Chinos: The Pants of War and Peace

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Like much of men’s clothing, chinos (also known as khakis) have a military background. During the Second World War, chinos or khakis became the standard issue trouser for men in uniform in both the US and the UK. Made of lightweight cotton fabric, chinos derives its name from the Spanish word for toasted.

A British Army officer Sir Harry Lumsden set the standard for khakis when he adopted their use during campaigns in the Punjab, India in 1846. The pants were dyed with a local plant and labeled khaki (the word comes from the Hindi/Urdu word for dust, the color of the pants). The twill cotton pants were well liked due to their durability and the fact that they helped soldiers better blend into the natural landscape of the region.

In the 1898 Spanish-American war, US Army troops in the Philippines wore similar pants as part of their uniforms. Called chinos, both the name and their later widespread use grew from there.

Today chinos or khakis are a wardrobe essential for most men. Traditionally made in the light brown, tan color known as khaki, they can also easily be found in brown, black, blue, olive drab and even white.


Chinos are casual wear that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Perfect for casual Fridays, wear tan chinos with a Classic Navy Blazer. Made from durable Merino wool twill weave, the Navy Blazer, a sparkling white dress shirt and purple polka dot pocket square (leave the tie for only the more formal occasions) worn with chinos and a pair of chocolate loafers works great for the office, an evening out or even that casual first date.