How to style cargo trousers

Styling tips

All the pockets, please.

Last updated: 11 April 2024
6 min read
How to style cargo trousers

Of all the Y2K fashion trends to make a comeback, cargo trousers are undoubtedly one of the most versatile for men and women.

In all their pocketed glory, these trousers range from baggy and bold to slim and sporty and give a casual feel. Because of this range, they often spur a few questions, like how to style cargo trousers or what to wear with cargo trousers.

(Related: 8 summer outfit ideas for women by Nike)

First and foremost, the cardinal rule for styling cargo trousers is understanding that a cargo-trouser outfit at its core is utilitarian, whether or not you're wearing them for function. As a result, styling them is pretty easy. Wardrobe staples like T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and oversized jumpers all pair well with cargo trousers. In hotter weather, crop tops and tank tops are ideal.

For a bolder look, lean into the pragmatism of cargo trousers with more function-first items like a technical jacket and sun-shielding accessories like hats and sunglasses. Or, go for a monochrome outfit or even a colour-block look, combining a couple of vibrant shades like Bright Green, Pale Yellow, Tangerine and Lilac.

Make an even bigger statement by styling cargos with unexpected pieces like a colour-block half-zip, cut-out bodysuit or chainlink cross-body bag—the result will feel less utilitarian and more fashion forward.

Of course, there are particular shoes to wear with cargo trousers for an ultra-stylish effect. Fresh Nike kicks are a must—from colourful trail runners to crisp white sneakers and iconic styles like an Air Jordan, Air Force 1 or Air Max. Flexible and breathable skate shoes are another laid-back option that'll steer a cargo-trouser outfit into carefree territory.

Whether you're currently seeking fresh inspiration for your go-to pair of cargos or considering giving a pair of these pocketed trousers a try, keep scrolling for seven cargo-trouser outfit ideas—all of which can be worn all year round.

7 outfits with cargo trousers to wear right now

1. Sporty chic with a splash of green

How to style cargo trousers

A green cargo-trouser outfit sounds pretty straightforward. You know the kind: fatigue-green cargos paired with a simple tee and classic white sneakers.

Rather than opting for the expected, however, go bolder and brighter with energetic shades like green and yellow, worn from head to toe. Loose and relaxed-fit cargo trousers are the perfect downplay to in-your-face colours, while a fitted top like a sports bra or tank top brings balance to the volume. To finish the look, toss on a lightweight bomber and punch up your palette even further with equally colourful accessories like colour-block sneakers and a tote.

2. Cargo meets class

How to style cargo trousers

Classic cargo trousers are relaxed, comfy and seriously pocketed. To freshen up the vibe, focus on the layers. Stick with the classic aesthetic and reach for a neutral-toned tank top. Finally, top off the look with an unbuttoned short-sleeve Oxford—so chill and breezy.

An Air Jordan 1 Mid SE Craft in a complementary colour will create cohesion and inject an effortlessly cool element. For accessories, opt for a pair of sunglasses with a smaller frame in a coordinating colour—this small addition will tie the look together.

3. Baggy but sleek

How to style cargo trousers

A black cargo-trouser outfit is highly versatile, particularly when it's centred around a high-rise, wide-leg pair. Even better if said pair comes with ties at the leg openings to customise your hem (i.e., wear it loose or tight to showcase your footwear fully).

On top, a pocketed Ripstop technical jacket will emphasise the utility vibes—layer yours over a cropped boxy tee for an even bolder effect. A colourful sneaker, such as the Nike Air Max 97 By You, will play up the nostalgia theme, while a nylon cross-body bag adds a sport-luxe touch.

4. Classic, cosy and cool

How to style cargo trousers

Whether for weekends or a work-from-home session, you can't go wrong with green utilitarian cargo trousers made of Ripstop nylon. A grey hoodie keeps things cosy and classic, while quilted house socks add extra plushness for when you're in full-on relax mode. Need to leave the house to pick up takeaway? Grab a pair of comfy shoes, like fresh white running sneakers. Steely aviators are a timeless and polished finish.

5. Tighten the waist with a drawcord

How to style cargo trousers

Coordinating items (in this case, the 1/4-zip and the trousers) makes life so much easier—and this can easily be executed with any of your favourite cargo-trouser outfits. Colour-blocking is the ultimate way to elevate off-duty moments, especially when an interesting base layer—like a cut-out bodysuit—is a part of the look.

Not to mention, these specific cargo trousers feature an elastic waistband with a drawcord, enabling you to tighten or relax the fit. Simple accessories like Nike Air Force 1 '07 sneakers and sleek black sunglasses enable this look to sing.

6. Convertible cargo: a two-for-one look

How to style cargo trousers

Neutral skate-inspired extras keep this look clean, whether you're wearing these on a low-key Saturday around the town or legitimately hitting the skatepark. The best part? You can detach the trouser legs if you want to convert your cargo into shorts. Consider pieces like a white long-sleeve tee, crew socks, suede and canvas sneakers, and a baseball cap.

7. Shake up the proportions

How to style cargo trousers

Stand out in a pair of cargo trousers that have a wide-leg silhouette. Neutral pieces like an oversized T-shirt and high-top sneakers ensure the trousers are a focal point but with an effortless result. A hip pack helps maintain a utilitarian tone and will keep you hands-free for days out and about—peak functional. Fit tip: go for oversized proportions with your clothing for a fresher effect.

Words by Laura Lajiness Kaupke

Originally published: 31 August 2023

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