Jim Harbaugh’s $8 Pleated Khakis
I’m from San Francisco, and I’ve really enjoyed following the 49ers remarkable run this year. Unlike most teams, you can have almost as much fun watching Jim Harbaugh, the Niners’ head coach, as the action on the field. A former player himself, he leaps and runs and screams and yells. He even switched a few weeks ago from street shoes to cleats, so he could get better purchase as he sprinted down the sideline, following the action. All of this, if you’re a fan of the 49ers, is delightful.
But if you’re a fan of menswear, there’s something less delightful: his pleated khakis. Harbaugh tends to layer his tops - a polo and a long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt and whatever else he can grab. Underneath are khakis so spectacularly anti-style, they seem like something a Vice Magazine’s “Dos & Dont’s” segment would give a “Do” to just to get a rise out of people.
Of course, NFL coaches have to follow strict clothing guidelines. When the 49ers last coach, Mike Nolan, wanted to wear a suit to honor his father (also an NFL coach - back when they wore suits), he was fined by the league for violating dress code, which required only Reebok clothing. He eventually managed an accommodation with the league, and wore Joseph Abboud.
But back to Harbaugh: it turns out, according to a radio interview with his wife, that not only does the former QB wear pleated khakis, he wears eight dollar pleated khakis from Wal-Mart. And he’s so committed to them that after she threw some away, he found a Wal-Mart (not easy in San Francisco) and bought more.
Harbaugh says everything will stay the same while the Niners continue their playoff run, but he might consider a change in the offseason. Jim - if you need a consultant, we’re available.
(Thanks, Dean!)

Jim Harbaugh’s $8 Pleated Khakis

I’m from San Francisco, and I’ve really enjoyed following the 49ers remarkable run this year. Unlike most teams, you can have almost as much fun watching Jim Harbaugh, the Niners’ head coach, as the action on the field. A former player himself, he leaps and runs and screams and yells. He even switched a few weeks ago from street shoes to cleats, so he could get better purchase as he sprinted down the sideline, following the action. All of this, if you’re a fan of the 49ers, is delightful.

But if you’re a fan of menswear, there’s something less delightful: his pleated khakis. Harbaugh tends to layer his tops - a polo and a long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt and whatever else he can grab. Underneath are khakis so spectacularly anti-style, they seem like something a Vice Magazine’s “Dos & Dont’s” segment would give a “Do” to just to get a rise out of people.

Of course, NFL coaches have to follow strict clothing guidelines. When the 49ers last coach, Mike Nolan, wanted to wear a suit to honor his father (also an NFL coach - back when they wore suits), he was fined by the league for violating dress code, which required only Reebok clothing. He eventually managed an accommodation with the league, and wore Joseph Abboud.

But back to Harbaugh: it turns out, according to a radio interview with his wife, that not only does the former QB wear pleated khakis, he wears eight dollar pleated khakis from Wal-Mart. And he’s so committed to them that after she threw some away, he found a Wal-Mart (not easy in San Francisco) and bought more.

Harbaugh says everything will stay the same while the Niners continue their playoff run, but he might consider a change in the offseason. Jim - if you need a consultant, we’re available.

(Thanks, Dean!)

