Where Have All the Chinos Gone?

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I am not one to howl at the moon. Sure I have had my moments in the past, but after dressing trad-ish for the better part of 10 years I now know and accept that things will never be as they were. I am even okay with that. I am currently looking to replace my current set of chinos and I could use your help finding some option, because it has not been easy.
IMG_6679Here is what I am looking for when it comes to chinos. I want them to be flat-front, 100% cotton (that means no stretch), and to not have no-iron treatment. In terms of fit I would like a decent rise of about 11 inches and nothing too slim nor too wide (see above). I know that it doesn’t sounds too difficult on its face, but anyone of you that have been looking recently knows that it is.
IMG_5506If you are wondering what I have been wearing up until now that is a great question. I have been wearing J.Crew Essential chinos in classic since around 2008. Around 2014 they changed the fit name from classic to 1040. At some point in the last 1-2 years they stopped making the Essential version which was their dressier version and now only offer the broken-in version. I will give the broken-in fit a try, but I have my doubts.

My current list of potential chino sources are O’Connell’s Clothing, J.Press, Ralph Lauren, and J.Crew. I have tried O’Connell’s in the past and found them too wide, but both of us could have changed our desired look in that time. If any of you have any insight into specific models, feedback, etc. please do share!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

54 Comments on "Where Have All the Chinos Gone?"

  1. JJ says:

    Have you considered Bonobos? Best Chinos I’ve ever worn. They’re comparable to the old JCrew and have them in 4 fits – Tailored, Slim, Athletic, Straight; and comes in all materials, washed, premium, stretch(or without).

    For myself, I wear the Slim fit washed chinos, and I think it’s a good choice of being modestly slim but not ridiculously skinny.

  2. Tim says:

    orvis ultimate khakiss

  3. SpencerDigby says:

    Jerrod,

    Thanks for this post. I’ve consulted your site many times for advice, but this is my first time responding. I’ve spent countless hours searching for the perfect chino at a reasonable (i.e., under $60/pair). I used to wear LL Bean LL Chinos, until I met my wife, who helped me recognize that fit is an important element of style. (Those were dark days before I met her.) In short, LL Bean’s chinos are too baggy for my frame.

    I have been very pleased with Brooks Brothers Red Fleece garment-dyed chinos. They are surprisingly affordable (under $60) and come in a range of colors. (I prefer Oatmeal.) The legs taper, although I’m not sure whether you’d find the rise high enough. I find that they run a little long, which is perfect because I take them to my tailor to cuff and taper a little more to to around 7-7.25″ openings. I’ve only purchased the stretch version, although Red Fleece has a similar, non-stretch version.

    https://www.brooksbrothers.com/Garment-Dyed-Stretch-Chinos/RR00040,default,pd.html

    Thanks for the posts,
    SpencerDigby

  4. jingo says:

    recently all my chinos come from uniqlo (regular fit) and muji (regular fit), as both are japanese brands, my regular size is a 79 or in inches it’s a size 31. am from the philippines and both brands are available here, just don’t know if they are from your side of the world. i stopped wearing jeans at the start of this year and been wearing chinos since.

  5. Another Robert says:

    I was going to suggest Jack Donnelly (which I have yet to try myself) but then I found that you have written about them in the past.

  6. Kevin says:

    Jack Donnelly

  7. Old Trad says:

    We never used to talk about (or care about)
    “fit” in chinos,
    until young men wanted to
    show off their tight behinds.
    We used to wear LLBean chinos
    and were perfectly happy with their bagginess
    just as we were perfectly happy with
    the bagginess of Brooks Brothers buttondown.
    Some of us still are.
    Oxford cloth shirts.

  8. Matt says:

    I consider Bill’s M2 to be the gold-standard of chinos. O’Connells are an incredibly close second as well. Both the above come at a high cost, however. Bonobos and The Nobby Shop are solid alternatives.

