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What’s The Difference Between Khakis And Chinos? Here’s The Answer

Monday, 23rd September, 2019

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.

Americans have adopted the word khaki to mean a pair of hard wearing pair of casual trousers. They’re made of a very heavy cotton, and are usually khaki in colour, hence the usage of the word.

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

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, whereas chinos are smarter (although not considered formal).

On the other hand, the more fashionable chinos, are the casual trousers which are popular 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.

They are also available in a huge range of colours, styles and fits. There’s the usual smart chino, with side slanted pockets and welted pockets to the back. However there’s also a 5-pocket varient, 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, in a khaki colour.

With that said, you could search in the UK for a pair of khakis, and it’s very likely you’ll end up with a pair of khaki coloured chinos, rather than the heavyweight twill trousers you may have been expecting (especially if you’re from the USA).

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.

Chinos vs Khakis - Here's The Answer

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

So, to wrap things up:

Khakis:

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

Chinos:

  • 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.


Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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