Cargo Pants Outfit Ideas: How to Style Women’s and Men’s Looks

cargo pants

Cargo pants have recently become a comfortable, functional, and stylish addition to any wardrobe. With ample storage space provided by the signature side and leg pockets, Stylish cargo pants enable you to carry daily essentials easily. But beyond practical appeal, they also offer versatility to create outfits suitable for different settings.

A Brief Background

The origins of pants can be traced back to the British military in 1938. Designed for soldiers to hold field gear, these rugged trousers eventually became civilian wear. Today, cargos are made of various fabrics like cotton, polyester blends, and even silk, although hardy cotton with reinforced stitching remains prominent.

With the form following function, cargos showcase both style and practicality. So why the recent rise of cargo pants into mainstream fashion? Read on to learn more.

What Accounts for the Surge in Popularity of Cargo Pants?

Several factors have fueled the rediscovery of cargo pants in modern wardrobes:

Cargo Pants
  • Comfort – From flexible fabrics to loose silhouettes allowing free movement, cargos offer ease for all-day wear. The lightweight feel and breathability are ideal for casual settings.
  • Utility – The signature pockets provide ample, secure storage space for daily carry items like phones, wallets, and more. This enables convenience on the go.
  • Versatility – Cargo pants can be dressed up or down seamlessly. Paired with everything from t-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers to blazers and loafers, they work for various occasions, from outdoor activities to business casual office wear.
  • Fashion cyclicity – Trends tend to come back around. After falling out of favor for years, cargo is now back in vogue with expanded colors, prints, and stylish touches. Brands offer edgy, contemporary takes on the load that feels fresh.

With lifestyle changes due to the pandemic and a shift toward athleisure wear, the stars have aligned for the revival of cargo pants combining comfort, utility, and flexibility.

What Fabrics Offer the Best Cargo Pants?

The optimal fabrics for cargo pants balance durability, comfort, and visual appeal:

  • Cotton – Breathable and lightweight cotton, especially cotton twill, is perfect for cargo pants. The natural fibers enable ventilation while withstanding daily wear and tear. Cotton cargos hold dye well for color variety.
  • Cotton blends – Blends like cotton polyester or cotton spandex boost durability and stretch while retaining cotton’s breathability. This makes cargos flexible and resistant to pilling or shrinkage after washes.
  • Flex fabrics with spandex or Lycra – Four-way stretch fabric containing a couple percent elastic fiber allows freedom of movement while retaining structure and shape. This flexibility enables activity while looking tidy.

While more delicate silk cargos exist, they lack the ruggedness required for pants. Sturdy cotton and blends stand as premier cargo fabrics.

Are Cargo Pants Acceptable Business Casual Attire?

The debate continues whether cargo pants have become acceptable business casual options alongside chinos and dress pants.

As workwear norms shift toward flexible hybrid outfits, cargos gain consideration. Some guiding perspectives:

  • Traditionalists still view cargo as too casual for professional office settings compared to trousers. The signature bulky side pockets appear sloppy and informal next to sleek chinos.
  • However, contemporary workplaces increasingly adopt casual Fridays and relaxed codes. Intelligent designs in cotton blends blur the lines between business and casual.
  • Pairing cargo with blazers, loafers, oxfords, and dark polos or button-downs tempers the casual vibe. This elevates cargo to feel work-appropriate based on office norms.
  • Ultimately, the verdict rests with organizational culture and dress code. But cargos balance utility and polish for what many now deem business casual.

The bottom line – it depends! See how others wear cargo in your workplace before busting them out for #CargoTuesday.

Styling Cargo Pants Fashionably for Work and Play

Beyond the boardroom debate, it’s indisputable that cargo pants present versatility to suit both professional and social settings.

casual clothing

Here are creative styling tips:

Elevating Black Cargos for Business Casual

Make black cargo pants with white stitching workwear-ready by:

  • Tucking in a slim turtleneck or collared shirt
  • Adding an unstructured blazer or sports coat
  • Pairing with monk strap shoes or Chelsea boots

Sleek black cargos mimic trousers while functional pockets add cachet.

Smart Casual Looks with Green Cargos

Bring forest or olive green pants into the smart-casual territory by:

  • Choosing a fitted tee or casual button-down shirt
  • Layering with a textured blazer or cardigan
  • Complementing with brown leather brogues or white low-top sneakers

Vibrant green cargos inject color into casual Friday outfits.

Weekend Wear Style Ideas for Women and Men

Both women and men can leverage cargo for laid-back weekend pants outfits by:

  • Keeping it casual with graphic tees or hoodies
  • Adding an overshirt or jacket for layered looks
  • Pairing with sneakers or sandals for errand-running comfort

From hip solid colors to printed designs, cargos bring effortless funk to downtime dressing.

The options are open to craft cargo pants and women’s or men’s ensembles suitable for client meetings, brunch dates, and park hangs.

Why Cargo Pants Deserve a Prime Spot in Your Closet

Beyond passing trends, cargo pants earn a prime spot in closets due to their:

  • Practicality – The signature pockets solve problems by storing necessities securely and accessibly. Cargos enable heading out the door hands-free.
  • Comfort – From stretch fabrics to loose silhouettes allowing free movement, cargo wear is easy for all-day use.
  • Diversity – Cargo pants blend right into both dressy and casual looks. They readily pair with various tops, footwear, and accessories.
  • Value – Quality cargos withstand years of wear and tear while providing cost per use. The durable investment pays itself off.

So embrace pants for their practicality and versatility to mix up everyday outfits. Rediscover why this wardrobe staple endures decade after decade!


What’s the difference between cargo pants vs chino pants?

The signature characteristic of cargo pants is the pockets on the side thighs used for storage and functionality. Chino pants typically don’t have these extra pockets, featuring a more streamlined look instead. Both tend to use hardy twill cotton fabrics and come in multiple colors.

Are cargo pants still in style?

Yes! After falling out of fashion for some years, cargo pants are now experiencing a major comeback. With new takes on fabrics and silhouettes, they now get incorporated into contemporary looks. The blend of function and versatility drives the revival of cargo in streetwear and workwear.

What shoes go best with cargo pants?

Choose shoes pairing function with style. For work settings or going out, try loafers, Chelsea boots, or leather oxfords. For casual looks, white sneakers and sandals complement cargo fittingly. Mix up lace-ups or slip-ons. Just be sure to match metals and tones.

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