Everybody I know loves wearing chinos. But a lot of those guys don’t look great wearing them. They tend to wear them too baggy, too tight, too short, or too long. Or simply have no ideas what to wear them with. Chinos are a great men’s wardrobe essential as long as you know what you’re doing.
What began as children’s attire and then a part of the military uniform has transformed into an important part of any guys wardrobe and if you’re looking to wear shorts, the right way, here is all you need to know.
Why are They an Essential for a Man’s Wardrobe?
If you’ve read our 7 Steps to a minimalist capsule wardrobe article then you know that versatility is the king features to any man’s wardrobe. Chinos are very versatile because they work anywhere from casual to what I like to call sharp casual.
You can go casual by pairing them with a plain t-shirt and a pair of white sneakers. Or you can go sharp casual and upgrade your top to an Oxford dress shirt or Broadcloth dress shirt and a pair of suede loafers. Chino shorts provide a great look for spring and summer months.
How Should Chino Shorts Fit?
As with anything in your wardrobe fit is the most important. No matter what you paid for them, any pair of shorts will look great as long as they fit properly. Firstly, your shorts should never be too baggy. Around the waist, your shorts should fit snuggly without being too tight and never so lose they fall down when you’re not wearing a belt. They should fit snug around the butt without accentuating that area too much.
As for the legs, just like chino pants and jeans, you don’t want too much material in the leg. As a basic rule, make sure you can pinch about 1 to 2 inches of fabric at the thigh. Any more, they’re too loose, any less and they’re too tight. Length should be no more than 2 to 3” above the knee and no shorter. For most guys, you’ll be looking at a 9-11″ inseam in your shorts. And just like Chino pants, shorts can be tailored if they don’t fit out of the box.
A Choice of Colors
It’s easy to get carried away with color choices, but we’re looking for versatility, so always start with neutral colors. First, add khaki/beige, then navy, and finally olive. These colors will pair with any item a wardrobe based on neutral colors. You can then move onto grey, and black as you’re wardrobe expands.
Chino Shorts Don’ts
As with most men’s fashion choices, there are some dos and don’ts that should be considered. Here are some that I personally adhere to when wearing chinos.
- DON’T – Wear shorts that are too short, or you’ll look like a 70s basketball player or a prep that’s trying a little too hard. Keep them about 2-3 inches above the knee and you’ll be good to go.
- DON’T – Wear cargo shorts. Unless you’re going on a safari, are camping or hiking forget the cargo shorts.
- DON’T – Wear shorts that are too baggy/tight. For us guys with some flaws, baggy shorts are a style killer. The extra material makes us look sloppy and heavier. Neither of which is good for us.
- DON’T – Wear shorts with pleats. As with pants stick to flat front styles. Pleats just aren’t flattering on anyone.
- DON’T – Wear a blazer with shorts. Unless you are in the Bahamas stick to with a bomber jacket.
Types of Shoes to Wear with Chino Shorts
Depending on your outfit, chinos can be worn with a wide variety of shoes. My favorites tend to be white sneakers because you can dress them up or down. From there you can go with boat shoes, suede car shoes or penny loafers, mocs, or a nice pair of leather sandals.
Types of Shirts to Wear with Chino Shorts
Versatility is the word when it comes to chino shorts, so there is a wide range of shirts that can be worn with a pair of chinos. If you’re keeping things casual wear them with a plain t-shirt or polo, but if you want to dress them up a bit a button down oxford, a broadcloth dress shirt, chambray shirt, short sleeve poplin, or even a denim shirt or a v-neck sweater for the fall will work great. If you’re wearing a long sleeve shirt roll up the sleeves to create additional cohesion with the shorts.
6 Of The Best Men’s Chino Short Brands – Where To Buy Men’s Chino Shorts
You will be happy with all of the brands below. It all just depends on how much you want to spend and the type of fit you like. Remember to stick with solid neutral colors to start, keep the inseam to 2-3 inches above your knees and if you get them and there’s too much material in the leg you can always get them tapered at the tailor for a slimmer fit.
1. J. Crew Stretch Chino Shorts ($65)
2. H&M Chino Shorts ($25)
3. Todd Snyder Hudson Tab-Front Chino Shorts ($128)
4. Bonobos Stretch Washed Chino Shorts ($78)
5. Uniqlo Men’s Chino Shorts ($30)
6. Gap Vintage Wash Chino Shorts ($36)
Three of The Best Men’s Outfit Ideas for Men’s Chino Shorts
These are some of my go-to chino short outfits. I’ve tried to give a nice selection including a super casual outfit, an outfit for around town, and something for the cooler evenings. These are tried and true and will look great whatever the occasion.
Chino Shorts Outfit #1
1. T-Shirt: Alex Mill Standard Cotton Jersey T-Shirt Navy ($55)
2. Chino Shorts: Bonobos Stretch Washed Navy Chino Shorts ($78)
3. Sneakers: Oliver Cabell Low 1 Black Leather Sneakers ($178)
4. Sunglasses: ATTCL Black Aviator ($22)
Chino Shorts Outfit #2
1. Bomber: American Trench Black Bomber ($249)
2. Shirt: J. Crew White Polo ($30)
3. Shorts: J. Crew Beige Chino Shorts
4. Shoes: Oliver Cabell Low White Sneakers
5. Sunglasses: ATTCL Black Aviator Sunglasses ($22)
Chino Shorts Outfit #3
1. Todd Snyder Cotton Button-Down Collar Shirt In Light Blue
2. Asket White T-Shirt
3. J. Crew Stretch Chino Shorts
4. The Oliver Cabell Low 1 Men’s White Sneaker
5. J. Crew Classic Leather Belt
6. Varsity Navy Storm Blue Wool Baseball Cap
Get out and enjoy the warmer weather in a pair of chino shorts. With these tips, you can wear yours with confidence no matter if you are headed to a casual lunch date or simply out to the beach.