Packing for a One-Week Trip to the UK
I’m headed to the UK later today to do a few comedy shows. Folks are always emailing for examples on how to pack a decent wardrobe, so I thought I’d share what I’m bringing. All of this fits comfortably a carry-on bag (or on my back), along with socks, underwear, a dopp kit and a couple of soft white t-shirts to sleep in.
I’ll be casually dressed in the UK, and while the weather’s pleasantly warm in London at the moment, it’s still a bit cool and damp at night; in my other destination, Edinburgh, it’s actually a bit cold. I won’t be doing laundry on this trip.
All the pieces above go together and can be switched out for each other or layered, and the shoes are comfortable for walking. Those, along with “fits in luggage” are my main criteria when packing for a trip.
Coats
I’m bringing a leather A-1 jacket and a workwear-ish cotton blazer. The leather’s fine in actual cold, especially layered, and the blazer I can wear whenever it’s not actually hot hot.
Shirts
I brought two t-shirts and five oxfords. I love oxfords for travel because they look great right out of my suitcase - slightly rumpled is their natural state. The t-shirts will be great if there are particularly warm days.
Trousers
I brought two pairs of jeans, though I often bring only one, simply because I had the room. I also brought a pair of khakis for warmer days or days when I want to look a bit more put-together.
Shoes
I ended up bringing two pairs of sneakers on the trip. It’s always a good idea to have backup shoes in case of soaking or blisters or what-have-you, and canvas sneakers aren’t too heavy. If it weren’t summer, I’d likely bring a pair of boots and a pair of sneakers.
Etc.
I grabbed an Ebbets Field Flannels 8-panel cap, which is soft and packs easily, along with a favorite gray sweatshirt (for layering) and a white silk scarf that will keep me warm on the way to my 11PM gig in Edinburgh. Hopefully.

Packing for a One-Week Trip to the UK

I’m headed to the UK later today to do a few comedy shows. Folks are always emailing for examples on how to pack a decent wardrobe, so I thought I’d share what I’m bringing. All of this fits comfortably a carry-on bag (or on my back), along with socks, underwear, a dopp kit and a couple of soft white t-shirts to sleep in.

I’ll be casually dressed in the UK, and while the weather’s pleasantly warm in London at the moment, it’s still a bit cool and damp at night; in my other destination, Edinburgh, it’s actually a bit cold. I won’t be doing laundry on this trip.

All the pieces above go together and can be switched out for each other or layered, and the shoes are comfortable for walking. Those, along with “fits in luggage” are my main criteria when packing for a trip.

Coats

I’m bringing a leather A-1 jacket and a workwear-ish cotton blazer. The leather’s fine in actual cold, especially layered, and the blazer I can wear whenever it’s not actually hot hot.

Shirts

I brought two t-shirts and five oxfords. I love oxfords for travel because they look great right out of my suitcase - slightly rumpled is their natural state. The t-shirts will be great if there are particularly warm days.

Trousers

I brought two pairs of jeans, though I often bring only one, simply because I had the room. I also brought a pair of khakis for warmer days or days when I want to look a bit more put-together.

Shoes

I ended up bringing two pairs of sneakers on the trip. It’s always a good idea to have backup shoes in case of soaking or blisters or what-have-you, and canvas sneakers aren’t too heavy. If it weren’t summer, I’d likely bring a pair of boots and a pair of sneakers.

Etc.

I grabbed an Ebbets Field Flannels 8-panel cap, which is soft and packs easily, along with a favorite gray sweatshirt (for layering) and a white silk scarf that will keep me warm on the way to my 11PM gig in Edinburgh. Hopefully.

Finding a Higher Rise Chino
For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 
The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.
The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 
A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 
More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 
A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.
(Photo above by The Armoury)

Finding a Higher Rise Chino

For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 

The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.

The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 

A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 

More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 

A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.

(Photo above by The Armoury)

I’ve just lost forty minutes in the photo gallery of the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum. The Johnsons were a Kansas couple who adventured their way through the 1920s and 30s, making some of the first wildlife documentaries on film and photographing both people and animals. Their book was called “I Married Adventure.” Wonderful.

I’ll admit it: I do love a good safari outfit.

It’s On Sale: Incotex trousers
Mr Porter’s discount on sale items has gone up once again and Incotex trousers are now 70% off under the Slowear label. That puts these chinos at $87. Wool trousers are around $130-$150. As with all sale and clearance items, quantities and sizes can be a bit limited, so you’ll want to look quickly if you think you’re interested. 
-Kiyoshi

It’s On Sale: Incotex trousers

Mr Porter’s discount on sale items has gone up once again and Incotex trousers are now 70% off under the Slowear label. That puts these chinos at $87. Wool trousers are around $130-$150. As with all sale and clearance items, quantities and sizes can be a bit limited, so you’ll want to look quickly if you think you’re interested. 

