This is an in-depth guide that covers everything you need to know about chinos for short men, including how chinos should fit and how to wear chinos.
Chinos are quite possibly the most versatile and underrated types of pants a guy can own. They walk the line between jeans and dress pants - a true sweet spot.
Like jeans, they can be worn casually, even with a t-shirt and sneakers. But, unlike jeans, pretty much all chinos are easy to dress up. After all, some jeans don’t look right with a blazer and tucked in shirt.
Like dress pants, chinos can be worn with tucked in button up shirts, blazers or sport coats. But, unlike dress pants, they don’t run the risk of looking odd in casual settings.
If you could only own one pair of pants, chinos would be a fantastic choice. They have you covered for a wide variety of settings and seasons.
Of course, if your chinos don’t fit, they’re going to look like your boss’s baggy khaki pants, which isn’t a great look.
It’s crucial that your chinos fit well, which presents a unique challenge for the shorter man. After all, most chinos are just too long (among other problems).
If you’re not sure how your chinos should fit, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. This in-depth guide contains everything you need to know to look like sharp in chinos.
We think that most guys look great in straight cut (what we call “classic fit”) or slim/tapered (what we call “slim fit”) chinos.
This depends on personal preference and body type. If you’re a thinner guy, or if you prefer a closer fit, opt for slim fit chinos.
If you’re a bigger gent or want a more traditional silhouette, go with classic fit chinos. Whatever you do, stay away from relaxed fit, spray on or ultra low rise.
These don’t really flatter any body type, especially among men 5’9” and below.
And no matter what type of fit you prefer, make sure your chinos fit well in the waist, hips and rise.
How Chinos Should Fit
Here at Peter Manning NYC, we're obsessed with clothes that fit well, and chinos are no exception.
Starting from the top, let’s go over each part of your chino pants to see how they should fit.
Chinos should be snug enough around your waist that you don’t really need a belt to hold them up. Granted, it’s fine to wear a belt to get that extra ¼ to ½ inch cinch, or just because you like the look, but you shouldn’t have to tighten your belt so much that it causes the fabric to bunch up around the waistband.
If it does this, the pants are probably too big around the waist for your build.
On the other hand, the waistband of your chinos shouldn’t be so tight that it digs into your belly, especially when you sit down.
You shouldn’t need to unbutton your pants after dinner, although we won’t judge you if you do (we’ve all been there).
Chino pants should be relatively fitted around your hips, which is basically the widest part of your lower half (where your butt and hips protrude the most).
Most guys wear chinos that are too big, which isn’t the most flattering look. Trust us on this, or ask your wife/partner. They know what we’re talking about!
Your chinos shouldn’t be too loose around your hips. The excess material will make your hips look wider and butt look, well, kind of saggy.
Instead, they should be fitted (not skin tight, just close to your body). If you prefer slimmer fit pants, you might even feel some light compression around your hips from your chinos. This isn’t a bad thing (again, ask your partner).
Of course, this can be taken too far. Your chinos shouldn’t be so tight around your hips that walking or sitting feels difficult. You shouldn’t feel any uncomfortable pulling of the fabric when you walk up stairs or bend over to pick something up.
Pants rise is measured from the top of the waistband in the front to the top of the waistband in the back.
Rise determines how high up your chinos should be worn. Low rise chinos sit on your hips, while higher rise chinos sit up around your belly, closer to your navel.
Pants rise also determines where your waistline appears to be. Visually, lower rise pants will shorten your legs and elongate your torso. Higher rise pants have the opposite effect.
Rise is subject to trend. Some years, ultra low rise pants are all the rage. When that trend fades, higher rise pants come into fashion.
Here’s the thing: rather than chasing trends and changing your wardrobe every time some fashion designer changes their mind, we recommend sticking with a “regular” or medium rise.
Mid-rise chinos will never go out of style, and they’re universally flattering, no matter your body type.
Just like rise, the way your chinos fit through the leg is subject to personal preference and trends. Depending on when you were born, you probably remember baggy pants being really popular, followed by the ultra skinny fad.
Again, we recommend sticking with a timeless fit. This means chinos that sit pretty close to your body (without being tight).
They should have a gentle taper, following the shape of your leg. Our thighs are bigger than our calves, so our pants should reflect this shape.
