Did you hear? Cargos have made a comeback. But don’t be alarmed, this controversial fashion trend isn’t likely to be how you remember them (we’re picturing Avril Lavigne in low-rise camo pants in the early 2000s). While their design DNA is undoubtedly the same—oversized, square exterior pockets, drawstring hemlines—the way they are styled couldn’t be more different. And we’re embracing the change.
You could even refer to their transformation as a glow-up. LA-based brand Sanctuary said
cargo pants are evolving into never-seen-before colours and patterns that stray away from the traditional army green shade—all while maintaining the on-trend Y2K aesthetic. But what has prompted us to revert back to a nostalgic era where baggy was better?
With ultra-wide legs and breathable cotton fabrics, cargo pants offer supreme comfort without sacrificing style—a more-than-welcome contribution to WFH fashion. Ideal Magazine has even commended them for their enduring utilitarian function; their generously sized pockets seem as though they were designed to store all the “new normal” essentials like hand sanitisers, disinfectant wipes, and facemasks. Who doesn’t love a bit of practicality?
Cargo Pants Are Red Carpet Worthy
Cargo pants are even getting a solid (and highly public) approval from a whole host of A-listers. While fashion icon Jennifer Anniston has remained faithful to them for years, style-conscious celebs like Zendaya, Billie Ellish, Dua Lipa, and Hailey Bieber have all been snapped rocking the look on the red carpet. This restores our confidence in cargos—they’re not just for casual occasions, but they’re also apt for glamorous occasions!
Thinking about digging out this retro pair of pants from the back of your closet? Before you dust them off, keep reading to discover the top 5 types of cargo pants that have been trending this year. Don’t worry, we’ll also give you some tips on the best ways to style them.
Green Cargo Pants
Before delving deeper into the evolution of cargo pants, it wouldn’t be fair to not pay homage to the OG—classic green cargos. The reality is, despite all of the new variations, they’re still a firm favourite and they still deserve their place two decades on. If you’re not ready to throw yourself headfirst back into the trend, you can opt for pared-back green cargo pants with fewer pockets and higher waistbands. Wear them with a white tee and sneakers for ultra-cool street style or a blouse and boots for a slightly more elevated look.
Not convinced that green cargo pants deserve their revival? Have full confidence knowing that Emily Ratajowski is regularly snapped in them (she is a runway model after all). Putting her own spin on these olive-green pants, she pairs them with sheer shirts, crop tops, and even bandeaus. But if that’s all a bit too revealing for your liking, don’t forget that you can always layer over a blazer and look just as chic.
Black Cargo Pants
Comfortable, check. Fashionable, check. Sophisticated, check. Black cargo pants are ticking all the boxes, which makes them ideal as your new go-to pants for work. If you had become accustomed to working in your pajamas during lockdown, this hybrid between work pants and cargos will fulfil all your comfort and professional needs—all while staying on trend.
Even better, they will match pretty much any other garment in your closet. You can give them a sporty look by wearing them with a crop top and Nikes or go for a preppy look with a blazer and a pair of kitten heels. There are no rules when it comes to styling black cargo pants!
Denim Cargo Pants
Can’t quite tear yourself away from your trusty pair of jeans? Enter denim cargo pants. These indigo-coloured cargo pants have all the cool of Mom jeans, but with a utilitarian twist. Ideal for effortless styling, simply throw on whatever you would with casual jeans and you’re ready to go! Or if you’re feeling adventurous, rock an informal Canadian tuxedo like Bella Hadid.
Skinny Cargo Pants
Looking for something a little more refined? A modern take on these traditionally baggy pants, skinny cargo pants have a tailored leg to bring elegance to your look. Bring back some bagginess by combining them with an oversized, chunky-knit jumper. You can also bring an urban touch by slipping into combat boots. Or if you’re looking to achieve a polished appearance, pair them with a basic white t-shirt and sneakers just like Kate Middleton. FYI: If the Duchess of Cambridge can’t convince you to wear cargos, I don’t know what else will.
Camouflage Cargo Pants
It’s another retro trend that we simply couldn’t resist. And neither can the stars (especially the Kardashians). If you want to stick to their urban origins, get some camo cargo pants. As the New York Times highlights, this style was initially designed for the British Army during World War I but surged into the streetwear fashion industry in the mid-90s—giving them a whole new definition. They even come in a diverse range of fun colours and styles if you want to completely move away from the military vibe.
Seeking styling ideas? A foolproof approach to elevating their appearance is pairing cropped camos with a leather jacket and mid-calf boots. If the occasion demands even more glamour, slip into hot pink heels and a boxy blazer. As you can imagine, camo pants blend right into a casual setting, but there are also ways to give them sex appeal.