What to Wear with Cargo Pants: Men’s Style Guide 2023

What to wear with cargo pants men? Cargo pants are practical pants that provide enough space for carrying items, making them suitable for many outdoor activities such as hiking or camping.

They come in different styles and colors, which can be paired with various outfits. Originally designed for the military, cargo pants became a fashion staple in the early 2000s and have evolved over time.

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Understanding Cargo Pants

Cargo pants are a practical and stylish type of pants that have large pockets on the sides of the legs. Originally designed for military use, they were specifically made to hold items such as field dressings and maps while in action.

Today, cargo pants are enjoyed by different people from different walks of life, as they can be worn as both casual and semi-formal attire.

There are three styles of cargo pants: classic, slim, and tapered. Classic cargo pants have a baggy fit and are perfect for those who prefer comfort over style.

Slim-fit cargo pants have a more modern look and are perfect for those who want to add some edge to their wardrobe. Tapered cargo pants have a narrower hem compared to the classic ones and have a more streamlined look, making them perfect for those who want to stay trendier.

Cargo pants also come in different types, like hiking cargo pants, denim cargo pants, tactical cargo pants, EMT pants, slim-fit cargo pants, jogger cargo pants, and high-end cargo pants. Each type has its unique features that cater to different needs.

Choosing Cargo Pants According to Body Type

Cargo pants are versatile and practical, offering the right balance of comfort and durability. However, as with most clothing items, not all cargo pants are created equal, especially when it comes to fit.

To select cargo pants that flatter your body type, consider the following:

For Skinny Men

Skinny men should opt for slim-fit cargo pants. This style of cargo pants provides structure and balance to their thin frame that tends to look beaten down by baggy outfits.

Also, light-colored pants can add weight, which makes the person on the slimmer side look a bit fuller.

For Athletic Men

Athletic men with muscular thighs will appreciate the comfort that a relaxed fit cargo pants can offer. Choose cargo pants with straight or slightly wider leg openings to accommodate muscular legs.

For Bigger Men

Men carrying extra weight often find it challenging to find pants that feel and look comfortable. Fortunately, cargo pants are loose-fitting, that makes them ideal for bigger men.

Choose a relaxed fit cargo pants for a comfortable and flattering look. Avoid skinny cargo pants as they will only emphasize the parts you want to downplay.

For Taller Men

When it comes to cargo pants and tall men, opt for styles that offer long inseams. The right length will prevent the ankle part from looking awkwardly above the boots.

Additionally, choose cargo pants with a wider leg that matches your height to avoid making your legs look too long or too short.

For Shorter Men

Shorter men can wear slim-fitting cargo pants that elongate their legs, making them look taller. Also, higher waist pants can offer a lifted look, which can make them look taller.

Avoid wearing bulky shoes or boots that break the height flow to maintain an elongated aesthetic.

Cargo pants appeal to many style sensibilities, ranging from practicality to rugged fashion. Whatever style you prefer, keep in mind that the fit is crucial for a proper look.

When it comes to selecting cargo pants, it’s essential to stay within your body’s proportion.

Features to Look for in Cargo Pants

If you’re looking for a versatile and functional wardrobe staple, cargo pants are a great choice. But what are the features that you should look for to get the best out of them?

1. Large Pockets

The most recognizable characteristic of cargo pants are the large pockets on the hip and thighs. These pockets are perfect for carrying everyday essentials like keys, phones, wallets, and more.

When looking for cargo pants, make sure the pockets are both functional and stylish, and check to see if they feature accordion folds or bellows for extra room.

2. Durable Fabric

Cargo pants are designed to be worn for rugged activities and outdoor pursuits, so it’s important to choose a material that can withstand wear and tear. Look for cargo pants made from durable fabrics like canvas or ripstop nylon, which can resist punctures, tearing, and abrasions.

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3. Versatile Styling

Another important factor to consider when choosing cargo pants is their style. Cargo pants come in different styles, including slim-fit, joggers, and high-end designs.

Make sure to choose a style that fits your personal preferences and matches well with other items in your wardrobe to achieve a cohesive look.

