Cargo shorts are an item of clothing that usually only come out a couple of times each year. For most men, they are one of the most unflattering types of shorts available, and they suit very few people’s body shape. However, each and every summer, cargo shorts find their way back out of the wardrobe. So before you put your cargo shorts on again this year, we’re here to answer the question: are cargo shorts out of style?
Cargo shorts suit very few men, and people are finally waking up to this fact and purchasing them less often. Fortunately, this has seen a reduction of these shorts in stores, so they are most certainly becoming more and more unfashionable each year. Cargo shorts really are a piece of clothing that needs to remain in the 1990s!
On the other hand, for the select few men whose bodies they fit well, you’ll find they can still look great. With the right color and material, cargo shorts can be a welcome addition for the summer months to some wardrobes. Today we’re going to discuss cargo shorts and the very few times it would still be appropriate to wear this item of clothing.
What Are Cargo Shorts?
Before we delve deeper into why cargo shorts are going out of style, it’s important to establish what counts as a pair of cargo shorts. With so many variations on different styles nowadays in the men’s fashion world, it can be challenging to know what a true pair of cargo shorts looks like. Cargo shorts are a shortened version of cargo pants, which were first worn during the war. While cargo shorts can be a comfortable pair of casual shorts, they aren’t the most fashionable item available!
Cargo shorts can be paired with a t-shirt or a sweater and are good for men looking to spend time around the home or the garden in the summer. This style of shorts is also sometimes known as combat shorts, and they’ll usually have a good-sized pocket by each knee. For that reason, they are great for anyone looking to go out without a bag, but they can soon start to look very bulky.
However, cargo shorts have been the subject of some controversy in the past and have been banned in golf clubs. When you consider their casual look, this isn’t particularly surprising! While they are still a summer wardrobe staple for some men, especially those who enjoy an active lifestyle, they are no longer a flattering or fashionable choice. With so many options on the market, why stick with cargo shorts when you could enjoy something more trendy yet still as comfortable!
Why Were Cargo Shorts So Popular?
The versatility of cargo shorts was what kept them in fashion for so long, and with new colors and designs continually being released, they became a staple wardrobe item for the summer. While they might be deemed a piece of outdoor clothing, they were also great for wearing around the home or in casual settings. On top of that, you could enjoy playing casual sports with ease as they offer good air circulation to wearers.
Most cargo shorts use very strong material in their construction and are well-stitched, so they don’t rip or tear easily. While the material can be quite thick, the air flows freely to keep you cool on even the hottest days. Cargo shorts are made to last and don’t get marked or stained easily, especially as most pairs are quite dark in color.
For avid fans of cargo shorts, you’ll find many different ways to style them. They can be paired with a vest top, t-shirt, or sweater and will look great in casual settings. However, as with any clothing item, it’s about finding a good fit. Some cargo shorts are really poorly cut, whereas slightly tighter fitting and more structured pairs won’t look quite so bad. Cargo shorts were readily available at the height of their popularity in most men’s fashion stores and were cheap to buy. This added to the reasons why they remained so popular for the majority of the 1990s.
Why Have Cargo Shorts Gone Out Of Style?
In the 1990s, cargo shorts were incredibly popular with men. If you go back and look at TV shows or celebrities from this time, you’ll constantly see men wearing cargo shorts. However, as the years have passed, they are no longer deemed as acceptable. They are an extremely casual type of clothing and are certainly not ideal for anywhere you are expected to be wearing smart-casual clothing.
Cargo shorts still remained quite popular throughout the following decade but saw a decline in sales by the mid-2000s. Of course, there are always going to be people who love this style, but they are not so readily available in stores nowadays. They’ve often been mocked when worn by celebrities and public figures. The trend to wear clothing that’s far too big for your body didn’t help cargo shorts, as when they are a few sizes too big, they look pretty terrible! Nowadays, there are so many other more flattering and fashionable shorts on the market that there’s really no need for men to rely on cargo shorts anymore. You’ll still enjoy the comfort and practicality of cargo shorts, but with a pair of shorts that fits your body well and won’t bulk out your appearance.
Styling Cargo Shorts
If you do insist on pulling your cargo shorts out again this summer, we’ve got a few top tips to help you style them. Firstly, if you are going to wear cargo shorts, try to find some that are flattering to your body type. Don’t choose a pair that are too baggy or too long, as they’ll draw attention to this unfashionable item. Also, try to find a color and design that doesn’t attract too much attention. A neutral color and basic design with minimal pockets will be your best option for a versatile pair of cargo shorts.
For anyone opting to wear cargo shorts, you need to wear them with confidence and pair them with a stylish top. Many cargo short wearers enjoy adding bright and colorful tops and t-shirts, but this may make the overall outfit look quite garish and ridiculous. Try to stick with neutral colors on both your top and bottom and don’t over-accessorize. When it comes to footwear, a neutral pair of sneakers or boots will finish off the outfit well without attracting unwanted attention to your legs.
What Can I Wear Instead Of Cargo Shorts?
Cargo shorts may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great options for men’s shorts. Our favorite alternative shorts style to wear is a pair of chino shorts. You’ll lose the bulky pockets and design of cargo shorts, and have a fashionable pair of shorts that are just as comfortable to wear in the summer months. Companies such as J.Crew make some fantastic chino shorts that will be a much trendier replacement for your cargo shorts.
Alternatively, just a plain pair of cotton shorts are perfect for summer, and these are light and ideal for wearing every day. If you were relying on your cargo pants for sports, opt for a real pair of sports shorts from a brand such as Nike or Adidas instead.
The Bottom Line
While some people do look great in cargo shorts, at this point, they are generally a trend of the past. With so many great trends and styles available from top brands nowadays, there’s no need to return to the 90s and keep pulling out your cargo shorts year after year. If you do still have a pair of cargo shorts in your wardrobe, maybe this will be the year you’ll finally part ways. Plan ahead for the summer by ordering a couple of new pairs of shorts that you’ll enjoy wearing. Don’t just leave it until the last minute, or you’ll end up pulling out the dreaded cargo shorts again!
If you are very attached to your cargo shorts and feel you must get one more summer of wear from them, then make sure you style them well. Avoid shorts that are oversized and ill-fitting, and definitely don’t wear any cargo shorts that have wild patterns or colors. Cargo shorts can be paired with neutral tops and jumpers, which will help avoid attracting too much attention to your ensemble.
We hope this look into cargo shorts has helped you decide what shorts to wear this summer. If you want to learn more about pressing men’s fashion topics or enjoy more interesting discussions, make sure you subscribe to our email newsletter. We’ll deliver thought-provoking topics directly to your inbox to help answer some of your top fashion and lifestyle questions.