I began the companion piece to this one – looking at smart trousers – by saying that it was the hardest chapter to write in our Wardrobe Building series.
I was right. I thought this one would be harder, but it’s not.
The problem with going from smart clothing to casual is that the number of styles – the social ways of wearing clothing – go up dramatically. This is something people often don’t appreciate when trying to give advice or ‘rules’ on anything casual.
However, the trousers are actually fairly consistent. There are baggy jeans and bootcut jeans and drainpipe jeans, but they’re all jeans. Same with chinos, to an extent. Even cords have been co-opted by different groups, such as skaters.
The things that separate one style from another are usually a matter of cut, not category. So difficult as it might seem to suggest five pairs of casual trousers that will work for everyone, the difficulty is often in the details.
Here I suggest five, plus some extras, as in the smart trousers list. I also try to add in some thoughts on details like material, cut and colour. But an article like this could never contain all of them – so do ask questions in the comments, and if it seems like it justifies it, I’ll also work on follow-up pieces.
Dark blue jeans
I personally wear mid-blue more these days, but there’s no denying the versatility of a pair of dark-indigo jeans. Still smart with a sweater and loafers, but always more casual than tailored trousers, they became the uniform of guys that didn’t wear a suit to the office.
As far as style goes, to hit the notes for a PS aesthetic they’re best as a mid-rise (nothing that looks unusual, essentially) with a straight leg or slight taper, finishing with around a 7.5 to 8-inch hem. Like the Rubato ones, which I’m loving since I got them at the pop-up.
I wear mid-blue jeans more because I’m rarely looking to be smart with my denim. For that smart/casual crossover I’m more likely to wear flannels or a smarter chino.
I also particularly like how well a mid-blue wash goes with colour, whether it’s the red of a sweatshirt or green of a tweed jacket. It’s a style thing, basically, but pretty much everyone can make use of having them as well as the dark indigo.
Chinos to suit you
Most people are going to have one or two pairs of chinos in a capsule of five. As we’ve seen in our series looking at different makes, however, there are different styles resulting from different cloths and cuts.
So here I’d recommend either a smarter chino like a Rubato or an Armoury Sports Chino, or a more casual one like a Real McCoy’s or Bryceland’s, depending on which suits your style more. The most versatile colour would be in bone/beige/khaki range. Pale and muted.
It’s a lot to ask, but these trousers have to work for warmer weather too, so we need a pair of linens. However, go for a lighter weight, perhaps Italian linen that’s softer and instantly more casual. Much as I love the starchier Irish linens, they’re so much smarter.
The most useful colour would probably be bone/beige again; versatility can often be pretty boring. A second pair could be navy or olive.
I struggle to explain why, but corduroy is much more of a chameleon than other tailored cottons, such as moleskin. In a dark colour, like a dark olive or dark brown, they escape the rural associations that often plague them and – although a set of only five trousers is not the place for it – they’re the best material out of all of these for strong colour.
In a set of five like this I’d probably find olive the most useful, but end up going with brown or cream because I enjoy them so much.
Here are five more casual trousers, in fairly quick succession. First, white jeans – not for everyone, and better as ecru than white – but if you like them then very useful.
The other type and colour of chino
If you chose workwear cotton above, go with smart here, and vice versa. Or you could go with a second colour, if for example you only wear chinos more casually. You get the drift here: it’s about adapting these suggestions to your personal preferences.
More for summer
Another summer option would be nice, to help out those linens and presumably a couple of pairs of shorts. It could be another colour of linen, a lightweight chino or even a cotton/linen mix. A drawstring is nice and relaxed too, just don’t tuck anything into it.
I have a pair of black jeans, but find I rarely wear them. They’re not really my style – I always reach for one of the other three colours of denim instead. Still, the faded black that’s basically grey can be really useful – great with brown-suede, for example.
The faded green of old US Army fatigues is a really versatile colour, good with grey or navy on top as well as bold colours. They’re fairly easy to find vintage, and usually better that way, unless you’re going to wash them a lot at the outset.
As always, let us know which casual trousers you find the most useful, and any brand recommendations if you want to. Also shout if you want details on any of the trousers shown here – they’re all taken from previous PS posts.
Great piece. Completely agree on the uniform of indigo jeans and that’s why I’ve got so many.. that I then rarely wear.
What I can’t quite put my finger on though is why, like you Simon, I never wear my black jeans. They should fit into my wardrobe choices but I find that they don’t. I just don’t reach for them and I don’t know why.
Any idea? I’m not a white jeans guy, but I am a black jeans guy. So why are they unworn?
It’s hard to say without knowing more about your wardrobe, but perhaps they don’t fit as easily as light blue and indigo into the other things you like to wear? They’re going to drive an outfit choice more than other jeans, and perhaps you’re not used to selecting clothes that way round
You may well be right. I have a lot of blue shirts and lighter tones when it comes to stripes and checks. They don’t naturally go with black jeans and I’m maybe starting with the shirt option first.
Perhaps I’ll be brave and risk the double denim of a light blue denim shirt and the black jeans. Now that’s living on the edge!
Light blue chambray is also a great option, without it being double denim.
I really love the look of a tan belt with black jeans.
We brought out maybe the only chambray spearpoint on the market and it looks good with jeans
Black is not really a ‘colour’.
Nothing really goes with it except other ‘no -colours’ like grey and white.
To get black trousers to ‘work’ I find a hint of purple / lilac in a grey jkt works very well .
I’ve noted PS never talks about black .
I have talked about black quite a bit Robin – most obviously here. Also most recently here, in regards to the trousers, and here on the shirt/knit and shoes.
One point to keep in mind is that worn-in black jeans are not really black, but grey, which is what makes them easier to wear. They are quite a home with dark-brown suede loafers, for example, where unfaded black could struggle.
Also, try colours like cream rather than white with black. If you stick with pieces without colour, like white or grey, often the whole will look quite washed out.
Picking up on your last article and the influence of womenswear, I can’t always help notice how foundational black is to most of womens’ clothing. Black jeans, black shirts, dresses, accessories — I always think they look great and want copy it. But something makes it harder in menswear, and it always feels like a statement. Perhaps it’s the many associations that black menswear has, rather than the color itself?
