The Guide: Chino Suits
Are you wearing a pair of chinos right now? If so, you’re already halfway to wearing a chino suit.
Just as the name would imply, a chino suit consists of a matching jacket and trousers made from the cotton twill fabric better known as “chino.” Chino cloth, which has a soft feel and lighter weight, was originally made for French and British military uniforms in the 19th century.
While chino trousers are an everyday office sighting, it’s rarer to see a full chino suit in action. Its lighter weight keeps it from regular duty in the fall and winter. But that same quality, coupled with its natural breathability, makes it an excellent choice for spring and summer wear.
Chino fabric is also more casual: a chino suit in a smart shade of khaki or grey has become a wedding staple. Of course, you can always do business wearing a chino suit in a conservative shade of blue.
Every chino suit has a special trick up its sleeve: take off the jacket, undo the tie, and suddenly… you’re just wearing a button-up shirt and a pair of chinos. It’s the stealthiest way to transition from workday to weekend, or go instant casual when happy hour calls.
That same quality makes chino suits great for “breaking”—wearing a suit’s jacket or trousers separately with other clothing combinations. You can wear the jacket with a pair of jeans, or pair its trousers with a wool sport coat or suit jacket. You can even wear broken chino suits together, wearing a navy chino jacket with a white chino trouser, for instance.
It’s true that chino fabric wrinkles more easily than wool. But don’t set your chino suit down on the ironing board. Use a steamer to smooth out its wrinkles, or hang it on the bathroom door while you take a shower.
Chino’s laid-back feel also makes it the safest pick for that boldest of sartorial decisions: the all-white suit. Just try to keep it more Tom Wolfe than Colonel Sanders: unless you own a fried chicken franchise, leave the bolo tie behind.