If your dress code at work is business casual, then one of your go-to styles should be khaki pants. Even if your workplace subscribes to today’s more low-key style of office attire (or you work from home), every guy needs a classic pair of khakis in his closet. They’re sophisticated, but, with the right ensemble, their versatility factor spans the chart, making them ideal for a first date, a job interview, or grabbing drinks with friends.
What Are Khaki Pants?
Originating from a Hindi word that means “dust,” there are two common definitions for “khaki.” Khaki is, by one definition, a light beige color. But the term is perhaps used more commonly to describe a type of men’s cotton pants. Despite that, today, many people often refer to any sort of non-denim, non-wool trouser or chino as “khakis.”
There’s a little gray area around the precise origin of khaki pants, but it’s often attributed to the British Indian Army of the mid-19th century when soldiers would stain their cotton pants with dirt, and other brown-staining substances, to blend in with the landscape. Men’s khaki pants are also well documented throughout the Spanish American War and during World War II. But it was in 1917 when the US Navy made them standard issue, popularizing them in America. That means, like men’s T-shirts, the men’s khaki pants of today are a byproduct of standard-issue military clothing.
What to Wear With Khaki Pants
Today, men’s khaki pants can we worn with anything — they’re not just for work anymore. Whether they’re pleated or flat-front, khaki pants are just as versatile as men’s jeans, if not more, and look great in any color from classic light tan to dusty pink and everything in between.
For those dressing up traditional khaki pants, one of the easiest ways to wear them is with a comfortable white dress shirt, a navy blue blazer, and a British tan oxford dress shoe. Make sure to maintain sharp creases down the front by folding them over the inside of a hanger. To keep it business casual, untuck the dress shirt and add a pair of sneakers for the office. Otherwise, the sky is the limit — pop on your favorite T-shirt with your everyday sneakers and you’re ready to run. There aren’t many strict rules to wearing khaki pants.
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The Best Men’s Khaki Pants for 2023
Dockers are the first brand many think of when it comes to men’s khakis. The brand’s Ultimate Chinos, which feature a four-way stretch fabric and a straight fit, are versatile, fashionable, and comfortable as ever. If you own nothing else, this is the one to reach for.
[From $26; amazon.com]
Vuori’s Meta pant quite literally stretches the definition of a khaki, as it’s built from flexible, lightweight polyester rather than the traditional cotton. Palo Alto approved, these pants are better suited for more casual offices or traveling. The pants are odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, and have UPF 30+ sun protection, so they’re built for comfort in all facets both inside and outside.
The Foundation Pant was born when Taylor Stitch recreated a set of deadstock military chino fabrics with mid-weight, responsibly sourced organic cotton. Herringbone accents and military-style pockets give a vintage lived-in feel to these reinvented khakis. Better yet, they’re much smoother (and more durable) than the utilitarian originals thanks to the tight weave of the mercerized yarns.
Wrinkled khakis are a major fashion faux pas. Fortunately, Lululemon’s sporty take on the conventional khaki ensures you’ll never have to deal with that issue. The company’s proprietary Warpstreme fabric allows for unencumbered freedom of movement, good breathability, and excellent wrinkle resistance, so you can look and feel your best.
Brunt, a brand making waves with its high-quality work boots, makes the best khaki pants for men working on or around job sites. If getting dirty is on the table, there’s no reason to risk messing up a nice pair of khakis. The Torra, which comes in five colors, was designed to look nice, keep you comfortable, and withstand the stains, scuffs, and tears that can happen at any time on the job. The brand completed the flexible Torra Pant in a DWR finish to resist water, reinforced the belt loops and tool clip patch to prevent tears, and added pockets in the most convenient locations. With waist sizes ranging from 28-48 and an inseam of up to 36, these will fit just about anybody who owns a screwdriver.
“Pleated cargo pants” might have sounded like a clarion call for the fashion police just a few short years ago. But the comeback of ‘90s style and a return to looser, more comfortable fits has made the pleated cargo a fashion flex that’s far from the staid world of business casual. These are a streamlined take on the cargo, with simple flap pockets and none of the extraneous buckles and straps you might remember from your grade school days. Lean into the grunge look with a perfectly worn-in flannel shirt and a pair of Docs or modernize the look with a tucked-in tee and slick sneakers.
Seamlessly merging the appearance of refined chino pants with the flexibility of performance wear, these straight-fit pants deliver unbeatable comfort for the day-to-day grind. Crafted primarily from cotton and enhanced with a touch of stretchy spandex for added mobility, the 365 Straight pants are built for work and play. Dress them up with a button-down for the office or keep it casual with a T-shirt on weekends — these versatile pants adapt effortlessly to any style or occasion.
Give your favorite jeans a break and slip on Penguin’s trusty chinos. They’re wallet-friendly and ready for just about anything. The lightweight cotton twill fabric is blended with elastane for a bit of stretch, and it’s breathable enough to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the day.
Featuring luxe Italian cotton and a stylish slim fit, the Slim Traveler Pant 2.0 from Banana Republic is a top choice for just about any occasion. The soft, stretchy fabric makes them super comfortable, too. As the name suggests, these are a no-brainer for jet setters or anybody on the move. You’ll want them in multiple colors.
Constructed like a pair of five-pocket jeans but utilizing technical fabrics, the Performance Link trousers from Bonobos are a sure bet for all-season wear. The breathable, moisture-wicking recycled polyester fabric works equally well for rounds on the golf course as it does for a boozy Sunday brunch. The elastic waistband will ensure your shirt stays tucked, and a zip pocket will keep your keys and other items secure.