Yes I think so. Connotations, associations and context account for a larger proportion of what we think about clothes than I think we ever realise
Actually, I bought a pair of black linen trousers two or perhaps even three years ago on a Berg & Berg sale. I think the purchase was inspired by your piece on black. I love them and wear them a lot during the summer, though they are on the dressier side with crease, turn ups and side adjusters, but I love how the colour gets a bit muted with wear and sun and find that they go with a wide range of colours and different tops!
Sounds lovely, particularly the way the colour has softened. Not easy to wear dressier linens like that in the summer, and I can imagine that helps rather
Does the fading on a pair of black jeans have the same sort of character as an indigo pair? I’ve always thought the charm of having denim mold to the owner and develop its own characteristics based on how one wears it is lost somewhat with black jeans.
It does fade in the same way, but I agree there is something lost by not having indigo – indigo has more shades whereas black to grey is just tonal
Black works in jeans if you get the right ones . I bought black Levi’s in America .
For me, I found that when I had black jeans they were always covered in dust and cat hair. A reason to not reach for them.
I associate black jeans with people like Lemmy.
Jeans only really go well with a good leather jacket . They look very uncool with a well cut overcoat . I wear them with white t shirt and black leather and black Chelsea boots of Cuban heels .
White jeans ? Hmmm … I see what you mean but it’s a hard one to get across to people .
You have to throw in the hopsack / linen jacket and it makes 100% sense.
I note the fatigues . Is this the same as cargo trousers or are you adverse to cargoes . Personally , done well , there a great utility piece.
Whilst I love linen I’m always disappointed with RTW linen trousers not having frog pockets .
RTW Summer trousers generally are not very good .
If you shop for trousers to wear when the mercury rises in the UK you have a choice of beach wear shorts or beach wear trousers.
Hems too wide , baggy legs , pick-pocket pockets .
Recommendations on linen / summer trousers most welcome.
On white jeans, there’s a dedicated article here that may help.
Cargo trousers usually have patch pockets on the thighs. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a little more bulky and not as easy to wear with a range of things perhaps.
On RTW linen trousers, I like the drawstring ones from The Anthology or Informale. But neither are based in the UK. I’m sure readers will have other recommendations.
I too am a white trouser sceptic but took your hint about the BHL off-white jeans. Just that slight tone makes a huge difference; very casual though and way too heavy for warmer weather.
Same here, I’m still a bit nervous of wearing my Ecru jeans out in public ( they have 1% stretch too).
But for summer trousers recommendations, I’m loving my naked & Famous Raw Linen Jeans
for RTW linen trousers: i have recently bought a pair of Luca Faloni tobacco trousers – they are not baggy and the hems are pretty narrow, but they don’t have frog pockets. i find the material is great, although i didn’t wash them yet. they looked better in person than on the website – they are not as tight on the leg as the pics suggest. so far, very happy with my purchase, and planning to add more colors in the future.
I don’t understand the issue with white or off-white jeans. They are my go to option for casual but nice / relatively smart or festive in summer. As in cocktail near the beach, garden party at friends, drinks on a rooftop, perhaps a little dance in a club somewhere etc. Very versatile and summery and imo only offensive / too much if the shoes and other clothes are wrong (black and flashy colours and fabrics basically).
I have noticed that many individuals, from people very uniterested in clothes to afficionado dressers, tend to be very opinionated against white trousers in general. I have relatively smart chinos in full white and an off-white cotton-linen casual pair and they are total staples in warmer months, pairing perfectly with everything as well as the sun. Don’t own white jeans yet but think for the summer they’re the only jeans you can really wear in addition to very thin very light blue, so am considering those too. I think there is some sort of social stigma almost against men’s white trousers, but not sure why and what is behind it.
I think they’ve been associated historically with rather flash dressers. People wearing them rather tight, rather low, rather short, with cheap loafers and perhaps on some drunken holiday in the sun! I think you can learn a little from those things though, for example in not having them too tight
See Brad Pitt in double white denim in Tarantino’s film . Makes it a great look but you need to be slim
I think you forgot to link where you intended to
Thanks – there seems to be a bit of a caching issue. Try refreshing the page?
Good post. Is the reason to not tuck anything into the drawstring trousers in order to hide the fact that it is drawstring?
I recently bought a pair of Casatlantic El Jadida in Antique White, and they seem quite versitile so far.
Yes, personally I prefer that because I think the waistband looks too messy otherwise. More on the linked article on elasticated waists
Looks like the links to other articles don’t work Simon
Yeah, seems to be a caching issue. Try refreshing
I have two pairs of Rubato chinos (khaki and off-white), and they have become my standard casual trousers. Ironically I also recommend these chinos to friends who want to dress a bit smarter – since I’m usually in tailored trousers (cavalry twill or flannel) with pleats and cuffs, the chinos are still a step down in formality but for the guys who usually wear fast fashion jeans, a pair of smart chinos will be a big step up.
Any brand recommendations for drawstring linen? I like mine roomy in the seat as I have big thighs. Brands like Bills Khakis suit me well for that reason and I just give them a nice hem at the bottom.
I wear the Anthology, but you might find them a little narrow
May I ask which color do own, and where Japanese linen stands?
Japanese linen doesn’t necessarily mean anything specific, but in this case it has a good body compared to most lighter weight linens, which works well.
I have the navy, but in retrospect olive would have been more useful. There is a little discussion of this in a Summer Top 10 article, which is coming on Wednesday.
Stòffa is also a great option, and if you’re an existing client you can select from a wider range of colors.
Also, if you want drawstring and are okay with cotton canvas, Cohérence makes a great version. Currently sold by The Armoury and Beige Habilleur.
Yes, great topic. And for me one very relevant one. With two young children and constantly going somewhere I don’t wear smart trousers anymore. Raw denim jeans, olive Chino and khaki chinos in three different ways. One with with pleats, one flat front and one 5 pocket. It sound strange maby 3 khaki trousers in the same shade but it works great. You don’t have to think about combinations and the formality makes a big difference, if you ask me. Cheers.
I recently bought mid-brown and dark-navy linen trousers. I don’t regret the purchase, but I struggle to make them work with much outside the northern Europe look.
What would you like to wear them with, Matt, that doesn’t work?
Thanks Simon, I’ve been looking forward to this article especially.
