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Twill Pants Vs Denim Jeans: Differences And How To Choose

December 21, 2022
Twill Pants Vs Denim Jeans: Differences And How To Choose

When it comes to twill pants and denim pants, there is often confusion over whether there is any difference between these two types of trousers, or if these terms are simply different names for the same thing.

So, what’s the difference between twill pants and denim jeans?

Twill pants are trousers that are made of a fabric manufactured using a twill weave pattern. Denim is a type of twill weave fabric, hence denim jeans are a type of twill weave pants. However, many people refer to twill pants and denim jeans as two separate styles of pants.

That’s the answer in brief. 

But if you want a more detailed explanation – which I’m sure you do as this topic can be pretty confusing – just keep reading.

Twill Pants And Denim Jeans: An Introduction

As with many things, what people mean and the true definition of a word can be two different things, and this is exactly the case when it comes to twill pants and denim jeans.  

So, it’s best to start with a clarification of what people are actually referring to when they talk about twill pants and denim jeans.

When people talk about denim jeans, they are referring to the ever-popular casual-wear pants that are typically made of denim fabric.

Oxford shoes and blue jeans
A classic pair of denim jeans

Image From Deposit Photos

The denim fabric used in these jeans is often created with indigo dye, giving it that typical blue cotton hue that we all know. 

When people talk about twill pants, they’re usually thinking about casual pants made in a range of colors that are somewhere between jeans and chinos in terms of style and formality.

Here’s a pair of twill pants on Amazon as an example: 

In actual fact, twill is a technique by which cloth is woven, and is not referring to a style of clothing at all, but a way in which a fabric is made.

So when we say twill pants, strictly speaking, we are referring to any type of trousers made up of fabric manufactured using the twill technique, and not a particular style of clothing.

And to make things more confusing, denim is a type of indigo-dyed strong cotton fabric that is made using the twill weave technique. Therefore, technically speaking, denim jeans are a type of twill pants.

In other words, all denim is twill, but not all twill is denim. 

Something else to note is that because twill refers to a cloth weaving technique and not to specific material, twill fabrics can be made from different materials such as wool, silk, and cotton.

Confused yet? 

Not to fear – the best way to understand this is that when people refer to twill pants as a distinct trouser style this is technically a misnomer, however, it is the most commonly understood meaning of the term. 

This is why you will hear it used a lot conversationally, even though the true definition of twill pants is something different.

Twill Pants Vs Denim Jeans: Main Differences

Although we now know that twill pants aren’t technically a separate trouser style, in this section I’ll compare denim jeans with what most people understand to be twill pants – i.e casual pants which are somewhere between jeans and chinos and made of a twill weave fabric.

After all, not many people know the true definition of twill pants and many retailers even refer to casual chino/jeans hybrids as twill pants – even though strictly speaking this isn’t accurate.

So, let’s discuss the main differences between these two pant styles as most people understand them to be.

1. Thread Dye 

A notable difference between denim jeans and twill pants is how the threads are dyed.

With twill pants, the threads are all dyed in the same color, giving a single-toned look to the fabric once it is woven. 

This is why most twill pants you see will come in a single block color, with no contrasting colored threads intertwining within the fabric.

Denim, which is a strong cotton twill fabric, has more than one color of thread running through it. 

The warp thread, which is the main front-facing thread of denim, is dyed in a shade of indigo, whereas the weft thread, which makes up the interior face of jeans, is left undyed, or white. 

This is why denim jeans are blue on the outside, but mostly white or pale-colored on the inside.

If you look closely at denim, you can see the diagonal pattern of the twill, with the white weft thread running between the predominantly indigo-dyed warp thread on its outer surface.

This gives denim jeans a two-toned appearance, unlike twill pants.

2. Color

Another difference between twill pants and denim jeans is the color they tend to traditionally come in.

Denim jeans, which traditionally come in blue, have a narrower spectrum of colors than twill pants that they can commonly be found in. 

Think different hues of blues, blacks and grays.

The neutral palette of denim jeans offers a great opportunity to experiment with the colors of the pieces of clothing you combine them with.

Twill pants are much more likely to be found in non-traditional colors than denim jeans. 

They can be found in similar neutral blues, grays, and blacks, but can also come in burgundy, army green, eggplant, and mustard to name a few.

Paired with more neutral pieces of clothing, they can be the focal point of your outfit, whilst still feeling as comfortable as a pair of worn-in jeans.

3. Formality 

As we all know, denim jeans, particularly in the classical blue cotton hue, undeniably fall into the ‘casual’ category of clothing.

Although jeans can be dressed up with smarter shirts and blazers to look more ‘smart-casual’, they are most at home paired with t-shirts, sweaters, and casual shirts.