  9. Addison DeWitt says:

    I am with Tim. The Orvis ultimate khakis are terrific, especially if you like your khakis on the heavy side (I do). Bill’s Khakis are pretty good but expensive to my mind.

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    Thanks for all the recs! I would try Orvis but I need a size 30 or even a 29 depending. I should have added that extra hurdle above.

    Old Trad – I don’t believe that for a minute. What were all those tailors for and what about all those heyday pictures?

    I do believe that there was a time when baggy was the thing. I also agree that thinking about it all too much is not the best way to spend one’s time.

  11. Fred Johnson says:

    On
    Give J Press a try, in your size they may fit the bill and have a good classic look.

  12. RP says:

    Inexpensive, all-cotton “workhorse” chinos are going the way of similar OCBDs with good collar rolls.

    Lands’ End chinos were my go-to, but last year’s batch had really inconsistent fits between pairs, and this year’s have stretch.

    Check out Banana Republic’s Emerson (straight) or Gavin (relaxed) chinos. All-cotton, no stretch, and inexpensive during one of their frequent 40% off sales.

    Bill’s M2 is still my gold-standard for fit and rise.

  13. J Johnson says:

    Agreed that Bonobos has a great fit and now that you moved to bigger city, you can drop by a store to try. However, I don’t think they’ll fit your style (cuff finish; pocket lining). I would recommend Polo classic fit or perhaps a straight fit. They are traditional without being too baggy and not trendy. You can also find them frequently on sale, often at deep discounts.

  14. Andrew says:

    I’ve been buying Lands End almost exclusively recently. They are non-iron (in theory, not in practice), but I think they fit all your other criteria and are offered in various fits. At $55 (and a good deal lower during their constant sales) it is a good reasonably-priced option.

    Do not have any over 2 years old, but they are wearing well so far.

  15. Johnny Utah says:

    I too previously wore the “classic/1040”. Needless to say I have been on the lookout for something new. Recently ordered some of the broken in model and they were extremely big in the seat for me. May have to settle for the 770…the sales lady claimed it is the new straight fit.

    While I wear chinos more like denim than dress trousers, the following are on my radar:
    Uniqlo (too slim maybe?)
    Bean Signature
    Orvis slim fit
    Bonobos (no clue what fit)
    Brooks Bros Clark fit (looks like all stretch or treated right now)
    Taylorstitch (prob my next purchase)

  16. Kenny says:

    Charles Tyrwhitt – flat front, non-iron and decent rise. They available in classic, slim and extra slim fit. There are up to nine colours to choose from. You might find it cheaper to buy from the UK site with its “two for” offers.

  17. Jon DiBenedetto says:

    I like Bills M2 but I’m not thrilled with the price. Tried a pair of store brand Hansens (great store overall) but their cut HUGE. I even ordered their ‘slimmer’ version and their still immense. Tried a pair from J. Press and their ‘coated’ with teflon in case I spill coffee on them I guess. Yes, its getting next to impossible to find good khakis.

  18. RWK says:

    If you’re willing to go the eBay/vintage route, then the Prospect model by Polo is really the best iteration of khakis I’ve come across. I’ve tried the Brooks Clark fit (only a 10″ rise), Land’s End classic fit (too inconsistent), and the standard LL Bean (too baggy). Ralph’s Prospect Pants are the best of the bunch. For a point of reference, I’m 5’9″ and 175lbs. with a 34″ waist, so I’m about as average as they come.

    If you’re going to pay north of $100 for a pair, I’d recommend Luxire. You can have a pair in classic, 100% khaki chino made to your exact specifications for $99. That’s a better deal than Press, O’Connell’s, Bill’s, Jack Donnelly, and others of that ilk.

  19. JoelVau says:

    Agree regarding Orvis. Old school khakis. But guys, trad is baggy. That is part of the point. Currently find Lands’ End to work well. They say non iron but are not so much. Also guys, trads and preps wear “khakis” not “chinos”. If they are khaki color that is. Despise the signs in stores calling blue chinos “khakis.”

