Difference Between Chinos and Khakis

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 21, 2023


Difference Between Chinos and Khakis

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Fashion lovers have only one thing to say to those who say pants are merely pants no matter what style they are marketed as – no, they are not! Some people go red in the face trying to hold back their annoyance upon hearing someone refer to chinos as khakis. The thing is, people think chinos and khakis are the same, as chinos are also available in khaki color. However, khakis refer to khaki pants that differ from chinos in many subtle ways (style, fit, material, etc.) and not the color.

No matter what people wear – khakis or chinos – they will be comfortable. Some people opine that chinos are a dressier version of khakis, and to a certain extent, that is true. Chinos are flat-front pants, meaning they have to be worn a bit lower down the hip. On the other hand, khakis may be worn either above or below the waist level (people find it much more exciting to choose how to wear a pair of pants themselves; that is why many prefer khakis.).

Chinos Vs. Khakis

The primary difference between chinos and khakis is the fabric they are made of. Though both are manufactured using cotton, the former is made using lightweight cotton, whereas the latter is made of heavy-weight cotton.

Difference Between Chinos And Khakis In Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonChinosKhakis
StitchingThe easiest way to tell apart chinos and khakis is by looking at the stitching. The stitching is always concealed in chinos.The stitching is visible in khakis (however, some manufacturers have started to conceal the stitching to give khakis a more formal look.).
OccasionsChinos are a good choice for semi-formal and casual events or occasions. Some people can pull-off wearing chinos for formal events, too (their swag and charisma gloss over the fact they are dressed semi-formally).Khakis are suitable for casual occasions but won’t look out of place if people occupy themselves with manual labor while wearing them. (Manual labor is preferable to the company of certain people one meets on occasion. So, people can equip themselves with khakis to escape within a moment’s notice.)
CuffsChinos may or may not be cuffed at the bottom hem.Khakis are cuffed at the bottom hem.
StyleChinos are ‘dressier’ than khakis.Khakis are sturdy and rugged-looking.
FitChino pants are slim and offer a close/tapered (the width above and below the knee differs) fit.Khakis are known for their loose/straight fit (the width is the same above and below the knee), making them highly comfortable.

What Are Chinos?

Chinos owe their name to the origin of the material used to manufacture them. These pants were made from the Chinese twill cotton. Apparently, people thought to keep it simple and call it chino – the Spanish word for China. Modern-day chinos are becoming increasingly popular due to their laid-back yet classy look. Some stylists balk at the very thought of people wearing chinos to weddings, but some have pulled it off.

Chinos’ straight lines make the wearer look taller, which is awesome, especially if people are a bit on the shorter side. People have nothing to say against chinos because they are available in many styles. Whether people need a slim fit, athletic fit, or something that resembles dress pants but still retains the characteristics of chinos, they can easily get their hands on it. Furthermore, though cotton and cotton blended materials remain the norm, other fabrics such as a blend of bamboo and wool (helps wick away sweat) and elastane (offers a bit more stretch) are popular, too.

Chinos help strike the right balance between casual and formal. Pair a light dress shirt with a dark-colored chino for a business casual look or a white polo shirt with an olive green chino for a breezy look. Chinos are versatile; nevertheless, they are not suitable for black-tie events. People need to keep in mind that chinos can offer only a semi-formal look.

Bored of attending cocktail parties in suits? Try wearing a chino paired with a tucked-in crisp shirt and a blazer. Add a leather belt, loafers, and a smart-looking watch to the mix, and voila, the ensemble is perfect for any fancy cocktail party (the others at the party won’t know what hit them when people arrive in such a fabulous outfit).

Choosing The Right Shoes For Chinos

Boots, sneakers, loafers, brogues, dress shoes, and so on work well with chinos. However, each shoe type imbues the outfit with different vibes. So, here is how people should pair them with their chinos:


Unsurprisingly, boots pair well with chinos. Chelsea boots match well with casual wear, whereas chukka boots are a better option for semi-formal attires. Fortunately, chinos are dressy enough to be semi-formal and functional enough to be casual. Therefore, people can’t go wrong with either boots.


People wanting to look street-smart can pair their chinos with sneakers. Sometimes, a minimalistic approach is the best; therefore, choose white or black sneakers with minimal design to wear with chinos. T-shirts, blazers, and jackets are good options when opting for sneakers.


Loafers are by far the best option when wearing chinos because the outfit comes together effortlessly, no matter what the top half of the outfit is. People can wear button-down shirts (for a semi-formal look), jackets (to emphasize elegance), or even pinstriped shirts. Do not like any of these options? No problem, stick with the polos for a relaxed yet confident style.

In short, people can get away with wearing almost anything. That does not mean others will not stare at them if they decide to wear something bizarre as a trench coat (after all, Castiel is the only one who looks fantastic in a trench coat). Fashion rules are there for a reason.

Dress Shoes

Nothing screams formal like wearing dress shoes. Chinos help tone it down a bit and make the outfit semi-formal. Oxfords are a classic and elegant choice and suit many styles. Wingtip Oxfords are a great option for, as Crowley not so elegantly says in Supernatural, howling at the moon in the night. And Cap-toe Oxfords are suitable for street casual or work-appropriate attires.

Boat Shoes

Know what pairs phenomenally with boat shoes? That’s right – white chinos. However, boat shoes will make people’s outfit seem effortlessly casual and is not suitable for semi-formal occasions. Boat shoes do not have to be worn only when spending a day on yachts. They are suitable for any occasion that calls for a smart or business casual look.

