Chinos and jeans are both classic fashion options with long and interesting histories. You should be familiar with both of them and could have both in your wardrobe. Picking out some of the style advantages and differences of one vs. the other, though, takes a bit more time.
Here’s the SANVT view on Chinos vs. Jeans:
Defining Chinos is a slightly slippier task than with jeans. But in a nutshell: Chinos are lightweight, simply-styled men’s trousers that are neither formal nor informal.
The Chino – in this useful frontier between formalwear and casualwear – is one of the most versatile trousers available. You can look great wearing Chinos for almost any occasion (apart from something really serious like, say, a black-tie event or a wedding). Cotton is the material most often used to make Chinos – leading to a refined natural look. The cut is typically either classic, slim, or even skinny.
Note: for more on this, see our separate blog post on how chinos should fit:
Are Chinos the same as cargo trousers?
No. There is a slight similarity to Cargo trousers (a.k.a khakis) in terms of both the cut and the style. Still, the more elegant minimalist style of the Chino – with the lack of those large utilitarian pockets – is an obvious giveaway. The stitching on Chinos is also hidden and cargo pants tend to be baggier than Chinos. Overall, cargo pants have a far more informal and practical feel.
Jeans don’t need introduction – everyone has a pair – they’re one of the most iconic fashion items around. Compared to Chinos though, jeans aren’t anywhere near as versatile. They’re firmly in the informal camp. You couldn’t get away with wearing jeans to an interview – and it’s probably best not to risk a pair of blue jeans for business.
While Chinos have the edge with colour, jeans have more diverse cuts. Skinny, straight, super-skinny, baggy, low-rise, the divisive bootcut, and the list goes on. Like Chinos, jeans are made from cotton, although Denim (the cotton fabric that’s produced) is a lot heavier than the fabric that Chinos are made from.
Chinos vs. Jeans
Chinos are becoming more popular – and beginning to challenge the supremacy of jeans. Not without reason: In SANVT’s opinion Chinos outperform jeans in four key areas.
This is the big advantage of the Chino. Jeans can be worn in a limited set of circumstances. Chinos blend in perfectly in almost any occasion.
The Chino has always been available in a multitude of different colours. This includes summery light and pastel shades, and since this fresher style is very on-trend at the moment, this is another pro for the Chino trouser.
Jeans, having been so popular for so long, have perhaps lost some of their old edge. People are looking for alternatives and if you select a Chino instead of a jeans, you’re going to stand out more. It’s a somewhat discerning choice. And not only that: Chinos just look more elegant and refined than jeans, but at the same time maintain a good balance. It’s a style that’s more contemporary.
Breathability & comfort:
Denim simply isn’t breathable. And stretch denim is even worse, as the synthetics used to achieve the stretch diminish the breathability even more. On the other hand, Chinos (and even stretch Chinos) are lighter and more breathable. They’re more comfortable to wear – especially in hotter weather.
That all said, jeans are a singular style item that can’t easily be replaced by anything else. They’ll never become defunct. If you’re looking for a pair of jeans then remember that while Chinos are a great alternative, they are of course different. Jeans are jeans and, if that’s what you’re seeking, there’s only one thing to buy...
Chinos are a fantastic fashion item to have in your wardrobe and a perfect alternative to both jeans and formal trousers. Like with any other garment, though, pay attention to fit and quality. Don’t just buy the first thing you find online, or in the stores, and end up with an item that doesn’t fit well, doesn’t feel good, and doesn’t last.
SANVT’s Smart Chino is a luxury quality, stretch-cotton Chino with an elegant slim fit. It’s fairly made in the EU from premium fabric, with the highest attention to detail. Find out more about the Smart Chino – and enjoy all the benefits and versatility that the Chino has to offer.
If you need more inspiration on when to wear chinos (and when not) click here.