Men’s Khaki Pants Outfit Inspiration: 17 Foolproof Looks For 2023
Whether you’re after a casual weekend trouser or something more suited to office wear, these veteran fatigues can do it all.
As far as easy to wear, versatile trousers go, few are better than khaki pants. The shade has a long history of military use, having been utilised in battle dress for decades – particularly in warm, desert regions where the light shade camouflages well with the landscape. (A reminder that if war is good for anything, it’s menswear with staying power.)
Away from the battlefield, khaki is a staple of the contemporary wardrobe, particularly in trouser form where it rivals the adaptability of navy chinos or even denim jeans. Essentially, if you’re looking for a sharp pair of trousers, the shade is an excellent alternative to navy or black. Whether you’re after a casual weekend pant or something more suited to office wear, these veteran fatigues can do it all.
But how to wear khaki pants? From finding the right fit to the exact shade of tan / stone / cream / beige (delete as appropriate), here’s the lowdown on this menswear essential.
Tips on how to wear khaki pants
Type of pants
Khaki pants come in a wide variety of styles, so it’s worth deciding which one is right for you. On the smarter end of the spectrum, simple, plain fronted chinos or tailored trousers work for smarter occasions, but khaki is a great choice for pleated styles too.
The colour pairs up well with navy, so for a smart casual look you could combine some khaki pleated trousers with a navy unstructured blazer and a white shirt.
For more casual outfits, combat trousers suit the colour down to a tee, referencing classic militaria, so if that’s the look you’re going for you’ll be well catered to. That said, a slimmer pair of cargo pants looks best when dressed with similarly smart casual pieces like Oxford shirts and chore jackets, which elevate them somewhat and soften the military connotations.
Elsewhere, and for more of a workwear feel, a pair of carpenter pants in khaki are contemporary and comfortable. Coming with side pockets that are more subtle than cargos yet no less functional, they are perhaps the perfect crossover between a smarter style and something more laid back.
How khaki pants should fit
As with any pair of trousers, fit dictates everything. Aside from deciding on the style you want, it’s the most important aspect of choosing the right pair (and probably inform the former). If they don’t fit right, whether too baggy or slim, then there’s nothing you can do to make them look good. However, fit tends to be more nuanced than that.
Generally, smarter trousers will fall on the tailored side, although it’s important not to go too slim. You want the trousers to flatter your leg shape, not hug them. Aim for a mid-rise pant with room in the thigh, so they’re not clinging to you, and look for a taper from the knee to the ankle so the hem doesn’t billow over your shoes.
Casual trousers on the other hand are more relaxed and wider-legged. With wider fits there are fewer guidelines, but generally you’ll want to aim for a mid-to-high rise and a straight leg with rolled hems so your shoes don’t get lost. This kind of cut is best suited to cargo pants and carpenter styles.
The right trousers won’t be much good if they’re in the wrong fabric. The type of trouser you go for will largely dictate the kind of material it comes in, but it’s important to consider the cloth’s weight and how suitable it is for the season you intend to wear them.
For the spring and summer months for example, a pair of khaki trousers in lightweight cotton twill would be perfect; whereas for the cooler times of year, you’ll find heavier fabrics such as wool herringbone and cotton canvas to be warmer and more durable.
Some fabrics are generally smarter than others as well, so if you’re on the hunt for a pair of tailored khaki pants, prioritise ‘flatter’ yarns with less texture, as they’ll be better suited for wearing with office-ready shirting and blazers. Fabrics with more character like canvas, denim and moleskin tend to better suit weekend attire.
Khaki pants outfits
The beauty of khaki pants is that they’re so easy to wear. You can throw them on in the same way you would a pair of navy chinos, and they generally complement the same colour combinations, too.
For a laid-back weekend look, try a plaid shirt worn open over a white tee and finish with minimal sneakers.
With a colour pop
Due to the neutral nature of khaki, you can pair it with just about any shade. It works well with classic navy, green and burgundy, but also bright tones of orange and yellow. To spice up your off-duty attire, try some khaki pants with a sunshine yellow hoodie and finish with some canvas low tops.
