What comes to mind when I first think of khaki pants? School uniforms, yuck. That’s why I’ve steered clear of them all my adult life. However, after having revisited the subject and speaking with a few experts, I can proudly say I now own stylish khaki pants.
Historically, khaki refers to the earth-toned color of clothing. Denim expert Christine Rucci of Godmother NYC explains, “Khaki originally referred to the color going back to the mid-1800s when British soldiers would dye their pants with tea and mud to blend in with the landscape, and it soon became synonymous with any pant, trouser, [or] chino usually made of cotton.”
Throughout the years, this term has evolved to also encompass a particular style of pants and even a certain blend of material. Khakis have come a long way since their time as a beigey-tan uniform.
Founder of Emilia George, Elle Wang, describes khakis as “the godmother of all basics.” They play a supporting role in your look and really help to draw the eye to other statement pieces, like a good pair of mules, or even a colorful blouse.
Meet the Expert
- Elle Wang is the CEO and founder of Emilia George. Although having a Ph.D. in Public Policy, Elle has always had an interest in the fashion world, which stems from reading Vogue and attending fashion shows from a young age. Now, her brand caters to mothers and provides them with well-crafted and sustainable maternity wear.
- Christine Rucci is a denim expert and creative design and product development consultant based in New York. She owns a full-service design consultancy company called Godmother NYC specializing in denim and sportswear. Clients include Belstaff, Draper James, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Polo Ralph Lauren.
We’ve found some great pants that are definitely anything but boring. Keep reading for our picks of the best khaki pants for women.
Best Overall: Calvin Klein 90's Straight Chino Pants
We all know that ‘90s fashion and Y2K style is making a huge comeback, so these ‘90s-fit straight chinos seemed like the perfect option for this list. They wear like jeans but they feel so much better—credit the 100 percent cotton material and relaxed, straight-leg fit.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-34 | Care: Machine wash | Rise: Low-rise ‘90s fit
Best Budget: ASOS Design Slouchy Chino Pants in Stone
On a budget? ASOS is the way to go. These relaxed-fit pants come in at a low price of around $26, and quality is not compromised. These Gen Z-favored Y2K revivals accentuate your tush and flare out by the ankles.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 00-26 | Care: Machine wash | Rise: High-waisted
Best Designer: Oscar De La Renta Wool & Mohair Wide Leg Pants
These splurge-worthy wide-leg pants come from famous designer Oscar de la Renta who is celebrated for his upscale fashion designs. Made from a mohair blend, these pants are sure to stand the test of time, both in durability and style.
Material: 94% wool, 6% mohair | Size Range: 2-14 | Care: Dry clean | Inseam: 33 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best High Waist: Banana Republic High-Rise Pleated Chino
The iguana green and tan colors available look perfect in these chino pants. The fabric offers a bit of stretch for a comfortable fit, while the balloon-pant design and high waist are ultra-flattering on all figures.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% lycra | Size Range: 0-20 | Care: Machine wash | Inseam: 24 inches (petite); 26 inches (regular); tall: 29 inches (tall) | Rise: High-waisted
Best Low Rise: Good American Good Skate Trouser
Low-rise pants are making a comeback. Add in the relaxed fit and flared bottoms of these skater-style pants, and these pants take the trend to the next level.
Material: 100% Cotton | Size Range: 00-26 | Care: Machine wash like colors, tumble dry | Inseam: 33.5 inches | Rise: Low-rise
Best Cargo: Good American Shine Boyfriend Cargo
If you’re looking for a mix between joggers, cargos, and khakis, these are an ideal choice. The relaxed boyfriend fit, offset by an elastic waistband and cuffed bottoms, makes for an ultra-flattering silhouette on all figures. They’re lined with a breathable mesh fabric and come in earth-toned colors that have a slight sheen.
Material: 100% nylon; 100% polyester lining | Size Range: XS-5X | Care: Machine wash with like colors, hang dry | Rise: Mid-rise
Best Slim-Straight: The Frankie Shop Covert Ester Pants
Not quite straight and not quite skinny, these pants fall somewhere in-between. This pair features a tailored look, complete with a pressed crease, contrasting black waistband, and a peek-a-boo style slit by the ankle.
