Khakis vs. Jeans: Your Complete Style Guide

The age-old debate rages on even today: khakis vs. jeans. Whether you’ve worn one, the other, or both, odds are you prefer one of these trouser types for various reasons. Fortunately, both khakis and jeans can look great when styled properly. Let’s take a look at some differences, similarities, and style tips for khakis and jeans.

Jeans Explained

Denim jeans are classic trousers worn around the world with the first jeans introduced by Levi Strauss in the 1870s. Jeans are usually made with heavy twill denim, resulting in durability and a casual look that goes perfectly with sneakers, T-shirts, and a variety of other clothing articles. Because of their versatility, jeans can be worn anywhere and can even be “dressed up” if you pair them with the right shoes or shirt. Jeans are most prized, however, because they are comfortable—particularly after you break them in.

What Are Khakis?

Khakis are trousers made of a cotton twill material. They were first introduced as trousers used by soldiers—built to withstand extreme weather and conditions. Like jeans, early military uniform pants were rugged, durable, and even fairly comfortable.

Over time, however, khakis became slightly more formal trouser options compared to jeans. In time, they solidified themselves as the go-to trousers for business casual ensembles in America and around the world. These days, you can wear khakis at the office, at an outdoor workplace, and even at a casual get-together with friends and family members. Khakis, like jeans, can be dressed up by choosing the right accessory articles, like a dress shirt and blazer. Since khakis are durable, they're excellent as working pants.

Jeans vs. Khakis

The main difference between jeans and khakis is the material. Jeans are made with heavy twill denim compared to cotton twill. Because of this, khakis are a little softer and more comfortable from the beginning; in contrast, jeans can be stiff, heavy, and hot before they are broken in.

Furthermore, khakis have more color variation compared to jeans. While most khakis are some shade of brown or beige, you can also find khakis in colors like green, gray, blue, and so on. Jeans are almost always some shade of blue or navy (though there are a few exceptions).

Aside from that, khakis and jeans are worn on different occasions. Jeans are rarely workplace appropriate while khakis are. Jeans are arguably better or more suitable for casual Fridays or eating out with friends.

However, jeans and khakis also share several key similarities. Both jeans and khakis are fairly durable. They can take a heavy beating before showing signs of wear and tear. Additionally, jeans and khakis are both less formal and more casual compared to dress pants or trousers, such as chinos or fancies. Casual jeans and khakis can be worn as key parts of casual clothing ensembles. Therefore, they pair well with many of the same clothing articles.

Styling with Jeans and Khakis

If you’re looking for some style inspiration, here are a few tips to help:

  • Jeans go well with T-shirts, sneakers, and other casual shirts, although you can also dress them up slightly with a button-down or collared shirt. Jeans and khakis both work perfectly with collared or polo shirts.
  • Khakis can and should be paired with slightly more formal articles, like business shirts or blazers. A collared, button-down shirt with a blazer and a pair of khakis is a great college or business look, particularly if your institution or school doesn't have a very strict dress code. You can even pair your khakis with dress shoes to elevate their aesthetic.
  • When it comes to casual Fridays at work, remember to choose jeans that are on the dressier side. Avoid distressed denim on these occasions. Berle’s dress denim self-sizer pants share some of the aesthetic of nice navy jeans while upgrading their look, making them a perfect fit for slightly more serious offices or meetings.

Get the Look at Berle

Here at Berle, making trousers is nothing new. As the oldest family-owned trouser manufacturer in the United States, we've been outfitting our customers for more than 70 years. In that time, we feel like we've perfected the art of making and delivering the best pair of trousers available today. If you’re ready to upgrade your wardrobe, shop our Tailored and Casual Collections today. Complimentary hemming is always included with your purchase!