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Should Chinos (Khakis) Have A Crease Or Not?

When it comes to chinos, there can be a lot of confusion over whether or not this staple of menswear should be worn with a crease. So, should chinos have a crease or not? 

In general, chinos should be worn without a crease. This is because they are a casual or semi-casual item of menswear and creases are usually reserved for more formal pairs of trousers.

Let’s break down exactly why this is.

3 Reasons Why Chinos (Khakis) Should Not Have A Crease 

There are several good reasons why you generally should not wear chinos with an ironed crease.

Let’s discuss the main ones here.

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1. Chinos Are Generally Considered “Casual”

Chinos are on the casual end of the spectrum when it comes to trousers.

They may be considered a classic form of business casual, but that’s still on the casual spectrum at the end of the day. 

Having an ironed-in crease in your pants is a formal look, reserved for more formal trousers and more formal events.

For example, dress pants will usually have a vertical midline crease ironed into the front, which draws the eye and elongates the legs, creating an overall sharp and sophisticated look.

It follows, then, that because chinos are casual pants they shouldn’t generally have an ironed-in crease, as this would appear too formal for a pair of casual trousers.

Chinos should usually be worn ironed flat, with no crease in the front, which fits with their more laid-back and casual aesthetic.

The take-home message here is that it is best to reserve the ironed-in crease look for formal events such as weddings or parties where a full suit is expected and dress pants are usually worn.

For casual trousers such as jeans and chinos, it is best to wear them pressed flat, without any crease.

If you follow this general advice then you’re unlikely to go too far wrong.

2. Chinos Usually Don’t Have A Permanent Crease

This reason for not wearing chinos with a pressed crease is really a very practical one.

When you purchase a pair of trousers with an ironed crease already in them, this is usually a permanent crease that has been implemented into the fabric by the manufacturer.

A permanent crease simply refers to an ironed crease that is created to be long-lasting despite repeated washes and hence is easier to maintain.

Chinos don’t usually come with a permanent crease in them when first purchased, simply because they are traditionally worn pressed flat.

As a result, if you choose to wear your chinos with an ironed crease in the front, you would have to iron in this crease yourself every time you decide to wear them.

This is because a non-permanent crease simply doesn’t hold as well in the wash as a permanent crease, and so would mostly disappear after each wash. 

As you can imagine, this creates a lot of extra work simply to wear a pair of pants that are meant to be casual.

As a result, putting a crease into your chinos is often seen as more work than it’s worth, hence this is another reason that many people choose not to.

If determined, there are ways of creating a permanent crease in your chinos at home. 

However, this can be tricky to do if you don’t know how and is still less likely to last as long as a permanent crease created by the manufacturer would.

At the end of the day, if trousers don’t come with a crease already present, then this is usually because they’re not meant to have one.

I’ve written an article on ironing a crease into chinos if you were still keen on doing it, however.

3. Chinos Are Made Of Twill Weave Fabric

Chinos are typically made of predominantly cotton fabric that is woven in a twill weave. 

The twill weave means that chino material feels thick, substantial and drapes well when worn pressed flat. 

On the other hand, dress pants tend to be made of wool, which is lighter and softer than the cotton twill of chino fabric. 

As a result, dress pants don’t drape as well as chinos do when pressed flat, because the lighter fabric does not hold its shape very well. 

Dress pants, therefore, need some more structure in the form of a permanent crease, which in turn stops the light fabric of dress pants from clinging to the leg.

Chinos don’t require this extra structure or support, as their thicker and slightly stiffer fabric can hold its own without the need for a vertical crease. 

In fact, the material tends to hang better when it does not have a crease. 

Additionally, the thicker fabric of chinos means that even if a crease was ironed in, it tends to hold less well and last less long compared with dress pants. 

These properties of chino fabric are therefore another reason why chinos aren’t generally worn with an ironed crease. 

Are There Any Exceptions?

Hopefully, it’s clear to you now why chinos generally aren’t worn with a vertical crease.

But are there any situations when it may be acceptable to wear creased chinos?

Chinos that have an ironed crease are available to buy and can be worn as a slightly more formal version of the casual chino. You should only wear creased chinos if they already have a permanent crease when bought. 

Although less commonly available, you can buy more ‘formal’ pairs of chinos that come with creases already in place. 

These sorts of chinos are intended to be worn with a jacket and tie and tend to reside at the more formal end of what is still considered a mostly informal type of trouser. 

If a pair of chinos comes with a ready-made permanent crease, then it’s safe to assume that they can be worn creased and that this is the intention of the manufacturer.

Often these ‘dressier’ chinos will also be cuffed at the bottom.

It’s still true, however, that most chinos will come pressed flat without a crease, and chinos that are intended to be worn with a crease are in the minority.

Conclusion

So there you have it – these are the main reasons why chinos are usually worn creaseless.

As with most things, there is an exception and creased chinos do sometimes have their place. However, you will find that most men wear their chinos creaseless.

Whichever style you opt for, the most important thing is that the different elements of your outfit work well together.