Pants have a way of making or breaking an outfit. While on the surface they seem like a pretty straightforward garment, the variation in fit, fabric, and formality can all play a role in how your outfit comes together.
Still, you don’t need to overburden your wardrobe with excess options. In fact, finding the right pant for you can be a straightforward exercise in personal style, giving you an easy enough canvas to build an outfit around. The main thing to remember is fit. Whether you like slack, bootcut, jogger, or any other style, you should have the right amount of give in the waist, seat, and crotch while not carrying extra fabric in those locations in the pant.
Once you know your fit, it’s all about style. These are the core styles of pants that every guy should own.
Most every guy has a pair of chinos in their closet for those days you’re in the office. An unassuming pant, they’re a workhouse when you come to think of it. You need to maintain a level of comfort for your commute, your desk, and any after-work drinks you may be roped into.
Chinos are usually made from cotton or a cotton-blend fabric in a lightweight weave for breathability and stretch. More often than not, they have a comfortable amount of stretch and a wider fit that’s cut straight down the leg. Great to pair with anything from sneakers to boots, chinos are perfect for work or, really, any day of the week.
Alex Mill’s Standard Pleated Pant in Chino
These pants from Alex Mill are one I can see myself in every single day of the week. It really comes down to the detailing, which makes these the top choice in the chino category. I’m particularly a fan of the small coin pocket and adjustable tabs at the waist for a better fit than some off-the-rack options. With a slight pleat to the front for comfort and a bit of style, one can dress these up or throw on a pullover and walk out the door on Sunday morning. And with a cropped leg, these would look great dressed down with loafers or a pair of trainers (no socks).
Todd Snyder Slim Fit 5-Pocket Chino
Snyder, a master brand when it comes to American style, has perfected the chino. With rave reviews across the board, it’s a great all-around option for anyone in the market to update their pants game.This chino has a more modern cut that’s almost reminiscent of jeans with a five-pocket construction and a structured seat and waistline to sit comfortably all day long. Though this is a slimmer fit, the fabric has enough of a stretch to not feel or look too skinny, but just taken in enough at the edges to feel almost tailored.
Ah, jeans. It’s hard to not want to wax poetic about all the ways that jeans have perfected the male wardrobe over the last century or so. With its versatility, comfort, and durability, denim jeans are by far the most popular type of pants on this list.
The problem with jeans is too much variety. Do you like athletic or skinny? Bootcut or carpenter? How about rinses, washes, and dyes (oh, my!)? Is selvedge your game or are you more into ripped jeans?
The results can be a tad overwhelming. The jeans in this list keep to fan favorites and those we feel would have the best longevity in any wardrobe. These will never going out of style and only better with age.
If there is one jean that every guy (and I mean every guy) should own, it’s the 501. Of course, there is a variety of other Levi’s to pick from, but nothing has more versatility and comfort than the classic 501. They are, in fact, the original. The OG. The GOAT of the denim world.
The reason for this is multifold. The first being that it’s just a damn good jean. With a medium-weight denim in nearly endless colors, there’s a 501 for everyone and for every occasion. Further, they sit slightly higher on the waist, giving enough room in the stomach and crotch for all-day comfort. With a leg opening hovering around 16.5”, you’re looking at a jean that can be rolled up or with a boot tucked in, making it one you can wear in most, if not all, conditions.
Noah 5-Pocket Denim Jeans
The popularity of selvedge hit a peak maybe four years ago and has been part of mainstream vernacular ever since. Using a Japanese weaving practice that results in a tighter and more durable denim, selvedge has been an ideal choice for anyone who puts their jeans to work.
Noah’s jeans are slightly wider throughout but, given the weight of the selvedge, aren’t bulky. They’re structured for long-term wear and have a classic design that pairs well with most outfits. Having jeans you can throw on and not have to think about is a godsend, and these fit that ticket beautifully.
Sweatpants & Loungewear
It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that loungewear is having its moment now. With the injection of streetstyle back into the mainstream, as well as our habits during lockdowns, the need for good sweatpants is now.
Quince Mongolian Cashmere Jogger
If you want to live in one pair of sweatpants, grab these joggers from Quince. With a business model focused on sustainability and lower price points for luxury goods, Quince’s joggers are a great option for anyone who wants their downtime to feel luxurious. With a comfortable fit all the way down to the tapered leg, these joggers are meant to be worn. And being cashmere, there’s really nothing that competes with the buttery softness after a few wears.
Reigning Champ Lightweight Terry Slim Sweatpants
If you’re looking for the more athletic side of athleisure, then go for Reigning Champ’s sweatpants. Constructed for versatile wear, they have a slim leg with a loose cuff for comfort and style. A lightweight terry material gives one breathability and a bit of insulation, while not being too bulky for a workout or a hangout. I particularly like the back pocket addition on these pants — a detail that is, inexplicably, missing on many sweatpants these days.
While not the most versatile item in one’s wardrobe, you’ll be happy to have the right dress pants for the proper occasion when the time strikes (just make sure you have the right shirt to match).
What makes for a good dress pant is the lack of pretense. It should be, simply, a backdrop to the main event that you’re attending. It should fit well and complement the jacket, shirt, and pants you’ll no doubt be sporting. Always lean for darker colors, which are easier to match and won’t easily show sweat.
Bonobos Weekday Warrior Dress Pant
If you’re going to wear only one dress pant, make it this one. With a cult following and an array of color and sizing options, it’s a great pant for nearly every body type and occasion. But what I really love is the fit and comfort of the dress pant itself. It’s slightly tapered in with a single pleat, giving it a modern take on a classic feel. Not only that, but with a slight stretch to the fabric you can wear this all day and even feel comfortable wearing them while you commute home on your bike.
Lemaire Black Tapered Trouser
I know this may not be for everyone, but I would be remiss to not include Lemaire when it comes to dress pants. The brand produces well-balanced and considered garments and are very much “if you know, you know” when it comes to those who rock the brand.
This trouser has a generous cut, giving it a more fashionable lean that would pair best with equally cut jackets, overcoats, or sweaters. With a higher rise, it will complement shorter body types while giving long-legged compatriots enough room to sit comfortably at the waist and still look great. At a higher price point, this will be a splurge, but it’s one of those timeless, French-inspired pieces you’ll find a reason to wear throughout the lifetime of the garment.