-Kiyoshi

Corduroys and Chinos
One of my favorite looks for fall is combining a dark brown corduroy sport coat with a casual pair of chinos, especially with an open collared, plaid shirt, like you see above. The chinos should probably be khaki colored, but olive could work just as well. The shirt can also be an OCBD, chamois, flannel, or some other kind of brushed cotton. The key is to get something that’s heavy and rough enough to visually hold its own against the corduroy. For shoes, I recommend a dark brown pair of loafers, chukkas, or plain-toe derbys. I would personally opt for plain calf, but if you wanted more texture, you could reach for suede or pebble grained leathers. 
The best thing about corduroy and chinos is that, like with good denim and tweed, they only get better with age. Corduroy sport coats, for example, look best when they’ve developed that uneven wear from years of repeated use, and causal chinos are much nicer once they’ve softened up with age. This makes them perfect for guys who don’t like to fuss too much over their clothes. So long as you make sure they fit well, you can wear them hard and feel assured that any use will just add to their value. When well-aged, corduroys and chinos have a great way of conveying a relaxed, nonchalant sense of style, which in my opinion is the best kind. 
Plus, their combination just expresses fall very well. As seen here on Woody Allen. 

Corduroys and Chinos

One of my favorite looks for fall is combining a dark brown corduroy sport coat with a casual pair of chinos, especially with an open collared, plaid shirt, like you see above. The chinos should probably be khaki colored, but olive could work just as well. The shirt can also be an OCBD, chamois, flannel, or some other kind of brushed cotton. The key is to get something that’s heavy and rough enough to visually hold its own against the corduroy. For shoes, I recommend a dark brown pair of loafers, chukkas, or plain-toe derbys. I would personally opt for plain calf, but if you wanted more texture, you could reach for suede or pebble grained leathers. 

The best thing about corduroy and chinos is that, like with good denim and tweed, they only get better with age. Corduroy sport coats, for example, look best when they’ve developed that uneven wear from years of repeated use, and causal chinos are much nicer once they’ve softened up with age. This makes them perfect for guys who don’t like to fuss too much over their clothes. So long as you make sure they fit well, you can wear them hard and feel assured that any use will just add to their value. When well-aged, corduroys and chinos have a great way of conveying a relaxed, nonchalant sense of style, which in my opinion is the best kind. 

Plus, their combination just expresses fall very well. As seen here on Woody Allen. 

Three Types of Chinos

Khaki chinos are not, as they say, just khaki chinos. Though they’re always casual, they come in different flavors of informality, and it’s good to be sensitive to these differences when you’re choosing the right pair to wear for the day.

I think of chinos as being of three varieties. The first is your standard casual pair, which is what you most commonly find in shopping malls. These are distinguished by visible stitching on the inseams and outseams (the seams going up and down both sides of your legs). They’re also often made from cheaper materials, sit lower on your hips, and sometimes feature some kind of “wash” or “distressing.” That means they look a bit more beaten up – faded around the lap and slightly frayed along the pockets and leg openings. These, in my opinion, are best worn with casual shirts, such as those made from a rougher cloth (e.g. oxford) or feature bold patterns (e.g. bright madras, plaid flannels). They’re also fine with things such as t-shirts, polos, cardigans, and sneakers. If the length of your shirt permits, you can wear it untucked. They’re less optimal, however, with dressier shirts – such as shirts made from smooth poplin, have no chest pocket, and feature French fronts. Those would be too dressy for this kind of pants.  

Your second type is the workwear variety, which differ from the first category in their material and fit. Workwear chinos are made from tougher twill cottons and allowed to fit differently. Whereas traditional men’s pants should fit in a certain way, workwear chinos can have a bit more rumple in the leg line and seat (though they don’t necessarily have to). In short, these should feel and look a bit rougher. They are, after all, supposed to express a certain workwear sensibility. Such chinos can be worn with chambray shirts, plaid flannels, rugged outerwear, and heavy boots. In a way, some of the things you can wear here aren’t too different than what you can wear with standard casual chinos, but the effects will be different. A chambray shirt worn with RRL Officer Chinos or Left Field’s, for example, will look very different than if it’s paired with something from J Crew.   