I have a question for you, I picked up some Cotton Nep trousers because they were a great price. They are almost cotton grey chambray, Its a nice material with only 1% nylon. But I think they are a bit fashion-forward.
I take it they have no place in the wardrobe of a 40 year old?
Maybe I could have them turned into shorts?
It’s hard to tell from that image Steve, but they don’t necessarily look that fashion-driven. More like plain grey smart trousers, in a fairly slim cut
Thanks Simon, yes they are fairly tapered approx. 7.5″ hem. Its the fact that they are an Italian cotton chambray/nep fabric. I haven’t seen this used on any other trousers before.
I quite like them and they work well with solid colours on top, but was self-conscious I might be making a fashion faux-pas.
I wouldn’t say that from here, but again hard to say that much.
By the way, why have you linked your name to a Benedict Raven jacket?
Sorry Simon, not sure. That keeps coming up as default since I posted a link to it in a couple of months ago.
I think I put it in the wrong box and now I have to manually delete it each time I post a comment
No worries, just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.
I think the site is logging you in automatically each time you visit, to try and make it easier to leave comments. If that link is annoying you, clearing your cookies should fix it.
Deleting your cache and cookies will probably fix it.
You can delete manually only for this website, but it might be under some website plug-in.
Certainly not in the top five,but I have a pair of drawstring,grey cotton trousers,complete with frayed ends, which I get a great deal of use of during pool/beach days and lounging about in the evening.Perfect for espradrilles .
HI Peter, I like the Luca Faloni drawstring linen trousers for the same reasons
A couple of questions re: brands that you have mentioned above; 1) how much stretch is there on the waist of the Anthology drawstring linens, as my waist size is right around the mark for a 52, but would prefer to size down to a 50 and have the waist band stretch than have to pull the drawstring tight on the 52? And 2) Are the Armoury sports chinos smart enough to wear with a navy hopsack jacket?
1) A decent amount, but if in doubt I wouldn’t size down, as they’re fairly slim and the last thing you want is a tight-fitting summer linen.
2) I’m not a big fan of cotton trousers like that with tailored jackets, and a hopsack would be smarter than some. It wouldn’t look bad, but it’s not a combination I like myself.
I understand that you can’t cover all and every maker in the chinos series but here comes an addition. I bought Private Whites One pleat chino this winter and they have become my favorite pair of casual trousers. I love them being a bit higher in the rise, a quite wide thigh and a nice cotton. They feel really solid and like they could stand quite a lot of hard wear playing with my daughter. I bought mine in navy and perhaps one size to small. I’ll provably buy the beige one this summer and size up one.
Simon would you care to comment on Rubato denim sizing? If I’m not mistaken you went for a size 33 and then mentioned that there had been some stretching out? In other words, in regards to waist size, would you recommend going up or down in sizing?
Sure – I should have mentioned since that I changed my mind on that. I initially went for a 33, but then changed to a 32, and it was the right choice, as there has been some give.
I’ll go back to that previous article and change that point.
Good to know, thanks for the feedback.
Great article Simon. As always, you’ve helped me identify a couple of key areas where I could expand upon my current casual trouser rotation, which mainly consists of denim and workwear chinos fbut a smarter chino and possibly a RTW linen trouser might be a nice addition.
Despite barely getting a month, two at a push of ‘summer’ weather where I live, linen trousers could be a cool option. In terms of RTW, what do you think of the Informale linen trousers? I like the navy. We’re talking casual, overshirts, tees, light Valstar style jackets Alden loafers etc.
The Rubato denim looks + sounds great, seems like a great cut. Two questions, do you find the back rise high enough? And also, how do they weigh up against your BHL made to measure?
I like the Informale linen, but the rise is a little between a mid and high, and I’d prefer it without the double pleats. I prefer my Anthology ones now.
I do find the back rise high enough, yes, on the Rubato. Compared to BHL the fit is perhaps 95% as good, hard to compete against MTM
Cheers Simon, mind if I ask, did you take a 48 or 50 in the Anthology ones? They look great.
No worries – 48
What are your thoughts on dark or mid grey chinos? I would think grey is quite a versatile color in chinos also.
It doesn’t tend to work as well in chinos, certainly casual ones. It can be nice in cords, but in chinos it often looks like an odd choice. A beige/khaki will be just as versatile and perhaps more fitting.
Simon, what’s your opinion on wide workwear chinos worn with a crease? There is a great shop in Firenze called Desii Vintage and one of the two guys running it (the one without the big beard) can often be seen on instagram wearing that style. It looks surprisingly good on him, I think.
There’s a piece coming up on Desii, coincidentally.
I think it can be nice, as an unusual look but a fairly subtle one. I don’t really do it myself, but I can see the appeal. Just keep in mind it doesn’t really make them look like a smart chino. It’s just a style thing, like having a turn-up or not.
Thank you Simon. You’ve helped me choose my four pairs of (casual) trousers that I’m really happy with and will definitely enjoy styling them. My first pair of Jeans is from https://thearmoury.com/collections/denim/products/the-armoury-by-nigel-cabourn-5-pocket-denim-jeans?variant=17728986415175. I got a second pair of the same pair of jeans in waist size 29 for almost an MTM/MTO fit (my friend is bringing them for me from the USA, I’ll receive them in a couple of days). I went for the second pair in the exact same jeans due to the reasons mentioned above and looking at how useful is an Indigo colour jeans is and I intend to rotate those two pairs of jeans. I also find it very difficult to find jeans/trousers that fit me well. The first pair of my Armoury by Nigel Cabourn Jeans (Indigo) was sent for alterations to BLA London. I’m extremely happy with their offline alterations service that I received from Lilly (Head of MTM) at BLA. My third pair of Jeans is from https://therealmccoys.com/collections/bottoms/products/001xx-washed. I liked them and was waiting for it to be re-stocked. When eventually it was, I asked Simon about them before pulling the trigger, and Simon approved of them, infact he told me that those look great. I bought them in waist size 29 and they too will need alterations in the waist and hem before I start wearing them. I’ll send them to Pinnas and Needless for alterations. I did mention about how difficult it is to find good fit and size. My fourth pair of Trousers is from https://shopcanoeclub.com/collections/orslow/products/us-army-fatigue-pants-green. I personally don’t enjoy wearing Chinos that much and was looking for an alternative to Chinos. I settled on the fatigues because I have enjoyed wearing cargo trousers in the past and I find a dark colour trousers look best in me. I was also looking at Olive colour specifically to incorporate a navy tee for summers and a navy sweatshirt (hoodie) for winters to wear as tops as stand alone pieces. I personally prefer and find Olive colour the best third in colour options for myself in casual trousers.
