Five Ways To Wear One: Khaki Pants

by Beau Hayhoe  |  in Style Tips

Looking for a few cool outfits to wear with khaki pants (a.k.a. chinos)?

Having a pair of tan khaki pants in your arsenal is a good idea. It’s one pair of pants that works well in all seasons, especially with a neutral shade like tan.

Between lighter-weight chinos for spring and summer, and heavier wool fabrics for other parts of the year, you could find yourself with way too many options.

(Related: Want to know the difference between chinos and khakis?)

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While most of us associate khakis with a baggy fit and pleats, the new type of khakis have undergone, at least by most measures, an update for the 21st century man.

And the starting barometer for your new khaki pant involves two keys, things worth always remembering: color and fit.

Bonobos Chinos

Your search for the perfect chinos ends here. Bonobos' chinos offer superior comfort, dozens of colors, and quality that lasts.


The Best Khaki Chino Color

While the khaki of yesteryear might feature a washed-out, light color, a dark tan chestnut color—like these from Bonobos—works with darker fall and winter hues.

(This also happens to be my favorite shade, because it’s just a bit different from the standard khaki pants, but just as easy to wear in different outfits.)

And of course, in the spring and summer, you can sport the lighter shades of khaki (sometimes called stone, off white, etc.)

And while all khaki shades can technically work no matter the season, the standard medium khaki color is best suited for year-round wear.

How Chinos Should Fit

As with any item, fit is important to get right. Otherwise you go from modern and in-style to… middle management office worker.

Since it’s a piece that can work casually and in dressier situations, look for a trim fit that’s not rock star denim tight. Something with a mid-rise if possible, and a slim (not tight) tapered leg.

The Bonobos chinos do this well, and they also have four different fits so these pants work well with many body types.

How to wash chinos

Washing your chinos is something to pay close attention to, as well.

Since the khaki-colored cotton twill fabric is lighter in color, you may have to wash them more frequently if you’re not careful with stains.

Washing in cold or warm (not hot) water, with like colors, is best. If you dry them, stick to low / medium heat. Any hotter, and you may see some shrinkage.

Putting together outfits with khaki pants

It’s probably time we get to the outfit suggestions, right? (Click the images for a larger view)

Outfit 1: Everyday, All-Season Wear

khaki pants outfit with light blue shirt and navy jacket

Dark tan khaki chinos
Blue OCBD (similar)
Jacket (similar)
Brown leather belt
Brown chukka boots (similar / better)
Classic dive watch (similar / better)

At first glance, this outfit might be easy to miss. It’s definitely not flashy or fashion-forward, but that gives it lots of utility across any season, and pretty much any type of weather.

It’s the well-dressed man’s version of standing out quietly, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

In fact, it takes the best of so many men’s style essentials (a classic shirt, updated pants, a sharp dive watch and timeless shoes) and combines them, ensuring that this entire ensemble could work in the office or out to dinner, on the weekends or running errands on a weeknight.

That’s also why it’s worth investing slightly in some of these pieces.

The jacket works in at least three seasons as outerwear, and with J.Crew, the quality of the leather speaks for itself (personally, a belt from them has held up great for years with frequent wear).

The blue OCBD, as long as it fits well, can function as a casual, comfortable piece when the sleeves are rolled up. And when paired with the chinos and a classic leather desert boot, it’s definitely work-ready.

And in the event it rains or gets chilly, the navy jacket protects you from the elements while playing nicely off the blue top. On the other hand, if it gets too hot, the jacket can easily be taken off without losing any of the outfit’s versatility.

On your wrist, a stainless steel dive watch is another classic that can be worn with everything from shorts to a suit, and there’s no need to worry about matching leathers, either.

Outfit 2: A Day at the Office

flatlay outfit with burgundy check shirt khaki pants, brown belt, and grey tie

Dark tan chinos
‘Non-traditional’ blue blazer
Gingham buttondown shirt (similar)
Neutral knit tie
Crisp pocket square
Braided leather belt
Dark grey socks
Brown wingtips (similar / better)

This outfit is another version of incorporating traditional menswear elements, but doing so with slightly different stylistic touches.

Using the clean, simple base of dark tan chinos gives you some liberty to experiment with other, more unique pieces in this outfit.

Take, for example, the patterned button-down shirt. Although the red is perhaps more appropriate for fall, a deep color like that would be a nice change of pace to the washed-out shades we typically see in spring and summer.

The blazer also echoes that same sentiment. It’s made from a chambray (not plain navy), another fabric which can look great in both warm and cold temperatures thanks to the rougher, yet casual and washed, texture.