Twill pants, on the other hand, tend to fall somewhere between chinos and jeans in terms of the level of formality they exude.

The typical 5-pocket style cut of twill pants is similar to how denim jeans are cut, but the block color of the twill weave fabric which twill pants are made from makes them look an edge more formal than denim jeans.

This is because this block color fabric of twill pants is more easily dressed up than the two-toned denim fabric of jeans. 

For example, twill pants can easily be paired with a white shirt and blazer to make an outfit that would comfortably sit in the smart casual or business casual category.

Twill pants are still a touch less formal than chinos, simply because of the way in which they are cut.

Twill pants (and denim jeans) are made with J-shaped pockets, whereas chinos carry a more formal side slash pocket style.

However, if you’re looking for something that sits between chinos and jeans on the formality scale, then twill pants are your best bet.

Twill Pants Vs Denim Jeans: How To Choose

So, we’ve discussed the main differences between twill pants (as people commonly understand them to be) and denim jeans.

But when and how should you choose one over the other? 

Let’s go through some factors you should consider when choosing between these two pant styles. 

1. Formality

As we’ve already discussed, twill pants are a notch more formal than denim jeans. 

If you need a pair of pants that are comfortable but also suitable for a smart casual setting, then it is better to opt for twill pants over denim jeans.

If your workplace is more on the casual end of the spectrum, then a pair of twill pants with a plain colored casual shirt can make a great work ensemble.

Twill pants can also be great for casual evening events where you want to look like you’ve made an effort, but still be comfortable.

Denim jeans, on the other hand, are unlikely to be suitable for the workplace, unless your work environment is unusually laidback. 

Denim jeans, being the ultimate casual-wear pants, are best suited to casual parties and general daywear. 

So when choosing between which of these two pant styles you wish to wear, consider how formal you need your outfit to be and what occasion you will be wearing them for.

2. Price 

When it comes to price, both denim jeans and twill pants can vary a lot in terms of how much they will set you back.

Obviously, if you opt for a higher-end brand for either your jeans or twill pants, you can expect to be paying more.

However, on the whole, it is easier to find good quality twill pants that cost less than good quality denim jeans that cost less.

The block color of twill pants is also more forgiving, in that even if made more cheaply it can be difficult to tell it apart from a slightly more expensive pair.

With denim jeans, on the other hand, it is often easier to tell apart a cheap pair of jeans from a mid-range pair of jeans.

Cheap denim jeans often have fabric that is stiffer, more uncomfortable to wear, and often the color of the fabric often fades very quickly after a few washes. 

Therefore if you are strapped for cash and need a pair of pants that will look like they cost more than their actual price tag, twill pants are the trousers for you.

3. Weather 

Another factor to consider when choosing between twill pants and denim jeans is the weather you are likely to be wearing them in.

Both twill pants and jeans are good options for the transitional spring and fall seasons, as they offer some insulation against the cold due to their good quality twill weave fabric.

Both of these pant styles also can be worn in winter climates, again due to their decent heat-insulating properties.

However, if there is a high chance of rain or snow where you live, then denim jeans are likely a worse option than twill pants.

This is because denim is a particularly tough, thick cotton twill weave fabric, and when it becomes wet it loses a significant amount of its heat-insulating properties.

Denim also doesn’t evaporate water very quickly, meaning that your legs are likely to be wet, and cold, for some time.

Twill pants, although also made of twill weave fabric, tend to be made in slightly lighter materials, meaning they are likely to evaporate water faster than denim.

You can also find twill pants that are made of synthetic material such as polyester or polyester blends, and these are better at drying quickly after they get wet.

So, if you’re looking for some pants that can hold their own in wet weather, then twill pants are the better option.

Twill Pants Vs Denim Jeans: Durability

A question that people commonly ask is, which is more durable, twill pants or denim jeans?

Denim jeans are made of a cotton twill weave fabric that has heavier fibers than those used to make twill pants. This means denim jeans are both heavier and more durable than twill pants.

Let’s break this down.

The answer to this question depends on what material the twill pants you are referring to are made from. 

Let’s say for argument’s sake that the twill pants are made from cotton twill fabric, and the jeans are made of standard cotton denim, and both are of a similar level of manufacturing quality.

Overall, the cotton fibers used to make twill pants are lighter than those used to make denim, which is a fabric made up of a very thick cotton twill weave. 

Therefore, even though both pant styles are made with fabrics that are manufactured in the durable twill weave pattern, the heavier cotton fibers in denim mean that overall denim is more durable. 


So there you have it. Depending on who you ask, twill pants and denim jeans are either one and the same or two completely different entities.

However, as long as you understand the commonly understood meaning of these terms, you will be better placed to go out and get some pants that suit you.