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The 11 Best Pairs of Officers’ Chinos, the Military-Inspired Trouser You’ll Want to Wear All Spring

These chinos eschew office-casual complacency in favor of vintage details that recall the style’s battlefield roots.

Best Officers Chinos Nigel Cabourn, Rubato, Drake's

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The military origins of some garments are obvious—here’s looking at you, bombers jackets and combat boots—but others have had their martial history obscured. High on the list is the chino pant, which is today associated with business casual blasé despite its birth on the battlefield.

As the story goes, 19th-century militaries began to outfit their soldiers in pants made from a hard-wearing cotton twill fabric that had been inexpensively milled in China. These pants, which were often dyed in a dusky earth tone called “khaki” to reflect the local environment, became standard issue during the Spanish-American War.

During the conflict, American servicemen stationed in the Philippines began referring to them as “chinos,” after the Spanish word for China. Chinos became a staple of the American fighting man’s wardrobe through both World Wars and entered civilian life when the G.I. Bill sent millions of servicemen to college campuses after WWII.

It was there that cash-strapped veterans began wearing their army-issue chinos with oxford-cloth button-downs and tweed jackets, unconsciously laying the foundation of American Ivy style. In the decades that followed chinos became mainstream to a fault, stripped of their original sturdiness and military design.

Fortunately, you needn’t enlist to find a pair of military-style chinos today, as mainstream labels and obscure Japanese makers alike are supplying them. There aren’t set rules as to what precisely makes a military-style or “Officer’s chino”, but there are benchmarks: namely heavier or coarser fabric, utilitarian pockets, a wider leg and a higher rise in keeping with mid-century tailoring.

And you can learn more about those indicators by consulting our list of the best military-style chinos below:

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