10 Ways to Style Cargo Pants for Every Occasion

Learn how to style cargo pants for every kind of occasion. These staples can form the basis for tons of super-stylish and comfortable outfits.

Published December 28, 2023

My absolute favorite outfit when I was about 10 years old was a co-ord set of a shag tank top and capri camo cargo pants. I loved it so much, I had it in three different colors. Nearly 20 years later Y2K fashion is back with a vengeance.

If you weren't there the first time around then it's time to head back to class and learn how to style cargo pants — and the best thing is that you can wear them just about anywhere. 

Make a Time-Traveling Outfit With Thrifted Pieces


Thanks to pop culture icons like TLC, cargo pants feel like such a 90s thing. But that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to only wear bandana tops with your cargo pants. Pull out your favorite thrifted pieces and time travel through your outfit.

You could pair a cool 70s granny square coat with a 2010s staple shoe (Uggs) or throw on a quaint 50s sweater and chunky sneakers. The best thing about recycling fashion is that there are no rules for what you can wear and how you can wear it.

Take Cargos Into the Workplace With a Smart Blazer


Thanks to mid-2000s fashion and their cargo shorts + faux hawks combos, cargo pants haven't climbed out of the casual category in years. However, you totally can take your oversized cargos into the workplace. It’s just all about styling.

Given that cargos are pretty unstructured, you can increase their professional appeal by adding more structured pieces on top. For example, a blazer with padded shoulders and heels is a great way to wear your cargo pants to the office. Who doesn't love a day-to-night outfit, anyways? 

Step Into the Matrix With a Sleek Trench


How do we keep our fashion sense in the winter? By layering. Cover your baggy cargo pants with a sleek trench coat and simple jacket underneath. Why not go a little Nero from The Matrix if you can? 

Mix and Match Cargo Pants With Cool Textures


Cargo pants as a utilitarian design have a ton of big pockets, which adds a visually interesting element. Play off of this by incorporating other unusual textures into your outfit. Things like lace, tulle, and faux fur can turn up the fashion element in a cargo pant-based outfit.

When in Doubt, Go Monochrome


We've all had that tough week and needed to look put together but couldn't muster the energy to make an outfit if we tried. When in doubt, you can always stick with monochrome. Picking pieces in the same color scheme (or in the same shade entirely) is a perfect way to cheat the system. And this rule of thumb works for cargo pants, too.

Flip the Cargo Color Palette on Its Head


Neutrals, who? If you’ve strayed away from cargo pants because of the basic khaki colors, then you've been missing out. There's a whole wide world of fun and funky cargos to choose from. Think billowing satins and jewel tones, or frayed jean materials and neon hues. When you've got a statement cargo in a fun color you might as well take the theme all the home with equally colorful pieces.  

Quick Tip

Unsure about which colors go together? You can always start with complementary colors on the color wheel.

Pair With Denim & Sneakers for an Everyday Look


Let's face it, so many outfits we see on our FYP are highly impractical to wear when standing in line at the DMV or getting our teeth cleaned at the dentist. If you just want a stylish way to wear cargo pants when you're running errands, then you've got to grab a denim jacket and a pair of sneakers.

You can mix and match shirts and accessories to your heart's content, but those three pieces can get you through an entire week on the road.

Embrace the Y2K Love With Low-Rise Cargos


Y2K's no longer in our rearview mirrors. If the runways and Target's clothing section are anything to go off of, we're just a few months away from a full takeover. If you want to relive those days or never got to experience them in the first place, then you can really embrace old-school cargo style by hanging them low on your hips. Top it off with a stretch white tank and a chunky belt.

Go Super Casual With Athleisure Accessories


Cargo pants have come a long way since their utilitarian origins. Now you can find them in practically every fabric available. If you've got a cotton and spandex blend, then they're perfect for turning into an athleisure outfit.

If there's one thing America does well it's athleisure. Some things you can pair with your slouchy cargo pants are quarter-zip pullovers, sports bras, puffer vests, and so on.

Give Cargo Pants an Edge With a Leather Jacket & Heels


Take a page out of Berlin's fashion book and pair a black leather jacket with every piece of clothing you own. A plain black jacket doesn't do much in the pizzazz department, but you can still elevate your outfit by playing with opposing colors and accessories. A white bag or bleached cargos will look really cool against the tougher jacket you've got on.

The Limit on Styling Cargo Pants Does Not Exist


For 90s babies, cargo pants were the sweats of today. You always had a few pairs ready to fall back on. Right now, cargos are more elevated and artistic than ever before with modern designers stretching the concept well beyond what we could’ve imagined.

Whether you keep things simple with a tank top or take it straight to the boardroom with a blazer and blouse, the number of ways you can style cargo pants are endless.

Trending on LoveToKnow
10 Ways to Style Cargo Pants for Every Occasion