Whether you're more obsessed with the color (khaki literally translates from Persian as "dusty") or the breeziness of chino fabric, the simple versatility of the tan cotton pant makes it an enduring staple. Like many menswear classics, the utilitarian appeal goes back to military history—the current popularity of flat-fronted looks with a slightly tapered leg references a style resulting from fabric-rationing measures during WWII.
From the fashion-forward to the traditional with a twist, we put the following pairs to the test with an eye for function, fit and details. Dressed up with oxfords or down with boat shoes, they're all guaranteed to work as a daily go-to while still setting you apart from the salarymen. (For another recent high-tech option designed for cyclists, check out Nike's latest chinos.)
Longtime New England style purveyors Gant raised some eyebrows with their latest patchwork chino (above left) by Michael Bastian. But keeping it monochromatic balances the look, and going with a slim fit as well as a nice summer-weight fabric makes them an unconventionally breezy pick for the season. Available at Bloomingdale's or Gant stores and soon online for $224.
Putting a literal twist on the traditional khaki, Steven Alan's spring twisted seam pant (above right) makes for a nice fit while adding unexpected style. Available in Steven Alan stores and online for $200, they also come in green and grey.
Gap, no stranger to classic American style, unsurprisingly made one of our top picks with the twill slim fit khakis (above left). Setting these apart is the wash, available in a variety of great warm colors (grass, brick, etc.), which uses the same "dye and wash" technique as their denim to create subtle fading. Note, although named "slim fit," they're actually a more generous cut. Head to any Gap store to pick up a pair for yourself for $60 or get them online.
Dockers' slim fit tapered khaki (above right) is an instant classic. With a modern, skinnier cut and in six strong colors, this pant will fit with anything already in your closet, and are hands-down the best at this price point. See for yourself on the Dockers site, where you can also buy them for $75.
Italian brand Closed proves that Europeans know how to do khaki too with their new slim urban chino (above left). Neither too skinny nor too baggy, these fall right in the middle with a pared-down design and with a short run only available in select US stores, it's unlikely you'll see anyone else sporting them. Jump online to snag a pair for €139 or check Ron Herman and Bloomingdale's where we recently spied them.
Outlier's 60/30 chino, lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant, is an overall superior pant. By taking advantage of the durability and elasticity of micro-denier nylon, the 60/30 is as classic and comfortable as the rest while remaining technologically superior. You can find these movement-friendly Khakis in select cycling shops and online for $200.
Newcomers to the fashion world, The West is Dead bring a great durable new chino (above left) to the table. They're constructed entirely in America with off-seam pockets and a fit that's like a slim pair of jeans, helping to avoid the sag that often comes with chinos. Built strong enough to withstand a hard day's work and available in multiple colors, look out for them in The West is Dead online shop soon.
After five years of hand repurposing Japanese denim at their NY spot, Jean Shop has learned a thing or two. Their twill rocker is a mid-rise straight leg khaki, made with 100% japanese cotton twill selvedge that gives the pant a familiar thick feel of denim, and jean-cut too. Shop online or at one of their NYC stores to get a pair of your own for $280.