The best casual pants for men is a pretty broad category. Unless you’re talking about tuxedo pants or dress trousers, every other kind of pant is…casual. Hell, with the right kind of styling even the dressiest pairs of pants can feel just as casual as some blissfully busted blue jeans. But if there’s one pant that maybe feels a bit too casual for public display it’s a pair of sweatpants (though you could make ‘em work if you’re savvy enough). Don’t get us wrong—there’s no better way to spend a lazy Saturday than in a fresh, fluffy pair of fleece bottoms. But they’re the kind of pants that feel like something reserved for You Time, whether that involves curling up on the couch with a good book or indulging in your guilty pleasure husband meal over some trashy reality TV. You could go out in public to grab a coffee around the corner, but you’d be mortified to run into someone you know along the way. Plus, after a few years spent in nothing but fleece bottoms, we can’t blame you for trying to leave the past behind.
So perhaps you’re here, bleary-eyed and bone-weary, after a long, exhaustive search for a pair of wrinkle-resistant dress pants to buy before your next flight. Perhaps you find yourself in desperate need of a spiffy pair of business casual pants you can break in before the first in-person meeting you’ve had in over a year. Or perhaps, spurred by nothing more than a deeply-felt desire for change, you finally bade your ratty sweatpants adieu—sad!—and are eager to try something else. Anything else.
The Best Casual Pants At a Glance
Whatever the reason, whatever the occasion, whatever the cut—slim fit, straight fit, classic fit, relaxed fit—there’s a pair of pants here for you. Whether you’re looking for sturdy twill chinos you can wear with your slubbiest T-shirts, heavily-pleated trousers you can wear with a big, bold, button-down, or newfangled cargos you can wear with everything else, the right pair of casual pants for men are calling your name. And luckily for you, you don’t have to look far. Because we sifted through a near-endless array of pants (so, so many pants) to compile a list of all all the best options available today. If you didn’t believe in miracles before, you might now.
The Best Casual Pants Table of Contents
Obvious—maybe too obvious. But if you googled such a general search phrase as ‘casual pants for men’, you’d better expect a completionist answer. Jeans have been around for well over a century and it’s hard to imagine society without the indigo-dipped five-pocket pant. They were originally designed for hardworking Gold Rush hopefuls and eventually spread to the masses to reach heights few other garments have. Bring them back to their roots with some honkin’ leather work boots, or rock them day-off mode with a hoodie and sneakers, or pair a light wash option with a button-up shirt and a tailored blazer. There’s not a situation that the right pair of jeans couldn’t slot into, which makes them a requisite for every closet.
Chino is a hearty twill fabric lauded for its military-grade sturdiness. Over the last half century or so, chino pants have evolved from standard-issue army fare to civilian-life staples, helped along by cosigns from notable prepsters and the Ivy League set, including one particularly dashing U.S. president with a penchant for summering in Hyannis Port. They still come in every shade of khaki imaginable, but these days some of the coolest pairs on the market subvert the fabric’s neutral origins via unexpected colors or patterns—sometimes both. Not sure what to wear to an upcoming date/park hang/exploratory trip back into the office? Chinos are aways a safe bet.
Like chinos, khakis remain a perennial classic of casual American style. (Can’t quite wrap your head around the difference? Chino is a fabric; khaki is a color.) Khakis derive their name from the particular shade of light brown that became ubiquitous in the U.S. after World War II, when returning GIs adapted the bottom half of their hard-wearing uniforms to the rigors of civilian life. Once relegated exclusively to off-duty fare, khakis—a color that now encompasses everything from plain Jane beige to mossy olive green—have long since crossed over into the realm of work-appropriate attire. In their simplicity, they remain a reliable template for designers’ freakiest projections (just peep the swankified ghurkas below.)
It’s tough to beat the cargo pant when it comes to sheer utility. Even in their simplest form, the ultra-practical and—you guessed it—military-inspired trousers include discrete pocket space aplenty, making them the pants you should wear when you want to run errands without lugging a mostly-empty tote around with you. Over the last few years, capital-D designers and big-box brands alike have updated the silhouette, tweaking the proportions and adding as many (or as few) pockets as they please. Which means it’s easier than ever to find one in the perfect fit, whether you’re looking for a relaxed version you can wear with trail-ready boots or a slimmer take cut to stack perfectly over a pair of simple kicks.
We know what you’re thinking—dress pants are not casual pants. To that we say, “open up your mind, bro.” See, any pant can be a casual pant if you really use your head. (Jury’s still out on whether that rule works the other way around, but the evidence so far doesn’t look promising.) Separate your tailored trousers from their matching suit jacket and they can be free to a whole world of style possibilities. Dress pants can look surprisingly casual and fresh with a plain tee and a pair of canvas sneakers. Super billowy, paired with a breezy camp shirt and elevated leather sandals, and you’re about ready for a summer vacay. The key is more simple than you think: treat ’em like any other pant in your closet.
What do you get when you cross-breed the old-fashioned durability of your most weathered jeans with the forgiving comfort of your favorite joggers? A new generation of performance-oriented pants, genetically modified to be harder, better, faster, and stronger than any other pair in your wardrobe. If you prefer your pants described using more tech-y jargon than a standard IPO filing, these wrinkle-free, moisture-wicking bad boys are for you.
It was nearly three years ago that GQ collectively freaked for Dickies’ sturdy-as-hell painter’s pants. Since then, prices for Carhartt’s quintessential double-knees have reached truly astonishing heights, and every cool guy in a trucker hat and lug-soled loafers wants in. Thankfully, the style’s popularity doesn’t mean it’s lost any of that initial luster—if anything, its sustained appeal means you can now scoop a pair without dinging your credit card. Every brand worth its salt makes a version of the silhouette, from longtime stalwarts of the workwear scene to some of the hippest names in the streetwear universe. Find one that’s right for your budget and never look back.
If there’s one thing we remember from grade school it’s that the sports coaches all had sick on-field style. And while the aerodynamic shades and New Balance trainers accounted for much of their swag, it was really the swishy track pants that set their whole style ablaze. Today, track pants are hotter than ever thanks style gods like A$AP Rocky and designers like Grace Wales Bonner. They’re usually made in some sort of synthetic material like a windbreaking nylon, or a bouncy poly blend, and feature extra panelling and even bold stripes running down the outseam. Extra points for track pants with bold colors and dizzying patterns.
Drawstring pants, you might think, rub up dangerously close to sweatpants, the very garment we’re explicitly avoiding at the moment. But drawstring waists aren’t synonymous with fleece. See, the gloriously forgiving drawstring waist can be applied to all kinds of pants—every category on this list, even. When fused with denim or cargo pockets, or even dress pants, the drawstring has the power to cozy-fy any pair of pants without looking like you belong on a sofa with a pint of ice cream. Besides that, who wouldn’t love a belt built into their pants?