And instead of a shiny regular silk tie, a textured knit tie in a neutral shade deviates from normal neckwear choices.

The silver tie also plays well off the darker chambray pocket square. In a deeper color like that, the chambray is perhaps the second-most versatile pocket square out there, besides a white cotton option, as it goes with a variety of colors regardless of season.

Socks with some pattern but in a quieter color keep the focus on the rest of the outfit by not clashing, while dark brown wingtips project sharp yet casual style on your feet.

And the watch from the first outfit could also work equally well in this outfit because of the stainless steel band.

Outfit 3: Warm-Weather With Some Polish

summer outfit flatlay with khaki pants chambray shirt and ribbon belt

Dark tan chinos
Short-sleeve chambray shirt (similar)
Striped ribbon belt
Grey suede captoes (similar)
Timex Weekender
NATO watch strap

This outfit takes a summer staple, the short-sleeve chambray shirt, and ties everything together with a snappy-casual, yet still playful vibe.

The dark tan chinos, as long as they fit trim, can be cuffed or rolled here for a breeze around your ankles, and as much as it’s a trend right now, this isn’t a bad outfit to try sockless (or with no-show socks, preferably).

Keep the fit of the chambray shirt slim through the waist, snug at the shoulders, and fitted at the biceps to avoid extra fabric blowing in the summer breeze.

Consider swapping out a dark brown leather belt for a lighter ribbon belt with subtle stripes and lighter color, a solid warm-weather move.

And on that note, this outfit also swaps out a plain canvas watch strap on a more traditional Timex Weekender for something with more color, while pairing nicely with the blue touches on the belt and watch strap.

Outfit 4: Beat the Heat

warm weather outfit with khaki pants stripe t-shirt white sneakers

Dark tan chinos
Braided leather belt (similar)
Navy striped T-shirt (similar)
Crisp white sneakers (similar)
Timex Weekender
NATO watch strap

Even in the dead heat of summer, these chinos can still work. Just check out the fit above! It’s crisp yet casual.

Pairing a classic tan chino with a T-shirt.

And the chinos themselves work just as well as jeans or tan shorts might. They’re a neutral basic that coordinates with most other colors, particularly the navy of the T-watch strap.

Those Tretorn sneakers are an extremely solid shoe; crisp and streamlined, yet still durable and exceptionally comfortable. They’re the perfect summer shoe, in that they can be worn sockless with the chinos cuffed or rolled.

The canvas shoes from Koio that we have linked? Also an incredible option (and one of Barron’s favorite minimalist shoe brands).

And though a shiny leather dress belt (like in the business casual outfit) might look out of place, a braided leather belt brings some casual texture to the look.

Outfit 5: Fighting the Chill

cold weather outfit with tan chinos, white henley, navy sweater, and denim jacket

Dark tan chinos
Henley (similar)
Royal v-neck sweater (similar)
Dark denim jacket (similar)
Braided leather belt
Brown boots (similar)

This last ensemble proves that dark tan chinos really do have utility across all four seasons.

The dark tan shade means they fit right into the deeper color hues we see in fall and winter, while holding their own stylistically against a thicker pair of work-inspired boots.

The rest of this outfit makes use of layering rugged essentials, like a white henley, with dressier (yet equally versatile) pieces, and a royal v-neck sweater.

For those times when there’s a chill in the air but it’s not Polar Vortex cold, a denim jacket helps the blue of the sweater pop nicely against that neutral outer layer, while also providing an extra layer against the cold.

With some character, a denim jacket can go just about anywhere, and look pretty cool while doing it.

Texturally, that same braided leather belt fits in during the fall and winter months because of the rougher feel it has when compared to a dress belt. Reach for some thicker marled socks and this outfit’s complete.

My khaki pants recommendations

I swear by these brands and own or have tried versions of these chino pants in the past.

Bonobos Chinos

Your search for the perfect chinos ends here. Bonobos' chinos offer superior comfort, dozens of colors, and quality that lasts.

Everlane Chinos

Everlane made a pair with all the technical-pant features—they’re sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and have 4-way stretch—plus an authentic chino look designed for everyday wear.

J.Crew Chinos

J.Crew's designers engineer these pants with precision—using fit and fabric detail that'll make you want to wear them every day.

Banana Republic Chinos

BR has a variety of chinos in different fits and fabric styles, some 100% cotton, others with a bit of stretch for comfort.


Wrapping up!

Hopefully I’ve shown you how dark tan khaki pants are the perfect all-season item. They look great, they’re super versatile, and you can wear them year round in practically any situation.

After dark denim, a darker shade of tan khaki pants is what I’d recommend, as far as absolute menswear essentials are concerned.

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