The Case For & Against Cargo Trousers
The Case For & Against Cargo Trousers

The Case For & Against Cargo Trousers

The latest trend in the 90s revival has divided opinion in the SheerLuxe office. Here, senior fashion & shopping editor Elaine Lloyd-Jones and junior fashion & beauty writer Sapna Rao to share their opposing thoughts on cargo pants…
By Elaine Lloyd Jones & Sapna Rao

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Elaine Says She’s Not Convinced…

I’m willing to embrace some of the clichés of 90s fashion – silk scrunchies, long-line blazers, bias-cut slips and kitten heels all have a place in my wardrobe – but I believe cargo trousers are best left to action movies and music videos (Destiny’s Child’s Survivor springs to mind). These days the girl power narrative plays out in less obvious ways, so there’s no need to dress for battle – even if Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid and even Paige Thorne from Love Island are all fans. 

For me, when someone says cargo trousers, I immediately think of Maharishis. A cult fashion buy back in the 2000s, they were almost identical to today’s ASOS style – low-slung, baggy and made from crunchy cotton. I can’t remember if mine had the signature dragon emblazoned on the back – I suspect I’ve blocked it out. Thankfully, I left them behind in a cheap Paris hotel room – a befitting end. But that wasn’t my last foray into cargo pants. Later, I moved onto the far more refined silky cargo trousers with cuffed bottoms – Karen Millen, for those who remember, and not worlds apart from the Tom Ford cargos on offer today. Happily it was a short-lived phase. Looking back, I’ve been there – flirted, experimented and thus figured out exactly what I want. And it’s not cargo trousers. 

I appreciate fashion should be fun and I’m excited by the newness that designers constantly come up with, but the best purchases tend to sit seamlessly within my existing wardrobe. Having a modus operandi isn’t boring and there’s no greater compliment than, ‘It’s so you.’ It means your style reflects your personality. That’s why there's no room for utility style in my daily repertoire – possibly I could be swayed by the subtlety of Matteaus organic cotton straight-leg trousers, but I’d be more likely to wear them with Ancient Greek sandals than Air Jordans.

Sapna Says It’s A Trend To Get On Board With…

I don’t feel the need to jump on every trend made popular by Instagram or TikTok, but cargo trousers? I’m a fan. There’s no hiding the fact that Gen Z is obsessed with 90s and Y2K fashion, and cargos are one of those revived trends that have suddenly gone mainstream. Aside from the nostalgic references – J-Lo, the Spice Girls, Keira Knightley in her Pirates of the Caribbean days – cargos work for multiple reasons. 

Not only do they instantly make any look feel that little bit more current, they’re also more versatile than people give them credit for. From casual streetwear-inspired fits to dressy nights out or (dare I say it) edgier workwear looks, cargos tick a lot of boxes. In my book, they’re an easy way to go from day to night, and above all, they’re comfortable. 

That said, there is a right way to wear them if you don’t want to look tacky. My advice? Team them with classic wardrobe staples like plain tees, shirts, bodysuits and blazers to simplify the look and make this trendier piece fit more seamlessly with your personal style. It’s so important that a trend like this doesn't wear you. Neutral colourways are also key – think white, black and beige – if you want to give the look a timeless feel. Silhouette wise, high-waisted, wide or straight-legged fits tend to be the most flattering. A slim, cropped or low waist – although it can look cool – will date much faster, so it’s best to opt for a style that has a little bit of longevity left in it. 

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