Few casual trousers have the crossover appeal that twill pants do.
Name another pant you can equally pull off on the golf course and at a warehouse party.
Like so many practical fashion staples, we can thank the army for twill pants. After the 1898 Spanish American War, US soldiers brought what they called “chinos” back from the Pacific. This pant style quickly gained popularity because of its comfort and durability.
I’m going to guide you through the world of twill pants—what they are, how to wear them, and why they’re an adaptable and effortless necessity in men’s casual dress.
What Do Twill Pants Look Like?
Twill pants are relaxed-fit trousers constructed with a durable high thread count fabric. They come in the same shades as khakis and dress pants making them more versatile than most casual pants.
Twill is visually and physically robust because it’s made by weaving at least two vertical threads over at least two horizontal threads, resulting in a diagonal rib pattern on the front of the pants. This also makes them resistant to wrinkling and wash shrinkage.
Jeans and chinos technically fall under the twill pant family. For everyday differentiation, we save the moniker “twill pants” for the non-jean, non-chino twill variety that we’re focusing on today.
It’s similar to how bourbon is technically a whiskey, but we specifically say “bourbon” to distinguish it from Scotch whiskey, or how automatic watches are technically under the mechanical umbrella, but we reserve the term “mechanical” for non-automatic mechanicals.
Twill Pants vs Chinos
Twill pants are more casual than chinos because of their texture and cut. Chinos are smoother, with a slimmer and more streamlined fit. Like dress pants, chinos have side-slashed pockets and their top buttons are secured with a waist tab, for an elegantly tidy front.
However, twill pants and chinos come in a similar, country club palette color range. You often need to do a double take to notice that twill pants share more DNA with jeans than they do with chinos.
Twill Pants vs Jeans
Twill pants not only feel more like denim, but they sport the exact same relaxed-fit cut. They feature a button fly or zipper, and five pockets. The front compartments are practical and j-shaped for securely holding everyday items like keys and a wallet.
While jeans are categorically casual and chinos float between the casual and smart-casual realms, twill pants fill the nuanced space between the two.
How Should Twill Pants Fit?
Twill pants should fit like classic-fit trousers, regular-fit jeans, or slim-fit jeans depending on your body type. Broader gents should opt for classic or regular, while thinner folks should go slim.
This means that the pant lines are close to your legs without sacrificing moveability and without visual calf and thigh contours. While belts are a perfectly acceptable fashion accessory, twill pants should be fitted enough that you don’t need one.
How to Wear Twill Pants in Style
As the happy medium between jeans and chinos, you can always elevate a casual look by opting for twill pants over jeans. You can also bring a more chill vibe to a smart casual look by rocking twill pants over chinos for a cocktail hour. As versatile as they are though, twill pants are too relaxed for formal and semi-formal occasions.
Which Colors Should You Go For?
There’s a style of twill pant for every kind of guy. Different colors are an effective way to express yourself or tailor your outfit to the occasion.
- Black, Gray, Brown, and Tan: These are the most versatile options. They’re interchangeable with jeans and go with any outfit from the very casual all the way up to smart casual. Black twill pants are the most formal.
- Primaries and White: These colors are bold choices, but they’re not out of left field. For example, if you pair bright red twill pants with a navy polo, the entire outfit becomes golf-course conservative, in a good way. Red, white, and blue pants fit in perfectly at seaside occasions.
- Pastels: Easter-inspired colors are smart-casual, playful, and preppy. Similar to primaries and whites, they’re golf course and seaside-appropriate, but just a little bit more fun.
- Non-traditional: A few rulebreakers have recently designed twill pants with patterns and prints, and in all sorts of fits. Since twill pants aren’t made for this, even the most understated pattern is alternative. These are 100% fashion-forward statement pants that must be worn and styled consciously and confidently.
Twill Pants Outfits Inspiration
This look is tidy and well-balanced. The subtle theme of line texture, expressed on the chest and jacket collar, adds dimension, as does the pop of pattern on the collar.
Since this outfit is mostly matching color blocks, these additions keep it from being too flat while maintaining its sleek aesthetic.
This outfit is an excellent example of using primaries, which can sometimes look too young.
The well-structured shirt adds a woodsy masculinity, and the belt’s dark brown leather matches only the highlights in his shoes, avoiding excessive color coordination.