I am planning a bespoke/mtm jeans project right now with Levi’s or Blackhorse Lane, and was originally planning a dark wash but am now reconsidering thanks to this post. A mid wash would bring the colour and I’m more likely to wear chinos or other trousers if I’m after a smarter look. Planning a mid rise, tapered, quite fitted pair. Jeans that fit like trousers basically. Are there any other jeans details that might elevate/casualise a pair that come to mind?
Not especially, but I think you might find it hard to get a mid-blue colour bespoke, given those guys are working with raw denim. Unless BLA have their washing facility up and working now
Argh… good point. Is BLA Blackhorse Lane? Off the peg jeans generally don’t fit me, so it’s a tough one.
Yes it is. A decent option if you struggle with RTW
Perhaps this has been answered already in the comments but for the casual linens are they with belt loops or side adjusters? I know side adjusters are usually on the formal side but obviously can be dressed down.
Or are they even drawsting? which personally I’m not a fan of.
Any really, depending on what you prefer. I’m with you on drawstring most of time, the only exception being particularly hot days with things untucked. If in doubt I’d go for belt loops as the most normal
Thanks Simon. I can see the appeal of the drawstring on those sweltering days but my only concern is that the drawstring might not be overly secure? If my pockets are filled with wallet and phone etc, I could see them slipping down which is not a look I aspire to.
There’s normally elastic too, and you can tie them pretty tight if you want to. At the same time, I try to avoid carrying my wallet and phone like that if I can, because it’s going to distort anything but jeans
What do you think about 5-pocket trousers, particularly in ecru or beige? On a formality scale, I find them somewhere between jeans and chinos.
I think that’s fair, yes. Personally I’ve never found a place for them, preferring actual jeans or chinos, but I can see the appeal
Hi Simon, one of the best articles of the year. Could you suggest some mid blue jeans that are straigt and dont cost a fortune ? 🙂
What budget are you looking at Georgios? The lower end of what we normally cover would be something like Warehouse or perhaps Orslow, both are good.
I would recommend the Jeanerica TM005 in the light vintage 95 wash. Extremely happy with those, though in general Jeanerica can be a little hit or miss.
Thank you both for the answers, i am looking something with the fit of levis 501 without tappering at a better quality. The problem is that al theese brands are not to easy to try and then buy..
Hi Simon, yes some more recommendations for mid blue jeans (not vintage) would be good – it seems easy to find quality dark indigo (BHL) etc. but much harder for mid blue in my experience. Any suggestions then for mid blue at the BLH quality/ price point?
Yes, the reason is that being a mid-blue requires washing, and Blackhorse Lane don’t have a washing facility (though they are making one).
Try Orslow, they’re a solid quality
A very helpful post! Still, I wonder whether moleskin couldn’t have found its place in the top-five set.
As to cords, I agree that both dark brown and olive are versatile and smart. But, what do you think of grey?
As mentioned in the piece John, I’m just not much of a fan of moleskin. I’d always prefer corduroy in the same situation.
Grey cord can be really nice – see an old pair of mine here.
Thanks, Simon! Of course I remember that post! But anyhow, in my mind it remained associated only with the jacket and the tailor Thom Sweeney!
Hmmmm, my top five pair would be:
-White (ecru) denim
-Taupe cotton chinos
I’ve moved away from blue denim, no matter the color. Nothing wrong with them, I just found myself always reaching for something else. I reserve blue for jackets and shirts. Keeps things simple. Maybe because blue is such a strong color.
I just got a pair of grey denim jeans that I’m enjoying too.
I am surprised not to find moleskin in the list for how great they look with tweed. I get the cords reference but I think moleskin should have made the cut or at least the “other/additional” list.
I understand Simon. It might be personal, but moleskin always seems to bag out and look unshapely quicker than other cottons, and cords are always as functional in terms of styling.
Would your observation hold in the case of heavy moleskin?
Yes I think so. When I’ve seen heavy moleskin it doesn’t seem any better in keeping its shape or not looking old quite quickly
Nice one, Simon, and as per usual with your advice of this kind spot-on to suit basically everyone.
A question: you mentioned Rubato jeans and I went to that post on the pop-up, and you wear in one photo a navy DB, white shirt, and brown/drab trousers. What fabric are they? Cavalry twill?
Those trousers are a whipcord, from the Holland & Sherry Dakota bunch. Don’t focus too much on the category of material here though, just that they’re a dense wool twill
Thanks, Simon! Got recently a similar-looking RTW pair from Canali, wasn’t sure what fabric it was, but indeed a dense wool twill. Photo attached for reference. Very nice mid-high waisted, single pleat trousers. Can’t wait for the cold weather to wear them and thanks for the styling idea.
Hi, Simon. Those black cordovans in the 1st photo – I assume they are Alden? Or Brooks. Brothers by Alden? What model? Would love to get me a pair of those!
They’re Alden full straps on the Aberdeen last, actually in a dark Color 8, not black. More on them here
On the topic of casual trousers, I’ve found the Duke five pocket corduroys from Trunk and the slim fit fatigue pants from Orslow exceptionally versatile. The Dukes come in a small range of colors—I think the olive color is fantastic, while Instagram suggests that Trunk founder Mats Klingberg finds the white cords very useful. For me, the Duke really fills a niche between casual and smart. They work with a soft jacket, with an overshirt, or with just a crew neck at the weekend.
As for the Orslow fatigue pants, they’re so comfortable and have aged so nicely after just over a year of wear that they’ve become my go-to choice at the weekend or when traveling. I meant to write a plug for them at the beginning of the year when PS asked readers to highlight their favorite pieces purchased in 2021. I like my army green pair so much that I bought the same model in khaki. Orslow’s slim fit army trousers are also worth mentioning in this category of casual trouser options.
