It’s official. The ’90s and early 2000’s power pants are back. Whether you love or hate them, there’s no denying the power of cargo pants. They may have made their name in the alternative streetwear scene, but they’ve now blasted into the mainstream. Celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Rihanna have even been spotted wearing them.
Just because they’re back in trend doesn’t mean they’re easy to style. These military-style pants are notorious for their drawstring waists, roomy silhouettes, and baggy fit. That makes it tough to pull them off in a flattering way.
When it’s done right though, cargo pants can be one of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe. Whether you want to go for a cool, androgynous vibe or a glam, feminine fit, there are so many ways to wear these trendy pants.
Not sure how to wear them? You’ve come to the right place. We’re bringing you all the best inspiration on how to style cargo pants the right way.
what to wear with cargo pants
When you think of cargo trousers, an image might come to mind. For example, Kim Possible-style baggy cargo pants in army green.
But there’s so much more to the world of cargo pants. They come in a wide range of styles, from extra baggy to slim fit. You can also find them in a wide range of vivid colors.
Let’s explore all the ways you can style your outfits around a pair of cargo pants.
It isn’t an outfit without a top to pull it all together. Here are some of the best tops to wear with cargos.
A T-shirt is a classic choice for any outfit, and cargo pants are no exception. Given the baggy fit, the best T-shirts to complement cargo pants are those that have a slimmer fit. Try tucking the front of the shirt into the pants for a clean look.
A cropped T-shirt is also a go-to for something cool, modern, and effortless. This also helps to give your outfit more shape from top to bottom.
Just like with T-shirts, your best bet with a sweater is something slim-fitting. When there’s so much volume from the waist down, something slim up top will help draw the eye and create a more defined shape. And of course, it never hurts to go for a crop.
With all that being said, don’t put the baggier jumpers away just yet. Wearing an oversized sweater can still work for this look, but be sure to tuck in the front to help define your waist.
They might seem like an unlikely duo, but button-up shirts and cargo pants can look so stylish together. Cargo pants and a long-sleeve blouse look great for a night out, especially when paired with heels.
An oversized button-up can also pull the look together. But just like with T-shirts and sweaters, opt for something cropped or tuck it in. With this kind of shirt, you can even tie the front in a knot to make your own cute crop.
The right shoes can take a pair of cargo pants from casual to chic. Here are some stylish options to try.
If you want to lean into cargo’s streetwear roots, sneakers are the way to do it. They’re comfy, sporty, and have a casual-chic vibe. They’re also extra versatile, pairing with most styles of cargos.
For nights sipping cocktails or going out with the girls, nothing beats a pair of cute strappy sandals. Especially if you’re putting together a more androgynous look, sandals can add the perfect feminine touch. And if you want to take it up a notch, you can always class it up with a pair of heels.
Boots are the perfect choice if you want to go casual but add an edge to your style. Whether sleek Chelseas or chunky Docs, boots in neutral tones like black or brown can upgrade the look of any cargo. Pair it with a leather jacket for an extra badass look.
how to accessorize cargo pants
No outfit is complete without accessories. So what kind of add-ons will make cargo pants stand out? Here are a few to try.
A belt is the perfect way to top off your cargo look. To match the boldness of your cargo pants, don’t shy away from a big or flashy belt. But if you want to keep it classy, you can’t go wrong with a black or brown leather belt.
Jewelry can add a touch of elegance to your overall look. Depending on your skin tone and personal preference, either gold or silver will work. Cargo pants look their best with bold jewelry, but make sure it’s not too busy.
If your cargos are in a neutral color like brown or khaki, try out a more colorful hat to add some contrast. Finish off with your favorite sunglasses to complete the look.
styling tips for cargo pants
Without the right styling, cargo pants can feel bulky and overwhelming. To see the best in your cargo pants, you need to be wearing them the right way. Here are a few styling tips to help you get there.
roll up the pant legs
Cuffing isn’t just for jeans. Rolling up your cargo trousers can make for a cool silhouette—not to mention a more tapered look.
tuck in shirts
When you pair baggy cargo pants with a loose-fitting shirt, you have a recipe for disaster. If you want to avoid the shapeless look, it helps to tuck in your shirt. Even if you’re wearing the baggiest cargo pants out there, a simple tuck will help you look more streamlined.
add a cropped jacket
With loose-fitting pants, cropped is always the way to go. Something as simple as a cropped jacket can quickly elevate your cargo pants look. Go for leather if you want a cool, elegant feel. Or pick a cropped sports jacket to lean into the sporty aesthetic.
the best cargo pants looks of 2023
Cargo pants might have peaked in the ’90s, but they’re back in style yet again. If you’re wondering how to style these military-inspired pants for the 21st century, have no fear. From a night out on the town to a day in the office, cargo pants are one of the most versatile options out there. With the right styling tips in mind, you can turn any look into a cargo pants look.
Have your own ideas on how to style cargo pants? Let us know in the comments section below—we’d love to hear from you!