4. Comfortable Fit

Cargo pants should be comfortable and easy to wear, so it’s important to consider their fit. Look for pants with adjustable waistbands, cuffed ankles, and flexible fabrics that allow for a full range of movement.

5. Unique Details

Cargo pants can contain unique details, like zippers, cuffs, and cargo flaps, that highlight the pants’ unique style. Check to see if the pants feature adjustable cuffs that can be secured in place or zippers that provide a unique detailing to the pockets.


Cargo pants are a versatile and stylish option for any wardrobe, but choosing the right features is essential. Look for durable fabrics, versatile styles, comfortable fits, and unique details to get the most out of your cargo pants.

The Best Fabrics for Cargo Pants

Cargo pants are known for their durability, functionality, and style. When choosing the best fabric for men’s cargo pants, it is important to consider comfort, durability, and breathability.

Some of the best fabrics for cargo pants include:

  • Cotton: Cotton is a popular fabric for cargo pants as it is comfortable, lightweight, and easy to wash. However, it is not as durable as other fabrics and may wrinkle easily.
  • Polyester: Polyester is a durable and breathable fabric that dries quickly. It is also wrinkle-resistant and retains its shape well. However, it can be more expensive than cotton.
  • Cotton-synthetic blends: Blending cotton with synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon can create a fabric that is both comfortable and durable. These blends are also wrinkle-resistant and easy to wash.
  • Wool: Wool is a warm and durable fabric that is great for cold weather. However, it may not be as comfortable as other fabrics and can be difficult to wash.

When choosing the best fabric for your cargo pants, consider the climate and environment you will be wearing them in. For example, cotton-synthetic blends may be a good choice for warmer temperatures, while wool may be better for colder climates.

Styling Cargo Pants with Shirts and T-shirts

Cargo pants are a versatile piece of clothing that can be paired with different tops to create various looks. For a casual and relaxed style, you can wear a basic t-shirt with your cargo pants.

A plain white t-shirt is a classic choice, but you can also experiment with graphic tees or printed t-shirts for a more personalized look.

If you want to dress up your cargo pants, you can wear them with a dress shirt. A crisp white shirt is always a safe choice, but you can also try patterned or colored shirts to add some personality to your outfit.

For a more polished look, tuck your shirt in and add a belt.

A denim shirt is a great option for a rugged look. It adds texture and a touch of Western style to your outfit.

You can leave it untucked and roll up the sleeves for a laid-back feel.

For a more casual but stylish look, you can wear a long-sleeved t-shirt with your cargo pants. The long sleeves add some formality, while the t-shirt is still comfortable and relaxed.

No matter what top you choose, make sure it fits well and complements your body shape. It’s important to balance the volume of your cargo pants with a fitted or structured top.

This will create a well-proportioned outfit that looks polished and put-together.

what to wear with cargo pants men

Layering with Cargo Pants and Jackets

Cargo pants are not just for hikers or military personnel anymore, they are also a popular fashion staple for men. One way to style them is by layering them with different types of jackets to create a unique and stylish look.

1. Denim Jackets – This classic jacket is perfect for daytime wear and gives you a casual and laid-back look when paired with cargo pants.

Go for a light-washed denim jacket if you are wearing cargo pants in darker colors like olive or khaki.

2. Leather Jackets – For a more edgy and masculine look, pair your cargo pants with a black or brown leather jacket. This combination is perfect for a night out or a date with your special someone.

3. Bomber Jackets – Bomber jackets are also a great option for layering with cargo pants. You can opt for a military style bomber jacket for a complete army-inspired look or choose a sleeker and simpler version for a more versatile look.

Remember, when layering with jackets, it is important to pay attention to the fit and length of each item. You should make sure that your outfit looks proportionate and that your jacket complements your cargo pants, not overpower them.

To complete the look, you can add a pair of chunky boots, sneakers, or oxfords, depending on the occasion. But, most importantly, wear your outfit with confidence and embrace your unique style.

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Printed Cargo Pants – Yay or Nay?

Printed cargo pants can be tricky to style. How to pull off bold prints without looking OTT?

