What’s the Best Approach to Business Casual with Coloured Chinos?

March 10, 2024

Let’s delve into the world of women’s fashion, specifically in the realm of business casual attire and the chic, versatile garment known as chinos. No longer are chinos mere casual wear, they have evolved to become part of the contemporary woman’s formal wardrobe. But how can you perfectly pair chinos with other formal pieces to achieve that stylish, yet professional look? This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to best wear coloured chinos for a business casual environment.

A Closer Look at Chinos

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what exactly chinos are. Chinos are lightweight cotton or cotton-blend pants that come in a variety of colours. They are a more formal alternative to jeans, yet manage to maintain a level of comfort and versatility that makes them a staple in many women’s wardrobes.

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Chinos are known for their comfortable fit and sleek design, with a waistband, belt loops, and a zip fly. They often have variations in style such as pleated fronts or flat fronts, and straight or tapered legs. This variety ensures there’s a pair of chinos for every body shape, personal style and occasion.

Chinos, with their casual elegance, can be combined with various pieces to create a range of outfits suitable for a business casual environment. They are particularly popular because they offer a break from the monotony of traditional business attire without compromising on the formal appeal.

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Pairing Chinos with Shirts

The next step in mastering business casual with chinos is to figure out what kind of shirt pairs best with the pants. Button-down shirts in solid colours or modest prints are a safe and stylish choice. They offer a crisp, professional look that complements the relaxed formality of chinos.

If you prefer a more feminine touch, consider pairing your chinos with a blouse. Blouses with delicate details such as ruffles, lace or subtle prints can soften the look of chinos, adding a touch of elegance and femininity to your outfit.

When it comes to shirt and chino combinations, consider the fit. A well-fitted shirt can elevate your outfit, maintaining a professional image. However, be wary of shirts that are too tight, as they can make your outfit look uncomfortable and unprofessional.

Making a Statement with Shoes

Shoes play a crucial part when it comes to rounding off your business casual look. The beauty of chinos is that they can be paired with a variety of shoes, depending on the occasion and your personal style.

For a business casual setting, consider choosing shoes that strike a balance between formal and casual. Leather loafers or ballet flats are a great choice. They offer enough formality to be office-appropriate, while adding a touch of understated elegance to your outfit.

If you’re going for a more relaxed look, consider pairing your chinos with sneakers. Yes, you heard it right. Stylish, minimalist sneakers can complement a pair of chinos, giving your outfit a modern, fashion-forward appeal. However, keep in mind that not all sneakers are created equal. Avoid athletic sneakers or those with bright colours and flashy designs.

Accessorizing Your Outfit

Once you’ve got your chinos, shirt and shoes figured out, it’s time to think about accessories. Accessories can make or break an outfit, so choose wisely.

For a business casual look, less is definitely more. Opt for simple, elegant pieces that enhance your outfit without overpowering it. A classic leather handbag, a statement belt, or a delicate necklace can add the right amount of polish to your look.

When accessorizing, also consider your choice of colours. If your chinos are in a bold colour, consider keeping your accessories in neutral shades to make your pants the star of the outfit. Conversely, if your chinos are in a neutral shade, feel free to play with coloured accessories to add a pop of colour.

The Art of Layering

Finally, let’s talk about layering. This technique is not only practical for dealing with varying temperatures, it’s also a great way to add depth and interest to your outfit.

Consider layering a blazer or cardigan over your shirt. This can add an extra level of formality to your outfit, making it suitable for meetings or formal occasions. Choose a blazer in a complementary colour to your chinos, ensuring it fits well and enhances your silhouette.

When it comes to layering, remember that balance is key. If your chinos are slim-fit, consider a slightly loose blazer to balance the proportions of your outfit. Conversely, if your chinos are a more relaxed fit, opt for a fitted blazer to maintain a polished look.

In the end, mastering business casual with chinos comes down to understanding the balance between formal and casual elements, pairing the right pieces together, and adding your personal touch through accessories and styling.

Chinos vs Dress Pants

In the world of professional attire, it’s useful to compare chinos to the classic dress pants. While both can be staples in a business casual wardrobe, they each bring different attributes to the table.

Dress pants are traditionally made of wool or a wool-blend fabric, offering a more formal and structured look. They are often associated with more traditional business attire and are a go-to choice for formal occasions. Dress pants are typically available in neutral tones such as black, grey, or navy.

On the other hand, chinos are made from a lightweight cotton twill fabric, which gives them a slightly more casual appeal. They come in a wide range of colours, from neutrals like beige chinos to bold, vibrant hues. Unlike dress pants, chinos can easily transition from work to weekend, offering a more versatile option.

When deciding between dress pants or chinos for your business casual needs, consider the level of formality required. If your workplace leans more towards the formal side of business casual, you might prefer dress pants. However, if your office dress code is more relaxed, chinos will offer a stylish yet professional alternative.

The Versatility of Chinos

The versatility of chinos is what truly sets them apart when it comes to business casual attire. Chinos are not only comfortable but also adaptable to various situations and styles, making them the perfect wardrobe asset.

The best way to wear chinos for a business casual look is to pair them with items that balance out their casual vibe. This could be a crisp button-down shirt, a smart blazer, or a pair of dress shoes. The goal is to create an ensemble that is comfortable yet still appropriately formal.

When it comes to choosing the colour of your chinos, don’t be afraid to experiment. While neutral shades like beige or navy can be an easy choice, consider opting for a pair of coloured chinos to bring a pop of colour to your outfit. You can pair these with a simple white button shirt and black dress shoes for a stylish and sophisticated look.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the fit of your chinos. A slim fit chino can create a sleek, modern silhouette, while a more relaxed fit offers a casual and comfortable vibe. Choose the style that best suits your personal preference and body type.


In conclusion, mastering the art of wearing chinos in a business casual setting involves understanding the balance between casualness and formality. Chinos, with their versatility and range of styles, offer a unique opportunity to bring a touch of personality to your professional wardrobe.

Whether you’re pairing your chinos with a classic button shirt, opting for a chic pair of dress shoes, or making a statement with a bold coloured chino, there’s no limit to the stylish combinations you can create.

Remember, the key to nailing a business casual look with chinos is to stay true to your personal style. Feel free to experiment with different colours, fits and accessory combinations until you find the look that best represents you. After all, fashion is a form of self-expression, and there’s no better place to showcase your style than in the workplace.

So keep it stylish, keep it comfortable and, most importantly, keep it you!