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What’s The Difference Between Khakis And Chinos? – Men’s Fashion Basics

Fashion, Men's Style Guides
Friday, 9th April, 2021

Outfit Style - Beige Chinos And Navy T Shirt

So, Khakis and chinos…What is the difference?

You may have heard of them both be referred to as trousers, but they are different. They can both be worn as an alternative to jeans, but what is the difference between the two.

However, the word khaki does not mean trousers, khaki is actually a colour. Let me explain.


Khakis vs Chinos

What Are Khaki Pants?

Khaki pants are a pair of hard wearing pair of casual trousers. They’re made of a very heavy cotton or twill, and are usually khaki in colour, hence the usage of the word. The term khaki is used more in America, while in Britain we’d called these casual trousers.

If you’re wondering what colour khaki is, it’s in the range of green colours, darker greens, olive, tan or beige.

The fit is usually fairly loose and baggy. They’re square cut, and usually have a lot of room in them.

If you try to find a pair of what the Americans call Khakis here in the UK, you’ll probably be presented with a lot of chinos, with perhaps a small (if any) amount of what they call khakis in the USA.

In terms of formality, khakis are more casual and informal.

What Are Chinos?

Chinos are a popular and fashionable trousers in the UK and Europe. They tend to be made from a lighter weight cotton, and as already mentioned, smarter than the heavy khaki trousers.

Although they are smarter than a pair of khakis, they’re still usually worn as a casual item of clothing. You can wear a pair of chinos as an alternative to denim.

Chinos are also available in a huge range of colours and styles. There’s the usual smart chino, with side slanted pockets and welted pockets to the back.

In terms of the fit, they’re usually slimmer, and cut closer to the body.

But there’s also a 5-pocket variant, in a similar style to jeans but with the chino DNA. These are my personal favourite.

Here is where there could be even more confusion. You can get khaki chinos. That is chinos pants, but in a khaki colour.

If you’re wondering how to style them, read the how to wear chinos guide which offers a lot of tips on outfits and advice on wearing this smart casual piece of clothing.

When you want to wear something smarter than jeans but formal trousers are too dressy, chinos are the perfect pair of pants to wear.


In this example above, The Khakis are on the left, and the chinos are on the right.

Khakis vs Chinos – The Difference

Khakis and chinos can both be summed up as a casual pair of trousers for men. Khakis could be described as the more casual of the two, harder wearing and pants akin to work-wear.

By contrast, chinos could be dressed up a little more, and worn as part of a smart casual outfit with a button up shirt.

Khakis Are:

  • A heavyweight twill pair of trousers.
  • Very casual
  • Usually khaki in colour

Chinos Are:

  • A lightweight cotton pair of trousers.
  • Smart casual in terms of formality
  • Come in a large range of colours (including khaki)

And that is it! So you could say that some chinos are khaki, but khakis are not chinos. Check out more fashion basics and the must have wardrobe essentials you should have in your repertoire of clothing.

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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