    • Grey Flannels says:

      @Joel Vau:
      Re: “trad is baggy. That is part of the point.”

      How right you are!

      • Tom says:

        If we’re talking heyday Ivy then that couldn’t be further from the truth

        • John says:

          Trad is most certainly not baggy. 60’s Ivy isn’t baggy at all. Baggy started to come into fashion with the 80’s oversize powersuit. It has taken a super long time to go away because (among several reasons) American’s have gotten bigger and it is easy to buy clothes that are too big. As much as we like to think it isn’t, Trad is influenced by fashion trends. This isn’t to say that Trad is on the forefront of style, but any current iteration of Trad will be dragged one way or the other (baggy or form fitting) by current trends.

          But I think focusing on fit is a mistake for defining trad. Trad is the mainly clothing. Fit is more a function of the time/era than anything else.

          Honest question: what is more Trad, a 3/2 blazer with brass buttons and patch pockets, but it is super slim and has a chopped tail. OR a traditional cut 2 button dark sport coat with loud pinstriping & stretch. Is there a definitive answer to this? I honestly don’t think so.

  20. ben says:

    The best Chinos I have found – Unis Gio, Norse Project Aros Heavy chino, Epaulet Rivet Chinos and Left Field Kerouac fit chinos. I prefer the fit and finish of Norse Projects. But, they have limited colors and I have five pairs of Unis Gio in my closet as well. Epaulet and Left Field are great as well – but the fit of Unis and Norse Projects is amazing. In addition I have tried RRL officer chinos (too much tailoring required) and Rogue Territory chinos (fabric is too thin).

  21. Charlottesville says:

    Does Bill’s still make an all-cotton, heavy weight M2? They were the best, but since the company was sold, the M2 khakis I saw had a stretch element. If the all cotton version is still available, that is great news, and I heartily second the recommendation, if you can afford the high price.

    Do the Orvis ultimate khakis have an alterable waistband like dress pants? On the website, they appear to have a single piece waistband (similar to jeans), but perhaps I am mistaken.

  22. oxford cloth button down says:

    Old Trad, Richard, and Grey Flannels – Question. I am honestly curious what you think of the cut of my khakis in the first full-length pic. Are these too skinny or rather baggy enough in your opinion? This is pretty much the fit that I am looking for.

  23. ES says:

    My favorite is from Lands End (inside the waistband it says CANVAS STRAIGHT FIT). Surprisingly, my next go to favorite is from Old Navy, straight fit, although the rise may not be for you but I love the fit. Just enough fullness. Both pairs I got a few years ago so I have no idea if they are still available.

    • John says:

      These are my favorites as well. I wish I had bought more back when the canvas line still existed. They’re perfect. Straight fit was the perfect balance between baggy & slim, all cotton, on seam pockets.

  24. Michael Wee says:

    I love the Land’s End Tailored Fit Chinos. While they are non-iron, I’ve found that the finish wears off within a couple of washes. It has a relatively high rise, not BB madison high but close, and unlike BB Madison has a very gentle taper to it. They can also come hemmed which further adds to the value that they provide, especially with the constant 50% off codes.

    • Andrew says:

      No need to pay a tailor. You can order the LE’s in your desired length down to the 1/4″ ! Your choice of hemmed, cuffed, or unfinished – no extra charge. And if they don’t fit, just stop by your local Sears store for a quick & easy return and refund. It’s about the only thing I buy from Lands End anymore, but LE remains my exclusive khaki provider.

  25. oxford cloth button down says:

    Update. I tried out the LE chinos because of the ease of them doing the alterations. I thought that they ironed oddly, did not hold a crease, and had that no-iron sheen/drape to them.

    When I used my sizing spray (light starch) it looked as if they were water repellent and it left a weird film.

    I may come back to this option, but I think there has to be a better chino for me out there.