Excellent piece, Simon. Coincidentally, I’ve recently added some mid-wash denim as well as the Armoury Sports Chinos (in both olive green and khaki) to my wardrobe and they’re all getting a lot of wear. Echoing the comments of another reader (and after recently having to get bolognese sauce off some high twist woolen trousers), washable trousers are all I can wear around my young daughter. Being someone with young children yourself, an article on staying well-dressed while, say, constantly being at playgrounds would be great. As an example, I find myself dressing very similarly to the cover photo in this article (chinos, OCBD, a nice knit and nice sneakers) but am finding it hard to introduce some variety.
I’d also like to mention that I’ve really been enjoying seeing more cold-coloured outfits. After having read your cold-colour capsule article, I’ve been trying to introduce this more into my outfits and find it unexpectedly sophisticated, and subtle yet distinctive.
That’s lovely to hear, thanks Guy, and noted on the clothes around a young family
I’m now at the grandpa stage(!) and I wear similar. I find that a chunky loafer, peacoat and/or shawl cardigan can repel a variety of child related substances and a good denim chore coat is a decent body armour.
Dark colours and machine washable!
Excellent piece. What do you think of cream cords, for example these https://cavour.co/en/product/4379/mod-2-single-pleat-wale-cord-trouser
Might they work with Neapolitan jackets as well as more casual clothing?
Yes, but they will be quite bright and showy – they’ll stand out. It’s one reason I like cream jeans more, because there is less of that
strange.. inspired by one of your articles I got a smart cream Brisbane cords. and somehow they are just yellowish enough not to seem showy…
I had a white linen trousers and they felt too showy for anything but +30* with espadrilles or slippers and bright polo, I have white chinos that I have to dress down not to feel so showy, but cream cords just hit the spot.
Thanks Martins, perhaps it’s all about the shade
Hi Simon, Excellent article. I totally agree that beige/stone are the most versatile especially chinos/linen trousers. What is your opinion on the versatility of dark brown chinos (smarter, not work chinos) or linen pants?
I like them a lot – I helped bring back that colour from Rubato for that reason. See here
I too have a pair of such chinos, that have over time faded from a dark brown to a sort of milk-chocolate colour. They are flat front, relatively slim, and finished with a 5cm turn-up. A real staple for colder months. However I’m not sure how to describe the fabric. It is a narrow cotton twill, a bit brushed I would say as it is very soft, with some natural stretch. Would you know what that fabric is called, Simon?
There aren’t clear categories for this kind of thing Stephan, it’s all a little random and a question of whether names have been given over the years.
They’d probably be described as a brushed cotton, as of the various things that would define them (weight, weave, finish) that is probably the most distinctive.
Hi Simon, what’s your feeling on cuffs for smarter chinos, like the ones from the Armoury?
I like them, but I have pairs with and without. I’d probably tend towards only having them with the smartest cotton trousers
Simon, curious to hear a more in depth discussion of linen casual trousers. For smart casual wear would you suggest tailored trousers or something that is cut and finished like chinos?
For smart casual, I’d go for something more like tailored trousers myself. I like the fact that a tailored linen trouser injects that smart element into smart casual all on its own – you can wear it with just a polo or a shirt and it will look well put together
Thank you for this article, Simon.
Which one do you think is more versatile, the Bryceland’s or Rubato’s khaki chinos? How different is their cut?
They’re pretty different in cut – the Brycelands is much higher in the rise and wider in the thigh too. They’re more of a workwear chino in make and material too, not as smart.
Agreed. The dark jeans have been overdone. Mid is more versatile.
Great article Simon. There isn’t anyone who wears white trousers/jeans as well as you do. I wish I could do it half as well.
if you were wearing a tailored jacket with linen trousers, what fabric do you suggest?
Lots of materials would work with linen trousers. For example hopsack here or here
thanks for the interesting article. I have given this point some careful thought too coming at it from a different direction.
I was a professional blue collar worker for the first half of my working career so never started on a more adult or ‘smart’ wardrobe until my middle age. I later built up a nice wardrobe when I moved into office-based working with suits and blazers that I would be happy to wear in my leisure time but I still wanted a youthful ‘street’ tang to my attire.
Through experimentation I’ve come up with some alternatives that would fit on your list:
Want to acknowledge and congratulate you. If you’ll permit, I’m picturing you in a rural setting with an active outdoor lifestyle – and your blue collar background lends no-nonsense credence to your fabric choices. I doubt you would go out of your way to create a look or waste money on clothing that doesn’t function well for you.
Although previous comments on tweed trousers indicated the fabric isn’t ideal for friction or applied stress at the knees/seat/crotch – it seems the heavier weights have held up well in your experience. Well done.
Mostly fantasy I am afraid.
I’m a city boy and a big advocate of more brown in town. To the pub, punk rock gig, cinema, daytime, whenever or wherever you feel like it weather permitting!
I’ve also got money to burn, an imagination and modestly creative so I’ve experimented a bit with different styles and fabrics regardless of cost (within reason ofc – I’m not wearing Vicuna tweed!) to achieve an individual aesthetic I like.
I don’t know where that opinion about tweed trousers comes from?! Tweed is wool and generally hardier than worsted hence it’s appeal to rural workers. We don’t normally complain about our H&S wool suits being fragile around the knees/seat/crotch!
It’s my experience with tweed that’s probably being referenced. Most tweeds that mills offer these days are designed for jacketings and are woven quite openly as a result, which means they bag out quickly and lose their shape.
But there are of course exceptions and tweeds that are great for trousers or suits, like Thornproof for example. I’m guessing yours are more in that area.
One of my favourite tweed suits is a Porter and Harding Thornproof from Harrisons and that is darn near bulletproof!
Indeed, a great choice
I have several Lot 1 Levi’s for the jeans. And I have a pair of washable chinos coming from W&S. But for the linen and cords would you recommend tailored trousers, say from someone like Pommella, or something RTW? Or perhaps experiment with the washable model from W&S in a cord or linen?(Not necessary with the intent to machine wash, but for the construction)
Cords can be tailor made I think, if you like that bespoke fit and details. For casual linens I’d be more inclined to go RTW, just because they’re looser and there’s really less value to going bespoke
Thanks for the explanation. It’s a good reference for describing what I should look for in these casual trousers. I’m one of those that needs bespoke (or good MTM) for fit purposes. Though, I have had some luck with alterations on RTW… but once I jumped into bespoke, the alteration route has seemed lacking. But then the trousers are never as casual. I am eager to receive W&S washables.
