How to Wear Colorful Chinos and Pants

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Smart Casual

I talk about dark denim a lot. Getting one great pair does wonders for your wardrobe because it can act as the base for 91% of the outfits you put together.

But sometimes, you want to switch it up.

As you probably already know, chinos (or “khakis”, as you might call them) are an awesome alternative to denim.

Usually you can get by with a pair of dark denim, some trousers, and a pair of chinos. But if you’re a guy taking this whole personal style thing seriously, that simple offering may get stale.

You need variety! You need pizazz!

I suggest you get into colorful chinos.

Here’s why: You’re adding an interesting pop of color to your wardrobe, and you can set yourself apart (in a good way) from every other medium-khaki-colored gent out there.

Plus, bright colors are a nice homage to the warmer, sunnier months to come! Why not brighten an overcast winter day with your pants? Am I right?!

Let’s look at some options

My favorite stores for colorful chinos?

Some brands have colored denim; it’s just a matter of you finding a pair you like. My one recommendation: The summer-weight, jetsetter, and travel jeans from Bonobos are great.

A few tips to successfully pull off brightly-colored pants

One pop of color at a time

If you’re wearing brightly-colored chinos, you don’t want an equally bright shirt. Every other element should be muted or neutral.

For example, wearing vibrant blue pants like the guy above? Tan is a nice neutral color to offset the brightness.

Don’t match! Complement instead

If you’re wearing red pants, your first inclination may be to accessorize with pops of red in other places. Avoid that. You want your colors to complement, not match exactly.

Complementing colors may take practice and you have to develop that eye for what looks good and what doesn’t, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Observe the photo above. This guy got it right. He has the brightly-colored pants, balanced with the dark, chunky cardigan. He has a tan leather belt (looks great with those pants), and a dark plaid shirt with mostly cool tones (blues, purples, etc) under the sweater.

Notice that there’s no other bright pops of red… anywhere.

Dress it up

You’ll be surprised how great a colorful pair of pants looks with a simple white dress shirt, tie, and sport coat.

Same rules: keep everything else muted and neutral.

Dress it down

You can also use it as an alternative to denim.

If you would normally throw on some jeans, reach for a pair of colorful chinos instead. Just pay close attention to the other elements in your outfit so they all go well together.

Again, complement your colors, don’t match (see above for clarification.)

Work your way up to pink

Intimidated by such bright color? You shouldn’t be. It’s not like you have to wear pink pants tomorrow. In fact, you don’t have to wear such a bright hue at all, ever. It’s up to you.

Start small and take baby steps.

Think pink is too crazy? Try out some olive chinos. Work your way up to a richer evergreen color.

Or maybe start with a charcoal blue and work your way up to a cobalt blue.

If bright colors make you uncomfortable, take baby steps. It’s kinda like starting off with large, oversized jeans and working your way to a straight leg with a better fit. It just takes time and a little getting used to.

Does this help?

What other questions do you have about how to rock something a bit different than your typical dark denim?

Let’s hear it below!

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