Therefore, you could probably generalize that chinos are more expensive than khakis.

It’s also true that rugged-wear khakis can cost more than a generic pair of dress pants, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule here!

Are Khakis and Chinos the Same?

The styles of khakis and chinos are typically different, as you know. Khakis have a straight-leg cut and a rugged fabric, while chinos have a dressier, more fashionably tapered style.

Although there is a general difference between “khakis” and “chinos,” some manufacturers use both interchangeably, so read the product description carefully to ensure you get what you want!

You can find a pair of chinos by looking for lighter fabrics and no exterior stitching. Look for khakis with a wider leg and stitching on the exterior.

Are Khakis or Chinos More Formal?

According to general consensus, chinos look more formal and dressier than khakis. Most chinos have a tapered cut that makes them look sleeker and more dressy, and they are typically made from lightweight fabrics.

Unlike formal khakis, khakis often have tough fabrics and stitching on the outside. As a result, chinos are appropriate for more upscale events, whereas khakis are not appropriate for a business-casual environment.

It’s also important to consider what you pair with your pants when choosing a formal outfit. It is possible to look fairly professional in a sweater and khakis, or quite casual in a t-shirt and chinos. The shoes you choose also make a difference–heeled sandals or loafers look great with khakis!

Khaki Chinos

“Khaki” can refer to either a particular shade of brown or two different styles of pants. It is possible to find “khaki chinos” or chinos in the color khaki in this case.

In terms of style, khaki-colored chinos remain a popular choice. Tans pair well with blazers of darker colors, making them popular choices for business attire. However, these pants are often simply referred to as “chinos.” On the other hand, khaki pants will always be khaki in color.

Chinos vs Jeans

The similarities between chinos and jeans end there, as both types of pants are popular for men and women. Jeans are made from denim, a type of cotton woven with blue threads over white threads, while chinos are made from lightweight cotton twill. Furthermore, jeans tend to look more informal, whereas chinos appear more formal.

All ages and genders in America love jeans, making them the most popular kind of pants. The majority of people own more than one pair of jeans, while most of them own a pair of chinos!

In hot weather, even stretch jeans can feel too heavy due to their thicker fabric. Even in the summer, chinos are made from lightweight cotton twill that remains cool and breathable.

Chinos vs Dress Pants vs Trousers vs Slacks

In technical terms, chinos are a type of dress pants or trousers, but they are not slacks. All of this goes into understanding how fashion terms are generally used, and different brands may use them differently. It should be noted, however, that chinos are often marketed as dress pants by some companies.

The term trousers typically refer to formal pants that feature a tailored appearance, belt loops, and a buttoned fly. Both men’s and women’s clothing would fall under this category. Technically, chinos could be classified as this category, but only trousers made of cotton twill could be considered chinos.

Conversely, slacks refer to dress pants that are looser in style. Since chinos aren’t necessarily slacks, though you can find khaki-colored slacks, you wouldn’t necessarily classify them as slacks.

How Do You Wear Chinos?

When you follow a few fashion tips, you’ll be able to wear chinos in a stylish way, whether you’re a man or a woman!

For men:

  • You should be able to wear chinos comfortably around your hips without them bunching up.
  • During the winter, you can wear chinos with boots or dress shoes without cuffs. You should be able to touch your shoes with the hem.
  • A stylish summer look can be created by cuffing the hem. This cuffed look looks great with low sneakers or loafers!
  • The leg of most chinos is tapered and the fit is fairly snug. Although, some brands sell athletic builds that offer more room in the thighs and other areas, depending on your body type.
  • Wear your chinos with a nice t-shirt for a casual look. An elegant button-down is a perfect choice for a more formal look. Pair your button-down with a dark-colored blazer for the office or a formal occasion.

For women:

  • Chinos should fit snugly around your hips, but not too tightly.
  • With a pair of chinos, you can easily create a variety of elegant business casual and semi-formal outfits! If you want to wear chinos with turtlenecks and heels, try pairing them with a turtleneck. If you want to create a nice outfit, you can add a blazer, a stylish coat, or a silk blouse.
  • You can pair your chinos with a silky tee or a plaid flannel shirt for a more casual look.
  • You should consider the kind of shoes you want to wear when determining the length of your pant leg. Chinos with tapered legs look great with heels!

How Do You Wear Khakis?

Khakis provide an alternative to jeans for men and women that is comfortable, durable, and can be worn for a variety of activities. Here are some fashion tips for khakis!

For men:

  • Khakis are typically looser fitting, which provides a greater range of movement. Their comfort makes them less formal, but they are still comfortable. It’s important not to get a pair that looks too baggy, though, otherwise, you may look frumpy!
  • It is easy to wear khakis with striped t-shirts, casual sweaters, polo shirts, or even sweatshirts. You can also wear a denim button-down with khakis, something that you couldn’t do with jeans.
  • Whether you’re camping, hiking, or mowing the lawn, these more rugged pants are perfect! You won’t have to worry about the twill fabric ripping or tearing as you’re out and about.
  • When you pair khaki pants with a leather belt, your outfit will look great.

For women:

  • The looser look of khaki pants is slightly more urban than that of chinos. A leather jacket and heeled boots can easily be paired with khaki pants to create a street-style look.
  • If you wear pastel-colored t-shirts with these pants, your look will be looser and more casual.
  • A sweatshirt and sneakers can also be super casual!
  • A brightly colored top will offset the neutral brown of your khakis if you’re out and about.

The Most Popular Models of Khakis and Chinos

Almost all clothing stores offer both chinos and khakis for sale, with prices ranging from affordable to high-end. For a glimpse of the variety of pants options available for men and women, check out these products!

Slim-fit Wrinkle-Resistant Flat-Front Chino Pant

There are 13 different colors available for these casual, slim-fit chino pants, from khaki tan to dark brown, navy, and black.

Side pockets and a button fly are included in the pants. These pants combine 60% cotton with 40% polyester to make them both breathable and wrinkle-resistant.

This pair of trousers would be perfect for the office or a backyard barbecue! It looks stylish without being constricting with the tapered legs.

Women’s Cropped Girlfriend Chino

Chinos for women with a mid-rise and a button closure give them a comfortable fit. For a casual look, pair these pants with sneakers, or dress them up with flats! With 97% cotton and 3% spandex, these cropped pants are stretchy and comfortable.

There are four basic shades to choose from. A pastel top or even a brightly colored blouse for the office will look great with these neutral colors!

Carhartt Women’s Slim Fit Crawford Double Front Pant

Are you looking for khakis that are rugged, sturdy, and stylish at the same time? Here’s a pair of women’s khakis from Carhatt that you’ll love! There are decorative exterior stitchings, pockets, and buttons on these pants.

The cotton twill pants also contain a small percentage of spandex for a more comfortable fit as with most women’s pants. Additionally, the straight-cut legs and mid-rise waist offer a good range of motion.

Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Dungaree Pant

You can’t go wrong with Carhartt when it comes to tough, long-lasting khakis!
Solid seams, reinforced pockets, and a straight cut make these men’s pants ideal for tough workplaces.

The loose, straight legs of these pants should break at the top of your shoes or boots. They sit comfortably at the waist, and the waistband is adjustable.


Women and men wear khakis and chinos because they are both comfortable and stylish. The main difference between chinos and khakis is their slimmer fits and more formal appearance, while chinos can have wider legs, a looser fit, and a more casual appearance. Cotton twill fabric is traditionally used for both types of pants.

By the early 20th century, chinos and khakis had become mainstream as part of military uniforms. Khakis provide a rugged alternative to jeans, and chinos are often worn as business-casual office wear.

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