Hi simon. 2 questions
1) how would you work shorts into the mix given global warming and tbat most brands are now embracing them
2) interesting you put the rubato chinos into the formal chino category like the Armoury sports chino given how different they are. I understand the rubato officer chino are high and wide in fit? Would like to hear your thoughts as i have 3 armoury army chinos (the old/the new/the gurkha) and am lacking a more formal chino. I have the Armoury sports chino but sold them as they are too slim hence looking for one that is more formal but wide. Are the rubatos it?
1) That’s probably a separate post, but I’d have a couple, based largely on the kind of range and cut in our shorts
2) Yes it sounds like they might be the best fit
May I also suggest Cavour chinos, of which I have a pair in ‘stone’ with single pleats and they are serving the purpose of smart chinos brilliantly.
Hi simon can you do a piece on the anthology linen trousers? Im in 2 minds about them. Which colour did you get anyway?
See above in the comments Shem, but also I talk about them in my Summer Top 10 post tomorrow
My wallet thanks you for the advance notice of the top 10.
Hi Simon – can you recommend some mid-blue jeans? I stopped buying them because everything seems to come “pre-faded” and whiskered. That just looks awful, in my opinion. Thanks!
Well, the problem is Azar that what you’re asking for is a contradiction – jeans don’t start mid-blue, they start dark, and the fading that would make them mid-blue also causes whiskering and other signs of wear. I can see how you might dislike it, but it’s not that genuine
Oh, I’m happy to see a favourite pair fade and develop it’s own character over time. So, you’re saying all your mid-blue jeans started life as dark indigo denim?
Yes, either worn by me, by others (vintage) or by washing and treatment by a brand
you might be looking for a stonewashed denim without any extra sanding around it. something like ONI’s 6 or 18 month wash would suit
Levi’s Lot 1 (NYC) has (or had when I was there) a nice Cone Mills mid-blue denim. But maybe a bit darker than true mid-blue. But definitely lighter than indigo.
All the Cone Mills has gone now unfortunately Ben. They’re like collector’s pieces!
But if it’s the one I’m thinking of, it wasn’t dark indigo but still a lot darker than what people think of as a mid-blue right? Would still take a fair amount of washing and wearing to get to that colour
Sorry I guess I got the mill wrong. I could have sworn they swatch book said Cone Mills. But this was just before the Pandemic.
And yes not as dark as the really dark denims, but probably not quite mid-blue. A very sturdy denim too. They adjusted the pattern to accommodate the rigidity of the denim.
This is a very useful piece, Simon. In the summer, I’d like to wear beige/khaki-colored chinos (like the Armoury sport chino or Whitcomb & Shaftesbury bespoke chinos) in casual settings where I wouldn’t be wearing a tailored jacket. Whereas I’d go for a cream linen when wearing a jacket.
I’ve recently also been interested in the Fox Khaki cloth in “Oat” too though (https://www.themerchantfox.co.uk/products/fox-khaki-in-oat). I know in a past article you had mentioned that tailored cotton trousers are “an absolute bastard to get right.” Do you find a use for them in your wardrobe? What would you wear them with, if anything?
They are, and I wouldn’t really commission them, no, unless I was happy to take that risk (eg not building a wardrobe as presumed here, but supplementing one that is already pretty complete).
The ones I do have, I’m most likely to wear with a shirt and knit, rather than a jacket. But I’d pretty much always prefer chinos or flannels
Thanks, Simon! That makes sense.
Simon, I’m wondering why you think Irish linen doesn’t work well for casual linen trousers. If I recall correctly, you mentioned earlier that Irish linen is starchier and sturdier, so it keeps a crease better and doesn’t wrinkle as much. But doesn’t it get softer with washing a bit like cotton (i’m assuming it can be washed in water)? In which case, in the right cut and weight, it should be a good casual option?
Exactly, it will always look a little sharper and smarter than other linens. It will soften a little over time, but it will usually still stay at the smarter end.
You can make it more casual with belt loops, maybe by pressing out the crease. But a lighter linen will always look more casual
In the summer time, I love cotton-linen chinos as a more casual alternative to heavy Irish trousers. Cream, tan, and drab green (more muted than olive) are especially useful.
Thank you. Any brands you’d recommend?
No Man Walks Alone generally carries garment-dyed cotton/linen chinos from Rota in a few colors every spring. I have two pairs and find them to be rather useful.
Completely agree with all of this. I like cords but I seem to struggle to find a good balance between usability (i.e. not tailored) and style (i.e. not too old fashioned).
Could I please ask if you can recommend anywhere for machine-washable RTW cords. I’ve tried Trunk (Ok, good style but would prefer a thicker cloth) and Clutch Cafe (where the ‘modern’ fit -ie very baggy – wasn’t really me). Thanks, James
I can’t I’m afraid James. Perhaps others can
Any recommendations on casual linen trousers that aren’t drawstring? (I took a while to read through the comments and could only find drawstring recommendations: Informale, Anthology and Luca Faloni). I think you had some casual linen trousers from Paul Stuart Simon? But I’m really looking for this side of pond.
I did have some, yes, though they were from years ago.
I’ve never had any that weren’t drawstring, strangely, it’s been my bespoke ones or these. Other readers may have suggestions though
I would have been upset if I didn’t see off-white jeans here.
Hello, Simon! Nice and useful breakdown, thanks.
On smart chinos to wear with tailoring, especially in warmer months, what light colour do you find most useful and why, please? I have cream, stone, and soon will get light tan. I thought stone would be most useful but seems I am reaching much more for cream. This is both with jackets (navy, brown, green, even oatmeal/beige) and with smart polos (knit) or just shirt-trouser combos. Stone just seams a bit stark at times.
It sounds like you’ve tried all the good options Leo. I would have thought cream would have been more stark than stone though? Stone is basically a slightly greyed version of cream, so should be subtler.
I can see that, Simon. For me I guess the cream feels softer and easier to blend in while stone is more of a shade of grey that is almost white so more of a statement, against what I had expected it to be. Interesting how perceptions differ!
