The Best Way to Wear Cargo Pants

“So what am I supposed to wear in the summer? Gym shorts? Jeans?” 

A common question for any guy. But the answer is actually pretty simple: cargo shorts!   

Worn with some fashion tricks in mind, cargo shorts can give you the casualness of gym shorts with the style of jeans for any summer occasion.  

So when you show up to that barbecue in cargo short style, it’ll be your gain. Cargo shorts are still en vogue as long as you follow these simple rules.  

Know when to wear them 

If the event you’re going to seems even a little more formal than usual then go cargo short-less. But if it involves family and friends? Have at it.  

Length is everything 

This isn’t the mid-80’s NBA anymore, guys. We’re all familiar with the wave of self-consciousness that pours on us if we’re not sure if our shorts are too short or too long.  

Too short, and you can’t even sit down without worrying about how it looks. Too long, and you either look like you’re sagging or you couldn’t decide between pants or shorts and compromised.  

The general rule for your cargo shorts: no more than three inches above the knee. Past the knee? Not shorts. More than three inches above the knee? Approaching underwear territory. Not good.  


Baggier fits should generally stay on the golf course, gentlemen. Your cargo shorts should include a close fit on the seat and straight-fit legs until the knees come into play. It’s a classic style that just comes off as neat without drawing too much attention.  

To pocket or not to pocket?  

That the question that Hamlet never had to ask because they didn’t wear shorts back then. Not a lot went right for that guy, but at least he never had to worry about The Great Cargo Short Debate.  

Cargo shorts partly went out of style in some circles because of over-pocketing. The extra loops and pockets made the style great for the working man but those into style didn’t love how it encroached into social event usage so much.  

That’s still kind of the case, guys. So while you could break out those ultra-pocketed cargo shorts to the backyard grill party, opt for simple instead. Try twill flat fronts, particularly those with color. Find some cargo shorts with understated pocketing and flexibility that take you right up to the cargo short boundaries without crossing them. 

Socks rules 

Don’t wear socks with cargo shorts.  

Shirts, however  

Definitely wear shirts to social events regardless of the bottoms you’re wearing. Unless you’re swimming. That’s a whole other article.  

Your cargo shorts choice sets the casual tone your shirt should abide by. Casual doesn’t mean ostentatious, though. Ditch those loud Hawaiian shirts for something understated like a monochrome polo or a neatly-patterned short-sleeve buttoned shirt.  

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