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Jeans vs Khakis

Jeans and Khakis are versatile pants. If you look around, you will see how many people wear both. Many prefer one to the other, but do you really know the difference between them? Obviously they look different but do you know why? Check out this article to find out.

A close look at a pants rack display at a store with jeans and khakis.

Jeans bring the casual and relaxed vibe to any occasion. You can find a skinny jean, relaxed fit, or baggy style.

Khakis bring a crisp business like or formal feel to your outfit. You can find khakis in a straight fit, skinny fit, or cargo pants.

They both have a unique look and style but have morphed so much over the years that they both can be worn to almost any event. 

I remember when khakis were associated with a semi formal or business event, and jeans were associated with casual times. Times have definitely changed. You may associate khaki pant options with something you wear to church or part of a school uniform. Jeans were considered something only kids wore. Now, they are worn by everyone at any time.

However, how do you know when to wear jeans vs khakis? It often comes down to personal preference, but there could be a dress code that dictates what you should wear. Continue reading to find out the differences between jeans vs khakis.

What are Jeans?

A woman wearing a pair of tight-fitting jeans.

Jeans have been referred to as many names over the years, including denim jeans, blue jeans, skinny jean, or even just men’s jeans and women’s jeans. Levi Strauss first introduced jeans back in the 1870s, and they are still making jeans today. The fabric used for jeans is typically a heavy twill denim.

You will also find them with Lycra added for a good amount of stretch. They are usually found in their trademark blue color but also come in many various colors. In addition, they have multiple fits so that you are sure to find the right ones for you. 

Jeans typically have a casual look to them and are often worn with sneakers. However, they are worn just about everywhere and can be dressed up with a nice shirt and shoe. Jeans have a universal appeal, no matter individual style or age. They are comfortable, especially when worn in. They change to match the current style, and they are always fashionable. 

What are Khakis?

A close look at a pair of green chino pants.

The terms khakis and chinos have been used interchangeably over the years, even though they are not the same thing. Technically, a chino was the style of pants, while khakis referred to the khaki color. Over time those lines became blurred and the terms more universal.

Khakis are made from a cotton twill material. You may hear them referred to as slacks, trousers, or dress pants. Khakis started as military uniform pants because of their rugged and durable fit. Over time, they have become a more formal pant option and created a solid hold on the business casual outfit. 

Khakis have become a staple and changed their look to match the current style and trends. You can find them with a more modern, straight fit or pleated or baggy. There is a style for everyone. You can dress them up by selecting a pair with a tailored look and matching them with a dress shirt and blazer. Khaki pants are intended to give you some room but not be baggy. 

Khakis are durable and wear really well. They may look better as you wear them more and break them in. They can be casual or dress attire. Khakis can look a little wrinkled, which is acceptable when you are wearing them casually.

However, when you are wearing them as formal pants, you want them to have a crisp look. Despite the name khaki, you will find them in a range of colors. The most traditional color is wheat or brown color. However, you can find them in just about any color you would like. 

The Difference Between Jeans and Khakis

This is a man wearing a pair of khaki jeans and matching jacket.

Khakis are often easier to wear than jeans because the material is softer and more comfortable. The twill material is a cooler and more lightweight option. Jeans, especially when you first wear them, tend to be stiff, tight, heavy, and hot.

Both jeans and khakis can be dressed up; khakis are considered a more formal style of pants. They often appear to have a more crisp and clean look. The classic style jeans have five pockets, whereas khakis have four pockets. 

Khakis can be worn in all seasons, even in spring and summer when it begins to get warmer. You can find khakis shorts to beat the heat of summer. Jeans are heavier and usually not worn in the summer because they are hot. Instead, you can find jean shorts. Khakis are affordable and usually stay around the same price point, even as you find designer options. Jeans, on the other hand, range drastically in price from affordable to incredibly expensive. Designer jean options get expensive quickly. 

Khakis are considered to a more functional style of pants because they have deep pockets. If you opt for a cargo style khaki pants, they have more pockets giving you plenty of room to store items. Even though jeans were created to be a durable and long lasting material for working people, over time, they have moved away from that role.

Jeans moved more into the fashion arena and further away from working clothes. There are still some jeans that you can find today that are considered pants for work. 

The Similarities Between Jeans and Khakis

This is a man wearing a pair of jeans and matching jacket.

While they have many differences, jeans and khakis do have some things in common. They are both durable materials. Yes, we could argue that jeans are more durable. That is true, but that does not take away the durability of khakis.

Especially today when jeans are distressed. That often breaks down jeans, making them slightly less durable. You can find both jeans and khakis with stretch material in them. These fabrics have polyester added to them to give them more stretch. These stretch chino and stretch jeans do not damage the material. You are not able to determine which materials have stretch added to them just by looking at them. 

Both jeans and khakis can be worn as casual pants and part of casual wear. You can wear a polo shirt with either type of pants. You can even find a combination of the two in khaki jeans. Basically, these are jeans that are a khaki color.

Which Are the Right Choice, Jeans or Khakis?

A part of the choice comes down to your personal preference and what you want to wear. If there is no dress code for the event you are attending, the choice is yours. If you want to dress up your outfit, appear more formal, or need dress trousers, you want to choose crisp khakis.

If you want more casual trousers, you can consider wearing jeans and even pair it with a denim jacket. You can choose jeans and dress them up with the appropriate accessories. 

Which Are More Comfortable to Wear?

There is a great debate over the comfort of jeans vs khakis. There are many that will tell you that khakis are more comfortable because they are lighter and softer. There was a time when that was true. Jeans were made solely from denim, which was a rough and rugged material that did not give.

That was their purpose. They were supposed to be worn by workers to hold up to the stress of the job. Fast forward a few decades, and you will find the jeans of today. They are relaxed and soft. There are some jeans that are so comfortable that they feel like sweatpant material.

They are even marketed to be as soft as sweatpants. Jeans have come a long way as technology has changed when it comes to designing clothes. The philosophy for jeans has changed with the times, too. Workers now wear a different type of pants and jeans have been left to be more casual and fashionable wear.

Preference does matter, though, when it comes to determining which are more comfortable for you. Both pants are staples for any wardrobe and can be worn just about anywhere. Enjoy the freedom and wear whatever feels comfortable for you. 


Are Pants and Jeans the Same Thing?

The term pants can be used universally as clothes that are worn on the lower part of the body and covers both legs. However, pants is a term that is can be used to describe suit pants or attire for work. Jeans are made from a heavy denim fabric, which pants are a lighter more versatile material. 

Can Black Jeans Be Worn as Dress Pants?

Black jeans or dark wash jeans are great for a business casual outfit because they appear similar to more traditional slacks. The darker material looks more formal and hides all signs of wear and tear. Then the fabric on jeans shows wear, they tend to look more casual.

What Can I Wear if I Do Not Want to Wear Jeans or Khakis?

If you do not want to wear either, you can try out a pair of chinos, which are different from khakis. They are usually lighter and look a slight bit different. If you want to stay away from them completely, you can try wool pants, linen pants, a nylon cotton blend, or seersucker pants. You can even look for a pair of tailored slacks if neither jeans nor khakis interest you.