When it comes to printed cargo pants, the key is to keep the rest of the outfit simple. Opt for plain colored tops, such as a white or black t-shirt, to avoid clashing with the prints.

Alternatively, you can also try color blocking with a complementary color.

If you’re looking to add more patterns to your outfit, try adding a subtle hint of pattern through accessories like a printed scarf or a graphic tee. With cargo pants, it’s best to balance the outfit with classic pieces like a denim jacket or a pair of sneakers.

Overall, printed cargo pants can be a fun addition to any wardrobe, but it’s important to style them correctly to avoid looking too busy or loud.

Cargo Pants for Formal Occasions

Can cargo pants be worn in a formal or business setting? How to style them for a sophisticated, office-friendly look?

Cargo pants are often associated with function over fashion, making it difficult to imagine how to wear them in a formal or business setting. However, with the right styling, cargo pants can integrate into any wardrobe.

One option is to select slim-fit cargo pants in a neutral color such as black or navy blue. Pair them with a crisp button-down shirt, perhaps in a light color such as white or light blue, and tuck the shirt into the pants.

A classic leather belt can add a touch of sophistication to the outfit. Finish the look with a blazer or sports coat in a complementary color.

Another way to dress up cargo pants is to combine them with a dressier top such as a silk blouse or cashmere sweater. Add a pair of classic heels or loafers to enhance the sophistication of the outfit.

Ultimately, the key to successfully wearing cargo pants in a formal or business setting is to balance the casual nature of the pants with dressier items such as structured blazers, tailored shirts, and dress shoes. Experiment with different combinations until you find a look that suits your personal style and the occasion.

Cargo Pants for Leisure and Travel

Cargo pants are versatile and functional clothing that can be worn for various activities, including hiking and traveling. They provide ample space for storing small items in their large, signature square patch pockets with accordion folds or bellows that expand their capacity.

Here are some comfortable and functional ways to wear them:

Hiking Cargo Pants

When hiking, opt for cargo pants made of breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics like nylon and polyester to keep you cool and dry. Look for pants with reinforced knees that can withstand abrasions and provide extra durability.

Wear them with hiking boots and a moisture-wicking shirt for a comfortable and functional outfit.

Denim Cargo Pants

Add a touch of style to your casual wear by wearing denim cargo pants. They have multiple pockets for storing small items, and their durable denim fabric can withstand wear and tear.

Pair them with a graphic tee or a plaid shirt for a relaxed weekend outfit.

Tactical Cargo Pants

If you’re looking for cargo pants with more functionality, tactical cargo pants may be the right choice for you. They often feature multiple pockets, reinforced stitching, and other features designed for tactical operations.

Wear them with a tactical shirt and boots for a rugged look.

EMT Pants

EMT pants are cargo pants designed for emergency medical technicians. They have several pockets for storing medical equipment and supplies and are made of durable and easy-to-wash materials.

Wear them with a medical shirt and boots for a professional look.

Slim-Fit Cargo Pants

If you prefer a sleeker and more modern look, slim-fit cargo pants may be the right choice for you. They have tapered legs and a slimmer cut that accentuates your figure.

Pair them with a button-down shirt and dress shoes for a stylish and polished outfit.

Jogger Cargo Pants

Jogger cargo pants are cargo pants with elastic cuffs at the bottom that taper down to the ankle. They provide a comfortable and stylish look and are great for running errands and other casual activities.

Wear them with sneakers and a hoodie for a comfortable yet trendy look.

High-end Cargo Pants

For a more sophisticated and elegant look, opt for high-end cargo pants made of premium fabrics and with detailed design elements. They can be paired with a blazer and dress shoes for a fashion-forward outfit.

Incorporating cargo pants into your wardrobe can add a versatile and functional touch. Depending on the occasion, choose the right cargo pants that suit your style and comfort, and pair them with contrasting styles or layering items to create a unique and trendy look.

Cargo Pants and Footwear

When it comes to styling cargo pants, the most important factor to consider is the footwear. The right shoes can transform your look and elevate your style game.