The Leg Opening
The leg opening is the circumference or diameter of the bottom of your pant leg. It’s usually measured straight across the ankle, with the pants laying on a flat surface.
A more tapered chino will have a smaller (or more narrow) leg opening. A more straight cut (or less tapered) chino will have a wider leg opening.
The leg opening helps determine the shape/silhouette of your legs. Our actual legs are tapered, so it makes sense for pants to have a bit of pant leg taper through the leg too.
The opposite of tapered is boot cut, or taken to an extreme, bell bottoms.
For a detailed explanation of pants break (which is determined by pants length), check out our in-depth guide to jeans for shorter men.
Here’s the short version (pun intended):
We think all men, especially shorter gents, look great in pants that don’t stack up on top of their shoes.
So, if you’re 5’9”, you might look best in a 29 or 30 inch inseam. If you’re 5’4”, you might look best in a 27” inseam.
The point is, pants that are too long for your legs are never a good look. And when your pants are “breaking” over your shoes - when there’s a lot of excess fabric around your ankles - this only serves to make you look shorter.
For this reason, we recommend wearing chinos that have a slight break or no break at all. Again, if you’re confused about this, please read our section about pants break.
Cuffing Your Chinos
Chinos are great for cuffing. They’re generally made from sturdy cotton, sometimes with a bit of stretch built in, which holds a cuff nicely.
Some guys love the cuffed look, some hate it. We think you should cuff your pants if you want to, and that it can be a casual, laid back look.
We especially like the cuffed look over boots in the fall/winter, or to show some ankle over loafers, sneakers or mocs in the spring/summer.
When cuffing, if you have to roll your pants more than twice, they’re probably too long.
Common Chino Fit Problems for Shorter Men
Shorter men often run into a few problems when trying to find a pair of chinos that fits and flatters their build.
This makes sense because the vast majority of clothing manufacturers aren’t making chinos for short men, specifically. Instead, they’re catering to the average build.
In the United States, the average man is 5’10” and 190 lbs. He usually doesn’t have trouble finding chinos that fit properly. But what if you’re 5’6” and 130 lbs? Or 5’7” and 180 lbs?
If you’ve ever left a department store or mall feeling frustrated that you couldn’t find a pair of chinos that made you look and feel great, we feel your pain.
The most common problem is simple: most chinos are too long for men who are below average height. Even some 5’10” guys need inseams shorter than 30”, which are almost impossible to find off the rack.
Sure, you can cuff your pants to the proper length, but this is only appropriate in casual settings, and some people simply don’t like the cuffed look.
Another common problem has to do with the rise. While low rise is often in vogue, it’s not the most flattering fit for most guys.
Shorter men tend to buy low rise pants and wear them higher by pulling them up a bit. But this can lead to discomfort, and the pants will inevitably fall down to your hips throughout the day.
On the other hand, higher rise pants will often go up past the belly button on shorter builds. This isn’t a great look either!
The thirds big problem shorter men run into with chinos is the leg opening. Oftentimes, the leg opening is so wide that it swallows up your ankles and makes your feet look small. When combined with excess length, oversized leg openings lead to a “kid playing dress up” effect, as if you’re wearing hand-me-downs.
Finally, shorter men will often find that the details are off. Back pockets will be too low, sitting on your hamstrings instead of over your rear.
Front pockets will be too deep, going too far down toward your knees.
These subtle problems of scale and placement are impossible to fix at the tailor, and they can really detract from an otherwise great pair of pants.
So, what is the shorter man to do? We’re glad you asked!
What Makes Peter Manning NYC Chinos Different
First off, we make chinos in a wide variety of sizes and cuts. Need a slim fit chino in tan, size 36x28? We’ve got you covered.
How about some classic fit chinos in navy, size 32x26? Look no further: we make those too.
But our chinos aren’t just the proper length: they’ve been designed from scratch with real people in mind. So you’re not 6’2” and built like a fitness model? Neither are we, and we were tired of being ignored by the fashion industry.
Our chinos have a shorter rise (which wears like mid-rise on guys under 5’10”) and tastefully scaled leg openings.
Plus, the details are perfect. Everything from the depth of the front pockets to the size and placement of the back pockets was designed with you in mind.
If you’re not 100% happy with your current chinos, it’s time to give PMNYC a shot. Click here to shop Peter Manning NYC Chinos.