Jeans are the most popular casual pants in the world, but there’s more to life than rivets and selvedge lines. If your dependence on denim has got you feeling blue, why not expand your trouser horizons and see what else menswear has to offer?
Casual trousers are a cornerstone of any stylish man’s day-to-day wardrobe. They’re often underappreciated, but they set the scene for the rest of an outfit, serving as a foundation upon which to cultivate the day’s look. We believe they’re an overlooked element of every man’s wardrobe that deserve some real attention. They have the power to make or break outfits and there are plenty of different styles to choose from.
From multi-pocketed worker pants to laid-back drawstring trousers, there are countless types of casual trousers to be considered. Below you’ll find Ape’s pick of the key casual trousers no man should be without, including what they are and how to, figuratively speaking, pull them off.
Good old chinos – a piece that will never fall from favour. Sure, the most popular cut varies from year to year but the style itself is seemingly impervious to the ebb and flow of fashion trends. They are clean, simple and understated, and inhabits a sizeable chunk of the smart casual spectrum.
A classic cotton chino will feature a slightly tapered leg, two slit pockets to the sides and two slit pockets to the back. Khaki is the most traditional colour, hence the North American nickname, but navy, green and black are all great options too.
Chinos in any of these colours will work with anything from unstructured tailoring to sneakers and a hoodie. The chino’s beauty lies in this high level of versatility and is one of the many reasons every man should own a pair.
Cargo pants spent a while on the sartorial scrapheap, but you don’t need to be a fashion insider to know that they’re back in a big way. We’re all for the resurgence of one of menswear’s most practical trousers, not least because they’re surprisingly versatile and easy to style. Plus, the extra pockets are just handy.
Relaxed cuts are popular at the moment, but if you’re struggling to embrace the cargo revival then opting for a slim leg is one way to dip your toe into the trend without going full Ray Mears. Try wearing them with other outdoorsy pieces like a thick-pile fleece, boots and some chunky, heavy-gauge knitwear.
With the 2000s revival in full swing, worker pants are another silhouette that is gaining traction again in the world of men’s fashion. These relaxed-fit, practical pants feature multiple pockets, including patch pockets to the sides, and often have additional functional details like a hammer loop or reinforced knees. Carhartt’s classic Double Knee pant is a great example of this and is currently one of the most sought-after items at vintage stores all over the world.
The best way to style worker pants is as part of casual outfits with a workwear/streetwear slant. They go great with garments like hoodies, gilets, chore coats, overshirts, work boots and canvas sneakers. Stick to weekend-friendly pieces and it’s hard to go wrong.
Legs have been getting wider for quite some time now, which is by no means a bad thing. The super-skinny legwear of the mid-2010s now feels extremely passé as men continue to embrace looser, comfier, roomier cuts.
Every man should own a pair of relaxed-leg trousers at this point, but not every man does. For some, making the leap from skinny and slim-fit pants isn’t easy and many struggle to adapt to styling something with a wider silhouette. Our advice is to keep everything relative. If you’re wearing loose pants, don’t wear a super-tight, form-fitting shirt or jacket.
Keep things laid back and loose fitting across the board, but be careful not to veer too far into ‘baggy’ territory.
If we could pick just one trouser in which to live out the rest of our days, it might just be this. Drawstring trousers are really the only type of legwear out there that can go from office to bar to sofa without raising any eyebrows. They’re smart, they’re laid back and they’re almost as comfy as a pair of sweatpants. What’s not to like?
How do you style drawstring trousers? However you want! You’ll struggle to find a more versatile style of legwear out there. They can blend into pretty much any setting short of a black-tie dinner and can be paired with anything from derby shoes to espadrilles.
Not all summer situations call for shorts. When it comes to smarter settings, longer legwear is preferable, but being smart and being a comfortable temperature needn’t be mutually exclusive. Not if you arm yourself with a pair of linen trousers, that is.
This light, airy fabric is perfect for the warmer months. It’s highly breathable, quick drying and great at wicking moisture away from the skin. Swap the chinos for a pair of these teamed with a camp-collar shirt and loafers and you won’t look back.
In the colder months, it’s all about heavyweight fabrics that can add texture and give your outfits a tactile element. This is most commonly achieved via the top half, but legwear can be a vehicle for texture too. Case in point: cords.
Corduroy legwear still has a bit of geography-teacher stigma attached to it, but it shouldn’t. Not if it’s styled well, that is. We’d recommend autumnal shades to give a nod to the 70s and pairing with a turtleneck sweater, unstructured blazer and brown leather loafers with the trouser legs cuffed just above the ankle.
A classic pair of jersey-cotton sweatpants has always been a must-have, but lockdown really opened the world’s eyes to just how much we can actually live in this laid-back, loungy legwear. Style them right and a simple pair of grey sweatpants can take you far beyond the confines of your own home. It’s all about embracing the high-low method of styling, and using dressier pieces to balance things out.
Instead of going straight for sneakers, consider wearing a casual shoe. Something like a Clarks Wallabee can work very nicely with a pair of classic joggers. It’s smarter than a sneaker but more relaxed than most dress shoes, and will look great styled with smarter outerwear, like a wool overcoat or car coat, and a knitted crew neck layered underneath.