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How to wear cargo pants with your short shirts

We’re in an era where the big-pants, short-shirt combo reigns supreme. And for that, we have our 90s/Y2K-beauty founding mothers to thank: Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera, and Jennifer Affleck (née Lopez).

Is the big pant du jour occupying the closets of many New York City baddies and their dads? Cargo pants. Definition: “Loose-fitting casual slacks with large patch pockets on the thighs.” But to me, cargo pants are defined as: any pants, many pockets.

I bought my first pair this past winter from Little Donkey Andy at El Train Vintage in the East Village. It’s safe to say that these babies have never seen a hike while worn on my body, but they are the envy of many cafes across the city. They fit me like a glove, are incredibly insulated and make my butt look like perfectly inflated balloons. I usually pair them with a simple cropped shirt and platform shoes.

I have long been a cargo pant/cargo short hater. I thought they were ugly. I had no excuse. They’re practical with their abundance of pockets for storage, comfortable thanks to their loose fit, and nostalgic in the way they remind me of my dad (good thing for some, bad for others).

At some point in the last year, I developed a taste for and faith in cargo pants. Or maybe I’m just tired of my fingers and hands aching because for years we ladies and gents have rightly complained about the lack of pockets in our clothes and rejoiced when stylish articles featured them: “Look! It has pockets! ” As a result, we’ve become more adept at holding 8 million things in our precious hands (think: a photo of Dakota Johnson holding two coffees, her phone, her wallet, a set of keys, a bag of food, and some other unknown beverage all in her hands). Never again! Instead, thanks to our collective newfound love of cargo pants, we have so many pockets to fill and hands free for more important things like holding someone else’s or making ceramics.

India Rabi, fashion writer Nylon, loves this phenomenon because of the space: “People are in the cargo-pants trend because nobody wants to feel restricted, whether it’s physically with clothes, especially because it’s too hot outside, or even in other aspects of life.” When she’s feeling like jazzing things up, she usually pairs her favorites from Hollister with a blouse and a pair of platform boots.

My personal preference for cargo pants is that, if possible, they should be secondhand. With cyclical, nostalgia-adjacent trends like these, quality pieces are likely already in circulation at your local thrift stores and on Etsy, Depop, thredUP, or Poshmark. If you’re looking to cast your net a little wider, below are a few options we stand by.

Hanifa Ryan Cargo Pants

I have never laid my eyes on prettier cargo pants than these. Our beauty writer, Asia Milia Ware, recommended these to me and I would do (almost) anything to own a pair.

Colina Strada Printed Wide Leg Cargo Pants

As is customary at Colina Strada these are fun and playful and made entirely of cotton. Comfort and chaos! We’d love to see it.

TB Crispy Nylon Pleated Cargo Pants

Yes, these only come in black but make a statement due to their taffeta material. Imagine how enchanting these are in motion.

Jaded London Ecru Parachute Cargo Pants

These grab your attention because of how absolutely massive they are. Bigger the pants, bigger the icon.

Dave's New York Rothko Army Style BDU Cargo Pants in Olive Drab

Our deputy style editor, Joanna Nikas, picks these from Dave’s New York. They have an adjustable waist and strap, which we love, and are heavy enough to last you through the apocalypse.

Women's Stretch Convertible Pants Zip-Off Quick Dry Hiking Pants

This is the pair that started it all for me. They’re waterproof as heck, but thanks to the heavy material, I’d recommend saving them for cooler weather.

Stradivarius Cargo Detail Pants
A very good deal

A big pants agenda is in the works.

Hello It Girl Panth

I know I can climb a rock wall, mountain or steep stairs with no problem in this pair.

Hello the edge trousers

Beauty editor at where Margaux Anbouba swears by these waterproof, Kim Possible-esque pants. “I wear them when it rains under my dress or dress, and take them off at the bar because they fold up so small.”

Improvement Bailey High Rise Utility Pants

I wear these to the movies every time: 100 percent cotton and multiple pockets ready to be filled with snacks to sneak in.

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