Welcome to Everyday Refinement. Here I write about dressing well, but sensibly. Where beauty and utility inspire authentic style and a better wardrobe.

The Cargo Pant

The Cargo Pant

The cargo pant is back in a variety of styles, fabrications, and thoughtful details!

The cargo pant has returned to the fashion forefront. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, since a thread of utility was woven across the SS19 runway and designer collections. Fashion designers leading the push forward on utilitarian garments are Tibi, Alexander Wang, ReDone, The Range, and Nili Lotan.

The utility trend may be an acquired preference for some, but it is one of the SS19 trends that I want to integrate into my warm-weather wardrobe. In many ways, it’s not a stretch for me to introduce utilitarian garments into the mix, as many of these garments have been in my closet in one form or another over the years. The field jacket, the safari blazer, the denim/chambray shirt, the camp shirt, and the cargo pant -- all have found a home in my wardrobe during various fashion cycles.

For one reason or another I stopped keeping a pair of cargos in the wardrobe. More than likely because the cargo pant was replaced by skinny jeans and leggings. However two years ago, I questioned why I didn’t have a pair of cargos in the wardrobe and went on a hunt to find a pair. It wasn’t easy! I searched high and low — literally. Most of the mainstream brands didn’t have available for selection a cargo pant. I, finally, found a pair in a well-known designer collection, but the price was much more than I wanted to pay. Then I stumbled across a brand that creates garments for highly, capable women. The brand offered an assortment of cargos — slim leg, boot cut, relaxed fit. After trying on their slim fit, I purchased a pair in olive. I was so happy with the fit and thoughtful design details of this cargo, as well as, to have a pair of cargos back in the wardrobe mix, that soon after I added two more colors: black & navy.  (And I’m seriously considering a fourth pair in camel!)

Before, I address how to wear and style the cargo pant, I thought it might be interesting to become familiar with its history:


The history of the cargo pant:
Cargos were first worn by British military personnel during WWII, as an article of clothing of the Battle Dress Uniform aka BDU’s. The military cargo pant featured a pocket on the thigh at the side and one pocket at the hip front to hold maps, field dressings, and other items. In the early 40’s the United States military introduced the cargo pant as a piece of the paratroopers uniform. The cargo pant was modified with side pockets to provide easy access to ammunition, K rations, and radios.

Cargo’s journey from a strictly utilitarian garment to the world of fashion involves the music culture of the mid-to-late 1990s. Cargo’s big fashion break came when hip-hop artist donned the pant. Only a few years later in 1998, Ralph Lauren presented a pair of silk cargo pants in his runway collection. The style was immediately embraced by fashionistas and pragmatics. Although, the pockets on cargo pants were essentially designed for utility, most enthusiasts of today’s cargo, the pocket has become purely decorative.

Styling Tips:

  1. Choose cargos with thoughtful but simple design details, avoid anything too fussy.

  2. Today’s cargo is available in an assortment of fabrics -- cotton canvas, cotton-twill, cotton-ripstock, linen, viscose, and silk.

  3. Like any other garment it’s necessary to select a cargo in a shape and fit that compliments sartorial aesthetics and figure proportions. Thank goodness today’s cargos are not yesterdays. There are a variety of fits, fabrics, hemlines, and pocket configurations.

  4. To make the cargo pant more wearable for day-to-day style, keep the color in a neutral or a subtle print, such as camo.

  5. Don’t reserve your cargos for only causal activities, dress them up for work and evening affairs.

  6. The surest way to wear a cargo is for off-duty or weekend pursuits. Off-duty dressing is easy in cargos, a tee, and sneakers.

  7. If your office dress code is relatively informal, wear your cargo layered with a crisp button-down under a navy blazer and classic pump.

Style Sheet  -- Cargo Pants.jpg

For off-duty activities, I style my cargos with a simple tee (long or short sleeve depending on the season) and a pair of sneakers or thong sandals for warm-weather/moto boots for cold-weather. To elevate the polish factor for work-related events, I style my cargos with a crisp button-down worn under a tailored blazer and pumps.  For a dinner date with hubby, I might style my cargos with a silk cami, drop earrings and a sexy heeled sandal or pump (Depending on the season, I might add a third layer such as a velvet blazer.) 

May I suggest introducing a cargo pant into the wardrobe mix, if you don’t already have a pair or two.  If you think you can’t wear a cargo, remember that today’s cargo pant comes in a variety of styles.  There is bound to be a fit and style that compliments your proportions and lifestyle. I’m confident, a cargo can and willl give you lots of service and style. 

A Shirt for When We Don't Want to Wear Pants

A Shirt for When We Don't Want to Wear Pants

Spring Blooms -- freshly picked fashions

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