Khaki Pants Are the Coolest Idea the Army's Ever Had (2024)

There was a time, not too long ago, when khaki pants for men were among the most maligned items in fashion. Back in the early ’90s, they were the double-pleated uniform of the suburban office worker (a.k.a. your dad), or the dreaded, ill-fitting trousers your folks forced you to wear to family reunions.

But you can’t keep a good pant down. In 2024, khakis aren’t just a born-again menswear favorite—they’re unexpectedly viral, surprisingly flex-worthy, and, by almost any metric, just plain cool. Even your pops’ double-pleats are back with a vengeance.

Khakis date back to 1846, when a British officer in India swapped his troops’ hot-and-heavy red felt unis for lightweight cotton pants like those worn by local privates. (The pants’ yellowish color, a result of mulberry juice dye, was dubbed khaki, a riff on the Hindustan word for dust.) It didn’t take long for them to become standard-issue for British troops across the colonies.

American soldiers began wearing khakis in the Philippines during the Spanish American War (the term “chino” comes from the Spanish for “China pants,” since they were imported from China). But it was during and after WWII, when the US Army introduced higher rises and looser thighs, that khakis’ popularity spread beyond the military—and around the world. Khakis haven’t changed much since then, and the best of them today still take their influence from that telltale mid-century silhouette.

And that’s exactly what you should be looking for in a pair (with a few minor exceptions). Nothing revolutionary; little fuss, few frills. Khakis are wardrobe workhouses—versatile, functional, comfortable—as appropriate in the office as they are at the dive bar around the corner. Wherever you wear them, though, wear them hard—that’s what they’re meant for. Just ask your old man.

The Best Khaki Pants for Men, According to GQ

Best Khaki Pants of the Moment: J.Crew Giant-Fit Chinos

J.Crew

Giant-Fit Chinos

When J.Crew dropped the Giant-Fit Chino in 2020, it more than just set the internet aflame: It announced loud and clear that the era of slim-fit-everything was over, and J.Crew was back. Part of the first collection designed by Brendon Babenzien, the co-founder of Noah and ex-Supreme honcho, the Giant Fits offered a glorious throwback to the brand’s ’90s-era heyday. As you’d expect, they’re wide—like, seriously-not-messing-around wide. But they’re also a lot more approachable than they seem, which helps explain how they became the new J.Crew’s first runway hit—and why they deserve their props four years later, now that everyone else is finally catching up.

Best Era-Authentic Khaki Pants: Gap 90s Loose Khakis

Gap

90s Loose Khakis

For anyone who came of age in the ‘90s—and forum-roving menswear nerds who wish they did—Gap’s pedigree in the khakis space needs little introduction. It was at the start of that decade that the all-American retail giant debuted its now-legendary “Who Wore Khakis” campaign, featuring proto-mood board shots of icons like Warhol, Picasso, and Hemingway wearing khakis not unlike the ones the brand itself sold. In 2024, Gap is enjoying a revival of sorts by harnessing the energy of that exact era, as evidenced by its aptly-named ’90s Loose khakis. The mid-rise is loyal to the decade that inspired it, roomy in the waist through the thigh, and cut with straight legs and a longer inseam so they puddle at the ankle. At $70 full price (and a lot less on sale), they’re just about the cheapest time machine money can buy.

Best Nice, Normal Khaki Pants: Buck Mason Service Twill Officer Pants

Buck Mason

Service Twill Officer Pants

The braintrust behind Buck Mason are on an absolute tear right now, thanks, in part, to their keen appreciation of menswear history, which informs their riffs on classic Americana. So it’s hardly surprising that the brand’s officer pants are a salute to vintage US military styles, updated for the here and now. The fit is nice and normal the whole way through: high-ish-rise and straight in the leg, with plenty of room to maneuver. But they’re also enzyme-washed to give them a vintage look and feel, with authentic flourishes like welted coin pockets, corozo buttons, and canvas interior detailing. When we say “nice and normal”, we mean it as a compliment of the highest degree—and you don’t have to be either to wear the hell out of these.

Best Scandalously Affordable Khaki Pants: Dockers Pleated Khaki Pants

So you landed here looking for the absolute best khakis, and you’ve got, what, like, $50 to spend on ‘em? Don’t panic—and definitely don’t discount Dockers. Sure, the brand might not be the buzziest name in the space, but you better believe it’s still one of the biggest, especially for style-minded fellas eager to maximize their dollars. For decades, Dockers has been the name in everyday khakis, and its most classic silhouette—easy fit, straight leg, natural waist, little bit of stretch—has been the pleated titan of your dad’s closet for about as long. You said you had fifty bucks to spend, right? These cost a meager $35, and are often on sale for a lot less. Size up for a more contemporary look, and order two while you’re at it—your old man will be borrowing them.

Best Rich-Guy Khaki Pants: The Row Rosco Cotton-Blend Twill Trousers

The Row

Rosco Straight-Leg Cotton-Blend Twill Trousers

When the Olsen twins launched The Row in 2006 with the intention of designing the world’s best T-shirt, they probably had little inkling they’d one day expand into the world of pitch-perfect khakis, too. In 2024, though, that’s exactly what they’ve done. If you have money to burn but hate spending it on flashy logos or splashy flourishes, the brand’s pared-down take on the humble khaki is a godsend. Don’t mistake its austerity for a lack of personality, though. The Rosco is lightly structured with a relaxed, flowing fit, but the longer inseam allows for a full break at the ankle, an intentional design-forward touch no one but you will appreciate when you’re traipsing from the tarmac of your Gulfstream to the padded interior of your Rolls.