People don’t often associate twill pants with athletic-inspired streetwear, but these slim black pants paired with a simple but interesting gray shirt and sneakers prove just how versatile twill pants can be.
This is another streetwear look, but this time for the fall. Small details, like the red line on each sleeve, give the outfit depth while maintaining the minimalist style.
This look is interesting because the architecture is robust and outdoorsy, but the palette is sleek and urban. The result is a contemporary and sophisticated take on the man-of-the-woods aesthetic.
This risk-free, straight-forward use of twill pants is an easy but polished summer look. It will work just as well with the shirt untucked and a fastened top button for a hip downtown sensibility.
This incredibly style-conscious look features a trim and chic silhouette. Understated and practical twill pants play a key role in this outfit because it balances out the fashion-forward statement shirt.
4 Best Twill Pants for Men in 2021
1. Everlane Performance 5-Pocket Pant
The Performance 5-Pocket Pants from Everlane are as slim as it gets without falling into skinny pant territory, making for a crisp, clean look that’s both modern and timeless.
What makes these pants stand out in this group is that regardless of the dressy fit, they’re as moveable, breathable, sweat-wicking, and quick drying as athletic pants are. They’re constructed with a 4-way stretch, 93% cotton, and 7% elastane.
These pants are excellent if you’re going to be moving around a lot, but still need to look slick.
2. Mott & Bow Mercer Twill Pants
If you’re the kind of guy who wishes he could wear his jeans everywhere, then the Mercer Twill Pants from Mott and Bow are for you.
They’re as close to the feel and fit of regular jeans as non-jeans get, with a smooth and professional wash appropriate for a business casual look and even an upscale cocktail hour look depending on how you style it.
The breathable fabric also makes these pants perfect for the outdoors. The blue versions are the most jean-like and the tan versions are visually similar to khakis.
3. Todd Snyder Slim Fit 5-Pocket Chino
American designer Todd Snyder’s Slim Fit 5-Pocket Pants are made of garment-dyed twill with just 8% polyester and 2% lycra for flexibility and comfort.
These pants run the color gamut from a cloudy dark navy (Nighwatch) all the way up to a true white. Other fun colors include a pastel green called Light Cactus (pictured) and a cerulean shade called Club Blue.
The classic fit and playful colors give these pants an unstuffy Ivy League vibe.
4. Frank and Oak Lincoln Twill Pants in Brick Red
Frank and Oak aims to build wardrobe necessities that also express individuality, and the distinct red of these Lincoln Twill Pants does just that.
The bold color makes them a fun option, but the earthy tone ensures they’re still very much grown-up appropriate. The fit and construction is that of classic twill pants, casually sitting below the waist, sporting five pockets, metal trims, and built with just 2% elastane for some stretch.
Frank and Oak’s denim lab also focuses on sustainability, and uses recycled industrial cotton sourced from discarded scraps.
Cool and Casual
Twill pants have come a long way since American soldiers came back from the Spanish American War. While chinos and denim pants are technically twill since they’re made with the defining diagonally woven pattern, what we call twill pants today are a specific style, with the cut of jeans and the look of chinos.
Overall, twill pants bridge the gap between casual jeans and smart casual chinos, for a versatile trouser deserving of every man’s closet.
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How do you care for twill pants?
Wash your twill pants after every four or five wears or when stained, in cold or warm water using a gentle cycle. Pin them up to dry either unfolded or nicely folded in half to avoid creases. Cotton twill is mostly wrinkle-resistant, but can be ironed if needed.
Are twill pants stretchy?
Twill pants have just enough stretch in them to help you move around comfortably. These days, many twill pants are made with a certain amount of elastane and even spandex. The higher the ratio of flexible material in the construction, the more stretchy the pants will be.
Which seasons are twill pants best suited to?
Twill pants are versatile and appropriate for all seasons. Fashion-wise, wear lighter colored twill pants during spring and summer, and darker colored pants during the fall, winter, and more formal occasions.
Are twill pants business casual?
Cotton twill, especially in black and dark navy, is perfectly appropriate for relaxed business situations like casual Fridays. They can even be paired with a sport coat and tie. Avoid twill pants for formal occasions, important business meetings, and interviews.