Khaki pants are often at their best when worn as part of a prep-inspired outfit. Chinos are inescapably preppy, worn by Ivy League students since the 50s and featuring in pretty much every Ralph Lauren ad in the last four decades.
Channel some of the look for yourself and combine them with a check shirt, a woven belt and suede tassel loafers.
Khaki pants work well with colour, but they also shine as part of a minimal outfit. Opt for the latter and keep things simple with a grey crew neck up top, and pared-back white sneakers, which keep the look firmly in casual territory.
Thanks to a decorated military career, khaki will always subtly reference battle dress, especially if you go for functional, multi-pocketed designs. Workwear garments have a similar practical feel to them, but are different enough to not feel like you’re heading to a re-enactment.
Take these combats, which are wide-legged and feature flat side pockets for a more streamlined feel.
Khaki and black
Black is arguably khaki’s best friend. The two shades just work together, in a way few colour combos do. If you’re new to khaki pants, the easiest way to wear them is by simply tucking in a black T-shirt and finishing with complementary black leather boots, which give a rugged feel that would be impossible to achieve with sneakers.
Keep it neutral
While khaki does work exceptionally well with black, keeping things neutral is another way to successfully pull off the shade. Tap into the lighter tones by teaming some pleated khaki pants with a heather grey sweater, a white tee and off-white suede sneakers, and you’ll be the most stylish guy on casual Friday.
With light blue
A smart casual holiday look, or one that works just as well in the office in summer, this is a classic combination that will never fail. The light tones of khaki perfectly complement the pale blue of the shirt, while the off-white canvas kicks add a casual edge to keep things from being too stuffy.
Smart casual khaki pants
Khaki tailored trousers are the ideal finishing touch for a navy blazer and white shirt. But they’re more versatile than you might first think, bringing a sharpness to casual garments such as T-shirts, roll necks and lightweight jackets. Just ensure to keep the fit consistent between the jacket and trousers – not too slim, not too relaxed – and you’ll be on to a winner.
If you’re going to invest in just one pair of khaki pants, go with chinos. The wardrobe staple will get plenty of wear through all four seasons, and almost matches the versatility of jeans in that they can be dressed up or down with ease.
Find the middle ground and wear them with a white Oxford shirt, black tee and simple sneakers.
A staple summer outfit, a white tee combined with khaki chinos and white sneakers will always look good. When it comes to looking effortlessly cool in hot weather, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Wide-legged khaki pants
Relaxed-fit khaki pants are as easy to wear as smarter, slim-leg styles. A sleek alternative to navy or black, they work especially well with workwear-inspired garments such as chore jackets and overhead smocks.
Go for the latter to channel a mid-century fisherman feel, and complete the look with suede moccasins and a beanie.
Lumberjack khaki pants
Khaki pants are an integral part of the classic lumberjack look, replete with bright red plaid shirt, leather boots and large but manicured beard.
As long as you don’t veer too far into the cliche, this is a look that can work well for the fall months. Smarten it up slightly with an Oxford shirt worn underneath the plaid, and suede Chelsea boots in place of beaten-up round toes.
Khaki and black
One for the purists, khaki and black is a classic combination that suits both casual and formal attire. For the former, all you need is a lightweight jacket such as a bomber or Harrington, and wear it over a white tee and a pair of tapered chinos.
Due to the versatility of khaki pants, it’s possible to look tailored without wearing a blazer. Simply go for a pair of tapered and cuffed suit trousers and combine them with a brown knitted polo shirt for a look that’s sharp without being overly formal.
Relaxed fit khaki pants
A pair of wide-legged khaki pants may be the perfect compromise between something smart and casual. This in-between style goes well with field jackets and polo shirts, but also works perfectly with tees and Oxford shirts.
Khaki and denim
Another staple combination is khaki pants combined with denim. A slim-fitting pair in cotton twill pairs effortlessly with a classic trucker jacket and canvas low tops. Finish the look with a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses and you’ll be ready for spring.