Definitive Proof Cargo Pants Are Cool Again
01.29.19

Last summer, I posited that a cargo pants resurgence was on the imminent horizon. Fortunately for our respective wallets, keys, phones, lip balms and other miscellaneous objects, my hypothesis came true. I counted no fewer than 16 Fall/Winter 2018 collections that featured cargo pants, including notable names like Tibi, Ralph Lauren, Prabal Gurung, Marques’ Almeida, Collina Strada, Marni and Kenzo.

They’re back in the trend spotlight in a way they haven’t been since the late 90s/early aughts and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I even purchased a pair from The RealReal (for $50!) in preparation for my participation in this movement. And yet, every time I pull them out of my closet and attempt to incorporate them into an outfit, the result never feels quite right. Like a slice of birthday cake accidentally left out on the counter overnight, their potential for deliciousness is marred by the wrong choice of presentation.

Eager to learn from someone with a more developed sense of cargo confidence, I tapped MR contributor Juliana Salazar (who told me she’s always had a pair of cargo pants in her wardrobe) to demonstrate how she wears them. Keep scrolling for three pieces of cargo advice and corresponding outfit ideas.

1. Up the Contrast

“Pairing more feminine items like a romantic top and black kitten heel pumps with cargos helps balance out their boyishness,” Juliana said. (Ed note: I call this the peanut butter and jelly approach: wherein an unlikely combination ultimately enhances the overall flavor).

She also mentioned that if you are in the market for cargos, these ones from Phillip Lim get top marks for fit, hugging your waist and hips while slouching satisfyingly on your legs.

2. Play With Proportion

“I love a longer, oversized sweater with a straight-leg pant,” Juliana said, to which I replied, “Well that’s genius because it effectively flips cargo pants’ erstwhile aesthetic pairings of yore (spaghetti strap tank tops and cropped white T-shirts) on their proverbial heads, thus ushering cargos into a new era and identity. Boomshakalaka.”

3. Layer, Layer, Layer

“You know those Margiela layered trousers from a few seasons ago?” Juliana asked. “They retailed just under a $1000, so safe to say I never got them, but I am still wildly obsessed with them. Layering cargos over a pair of knit shorts was my attempt to recreate them.”

While I’ll admit this styling trick is one I never would have previously entertained, I was so delighted by the effect it produced that I subsequently spent no fewer than 47 minutes researching knit shorts on the internet. Such is the power of good advice (and a photo to prove exactly how good it really is).

What about you? Are you dabbling in the cargo trend? Do you have any tricks up your utility pockets for wearing them? I’m all ears.

Photos by Bridget Badore. 

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