Material: 55% polyester 45% virgin wool | Size Range: 2-10 | Care: Dry clean | Inseam: 31 inches | Rise: Mid-rise
Best Wide Leg: M.M. LaFleur The Milo Jean - Better Than Denim in Fawn
They may look like flared jeans but are made from a comfortable cotton blend. Even better, they are machine washable, wrinkle-resistant, and have large pockets. When ordering, the brand recommends sizing down for the perfect fit. Not a fan of the khaki color? These also come in shades of blue, gray, and black.
Material: 96% cotton, 4% elastane | Size Range: 0P-18 | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry | Inseam: 30.5 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best Utility: By Any Other Name Pleated Utility Pant in Khaki
I’m positive you don’t have a pair of pants like these—the two-toned fabric gives off a subtle sheen and seems to change colors from tan to green. Included is a faux leather belt that accentuates your waist and helps the pleated design pop.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 0-10 | Care: Dry clean only | Rise: Mid-rise
Best Sustainable: Aritzia Babaton Pleated Pant
A twist on the classic khaki pants, this pick evokes upscale workwear attire, with a high-waist, pleated design, and tailored look. As a bonus, Aritzia is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by using recycled materials in its clothing. So, you can feel good and look good in these pants.
Material: 61% recycled polyester, 26% viscose, 7% cotton, 6% elastane | Size Range: 00-16 | Care: Machine wash | Inseam: 31.5 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best on Amazon: Dickies Flat Front Stretch Twill Pant Slim Fit Bootcut
With over 7,800 ratings on Amazon, these bootcut Dickies are the perfect budget-friendly addition to your wardrobe. They’re simple, professional, and neutral. One reviewer mentioned these were “the best 30 dollars I spent in a while.”
Material: 97% cotton, 3% spandex | Size Range: 2-24 | Care: Machine wash | Inseam: 30 inches | Rise: Mid-rise
Best for Work: Everlane The Way-High Drape Pant
This pick gives off ‘90s vibes thanks to its relaxed fit and flared bottoms. Not to mention the pleated design and ultra-high waist are flattering on all figures.
Material: 60% lyocell, 40% cotton | Size Range: 00-20 | Inseam: 30 or 32 inches | Rise: Extra high-rise
Best for Travel: Gap Khaki Off-Duty Khaki with Washwell
A part of Gap’s Washwell line, these pants were made with sustainability in mind. According to the company, the Washwell line was introduced in 2016 to save water during the manufacturing process.
If that weren’t reason enough to snag a pair, these pants feature an elastic waist and relaxed fit, perfect for traveling and kicking back.
Material: 76% cotton, 21% nylon, 3% spandex | Size Range: XXS-XXL (regular), S-XL (tall), XS-L (petite) | Care: Machine wash | Rise: High-rise
Best Curvy: Madewell The Curvy Perfect Vintage Straight Workwear Pants
This pick has curvy in the name for a reason—they’re made specifically for hourglass and plus-size figures. Plus you can choose to view the pants on different models to get a better picture of what they’d look like on you.
Despite being called workwear pants, they don’t look like a uniform or utilitarian. They do, however, have large front pockets, and button-closure back pockets. The cotton-elastane blend also means they’re super soft, comfortable, and a bit stretchy.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-33 and 20W-28W | Care: Machine wash | Inseam: 20-32 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best Boyfriend: J.Crew Slouchy Boyfriend Chino Pant
Your favorite boyfriend silhouette is now a chino. The relaxed fit, mid-rise pants look great rolled up and paired with a plain tee, or dressed up with your favorite blouse and mules.
Rucci calls these out as a great pick. “My personal go-to is vintage and buy them in both olive green and khaki colors.”
Material: Cotton | Size Range: 23-37 (in classic, petite, and tall) | Care: Machine wash | Inseam: 28.5 inches | Rise: Mid-rise
Best Paperbag Waist: Free People FP Movement Spring Trekker Pants
Upgrade your streetwear with these utility-style pants; they’re the perfect blend of hiking gear and baggy sweatpants. With colors like Hot Sauce (red), Snowbird (baby blue), and Sage Khaki (green earth-tone), they’re the pop of color your wardrobe needs.
Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash and dry flat | Inseam: 26 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best Cropped: Lulus Leo Light Khaki Tie-Waist Cropped Pants
Transition from day to night—seamlessly. The Leo Pants offer a comfortably baggy fit with a cinched tie-waist for ultra-chic flair.
Material: 97% cotton, 3% spandex | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Hand wash cold and line dry | Inseam: 23.25 inches | Rise: Natural-waist
Best Green: 4TH & RECKLESS Raine Beige High-Waisted Cuffed Trouser Pants in Sage Green
This work-pant comes in a calming sage green color that leans more neutral. The lightweight stretch fabric keeps you nice and cool without feeling too restrictive. The relaxed fit, cuffed hem, elastic waistband, and hidden seam pockets are something worth trying.
Material: 78% polyester, 17% viscose, 5% elastane | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Wash with similar colors; inside out washing and ironing | Inseam: 29 inches | Rise: High-waisted
Best Black: Good American Desert Cargo Pant in Black
Y2K fashion is making a comeback and so are these cargo-style khakis. Available in black, camo, and green, these pants feature pockets galore, and ankle ties for a comfortable fit.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 00-26 | Care: Machine wash, tumble dry | Inseam: 27 inches | Rise: Mid-rise
Best Maternity: Emilia George Maternity Sweater Pant in Beige
Wang gives us her top pick for expecting mothers. They may not be ‘traditional’ khaki pants, but they are definitely an upgrade for any wardrobe. “One of Emilia George’s best sellers, the Maternity Sweater Pant, is the khaki your closet has been dreaming of,” she says. “Made with bump-friendly elastic and ultra-high-quality fabrics, the Sweater Pant is the perfect balance between comfort, function, and style, making this item your new go-to for the office and the couch.”
Material: Yak and wool | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Hand wash, lay flat to dry | Rise: High-waisted
What To Look For in Khaki Pants
Despite being a dressier option than jeans, comfort shouldn’t be compromised. Because of this, Rucci says “when buying chino [or] khaki type pants, I look for 100 percent cotton or a cotton/Lycra blend”
Fit and Function
Pockets and overall fit are high on the priority list when shopping for khakis. Rucci explained that the placement of pockets and seams can alter the look of the fit, and end up making someone look boxier than reality. She recommends looking for quarter-top pockets and the waistband type. “The Hollywood Waistband type looks better-worn high on the waist and the classic chino looks better low, sitting just at the hip.”
What are khaki pants?
Khaki pants, as many of us know them, are basic uniform-style pants, but they’re so much more. A pair of khaki pants can be considered to be so because of their khaki earth-toned color, their style, or the fabric.
According to Rucci, “[Khakis] became popular after World War II as many returning soldiers wore them and thus they became a fashion trend. Women started adopting them after people like Katherine Hepburn made them fashionable for women. Later they were adopted into fashion by skateboarders and became part of Yuppy Culture as an alternative to a suit for casual Fridays. Brands like Dockers and Calvin Klein made them a fashion staple, but I credit brands like Joie for making them a women's fashion staple.”
What can you wear with khaki pants?
Khaki pants are a great neutral starting point for any look. “Think structured blouses with lots of texture and fabric, deep-toned reds, greens, or blues, and accessories galore, Wang says. “Layering a blouse with a neutral-toned blazer is also a great option for slimmer-fit khakis. The neutral tone of the pants will encourage the eye to move towards the bolder part of the look, so be sure to thank your khakis for always giving your statement pieces the space to shine.”
Rucci approaches the look differently. “I like to wear them with a shrunken jean or leather jacket and tank top or bodysuit,” she says. ”I like to roll them and pair them with ankle boots in fall/winter or sandals in spring/summer. I think they look best oversized and loose-fitting. Finish the look with a great belt cinched at the waist or [wear them] low-slung and baggy.”
Are khaki pants dress pants?
“No they are not,” says Rucci. “A dress pant is more tailored and made in drapey material and often worn for work and special occasions.” Khakis lean more casual, and are in face, regarded as business casual, or smart casual wear.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributor Alyssa Kingham has spent almost two years working with Byrdie on the back-end, to present readers with makeup, wellness, fashion, and lifestyle-related product recommendations. For this roundup, she has enlisted the help of expert fashionistas to curate a list of the best khaki pants on the market.