  26. Cynic Diogenes says:

    Land’s End Traditional Fit = very baggy (emphasize on very).

  27. Cynic Diogenes says:

    Addendum: As a child of the 80’s I’m unabashedly unafraid of khakis with a generous fit (and pastel polos ofc.).

  28. StuartWade says:

    Jerrod, super useful – thanks. I wear BB Clark Advantage because I like the narrower ankle over my other go-to, the J Crew Essential Chino. Would love to someday hear similar opinions regarding gray flannels [comment not related to “@grey flannel” LOL]

  29. CuffNoBreak says:

    Lands End dress twills fits the bill just fine for me, and waiting for the 40% off sales is very trad in my humble opinion.

  30. Dennis says:

    Have you considered All American Khakis? Their size chart indicates an 11 inch rise and a 16inch leg opening on the 30in waist in their original fit.

  31. Josh says:

    The Sid Mashburn chinos in khaki English Drill are the best chinos I’ve owned in a long time. Meets all of your criteria. Pricey but worth it. I’ve bought two pair and plan to wear them for a long time.

  32. Woofboxer says:

    I love these convoluted arguments about what is and what is not ‘Trad’, when you consider that ‘Trad’ is a made up concept invented on men’s clothing forums in the early years of this millennium.

  33. Tony says:

    I have been interested in Hertling chinos. They have a relaxed fit that seems to fit the bill of what you are talking about. They are pricey but like you said it is difficult to find what you laid out on what you want in a chino. At this point it’s worth spending a little more.

  34. Grey Flannels says:

    Jerrod,
    The fit from the crotch to the bottom of the leg is just fine. The fit from the waistband to the crotch should be fuller; it looks like you can hardly get your hand into your pocket.

  35. Bradley says:

    I picked up a pair of the All American Khakis in the Cramerton Twill, original fit. They also have a slim fit, but the rise is too short. The material is the real deal–solid, heavy twill. The fit is very close to the Brooks Brothers Clark, with just a slightly wider hem. The only issue I have found is some loose stitching on the inside waistband. Otherwise, I’m quite pleased. I’ve never owned Bill’s, so can’t compare with them. I do have a pair or Epaulet Rivets in the Cramerton, and the material is identical, but the Rivet is a much slimmer fit.

  36. Plain Vanilla says:

    Is 45 comments a record, Jerrod?

  37. oxford cloth button down says:

    Plan Vanilla – It is! Now I know what gets trads excited. Joking aside, it was great to get so much feedback and to see readers interacting with one another.

  38. Anon says:

    I can recommend the cotton twill trousers from J. Press – they have high rise, are must iron and 100% cotton. They are a bit baggy for my liking so I have my tailor slim the legs to my stature (similar to yours I’d say, same waist size) down to about 7 3/4″, no break with 1 3/4″ cuffs. They cost 120 USD, I tend to get them on sale, which then compensates for most of the tailor costs.

  39. Plain Vanilla says:

    Jerrod,
    My guess is that oxford cloth button down shirts
    get Trads similarly excited.

  40. Wilkens says:

    Jerrod, when you resolve this issue please let us know what you ended up going with. I’m in a similar predicament right now.

  41. Andrew friedman says:

    Eddie Bauer legend wash chinos. Casual look unpressed, office worthy if pressed or ironed. All cotton. Not stretch. Good size run.

  42. jorsche says:

    I would recommend Ralph Lauren Polo classic fit chinos. Unfortunately the 100% cotton version only comes in two colors; stone (not sure what RL calls it but that’s more or less what it is) and navy. RL sells them for $85 or so but I found them in a T.J. Maxx for $30. Decent rise, not baggy, not at all tight.

  43. ZJP says:

    Jerrod,

    Uniqlo Regular Fit Vintage Chinos might be a cheap and easy experiment. The current cut has a higher rise(11 inches or so) and a subtle taper. You can try buying yours with the longer hem and get them cuffed. For $40, they might do the trick.

I would like to hear from you