Derby Shoes

Derby shoes are similar to chinos in the sense they are both classy yet casual. Therefore, it is only natural that Derby shoes are a perfect choice for wearing with chinos. People can wear white chinos with navy or brown derby shoes or olive green chinos with black or reddish-brown derby shoes to elevate their outfits.

What Are Khakis?

Khakis are widely considered an excellent substitute for jeans. After all, how many shades of blue can one keep on wearing? It gets dreary. Agreed, jeans are available in other colors, but they are not that popular or common, are they? Anyway, khakis are the most versatile pants a person can possess (some would say chinos deserve the title, but they are wrong.). Khakis are the most casual pants available and can be paired with blazers or cardigans for a more formal look. Of course, they still will not be acceptable at formal events; however, neither are chinos. Therefore, people are better off with khakis.

Why Khakis Are Versatile

No doubt, jeans are an excellent choice; however, even unwavering jean loyalists do not sleep in them. On the other hand, khakis are comfortable to sleep in. Moreover, people can pair them with button-down or oxford shirts, sports coats, polo shirts, jackets, etc. Khakis became iconic when famous personalities such as Steve McQueen, John F. Kennedy, and Miles Davis wore them. People can stroll through the woods, chill out at BBQ parties, hang out in nightclubs, or enjoy dinner at a luxurious restaurant in the same outfit if they pair their khakis with the right top and footwear. How many pants make such a feat possible? That’s right – none.

How To Wear Khakis Stylishly

Khakis are undeniably cool, but people need to find a pair that fits them well to look stylish. The following are some tips to wear khakis and rock the style:

  1. Choose khakis that are not baggy – Khakis are meant to be roomy, but that does not mean people should get a baggy one. Flat-front khakis are preferable to the traditional pleat-front ones, as they offer a more tailored fit. On the other hand, pleat-fronts are a better option if the focus is on comfort. Moreover, khakis should skim/graze the top of people’s shoes or extend 1 or 2 inches over them (if it bunches around the ankles, forget the khakis. No, it is not cool, rather it gives off a hobo vibe.).
  2. The right color can work wonders – Khakis are found in varying colors and different shades. Still, dark, golden-brown khakis pair well with almost anything and are a great choice even if it reminds some people of uniforms. Navy khakis are a moderately risk-free choice. People cannot go wrong with it unless they are bent on ruining their outfits. However, people should try to avoid other colors if they do not have an idea of what works or are unsure whether they can pull off the look they are aiming for.
  3. Use them often – This may seem a bit odd, but khakis look better with age (similar to how wines age well). People going for a casual look will rock in well-worn khakis, as the wear and tear is kind of charming. However, people who wish to dress semi-formally will be better off with khakis that look brand new (even if they are not).
  4. Do not cuff khakis – Cuffed khakis look good only on tall persons because they make the wearer appear shorter. Cuffless khakis are more versatile; they enhance the khakis’ rugged charm. However, people can roll up their khakis to create their own cuffs if they wish to show off their shoes (that does not mean people should experiment with over-the-top shoes. After all, not everyone can get away with extravagant shoes like Usher).
  5. Wear the right shoes – Shoes can make or break an outfit. Many people meticulously plan their outfits only to ruin them by wearing shoes that do not pair well with the rest of the ensemble. Fortunately, khakis are compatible with a variety of shoes such as sneakers, boat shoes, Chelsea and combat boots, cap toe shoes, monk straps, oxford and derby shoes, loafers, etc. As for the color, brown is the best option followed by white (has a softer vibe) and navy (for a more unconventional look). Black shoes are an excellent option if people want their assemble to look more formal.

Main Difference Between Chinos And Khakis (In Points)

  • Chinos are available in a variety of colors including the color khaki (hence, the name khaki chinos). Khakis are available in a dusty brown, beige, or earthy tone (black and navy khakis are rare).
  • Khakis are much more affordable than chinos due to their more casual nature. Chinos become suitable formal wear when paired with button-down shirts, making them pricier than khakis.
  • Chinos are not as comfortable as khakis (nothing beats going fishing in a pair of khakis and waiting leisurely for the fish to bite!).
  • Khakis have flat or pleated fronts, whereas chinos have only flat-fronts.
  • Chinos have hidden pockets (people’s inner child immediately lights up on seeing this feature). On the other hand, a khaki’s pockets are visible and attention-grabbing.


People do not have to choose between chinos and khakis. It is okay to indulge oneself and buy both. After all, what is stopping people from trying both, except their mindset? Having a versatile wardrobe means people can dress up or dress down as and when they want. However, showing up in khakis or chinos will be disastrous if the event/occasion requires dress pants. Rebelling is good to some level, but beyond that, it is reckless and may create a negative image.

Therefore, people can have fun mixing their chinos or khakis with several shirts, blazers, polos, or sweaters for semi-formal or casual occasions. They only need to remember that chinos are made of much more breathable material, while khakis do not need to offer that luxury as they provide a loose fit. So, the choice boils down to whether people want something dressy, stylish, and subtle or something bold, breezy, and comfortable. Chinos are a better option in the former case, and khakis are the best choice in the latter.


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"Difference Between Chinos and Khakis." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 17 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-chinos-and-khakis>.

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