Finally, the last type is what I’d call “dress chinos.” As oxymoronic as that sounds, dress chinos are distinguished by hidden stitching along the inseams and outseams. They sit higher on the hips, are made from nicer materials, and are generally made to much higher quality standards. They also typically come “unfinished,” meaning the lengths aren’t pre-hemmed. These are arguably the most versatile. They can be worn with casual shirts such as oxford cloth button-downs or proper dress shirts; long sleeve polos or cardigans; traditional sweaters of almost any variety; and even sport coats and ties. They shouldn’t be worn, however, with cheap, beat-up t-shirts or rugged outerwear, such as motorcycle jackets.

The photos above demonstrate good uses of chinos. Something like this, on the other hand, is a bit too incongruous, at least to my eye. It would be better, in my opinion, if the gentleman had worn dress chinos, a pale blue shirt, and some brown calf derbys. Or he could have ditched the double-breasted and tie, and picked a more casual shirt to wear with his very-casual chinos and suede chukkas. As is, the look is too formal up top and too informal down bottom. To be sure, clashing formal and informal things can make a very fashionable statement, but if one wanted to dress more harmoniously and less conspicuously, it would be good to be sensitive to the different kinds of sensibilities garments have, and then pair them accordingly. For chinos, that would be standard casual, workwear, and dress. 

Keep It Simple, Stupid.
I was watching The Odd Couple the other night, and I was struck by a question: why does Walter Matthau look so good?
If you haven’t seen the film, see it. It’s hilarious. It’s a famous cultural archetype for a reason: because it is so great. You need to know a little background to catch what I’m pitching, though.
In the opening sequence, Jack Lemmon’s character, Felix, tries to commit suicide, and fails, only because he throws out his back trying to open the window he’d planned to throw himself through. He ends up at his friend Oscar’s house - that’s Matthau - mid-poker game, and the place is disgusting. There’s no A/C, and everyone’s a mess and the place is a mess and things are just a mess in general.
Felix is a compulsive neatnik. Oscar is a slob. That’s the Odd Couple part of the story.
So that’s why Felix looks sharp, if conservative. He’s the kind of guy who puts on a tie to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And Oscar’s the opposite - wearing the most casual clothes of the day.
But in that opening sequence, Matthau, as Oscar, looks fantastic. As a slob. And I wondered why.
There are two reasons. The first is that Walter Matthau wasn’t a movie star for nothing. He’s immensely charismatic, very handsome (though not traditionally so) and spectacularly charming. I can advise you to work on that in your spare time, but this is a style blog, so I’ll get to the next bit now.
His clothes are simple.
What’s he wearing? Canvas sneakers, high-waisted, military-style chinos, a heathered gray t-shirt, and a Mets hat.
Almost all neutral colors, almost no patterns. No “statement pieces” (other than the ballcap). No words. No pictures. It’s the t-shirt outfit, as appropriate in 1962 as in 2012, fifty years later. And the man looks tremendous.
(And thank God it’s not a Yankees hat. That’s just irredeemable.)

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I was watching The Odd Couple the other night, and I was struck by a question: why does Walter Matthau look so good?

If you haven’t seen the film, see it. It’s hilarious. It’s a famous cultural archetype for a reason: because it is so great. You need to know a little background to catch what I’m pitching, though.

In the opening sequence, Jack Lemmon’s character, Felix, tries to commit suicide, and fails, only because he throws out his back trying to open the window he’d planned to throw himself through. He ends up at his friend Oscar’s house - that’s Matthau - mid-poker game, and the place is disgusting. There’s no A/C, and everyone’s a mess and the place is a mess and things are just a mess in general.

Felix is a compulsive neatnik. Oscar is a slob. That’s the Odd Couple part of the story.

