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.