Originally Posted by lemmywinks
So far the only pants I can distinguish are shorts and jeans, and to me chinos, khakis, cotton pants, linen pants, dress pants, flat front pants, pleated pants or whatever else seems to be the same thing but maybe in different colors.
Leaving denim (the fabric jeans are made of) shorts aside, can you distinguish jeans from other long pants? OK, I guess you can. Non-jeans trousers can be roughly divided into dress pants and casual pants.
Dress pants always have a sharp crease down the middle, and are often pleated (i.e. the cloth is pinched into one or two folds just below the waist). They are usually made of wool or linen, but sometimes also of a finely woven cotton. Think of the pants that typically form part of a conservative suit, except that they also exist as odd pants.
Casual pants often (but not always) have no crease and no pleats. They are rarely made of wool. They have more casual details as regards pockets, stitching, etc.
Now for some rough answers to your questions about non-jeans pants:
- Chinos and khakis are pretty much the same thing. They are casual and are typically made of cotton. They derive from the trousers worn by the US Armed Forces around the time of WW2. Think of the beige pants (khaki is a kind of beige/olive green colour) worn by navy officers when they're not wearing the full white uniform or the blue one with the jacket with gold buttons (which is a double breasted blazer, by the way. The purists would call it a reefer jacket).
- Linen pants: pants made of linen! Linen is a natural fiber, and it comes from a plant. Most will agree that the best linen for male clothing comes from Ireland. Linen is good both for dress and casual pants.
- Cotton pants: yes, you guessed right. Cotton makes for good casual pants (after all jeans are made of cotton!), and for less formal dress pants (or even suits).
- Flat front pants have no pleats (see above).