HOW TO: Cargo

Don’t wear cargo pants.*
But if you feel like your daytime activities merit compartments beyond the typical five pocket chinos, go forth.

A brief and personal history on cargo pants:
Cargo pants were notable in my adolescence as candy-smuggling, soda-pop-holstering, hazardous-when-running pants that you wore because you didn’t want to carry a backpack. But let’s be honest, everybody knew you had something in your cargo pocket because it jutted out like mad. As kids, we thought our cargo pockets were like Harry’s invisibility cloak.

We all had our fun with our escapades to the local Barry Wood’s 24 Cinema on a Friday night. You know, you stopped by the nearest Dollar General to stock up on snacks and chocolates and little diabetic comas neatly packaged in “fun-size” labels to hoard in those once floppy compartments fastened on the side of your American Eagle camo shorts.

Zippered, camouflage, frayed, bleached-stained or destroyed. You loved your cargo shorts. They were practical for your Midwestern youth, throwing and stowing loot and plunder from the creek. Many games of capture the flag they had served you well. Even provided that extra place to hide paraphernalia from authorities (parents, duh). Modern technology advanced at such speed that some cargo pants evolved into a hybrid cargo pants/shorts. You knew that kid.

For me, that kid’s name was Jason, and his locker was two down from mine in sixth grade outside of Mrs. Merle’s room. He had a pair of these convertible pants I coveted at the mere age of 12. One day in September, he complained that it was too warm inside in the New Mark Middle School’s make-shift cafeteria, aka lobby of the school.

I thought to myself, “Jason, are you kidding me? They are pumping A.C. in here. I’m about to go to the nurse and ask to use the phone to call my mom to bring me up sweater because I’m so cold.”**

The only logical response to the heat in the obviously temperate “cafeteria” was to show off his new transforming pants with zippers. Behold, the convertible pants into shorts. The middle-school boy’s dream pant that you can wear all year long, enabling you to never shower again, which in turn allowed to you play Halo more. Duh.

Two days later, Jason got beat up and his pants were stolen.
Just kidding.
Actually, his dad bought them for him for camping purposes.

Me, I bought my own pair for candy-hauling, Friday night impish purposes—ya-know, the only kind of purpose a devious middle school boy can rationalize.

I digress with my nostalgic days of cargo pants.
Let’s move on and talk about modern day, though, shall we?

Don’t wear them… unless they are updated with a tailored cut. Examples as follows:

On Jeff: Slim “Trooper”cargo pant courtesy of J.Brand ; cognac “Lexington” wingtip by Florsheim; wool blazer by Billtornade (similiar); crisp white short sleeve button-down by rag & bone.

Levi’s also makes a rad light forest green cargo pant that is fairly tailored as well.

Styling suggestions with your updated cargo pants:

  • Don’t wear boots with your cargo pants.
  • Don’t wear camo with your cargo pants.
  • Don’t wear a bow tie with your cargo pants.
  • Don’t pretend that you’re not wearing cargo pants. Just be cool, okay?
On Jeff: forest-green cargo pants by Levi’s; white “Authentics” courtesy of Vans; orange- and white-striped tee by J.Crew; light heather grey slub cardigan by J.Crew.
Photography by Seth Putnam and Anthony Barlich.

* Unless you’re doing outdoorsy shit that would necessitate multiple pockets for the use of hauling game and bullets. I actually have a pair of cargo pants that’s aren’t tailored. They are for hiking, backpacking or something like that. They are from REI and are worn every summer when camping. I like the “idea of the outdoors” more than I like the actual outdoors, thus why my closet is overflowing with Patagonia synchillas in every color.
**This actually happened. She’s brought me many clothes throughout my elementary and secondary education because I either peed my pants, threw up on them or was near frostbite. I love you, Mom!

Caprice Gruber - I really like the slim style cargo pants, always been a fan of them, these days cargo pants are very much in demand, you will notice a lot of people wearing them on the streets.

Lily - your blog is amazing. new follower!

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Little Lovables - okay, so your advice is great and all, and you are all super lovely… but now, show me a post on HOW to lovingly *make* our men actually dress nice.

Zosbo - Great read. I am glad to see cargos go. I must admit I am skeptical of the slim fitting cargo. You talk about the complete and utter lack of any function to the old baggy cargo, but what “cargo” can you squeeze into one of those little guys? A handful of jellybeans? It would make for a healthier movie experience I guess.

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