True. Also so many shades here that are subtly different. I wonder if that stone is greyer than I imagine
Hi Simon, excellent piece. In my experience the casual trouser category is by far the most important in my wardrobe, especially in the new working environment and blending of smart and casual styles. I will say however that this can be a very difficult set of garments to get right (significant trial and error behind me). I love a lot of the trousers you reference but they’re typically made for the slim to regular guy. On bigger or more muscled guys, the challenges are invariably with the seat and thighs and then it’s usually more of a workwear trouser (think Bryceland’s) than smart chino (such as Rubato) given the need to accommodate extra inches in those places. I’d love a Rubato pair but even in one waist size up from mine the seat and thigh still pinch, which is such a shame as they’re so beautiful. With that in mind are you able to recommend any smarter chinos with a wider hip and leg and slight taper below the knee?
I can’t think of any David, no sorry. If you keep something like the Brycelands pressed it could stay fairly smart perhaps?
Another great article Simon!
I was wondering how the Rubato jeans compare to the equivalent versions by Drake’s. How do the fits and denim quality compare? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
I think the Rubato is superior in most ways, certainly the fit for me, and I believe the denim too
Dear Simon: How forgiving are the Rubato jeans trough the seat and thighs? With the fullcount 1108-cut for example I would have to size up to a 34 waist, because the top block was so narrow. But my regular waist size would be a 32. (Do you remember what was your fullcount 1108 size at clutch cafe?) Again this problem: small waist, big seat and thighs. I know giving sizing advice remotely is always a bit boring. Thank you for your time! PS: Are there already some pics of your Rubato jeans?
I’ve certainly found them more forgiving than most jeans, but not sure whether that will work for your shape. I don’t remember what size I took in the 1108 I’m afraid. And no, no pics of the Rubato yet, but I’ll try to take some
I went with ordering the size 32 with the rubato denim, since the 32 of the El Jadida (Casatlantic) fits me comfortably, which is apparently also your size.
Is it fair to say that the El Jadida is somewhat halfway between a dressy chino (like rubato) and workwear? Are you wearing your El Jadida with thr crease and with no cuff? (Both would be the OG thing to do apparently. „Still not loving police, still rocking my khakis with a cuff and a crease.“)
Yes I think that’s fair. The materials make the look vary quite a bit too
The fit of the rubato denim is great. Really glad I went with the 32. Thanks! Perfect in the waist and through the seat and thighs. Really enjoy this kind of fit. Easier than those Levi’s 1947 and 60s repros from japanese makers.
The leg opening could be a touch wide for me, but I will give it some months before thinking about altering.
Do you think about writing a fit-guide for jeans? Since yours have gotten wider, it would be interesting what else changed with that. I think it started with your preference for more drapey jackets, now the bottoms had to follow. Are different shoe choices next? Like you said some time, your aberdeen last aldens are too slim for wide-leg trousers etc…
Nice point, that could be nice.
With shoes I’ve always had a variety of shapes, as wider ones are usually more casual – so from an Edward Green Belgravia, to an Alden Aberdeen, to an Alden LHS.
Good read Simon.
My top five:
Chinos – I wear chinos a lot so probably my number one. I prefer casual/work-wear chinos but a right-hand twill. I also prefer a slimmer cut. Most worn are two pairs from Workers Japan which have a higher waist and a nice 18cm hem. One in brown and the other in light beige. They’re a right-hand twill but much lighter than the Real McCoys for example. I also wear chinos from F.O.B Factory, UES, Real McCoys, Burgus Plus and Freewheelers.
Baker Pants/Fatigues – next is probably baker pants. My favourites are are from F.O.B Factory. They’re back satin but lighter than most and again are slimmer and have an 18cm hem. Also a bit shorter so don’t need to be cuffed/turned up. I find olive/green most useful and like them with off-white on top and plain white sneakers/plimsoles. I also have a pair in navy and a pair from Workers Japan in olive which are heavier so don’t get worn in summer. A pair from Pherrows in navy and a pair of olive 25oz duck canvas ones from Tanuki which are something a bit different. I want to try the Orslow ones as soon as they’re available again.
Dark Indigo Denim – I used to love denim but just find chinos and baker pants more comfortable these days. Most worn are a pair of Full Count Lot 1110 which have a high waist and are slim and tapered and a pair of Warehouse Lot 900XX – again, slim and tapered.
Off-White – I love off-white leg wear. I always wear off-white/ecru – never white. A pair of Studio D’artisan relaxed tapered selvedge denim are probably worn most as well as a pair of ecru pique pants/jeans/pants from F.O.B Factory, followed by a pair of selvedge back satin pants in ecru from Warehouse.
Casual – Smart Trousers – lastly is probably grey flannels or casual linen in mid-blue depending on the season – always dressed down with plain white sneakers or loafers and a tee or polo/Oxford
Also – Shorts – lots of sorts. Living in Hong Kong I wear shorts a lot. Baker shorts, chino shorts, linen shorts – always slim and always above the knee. Favs are from F.O.B factory, Warehouse, UES and Japan Blue.
Really enjoy these wardrobe building articles Simon, thanks.
Slightly off topic but does anyone have any recommendation for places for minor alterations – such as hemming trousers – in Brighton (UK)? I’ve not found anywhere reliable, is it just a case of making a trip up to London?
Ah if only fatigues were so easy to find. I’ve yet to hunt out anything that comes close on the inside leg length. Waist width is also an issue, albeit one I could do something about.
Could I ask what size you have in the Anthology drawstring linen? You mentioned in this thread that they are a little narrow. Where particularly are they narrow.
48. They’re just generally narrow – not skinny by any means, but not a fuller legged linen trouser as you often see for summer
narrow or tapered?
A little of both
Given the versatility of both cream for odd trousers, and flannel in general – how versatile is fox flannel in cricket white? Is this a good choice for winter odd trousers that could work with knitwear and loafers, or equally with soft jackets?
I don’t think it’s that versatile in flannel to be honest David. I have a pair and I don’t wear them that much.
Cream is great in terms of what it goes with (everything) but in winter it looks much more showy than in summer. In winter I’d prefer more of a pale taupe or stone-coloured twill (as here)
In what situation would you rank the ecru jeans and the olive fatigue pants among the top 5 pants in your list?
To be honest either could go in there, they’re both very versatile. With the ecru, you’d just have to like the look, and be happy that you wouldn’t be able to wear them some of the time, eg when it was grey and raining. The fatigues are a bit more of a look too, they will get noticed a little bit more than plain chinos, but they’d still be great.
