A quiet revolution has been taking place in menswear. Free from the shackles of long sleeves — thanks to the resurgence of the Hawaiian shirt — blokes have slowly, but surely, been looking for other ways to liberate their limbs. Which is why now is an opportune time to invest in a pair of chino shorts.
Slightly more casual than tailored leg-bearers, but not as slovenly as sporty styles, chino shorts are versatile and functional in equal parts; the perfect wardrobe staple for ensuring you’re never at risk of being caught in that overdressed/underdressed conundrum again.
And they’re no longer just for wearing on holiday. “If [recent seasons] have taught us anything, it’s that old rules about shorts in the office are outdated, and in desperate need of rewriting,” says MatchesFashion.com senior style editor Chris Hobbs.
But just how do you go about presenting your pins without being on the receiving end of more than a few disapproving looks? This, our fine-legged friends, is how. It’s time to #FreeTheKnee.
Chino Shorts Buying Considerations
Confusingly, the terms chino short and tailored short are used interchangeably. However, rather than get bogged down with the specifics of menswear, all you need to know is that they generally share the same streamlined cut. “It’s flattering on all shapes and can be worn with a tucked in shirt or even a knitted polo shirt”, says Hobbs, who recommends a slim fit that hits two or three inches above the knee as a good catch-all, and to avoid overstuffing the pockets, which will add unwanted bulk.
It’s no secret that dark and neutral shades are menswear’s Mecca, which is why Hobbs suggests these as the starting point for any chino short noob. “For those worried about baring their legs, opt for a knee-skimming pair in black or tan.” Once acquainted with the classics, graduate to bolder shades and designs that can be toned down by pairing with minimalist T-shirts, shirts and accessories.
Pastels and prints might get a pass, but the overall finish of your chino shorts should still be as smart as your best suit trousers. You wouldn’t find studs and distressing on an Italian three-piece (though, give designers a few seasons), so swerve frayed hems in favour of clean lines and concealed pockets, then use the rest of your outfit to make a statement instead.
3 Ways To Wear Chino Shorts
Shorts, no matter how well-cut, are an inherently casual part of the male wardrobe, so naturally, it makes sense to wear them as such. When it comes to chino styles, roll the hem for an extra touch of sprezzatura, and throw on a simple T-shirt or sweatshirt with a casual jacket and retro sneakers to max out on comfort.
JFK was a particular fan of the chino short, making them the perfect piece for acing the Ivy league look. An ideal outfit for smart-casual events, bookend with a sporty Oxford or polo shirt up top and loafers or boat shoes in leather or suede below, with the option of adding a lightweight knit on chillier nights. Top of the class stuff.
To some, they’re the height of style; to others, white trousers represent all that’s wrong with the world. But they’re not the only way to channel Riviera chic. For some Mediterranean insouciance, try a pair of chino shorts with a grandad or Cuban collar shirt, both of which can easily be dressed up with a navy unstructured blazer if needed.
Best Brands For Chino Shorts
Having made quite the style comeback over the last few years, it was never going to be long before Timberland began turning out a strong selection of chino shorts. Unsurprising for a brand known for its durable work boots, it offers form and function in equal parts, with breathable linen-cotton mixes and details such as concealed pockets.
The kind of chino shorts found at Gap are not only pocket-friendly, but they’re good for the planet too. The basics giant has developed its Washwell process, which reduces water use by 20 per cent or more, saving millions of litres a year. Add to that its GapFlex technology, and you’ve got a comfortable fit and durable construction that will last multiple seasons.
So popular are chino shorts at Ralph Lauren that they’ve managed to infiltrate two of the American firm’s sub-brands. Styles under the Purple label are Italian-made, using premium cotton twills, while those bearing the Polo name offer a fresh twist on the wardrobe classic with pleats and mini-motifs. Though, with a hefty price tag, you might want to brave wearing these year-round to up the cost-per-wear ratio.
Despite its penchant for all-over prints, Ted Baker’s collection of chino shorts shows that the chicest way to do this style is neutral and understated. That’s not to say the designs by the British brand are boring, mind. Check inside the lining and pockets to find the Ted Touch – perfect for when rolling up the hems.
A high street favourite for more than 30 years, River Island does not disappoint those looking for a haul of chino shorts. The retailer is a go-to for men of all shapes and sizes, with styles across its Big & Tall collection, as well as more fitted examples ideal for slim guys.
US retailer J.Crew is king of the preppy look, so it stands to reason that chino shorts are a staple item among its rails. To make its designs feel like they’ve been knocking about since the 1950s, each is washed for over 300 minutes, resulting in worn-in ‘old friend’ clothes that are brand new.
Though it has worked to establish itself as a denim destination in recent seasons, the number chino shorts on offer at Topman puts them on par with the retailer’s jeans. A dependable choice, it stocks all the classic hues, from navy to camel, as well as having your back with trend-led striped and bolder coloured versions too.
On hand for those who like their bottoms to be bright, Tommy Hilfiger’s range of chino shorts come in every conceivable shade, from red to aqua green. Made from stretch cotton for easy manoeuvrability and in a variety of fits and leg lengths, there is something for every guy.