Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How to Style Levi’s Chinos: Dress the Sustainable Classics Up or Down


Are chinos business casual? Here’s how to dress the sustainable, classic Levi’s chinos for work — understated or with flair.

When we talk about clothes with versatility and elegance, the chino trousers are an essential part of the dialogue.

Their ability to mingle and belong so easily, in every terrain, is unmatched. It must be because of their origins — chinos after all, were conceived and made with one thing in mind — to become one with nature.

What are chinos, anyway?

Chinos are a type of pants made from cotton twill fabric, characterized by a tapered leg and a flat front. The history of chinos dates back to the 19th century when they were originally designed as military uniforms for the British and French armies.

The term “chino” is believed to have originated from the Spanish word “chino,” which means Chinese. This is because the cotton twill fabric used to make chinos was first produced in China and exported to Europe in the early 19th century.

sustainable wardrobe tips
Courtesy Dockers

In the late 19th century, the British Army stationed in India began wearing khaki-colored cotton twill uniforms, which were known as “khakis.” The popularity of khakis soon spread to other armies around the world, including the United States, where the U.S. Army began using khaki-colored uniforms during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Chinos became popular in the United States in the 20th century when they were worn as casual pants by men. In the 1920s and 1930s, chinos were primarily worn by college students and became a symbol of the preppy style. They were often worn with polo shirts, boat shoes, and other preppy accessories.

During World War II, chinos became popular again as military uniforms for the U.S. Army. The military issued chinos to soldiers as part of their standard uniform, and they were often worn in tropical and desert environments.

After the war, chinos remained popular as casual pants for men. In the 1950s and 1960s, they were worn by Hollywood stars such as James Dean and Steve McQueen, which helped to popularize the style even further.

Today, chinos are still a popular style of pants for both men and women. They are available in a variety of colors and styles, and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Despite their military origins, chinos have become a versatile fashion staple that is unlikely to go out of style anytime soon.

Are Levi’s Chinos sustainable?

Whatever your style, let’s be sustainable. Sustainability is the style that transcends all styles. It is the basis and the ultimate goal. 

As of late, many fashion brands have made the shift to more sustainable techniques and eco-friendly methods! Plant Faced Clothing, Organic Basics, Levi’s, Patagonia, Brava or Dockers all opt for recycled, organic, or vegan fabrics and try to use wisely and carefully all natural resources.

Dockers are made using Levi’s sustainable Water>Less tech. Courtesy Dockers

The Levi’s-owned Dockers, for instance, has developed its own suite of water-saving techniques called Water<Less that aims to reduce the water consumption used in its production.

Moreover, a general go-slow approach is increasingly gaining momentum in the fashion industry. What are clothes good for, if we can’t enjoy them under the best conditions?

We might be discussing fashion and trends, but we are actually talking about respect and change. We mentioned Harry Styles, but Hector Bellerín is another good example of how fashion can be a vehicle of understanding and a rich source of solutions — of how fashion can transcend. Now, more than ever is the time to embrace and bring it to the forefront.

Are chinos business casual?

Given the chinos legacy wonder that there is a pair of chinos for every moment and, nowadays, it is not hard to find it. Not at all, actually. They come in blue, white, yellow, beige, red or pink; slim-fit, relaxed or high-waisted; with a flare, tapered or cropped leg.

But are chinos business casual?

Some years ago, “casual” was just meant for Fridays, but today, with the standardisation of the casual dress code, chinos can be worn every day. Can you wear a business shirt with chinos, you might ask. Of course! Take a tapered pair, for example, and wear it with loafers and with one of your button-ups. If you want, add a black blazer. Business Casual or business Formal? Chinos are both.

How to wear Levi’s chinos at work

The classic

The classic chino can be used at almost every work environment. What do we mean by classic? Chinos, shirt or sweater (depending on your work it could be a comfortable hoodie), a jacket, a pair of boots, sneakers or oxfords and you are ready to go to work. It goes without saying that adjustments can be made. Classic here doesn’t mean oldie; classic means eternal.

The Gen Z

Wear your chinos casually. You can scissor-or-hand-crop them. Combine them with a pair of chunky Balenciagas or with a pair of vintage green-striped Reeboks and an oversized top (Henley, shirt or any kind of knitwear) and go to work. If it is too hot and the boss permits it, tuck in a mesh tank-top. They are in-style and the summer air will touch you in the most comforting and kind manner. The Z has nothing to do with age; it is an attitude, a way of life.

Dressed up or down, chinos are a wardrobe stape. Courtesy Dockers

The sporty

Take a pair of Jordan 1s, a pair of Barkleys, a pair of Sambas, Stan Smiths, or Gazelles, the ready for rain Reebok hi-tops or your dyed out all-stars, white slouch socks, put on your favourite club’s jersey, an overshirt, a parka, a bomber or a leather jacket and…and…and your chinos. We would suggest the cropped flare-y version – and your workday will surely become a lot comfier but still stylish. Sport and fashion is an extremely well-matched couple.

The In-between

Lately, life seems to be changing frenetically. What used to be, is no longer valid. Our work is changing, our children’s lives are changing, our most basic habits are changing, our rhythms are changing; the whole world is changing. 

To be able to hop over from place to place rapidly and easily, has become the ultimate goal. From a formal meeting to an evening master-class and from there to the pub or a play…there is just no time to change. You have to be able to cover it all with one outfit. A lightweight sweater or a button-up, formal slim or regular-fit chinos, a scarf and a black jacket or a peacoat. Add a hat, your good watch or some discrete jewellery and you will shine at all places. As for the shoes? Today, even suits are worn with sneakers, so…it’s up to you really.

The Harry Styles

Our friend Harry is the proof that styles and outfits are creative when imaginatively bold, and meaningful when deeply personal and free. 

Your workspace will set the tone; it is undeniable. But your needs and taste will dictate the final result; it is unnegotiable. Start with your favourite chinos and from then on improvise freely. Remember that elegance is your allure, not the clothes you wear. With this in mind and with a pair of chinos as a starting point, you can end up everywhere.

Related on Ethos:

Joan Calabia operates as the Digital Lead for Dockers® International at Levi Strauss & Co. Joan’s experience spans the intricacies of marketing operations to creating immersive consumer experiences. He continues to lead the brand direction adapting to the new generation of casual consumers in our era, while maintaining the California cool lifestyle that is heritage to the brand.


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