Somewhere between the moment that the photograph of the gentleman at right was taken and the present day, something went terribly wrong with the genre of trouser commonly called the chino. What exactly happened no one can say, but—actually, scratch that. What happened was business casual. And in the span of two slovenly decades, the trouser that withstood over 150 years of military service and helped define postwar American style had succumbed to balloon-like fits, massive pleats, and lifeless, wrinkle-free fabric treatments. The look was less Paul Newman than, well, Newman, the schlubby mailman on Seinfeld.
But fear not! As the Baby Boom generation prepares to exit the stage, a new generation has arrived to clean up the mess left behind (for the record, we’re talking about fashion, here, not fiscal policy). The new look, much like the old one, is nice and slim, and flattering to those who actually try to stay in shape. And the fabrics are substantial, natural and—get this—fully wrinkle-able, ranging from sturdy Cramerton cloth to superfine single-layer cotton twill. And, of course, those pleats are but a distant memory—so much so that they’re now starting to come back. But that’s a different story.
So get yourself a pair or three. And wear them just like Mr. McQueen is doing here. Slim, hemmed to little or no break, and paired with whatever the hell you want—a blazer, tie, and brogues, or a T-shirt and no shoes at all. Think of them as a tailored, cleaner swap for jeans. And keep in mind they can take just as much of a beating, so don’t be precious about it.