So that’s why Felix looks sharp, if conservative. He’s the kind of guy who puts on a tie to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And Oscar’s the opposite - wearing the most casual clothes of the day.

But in that opening sequence, Matthau, as Oscar, looks fantastic. As a slob. And I wondered why.

There are two reasons. The first is that Walter Matthau wasn’t a movie star for nothing. He’s immensely charismatic, very handsome (though not traditionally so) and spectacularly charming. I can advise you to work on that in your spare time, but this is a style blog, so I’ll get to the next bit now.

His clothes are simple.

What’s he wearing? Canvas sneakers, high-waisted, military-style chinos, a heathered gray t-shirt, and a Mets hat.

Almost all neutral colors, almost no patterns. No “statement pieces” (other than the ballcap). No words. No pictures. It’s the t-shirt outfit, as appropriate in 1962 as in 2012, fifty years later. And the man looks tremendous.

(And thank God it’s not a Yankees hat. That’s just irredeemable.)

The T-Shirt Outfit
When it comes to casual clothing, I’m a big advocate of simplification. When it’s Sunday and I’m not getting dressed dressed, you’ll find me in a simple outfit. Blue jeans, chinos or (if it’s hot) shorts. T-shirt.
I’ve got a few striped ts from Black Fleece that I like, but generally my t-shirts are solid colored. That means white, especially in summer, or heather gray, or navy. I’ve got a couple of others - burgundy, a color called “raisin,” one in a sort of goldenrod. I could get by, though, with just white, gray and blue.
This is usually paired with a simple sneaker - I like Supergas in the summer and New Balance 574s in the winter - or boots.
When you’re dressed this simply, it’s nice to add what our friend PG calls a “point of difference.” Some element of dress, often an accessory, that brings the outfit from neutral to distinctive.
In my own wardrobe, that might be a baseball cap from the late, lamented Cooperstown Ballcap Company. It might be a distinctive belt - I’ve got a rifle sling belt and a belt with a sailing hook from Narragansett Leathers. It might be something around my wrist like a friendship bracelet or a colorful watch strap, or it might even be red socks.
When you dress this simply, you should be wearing clothes of good enough quality and fit that you look sharp. You should be aware of texture. You should avoid pictures and words. You should always have a point of difference. You needn’t be afraid of looking uniform from day to day. You should be comfortable and confident.
(If you’re wondering: George Clooney’s point of difference is the fact that he’s the handsomest man alive.)

The T-Shirt Outfit

When it comes to casual clothing, I’m a big advocate of simplification. When it’s Sunday and I’m not getting dressed dressed, you’ll find me in a simple outfit. Blue jeans, chinos or (if it’s hot) shorts. T-shirt.

I’ve got a few striped ts from Black Fleece that I like, but generally my t-shirts are solid colored. That means white, especially in summer, or heather gray, or navy. I’ve got a couple of others - burgundy, a color called “raisin,” one in a sort of goldenrod. I could get by, though, with just white, gray and blue.

This is usually paired with a simple sneaker - I like Supergas in the summer and New Balance 574s in the winter - or boots.

When you’re dressed this simply, it’s nice to add what our friend PG calls a “point of difference.” Some element of dress, often an accessory, that brings the outfit from neutral to distinctive.

In my own wardrobe, that might be a baseball cap from the late, lamented Cooperstown Ballcap Company. It might be a distinctive belt - I’ve got a rifle sling belt and a belt with a sailing hook from Narragansett Leathers. It might be something around my wrist like a friendship bracelet or a colorful watch strap, or it might even be red socks.

When you dress this simply, you should be wearing clothes of good enough quality and fit that you look sharp. You should be aware of texture. You should avoid pictures and words. You should always have a point of difference. You needn’t be afraid of looking uniform from day to day. You should be comfortable and confident.

(If you’re wondering: George Clooney’s point of difference is the fact that he’s the handsomest man alive.)