Best Dad-Approved Khaki Pants: Bill’s Khakis M1P Pleated Khakis

Bill's Khakis

M1P Relaxed-Fit Pleated Khakis

If your dad enjoys his chinos like his cars—made in the U.S.A—he probably owns a pair (or five) of Bill’s Khakis already, likely in this exact no-nonsense relaxed fit. (It helps that Bill’s Khakis happens to be the most dad-ish name for a clothing brand in the country.) Bill’s has been making a version of its flagship twill trousers for over two-decades, but the silhouette’s lineage goes back to ‘30s-era US military officer khakis. Unlike its source material, though, the two-ply, 9.5-ounce cotton twill used here is sourced from Italy’s Tesutti Di Sondrio and washed for a vintage feel. Double-pleated means double dad-approved.

Best Jeans-Like Khaki Pants: Todd Snyder Japanese Selvedge Chinos

Todd Snyder

Relaxed-Fit Japanese Selvedge Chinos

You can usually count on Todd Snyder to take a wardrobe stalwart and upgrade it a notch without compromising the elements that made it great. (His knack for sticking the landing is as reliable as death and taxes.) In this case, the designer does an expectedly admirable job of staying loyal to the khaki’s essential khakiness, imbuing his riff on the silhouette with just enough modern edge. His ultra-relaxed selvedge chinos are crafted from cotton imported from Japan’s Kuroko Mill, made on traditional shuttle looms, and cut with extra room in the thigh in homage to the vintage wide-leggers that inspired them. And just like your favorite jeans, their sturdy selvedge fabric will wear beautifully, accruing an enviable patina along the way.

More Khakis We Love

The Armoury by Ring Jacket Cotton Sport Chinos

The Armoury by Ring Jacket

Cotton Sport Chinos

You’re always in good hands when you’re shopping at The Armoury, but you’re in especially good hands with the haberdashery’s in-house line, made in conjunction with Japan’s Ring Jacket. Case in point: the duo’s three-season riff on classic khakis, cut from soft cotton milled in Italy that will only get better each time you wear them. Which, to be clear, will be very often.

Taiga Takahashi Lot 202 Engineer Trousers

Taiga Takahashi

Lot 202 Engineer Trousers

Cult-loved designer Taiga Takahashi’s khakis are made from a two-ply combed cotton the brand dubbed its West Point fabric, named for the storied US military academy in upstate New York. They’re cut with a high, close fit at the hips, and a more-than-generous leg opening that, true to their workwear influence, will look absolutely tremendous pooling over lug-sole boots.

Knickerbocker Staff Chino Twill Pants

Knickerbocker

Staff Chino Twill Pants

The NYC team at Knickerbocker give their khakis a single wash for added comfort and a slightly worn-in feel. The influence here is decidedly retro—see the beefy cotton, high rise, and wide legs—but in typical Knickerbocker fashion, the execution is extremely right now. The reinforced seams mean these beauties are primed to get down and dirty, but the laid-back vibe will serve you just as ably on a leisurely jaunt around the park. And for what it’s worth, they’re one of the best deals on this list.

Sid Mashburn Garment-Dyed Cotton-Twill Trousers

Sid Mashburn

Straight-Leg Garment-Dyed Cotton-Twill Trousers

Atlanta-based menswear legend Sid Mashburn never plays it all the way safe, but his chinos boast a slightly slimmer fit than a lot of trousers on this list. Cut from a handsome cotton twill with slant pockets and finished hems, they might’ve been the dressiest pair here if not for a garment dye that lends them a lived-in look right off the shelf.

Noah Utility Chino Pants

Noah

Utility Chino Pants

Noah’s khakis are meant to be worn big: extra-wide legs, extra-roomy fit, and an adjustable cinch belt by the rear to make sure they don’t droop. Their sturdy cotton twill fabric makes them a not-too-distant relative of your sawed-off Dickies, but in this case, that cotton twill fabric comes straight from Portugal (and might just replace your jeans).

Ghiaia Cashmere Marinaio Cotton Double-Pleated Pants

Ghiaia Cashmere

Marinaio Cotton Double-Pleated Pants

Pasadena-based Ghiaia Cashmere—founded by Brunello Cucinelli alum Davide Baroncini— makes its trousers in Italy using a primo cotton-blend imbued with 2% elastane for a little extra give. They’re high waisted, double-pleated, and relaxed in both look and feel. These are the khakis your old man dreams of wearing around the house when he retires—which, naturally, means they’re exactly what you should be dreaming of wearing right now.

Banana Republic Italian Herringbone Officer Pants

Banana Republic

Italian Herringbone Officer Pants

Part and parcel of Banana Republic’s recent resurgence are items exactly like this: otherwise classic, straight-leg officer chinos with a subtle, luxe-leaning herringbone pattern. Made in Italy from a lived-in cotton-linen blend, they’re go-to trousers for scorching summer days—or any time a dress code forbids denim.

RRL Cotton Twill Officer Chinos

RRL

Cotton Twill Officer Chinos

No one does old-school workwear like RRL, Ralph Lauren’s most vintage-inflected sub-label. The brand’s heavily-washed, cotton twill officer chinos are designed to fade over time, getting you as close as possible to the original 1940s British military trousers that inspired them.

Khaki Pants Are the Coolest Idea the Army's Ever Had (2024)
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