Keep in mind that all these guides are aiming for versatility above all else, with the presumption that they’re for a younger guy trying to build a wardrobe from scratch, one or two pieces at a time.
I ask because I’m not too sure about the casual linens and the cords, personally. Am I correct in assuming that both of them are of the “dress trouser” style of pants? I’ve seen ecru jeans pop up quite a bit around your blog and elsewhere recently, and I do like the style. I think they could probably be a really great option for the spring and summer months. I’m thinking mostly for day time activities around town probably. I feel like they would also probably go with pretty much every standard menswear colour (read: navy, grey, olive) that you would typically find on the top half of an outfit. I feel like they’ve become pretty common in menswear these days. What are your thoughts?
I think you’re right, yes. And if you think they’re more your style than cords, for example, then absolutely got with them
On another note, regarding fatigue pants. It’s another style that I’ve been seeing a lot lately. I don’t think I’ve seen them much on your blog, but since you mentioned them in this post I figured I would ask you for your take on them. I’ve had pairs of olive chinos in the past from various mall brands, but in an effort to upgrade some of my items I was on the hunt for a new pair. I didn’t really find any good pairs of olive chinos specifically, but have been noticing a lot of fatigue pants and have noticed their rise in popularity in menswear. I think everyone can probably see the versatility of the olive shade and you’ve mentioned it before regarding other garments in your blog, but what are your thoughts on fatigue pants?
I talked about them a bit here, and showed them in an outfit here.
I think they’re a nice, more interesting alternative to chinos, but that does also mean they’re a bit more unusual and perhaps not quite as versatile. A small minority also doesn’t like the use of military clothing, but with something that old I think it’s fine.
Simon! What is your opinion on Navy jeans? Do you like that color for jeans?
Could you attach an image Ayush? I assume you’re not talking about just dark indigo like a regular jean?
What are the trainers in the opening photo? They look really good while also appearing to be more practical than ones that follow the rules might be.
They’re Mizuno x Margaret Howell. I do like them for a trainer, though they do also get dirty pretty easily, being white
Just a quick question on style. Would you put a 2 inch turn up on a brown ‘Gurkha’ style trouser which may occasionally be worn with a common projects sneaker? I’ve never really understood if a turn up makes a trouser more formal or less casual.
It makes it a little more casual, generally, but also there’s more going on (rather like pleats) so it can seem a little fussier or like there’s more going on too.
I’d go with the turn-up
I really like the colour and cut of the mid-blue jeans (they look a lot like a pair I got from Drake’s last year, but they have stretched excessively, more than any pair of jeans I have ever owned before in my entire life)— could you recommend a manufacturer which sells in this cut? Whenever I look at selvedge jeans online, they always look too baggy, BHL especially.
The NW1 cut from BHL is actually pretty similar Michael? Though perhaps it appears my jeans are skinnier than they are
casual pants are essential for day to day wear. going for casual party, friends gathering, family occasion are the one’s where you can wear these. Also loved your color choice they are perfect for every occasion.
Hello Simon. I found these https://www.thearmoury.com/collections/trousers/washed-cotton-ripstop-coast-trousers?variant=39916495175751 & https://www.thearmoury.com/collections/trousers/washed-cotton-ripstop-coast-trousers?variant=39916495110215. I have two pairs of the same The Armoury by Nigel Cabourn Jeans Indigo. My intention is to return one pair of Jeans and in Exchange get these two pairs of trousers from The Armoury. Then I’ll have two pairs of Jeans Blue & Indigo, one pair of Fatigue trousers in Olive and two of the above trousers from The Armoury. That’ll make it five. Please let me know your thoughts on the above trousers? And if my thinking is making any sense here?
It certainly makes sense in terms of the colour range Amit. I haven’t seen those trousers in person however, they’re a new design, so I can’t say too much about them
Hi Simon, great post! May I know the brand/model of the white derby that you paired with the khaki chino? Thanks!
That’s a white buck, from Lodger who no longer exist. Full post on them here including alternatives
Simon, what color of jacket would you wear dark cords such as dark olive and dark brown? A casual middle or light grey jacket with corduroy trousers could be very good. Cream or beige too. But what about darker and stronger colors, let’s say a brown tweed jacket like PS tweed with dark olive cords? If both colors are strong, would the whole image be a little overloaded?
Not if there wasn’t too much pattern and texture going on in both. Both navy and black can be nice with those cords too though by the way, as seen in the recent post on my black tweed
Yes it’s a fantastic outfit, very rare
As for the first two criteria, Dark and Mid Blue jeans respectively, could Blackhorse Lane Atelier also provide these colours in various styles?
I must check that out.
What about Levi bespoke in Regent Street?
Yes they could. Levi’s is great too, just not the range of ready made styles to try on, and they increased their prices recently to £750, so way above your budget
£750 is astronomical. Not for me.
In regards to the linens and cords, are you referring to more of a trouser-style construction for the 2 of them? Or are you also referring to more casual versions of each in their respective materials?
More a trouser style, because I like that style and having them made, but more casual versions could work too
Do you recommend the trouser style because you just like that style and the process of having them made, or do you find that they would work better as a style than the casual variations would in a casual wardrobe? In general, I dress more on the casual side, so I haven’t really gotten into the MTM/MTO world.
I’ve previously owned a pair or five-pocket cords (I guess they’re cut kind of like jeans would be, I’m sure you know what I’m referring to) in a chocolate brown. Upgrading them hasn’t been too high on my shopping list yet as I’ve been working on upgrading the core jeans and chinos in my closet first. But, not that I’ve got those covered, I’m looking to upgrade the classic-adjacent pieces, which would probably include cords, fatigues, off-white denim, and linens. I’ve seen several of the five-pocket cords made by brands like OrSlow/Norse Projects at some of the shops I frequent, and I was thinking of picking up a pair in probably a dark brown. What do you think?
I think it’s a little personal, but five-pocket trousers like that, to me, seem a little stuck between two worlds. They’re neither smart nor casual, and I would always prefer either jeans or more tailored cords. They just seem to lack any style, rather than not being a style I particularly like, if that makes sense.
Now that you have started experimenting with black, where would your black Bryceland’s denim come in this ranking?
I’d still put them in the second half, kind of where they are in the article currently. I’d alter the text a little, but they’re still not going to be as versatile as anything in the first five.