A Complete Guide to Getting Chinos This Summer

Chinos have a bit of a circutous history. They began as part of the British Army’s standard uniform starting around the 1840s. By the end of the 19th century, American troops stationed in the Philippines began wearing them. They remained associated with the military for another hundred years, until 1942, when the US Navy approved that they could be worn off-duty. Since then, they’ve been incredibly popular with the public. I think the civilian trend largely took off when James Dean began wearing them. That was during a time when much of the public looked towards Hollywood for sartorial direction, and ever since then, the popularity of chinos has been buoyed by big marketing campaigns from companies such as The Gap. 

The great thing about chinos is that, like jeans, they look better with age. In fact, one of the best looks, in my opinion, is a pair of really worn down chinos with a sports coat, oxford cloth button down shirt, and pair of brown loafers. The more worn down and beat up the chinos, the more stylish this look becomes. When the pants are too new, the look can be a bit stiff. As such, I recommend that you wear your chinos with a bit of a rumple and avoid creasing the front of the legs. Creases on chinos add fifteen years to your age and can make you look like the type that irons your underwear. Wear them as casually as you can and invite the fraying that comes. If you want, you can also roll up the the legs a bit, which Gilt Manual recently gave some really good tips for

So if you’re on the market for chinos, where can you turn? Here are some options. Note that in the interest of sizing information, I’ve included what I wear for most of these. I’m a size 32 in most pants, but sometimes have to size down depending on the cut. It’s probably also worth mentioning that I have an Asian booty that’s flatter than a flapjack, so take that into account when gauging whether my reviews will be helpful for you.