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Here are some footwear options that go well with cargo pants:

1. Boots

Boots are one of the most popular choices when it comes to pairing footwear with cargo pants. Whether it’s ankle boots or high-top boots, they add an element of ruggedness to the outfit.

For a classic look, pair your cargo pants with a pair of brown leather boots. Black boots also work well, especially for a more edgy vibe.

2. Sneakers

Sneakers are the perfect choice for a casual and comfortable look. You can wear chunky sneakers, sports shoes or low-cut sneakers, depending on the style you want to achieve.

White sneakers are a classic, but you can also go for bold and bright colors to add some personality to your outfit.

3. Loafers

If you want to add some sophistication and elegance to your cargo pants, loafers are the perfect option. They are a great choice for a smart casual look, and you can wear them with or without socks.

You can go for classic brown or black loafers, or opt for something more daring like patent leather or animal print.

4. Sandals

For a summer or beach look, sandals are a great choice to pair with cargo pants. You can keep it simple with flip-flops, or go for strappy sandals or slides to add some style.

Make sure to choose sandals that don’t clash with the color of your cargo pants.

5. Dress Shoes

If you want to dress up your cargo pants for a formal look, you can pair them with dress shoes. Oxfords, brogues or wingtips are all great options.

Stick to classic colors like black, brown or burgundy, and make sure the shoes are polished and clean.

Remember that the key to a great outfit is to experiment and try different combinations to see what works for you. With so many options to choose from, you can always find the perfect footwear to go with your cargo pants.

Pro Tip: If you’re wearing ankle boots with cargo pants, make sure to tuck the pants inside the boots for a sleek look.

Cargo Pants and Footwear

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cargo pants just for men who want a military style?

No, cargo pants can be worn for various occasions including casual and semi-formal events.

Can cargo pants be worn for smart-casual occasions?

Yes, cargo pants can be worn for smart-casual occasions. Pair them with a blazer or dress shirt.

What are the best shoes to wear with cargo pants?

The best shoes to wear with cargo pants include chukka boots, sneakers, and loafers.

Cargo Pants Outfit Ideas

The Minimalist Look

When going for a minimalist look with cargo pants, you want to keep it simple. Pair your cargo pants with a plain white or black tee, and sneakers.

Minimalistic Look

The Athleisure Style

Combine your cargo pants with athletic pieces to create an on-trend athleisure look. Wear a pair of cargo joggers with a sports jacket and sneakers.

Athleisure Style

The Smart-Casual Ensemble

Cargo pants can be styled for a semi-formal setting for a polished look. To achieve this look, pair your cargo pants with a blazer, dress shirt, and dress shoes.

Smart-Casual Ensemble

The Rugged Outfit

Cargo pants are the perfect choice for a rugged, outdoorsy look. Wear your cargo pants with a flannel shirt, boots, and a field jacket for an outdoors-inspired look.

Rugged Outfit

Pair your cargo pants with contrasting styles for a unique, distinctive look. Alternatively, layering with a chunky sweater or oversized hoodie creates a casual, comfortable look.

Cargo pants are a versatile addition to any wardrobe and can be styled in endless ways to keep your look fresh and up-to-date. Remember, confidence is key with any outfit choice, so wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

What are Cargo Pants?

Cargo pants are a type of pants that were originally designed for military personnel as a functional uniform. These pants feature large pockets that are ideal for carrying small items and tools essential for any mission.

Currently, these pants have become a popular fashion trend, and you can find them in different styles and cuts for casual and formal occasions.

Types of Cargo Pants for Men

Men’s cargo pants come in different types, and each type has its unique characteristics. Here are some popular types of men’s cargo pants:

  • Hiking Cargo Pants: These cargo pants are designed for hiking and outdoor activities. They are lightweight, breathable, and have moisture-wicking properties that keep you comfortable even in hot and humid conditions.
  • Denim Cargo Pants: These are cargo pants made of denim material. They are casual, comfortable, and versatile, making them perfect for everyday wear.
  • Tactical Cargo Pants:These cargo pants are designed for tactical purposes, such as law enforcement and military operations.


Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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