Mott & Bow was founded by Alejandro Chahin, whose family has 30 years of expertise producing denim. Combining a classic fit with modern comforts, the Charles chinos are crafted with medium-weight twill and a dash of spandex so they move effortlessly with your body. The pants also include a center rear V-notch to keep the waistband from creeping down while you’re seated.
Levi’s Xx Chino Straight Fit khakis deliver buttery softness and just the right amount of stretch, and they’re cut for a straight fit that’s both forgiving and sleek. And don’t worry about keeping them crisp — thanks to the “Sta-Prest” feature, they’ll maintain a sharp, permanent crease.
They look like regular pants, they feel like sweatpants, and we are officially in love. Whether at the office or on a hike, the No Sweat Pant from Duer is never restricting thanks to its stretchy fabric blend and clever details like a hidden gusset (an extra panel of fabric sewn into the pants) for greater mobility. For maximum flexibility and comfort, go with these. Order your normal size for a comfortable fit or try a size down for a more close-to-body aesthetic.
Thanks to the influence of TikTok and much to the chagrin of Ryan Gosling’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Gap is back in vogue. Embrace today’s throwback style with the Gap Modern Khakis: A straight fit that offers plenty of room through the leg with a cotton-and-Lycra blend that flexes with you as you move.
These chinos are garment dyed for nuanced color and they’re designed with subtle front pleats for roominess and a classic aesthetic. The flapped coin pocket and an X-shaped belt loop at the back give them added flair. Boasting a slightly cropped fit, these men’s pants offer a longer rise and a relaxed leg for weekday-to-weekend wearability.
Dockers has a wide range of men’s khakis and chinos, and the brand’s slim-fit Workday Khaki is a great professional option that’s easily dressed up or down. The slim-fit pants have a flat front (i.e., not pleated) with a prominent crease, giving them a dressy but modern look. These chinos are 92% cotton and 8% elastane, so they have plenty of stretch to keep you comfortable during a long day on the move. Dockers is owned by Levi’s and also partakes in its parent company’s “water<less” initiative, which reduces water usage in the dyeing process.
With three fits, five colors, and nearly a dozen waist sizes ranging from 28-40, it’s easy to find an Everlane chino that best suits you. It’s made primarily from cotton with 6% elastane, giving it plenty of stretch without compromising the classic look. The breathable, moisture-wicking fabric keeps you comfortable on a long day at work or on the go. The Performance Chino is part of Everlane’s Uniform collection, which is always available and backed by a 365-day guarantee. If something rips or wears out, Everlane will furnish a new pair.
[From $74; everlane.com]
Abercrombie is all grown up—the mall mainstay has seriously stepped up its game (don’t sleep on the brand’s knit polos). These straight-fit khakis are as classic as they come, making them a versatile option when you want to give your denim a break. They’re made from a blend of cotton and Lyocell (a soft, tree-derived version of rayon) with 2% elastane for stretch and feature a secure, zippered phone pocket. The A&F of today is a far cry from the blue-and-grey-clad shop of the early 2000s.
Wider-fit pants are trendy right now. If you’re not afraid to go extra wide, pick up J.Crew’s aptly named Giant Fit chinos. They were a surprising hit for J.Crew and part of the brand’s fashion-forward pivot under Noah designer Brendon Babenzien. They may not be your dad’s khakis, but they might just be your grandfather’s. Pair them with loafers and a knit polo, and lean into the vintage prep look.
Today, pajama pants have all but become de rigeur while traveling, but that doesn’t absolutely need to be the case. Roark’s travel pants are made with a comfortable blend of cotton and stretchy synthetics. The pants are designed to be breathable, too, keeping you comfortable on flights that are somehow both too cold and too hot. Zippered front and button-back pockets offer plenty of storage for your essentials.
Legendary denim brand Lee’s take on men’s khakis is built for a different kind of work, so set your email to “out of office.” The pants are made from durable, rugged canvas and feature workwear details like tool pockets, a characteristic that’s become popular with the workwear resurgence. The patch pockets on the front add a military-inspired edge to the chinos but are plenty useful for everyday carry items. Complete the workwear look with a pair of rugged boots.
[$40 (was $98); lee.com]
L.L. Bean’s chinos are the perfect option for guys who use “Maine” as a verb. The flat front and straight fit are classic prep, but boat shoes and Madras shirts are nearly mandatory to wear with these pants. The all-cotton chinos look great with canvas sneakers and a tucked-in white tee. Sizes range from a 30-44 waist and a 29-34 inseam in three classic colors.
Mr. Porter is already one of the best destinations for luxury fashion, so it’s no surprise that the brand’s house label, Mr P., offers elevated men’s essentials. These all-cotton chinos feature a double pleat, but the tapered cut makes for a modern, easy-to-wear take on men’s khakis. Keep it khaki with the beige or opt for the equally excellent navy, green, or brown colorways.
Birddogs’ khakis come with a unique feature: They have a built-in spandex liner for added support. (You can also get them without the liner.) In addition, the cotton-nylon-spandex main fabric ensures these pants have plenty of flexibility and durability for active days.
Topo Designs is known for stylish and colorful takes on outdoor gear, and the brand’s dirt pants are a great option for quick day hikes and coffee runs alike. The reinforced knees, stretchy canvas material, and drawstring waistband make these comfortable for travel, too. Pair them with hiking sneakers and a nature-inspired graphic tee.