Chinos vs. Jeans: The Ultimate Comparison

What is the difference between chinos and jeans?

The biggest difference between chinos and jeans is the material from which they're made. Chinos are made from chino cloth and jeans are made from denim. Both materials are essentially cotton; however, chinos are made from chino cotton and jeans are made from cotton denim. Denim is classically a heavier fiber, where chino cloth is typically lighter weight.
Differences can also be noted in the actual design and cut of the pants. Chinos are typically sewn with four pockets (two on the side and two behind), where jeans are classically constructed with five pockets (three in front and two in the back).

 

The history of jeans and chinos

Dating back to the late 1700’s, jeans were most commonly worn for labor-intensive work, due to their durable nature. Jeans received a major update in the late 1800’s when Jacob David partnered with Levi Strauss to add copper rivets to point of stress (like pockets), an innovation that offered better reinforcement. Since then, jeans have grown in popularity all around the world, for wearable purposes outside labor-intensive jobs.
Chino cloth was developed in the mid-19th century and was initially intended for military uniforms. They made their way into everyday wear when war veterans returned to the ‘States from the Philippines with these twill trousers.

Durability

One of the toughest things to compare is the durability of chinos vs. jeans. Both are some of the most durable, high-quality pants on the market. This is due to the twill weave in both chinos and jeans, which allows the pants to experience a lot of friction and wear before beginning to unravel.

Comfort

When comparing the comfort of chinos vs. jeans, it’s important to consider stretch vs. non-stretch jeans, as this can have a major impact on the comparison.
Non-stretch jeans are classically more stiff and take a long time to break in and create a more comfortable, relaxed feel. On the other hand, stretch jeans are known for their instant comfort and ability to move easily during a variety of daily activities.
The light fabric of chinos can make them quite comfortable but their cut can often feel a bit more rigid than a classic 5-pocket pant. That’s why some people choose stretch chinos over the classics.
Ultimately, comfort is relative and depends heavily on each person’s individual preference.

Breathability

Due to their thin material, chinos typically offer more breathability than jeans. Jeans, by nature, are typically a heavier and thicker fabric, making them a generally less-breathable pant.

Cleaning and care

Chinos and jeans require similar care: Wash cold, hang to dry. It is also recommended to use the delicate or gentle cycle when washing your favorite pants. This can help extend the life of your chinos or jeans.
The biggest difference to consider when comparing the cleaning and care of chinos vs. jeans is that chinos are typically manufactured in lighter colors so they may require more washes and, thus, shorten  their wearable life.

Popularity and when to wear them

Millions of jeans are sold each year around the world. Around 450 million pairs are sold each year in the United States and about 70 million a year in the United Kingdom. 
With jean sales like these, it’s fair to ask the question, why are chinos so popular? 


Chinos have been described as a unique niche between jeans and dress pants and the perfect contemporary business casual look. They have a visible stitching, giving them a more polished, formal, and dressy appearance. Chinos are also very versatile and can easily be dressed up or dressed down. However, chinos tend to be manufactured in lighter colors so they will soil and stain much faster than jeans.
Jeans are manufactured in a variety of shades; however, the darker denim is much more difficult to stain, so if you tend to be a clumsier person, we’d recommend jeans over chinos for you!

More benefits to jeans are found in some of the latest performance stretch jeans on the market. Available for both men and women, this denim keeps up with an active and busy lifestyle, while maintaining a high-level of quality and style. Performance denim has some of the best qualities of both jeans and chinos.


At the end of the day, both pants have their place and it’s up to each person’s unique sense of style and fashion to determine when and where they feel best wearing them.