  • Uniqlo Vintage chino ($50): Uniqlo’s Vintage fit chino is a nice slim cut model with mid-century details - watch pocket, decent hardware, and a slight herringbonish finish. Unfortunately, they also have a low rise, which makes them not as good for tucking in shirts. Still, for $50, they’re not bad, and if you’re in New York City, you can pick one up at any of their stores. Uniqlo should also have a website up at some point, but details on the drop date are fuzzy. I wear a 32 in these. 
  • Brooks Brothers Milano Fit chinos ($95): Brooks has a popular slim fit chino. They’re a bit tapered, which make them good for slim men, but not much so for heavier guys (tapered pants can emphasize your waistline). The material is a smooth plain-weave, which gives them an “office” feel. I prefer slightly rougher twill models, personally, but it’s a matter of taste. Unfortunately, Brooks only has a terrible peach colored version left, but they’ll restock their other colors soon, so just keep an eye out. If you catch them at the beginning of their sales, you can nab one for as little as $60, but otherwise they’re about $100. I find these fit pretty true-to-size. I wear a 32 in these, but can also size down to 30 for a slightly slimmer fit. 
  • Rugby university chinos ($70): Rugby’s University model fits very well if you size down. Whereas I’m normally a 32 in most pants, I wear a 31 in Rugby’s. They’re slim and have a rise that just hits the waist. They have a slightly worn finish, which means the colors are a bit faded and the edges are very, very slightly distressed. Nothing really noticeable, but it’s there. 
  • Bill’s Khakis M3 chinos ($67): Bill’s Khakis has three models, but only the M3 is anything that’s remotely close to wearable. Even then, you’ll have to get these slightly tapered. That job shouldn’t run you more than $20, however. So why buy something that doesn’t immediately fit well off the rack? Because these are some of the best chinos you can have after some alterations, and when Sierra Trading Post has them for $65, they’re a steal. They’re superbly constructed and made from a traditional soft twill fabric that’s free of any pre-distressing. They also feature deep pockets (a detail many brands are cutting back on) and have a rise that actually sits on my waist (not “just hits it”). The slightly higher rise will allow you to tuck in your shirt without making your torso look unnaturally big. I recommend sizing down a bit, but not too much. I wear a 31 in Bill’s Khakis. 
  • Ralph Lauren Preston chinos ($75): These are a lot like Bill’s Khakis - great construction, but not terribly slim (these are “grown up” chinos in a very real sense). However, like Bill’s, they hold a lot of potential. They have a slightly higher rise than Bill’s, which I like, but the pockets aren’t as deep. You’ll need to size down quite a bit to get these to fit right. I go down as far as 30 personally. 
  • J Crew chinos ($60-70): I’m not crazy about most of J Crew’s stuff, but I think they’re worth talking about since almost everyone has a J Crew store near them. J Crew has a few different models, but I’ll only speak of the Urban Slim Fit and Bowery. The Urban Slim Fit doesn’t work at all on me, but I could see them fitting well on someone with a lot of junk in the trunk. The Bowery is much better - pretty decent slim fit, even though the construction is clearly more mass market. The price isn’t bad, however, especially given how often J Crew holds sales. You could probably snag these for $40 if you waited for the right opportunity. If you do, I recommend sizing down. I wear a 30 in the Bowery. 
  • RRL Officer Chino ($185): RRL, a Ralph Lauren brand, has has a pair of selvedge twill chinos that wears like selvedge dehim jeans. They’re meant to be worn as such, too - wear them hard and don’t wash them often. Soon you’ll see fades like you would with selvedge jeans (though obviously more subtle because of the fabric). They also have nice details, such as double canvas waistband (which makes them sturdier) and a button fly (which won’t give you a weenie tent like zipper flys do). The fit is a lot slimmer, however, than other models you’ll read about here. Part of this is just the style, but part of it is also to get the fading you want. The cut is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re used to wearing slim selvedge denim jeans, then you might want to consider these. Size down and expect a little stretching (I wear a 31). You can buy them in most Ralph Lauren stores, but if you’re not close to one, you can phone an order in. RRL is also going to get a website up sometime next month, I hear. 
  • Left Field ($198): The nice folks at Left Field sent me a free pair of these to try on. They’re a slightly more workwear version of traditional chinos. The belt loops are big enough to accommodate belts meant for jeans; the stitching is slightly more rugged; and the pants have a slight “work pant” feel. Like with most workwear/ heritage brands, the quality here is heavily in the details. There is a chain-stitched waistband, Corozo button fly, and Japanese chambray pocket bags. The fabric for the pants themselves are a ringspun cotton Japanese twill. I could see these working well for someone who has a Americana/ heritage sensibility. I recommend going true-to-size on these, but note that they fit slightly big in the seat, so you should probably have something more than my non-existent Asian booty if you want to wear these well. 
  • Unis ($228): I know what you’re already thinking. $228 for chinos!? Part of the reason why these are so expensive is because they’re made in the USA (as Eunice Lee explained to someone in the comments section of Well-Spent). As a political economist, I’ll admit, I don’t care for these kind of “Made in the USA” appeals. For me, I just care about fit, styling, and quality, and all these counts, Unis’ Gio chinos are pretty nice. They’re slim without being overly so, have the perfect rise, and feature nice details such as a button fly and Corozo buttons. They have an unwashed version if you need something dressy, as well as a garment dyed rumpled version if you want something casual. I wear a 32 in these, but could also easily do a 30. If money is less of an object for you, I would definitely recommend these. 
  • Others: There are other highly celebrated chinos. Howard Yount and Albam come to mind, but I don’t have any experience with either of them. Incotex and Mabitex are also a favorite for many people, including me, but the fit, styling, and finish on them vary so much that it’s not possible to write a generalizable review. You can find them in the Buying and Selling section of Styleforum, eBay, Yoox, and Gilt. A word of warning on those, however - buying them can sometimes be a gamble since they vary so much. Caveat emptor

Lastly, for those who might be wondering: what’s the difference between chinos and khakis? For pedants, chino is the Spanish word for Chinese. The original material for these pants was a Chinese twill cotton, so they were colloquially called chinos. Khaki is the Hinidi word for “dust.” The original chinos, worn by the British Army, were dyed in a mulberry juice that gave it a yellowish drab shade, now known as “khaki.” Thus, the correct term for these pants is chinos, and khaki the sandy tan color they most often come in. But that’s pedantry; for the most part, the two words are interchangeable.

(photos by pocketsquareguy, The Sartorialist, and J Crew)