Rubato officer’s chinos: Review
I've come to really like these Rubato chinos, but it’s worth saying from the outset that they're not the originals.
I had them narrowed after a few weeks, as I found the leg too wide. In the thigh it went from 33.5cm to 32cm, and in the hem from 22.5cm to 20cm.
The result, I think, is certainly something that is not slim, but not noticeably wide either. Of course, these things vary between people and over time too, but right now it feels like a good, contemporary line.
I was a little nervous of slimming the trousers, as I count Oliver (Dannefalk, Rubato co-founder) as a friend and didn't want to offend him. He'd put a lot of thought and work into making these his perfect chino, after all.
But Oliver was fine with it, indeed encouraged anything that would mean I'd get a lot of use and pleasure out of them. Which I think shows a generous spirit.
And everything else about the chinos I love.
The material is a Japanese cotton twill - heavy compared to a lot of mainstream chinos at 335g, but not compared to Japanese/workwear brands. It has a sharpness to it which makes them fairly smart, even if not in the ivory shown here.
The make is unfussy but neatly done, particularly around the waistband lining and the waist button and zip closure. It all speaks to both quality and attention to detail. They are made in Japan as well as using Japanese cloth.
Interestingly, Rubato describe the trousers as sitting on the natural waist, which I would think would mean above the hip bones (see illustration of what I mean here).
Actually they sit just below the top of the hip bone on me, which is not surprising given the front rise is 28cm.
My bespoke dress trousers, by comparison, have a front rise of 30cm, and something I would describe as true high-waist trousers - like those old army fatigues, my Panico trousers, or Casatlantic chinos - have a front rise in the range of 33-35cm.
Whatever the terminology, this is lucky for me as it’s a rise that works well, being close enough to my bespoke trousers to sit in the same area.
The chinos have been washed three times so far, and I noticed a small expansion of the waist after the first wash (an inch at the most) but otherwise no change.
They come unhemmed, and I had them hemmed as well as slimmed by Pinnas & Needles. They came back a bit longer than I had expected, but actually work well turned-up like this for more casual shoes (or maybe espadrilles in the Summer) and turned down for smarter ones.
Smart loafers like the ones I'm wearing sit somewhere between the two, and I find can be worn with either length. It’s just a different style. I know some will dislike a length like this that is actually floating above the shoe, but it does look more casual and contemporary to my eye. And as I said, easy to change.
The material does have enough body that you could iron in creases, and maintain them with repressing every two or three wears. It’s not the look I wanted though, and I don’t think there’s much virtue in trying to make them smarter in that way.
Interestingly, the more I try different types of chinos (and there will be more articles in this area) the more I find they fall into different categories of formality.
The first we can call workwear chinos. My Armoury ones fall into that category, as do some Real McCoy ones I’ll cover soon. The way I would define this category is that the chinos are just as casual and jeans - and in the same way could be worn with, for example, work boots or a leather jacket.
These Rubato ones are not that casual. They sit in a ‘smart’ chino category along with the likes of my Stoffa basketweave chinos, which really look best with shoes like belgians, loafers, or slim/simple trainers.
However, personally I don’t think I’d wear them with a jacket. Or at least, not a bespoke tailored jacket, which I’d want to wear done up most of the time. For me, only tailored cotton trousers work there (like these from Dalcuore) and even there I generally prefer wool or linen.
I can see my opinion being swayed on this though. Because brands I respect style tailored jackets with chinos like this, and because it works OK when the jacket is soft, undone, and worn with some slouch. So perhaps it's just me, or perhaps it depends a lot on the jacket.
I’ve deliberately shown the chinos with everything Rubato - knitwear and belt - both to show off the overall style, and to discuss knitwear sizing.
This V-neck is a size Medium. It is just about long enough to work on me, with these trousers; if the rise were even slightly lower, it would not. And even here it can ride up a bit. (Obviously rise is not the only factor - height and torso proportions are relevant too.)
I tried sizing up to a Large for my next purchase, a grey crewneck (below). The length works much better on me there (an extra 1.5cm) but it is much bigger in the chest. In fact it’s large enough to be a ‘look’, I think. Nothing necessarily wrong with that - and the shortness of the Medium is probably equally unusual - but it is a noticeable difference and one that has to be taken into account.
To complicate matters, Rubato have recently released a new line of cashmere/linen knitwear, in a new 'easy' fit. This style fits bigger, with the Medium I tried comparable to the body size and length my Large pictured above. It is also noticeably wider in the waist.
All the changes are deliberate, with Oliver and Carl aiming for a more relaxed, slouchy fit. Something that's loose and thrown on easily in the Spring and Summer.
Personally I think I prefer the body shape of the other range, even if I couldn't quite find the perfect length/width combination. But it's early days, and as usual with Rubato, everything else is perfect - the 'earth' colour (below) is unusual yet subtle, and the cashmere/linen is soft and luxurious, yet very lightweight.
In what could seem like a very straightforward category, Rubato keep on producing knitwear that is original and beautiful. Which is probably what keeps me coming back.
The suede belts are also great by the way - a brushed suede that has just a little longer nap than others, giving it a slight velvety feel. It’s also impossible not to like a one-inch width after you’ve chatted to Oliver for a moment or too.
The only thing I don’t like is the buckle. It’s solid brass, which is the main thing, but I do rather like uncoated brass, for the way it tarnishes over time (and can be polished back up, should you wish).
As mentioned, I’ll be doing more reviews of chinos soon, including Casatlantic, Blackhorse Lane and The Real McCoy’s. You can also see previous chino articles on The Armoury here, Stoffa here, and Drake’s and Anglo-Italian here.
The other things worn in the shoot are:
- PS White Oxford shirt
- Socks from Anderson & Sheppard in ‘Chamois’ cotton
- Belgravia loafers from Edward Green in ‘Mink’ suede
- Frank Clegg large working tote in ‘Chestnut’ tumbled leather
- Cartier ‘Chronoflex’ watch in yellow gold
- The chinos are the Rubato ‘officer’s’ style, size 48
The Rubato officer's chinos are in the process of being restocked, and will be available in new colours. The single-pleat style that was initially on offer will be not be offered again, however.
The chinos cost 2300 kr (£195), the lambswool sweaters 1800 kr (£150) and the cashmere/linen sweater 2380 kr (£236)
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt