The Ultimate Work/Play Pants
Turns out, adventure pants are great for a summer close to home
In 2011, Tom Ford famously laid out his style commandments, including his simple thoughts on outfitting our bottom half: “A man should never wear shorts in the city.” As with all opinions on the internet, the take was met with equal parts sharp criticism, unrelenting support, and the eventual New York Times op-ed.
For whatever reason, opinions were strong, and those who argued passionately took their stance. Similar to the is-a-hot-dog-a-sandwich debate (it's not, it's a hot dog), the internet couldn't agree, and our pants debate has raged on until we found something else to argue about.
Almost a decade later, summer 2020 presents a new wrinkle in our slacks squabble: we're on pace for one of the hottest years on record. According to a Harris Poll, “39% of urban dwellers said the COVID-19 crisis has prompted them to consider leaving for a less crowded place.” Great, so it's hotter than ever, and we're less likely to be in a city than ever before. If you're keeping track at home—that's two tallies in the “Pro-Shorts” column.
Even with temperatures on the rise, and formalwear occasions on the decline, the truth is sometimes it's just nice to find a reason to dress up. Swapping in some trousers for jeans or (gasp) shorts is a proven upgrade. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to mix pants into our wardrobe with the help of new fabrics, cuts and a litany of brands that have entered this brave new space.
Call them what you want—performance, tech, travel, commuter—this new breed of pants all share a similar genetic makeup. They're made from moisture-wicking, stain-resistant fabric, they're stretchable, odor-proof and lined with enough pockets to house a mask and a mini Purell.
They're built to be worn and re-worn, washed whenever, and won't crease up like your everyday cotton chinos. But best of all, you won't sacrifice looks for comfort. This new generation of chino can transition from your morning Zoom session to an afternoon bike ride to a casual night out (whatever that looks like these days).
We gathered some of our favorites below to help you dive feet-first into the best pants to wear this summer, no matter where you stand on the shorts argument (BTW, they're totally acceptable).
NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.