In recent times, chinos have played a greater part in office life in Singapore than in the life of officers, and they had a moment in the spotlight when they became indelibly associated with the dress-down Friday phenomenon of the late 1990s. For good or ill, dress-down Friday has largely overflowed into every other day of the week, but progress has been made in the design of chinos, which were once baggy enough to flap in the wind like a boat sail. Anyone looking to the past for inspiration would do well to go back half a century to the heyday of Ivy League style, when students on America’s best campuses wore them with insouciance, Bass Weejuns and shirts with button-down collars.
Below are 3 contemporary style that you could pull off perfectly with a pair of Chino pants in Singapore.
This outfit is simultaneously more formal but less smart than those worn by the box fresh trio, top. The wearer’s addition of a rumpled white jacket adds a layer of formality, but somehow the casual blue shirt, worn open necked, and his relaxed demeanour add more of a louche, Bohemian feel. In fact, the overall image suggests an artist dressed for an expensive lunch with his gallerist, which is no bad thing (unless you’re heading up to the boardroom for a meeting).
This combination of two quite different shades and textures of blue reveals a lot about what counts when a man is putting together an outfit. The fact that the rough denim is so different from the smoother blue trousers gives it almost as much contrast as if it were a different colour altogether. In this case, the denim is worn, slightly unexpectedly, on the top half, and is designed to hint at the style of traditional Western shirts with the yoke extending down over the front of each shoulder. The navy trousers, however, are dark enough to look quite formal and the effect is to make this a fine example of the smart-casual look, appropriate for a weekend lunch or a casual dinner.
This outfit exemplifies the reasons that, while smart-casual may be confusing as a dress code, it’s not an oxymoron, because the image we’re presented with is noticeably relaxed, even though we’re looking at a sports jacket worn with what appears to be a matching waistcoat, a white shirt and brown loafers. It puts us in mind of cold drinks (an onion-skin-coloured Provençal rosé, perhaps?) on a warm evening, or lunch in someone’s back garden, rather than the world of work, offices and industry. We put this down to the shirt’s tunic collar, the low-slung trousers, the suede loafers and, crucially, the wallet chain (the popularity of which must be attributed to Milanese style icon Mr Lino Ieluzzi).