There has been a pervasive evil to emerge in menswear this past spring and summer season. It’s always been around, refusing to die; but it has made a strong resurgence as of late. The evil I speak of is the cargo short. In the most concise manner possible, I will say that guys should not wear them in civilian wear, ever.
There are a few exceptions, that I will get into in a minute.
Why shouldn’t we wear cargo shorts though? They seem so practical, so steeped in military style and so ubiquitous. In theory, that is all well and good. And many times it is a recipe for success. However, with cargo shorts, it is pure disaster.
Often times I would see men wearing a look like you see below; t-shirt, sandals and cargo shorts. Some form of untucked shirt seems to be the go-to with cargo shorts. Some guys try to dress up the shorts (which are very very casual, a step above gym shorts) with a polo shirt or a button up (as DiCaprio below and Beckham above), I respect the effort. But some shit smells so bad that nothing can cover the smell.
Here’s why we shouldn’t wear them: they flatter no man. They weigh down your legs (in the visual way) and create a bulky and clumsy silhouette. Yes, the reasoning is as shallow, simple and aesthetically based as that.
Not even David Beckham can make them look good (see below), and if he cannot, there is no way that you will. So don’t even try.
As noted, there are times when cargo shorts are acceptable. For instance, if they are part of a uniform. The ambulance company that I volunteer at requires that all shorts worn for summer uniform be cargo shorts. It is not my favorite policy, but I adhere to it. The other time I can see them being acceptable is during hiking or similar outdoor activity. These are both situations in which items and tools may need to be accessed in a expeditious manner. But neither of these are situations represent times
I must admit, there was a point in time when I wore cargo shorts. I was about 13 and in middle school. The late 90’s/early 2000’s were a particularly bad time for men’s style. In my young age, I made mistakes. We all have at some point. Fortunately, there is a chance for redemption. A chance to better ourselves. A chance at self-improvement.
As you begin putting away your summer clothes, including your shorts, for the winter; take all of your cargo shorts and throw them out. Or better yet, burn them, I guarantee you it will be more emotionally gratifying that way. And then at least you get to watch things go up in flames. It may seem dramatic, I know. But by the time next spring rolls around and its high season for shorts, you’ll forget about your long lost cargo shorts. You will be able to look back and tell yourself how much your style has improved by just removing one item from your wardrobe. The women in your life will no doubt agree. You will have a new prideful step once you realize that you are a better man without, rather than with cargo shorts.
Photo cred: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2774758/Leonardo-DiCaprio-cuts-casual-figure-white-collared-Tshirt-cargo-shorts-tweed-cap.html
I think it’s a way of implying that the wearer is an habitue of the hills/trail/veldt etc. without a definite statement that can be easily disproved. Like the big dive watches, and the serious running shoes.
Cargo shorts and flip-flops…
There is a very real reason that David Beckham is called the Chav King.
And this perfectly illustrates why most “fashion don’t” opinions are little more than thinly veiled classism.
I wear cargo shorts almost everyday now. I live in Hawaii and get too hot wearing pants most of the time. I basically only wear pants if I have to wear business casual or ride my motorcycle. Although most of the time jeans and a collared shirt count as “Aloha business casual”. Sometimes I just wear shorts and a collared shirt and I’m fine depending on the event. I just finished reading this article and the what to wear on an airplane article. Why do you look down on dressing comfortable so much? I’m not going to be uncomfortable just because someone doesn’t like my jeans or shorts. I don’t walk around in my pjs or anything so why should you care that I’m not in slacks constantly?
I don’t mean to be upset at the author but he comes off as very pretentious in his articles.
In the article I am not hating on jeans or shorts. Nor do I propose wearing slacks all the time. Solely hating on cargo shorts.
I know they look terrible, but they are so comfortable. I also noticed a resurgence and secretly was ecstatic. I live in AZ and wear shorts as much as I can. I have an extensive collection of cargo shorts and love them almost as much as my beloved dog. They are soo practical especially with all the items I carry daily like phone, tissues, keys, wallet, pens etc. Its like having two small purses on each leg. The more you carry the worse they look especially on a slim frame like myself. My teenage daughter has even commented on how she wishes they made them for females since she despises carrying a purse. I mentioned they would look even worse on a teenage girl. As bad as they look, I am married and in my 40’s and I love my cargo shorts. Maybe if I was younger and single I would be more concerned, but, I polled my peer group and we all feel roughly the same about the resurgence of the cargo short. I just counted, and it appears I have 12 pairs. By the way, I found your site because a friend and I were trying to settle a dispute about the appropriate length for a tie, because unfortunately, I can’t wear cargo shorts when meeting with clients.
Appreciate the sentiment. I do wear cargo pants when I EMT so I do understand the practical implications of them. But still can’t get past the look. That said, I hope you have a 13th pair of shorts that are not cargos, ha. Thanks for reading.
Sometimes, like when wearing cargo shorts… a dude just wants to chill. I agree with most of your posts. However, you need to relax if you think wearing cargos at the beach or at home is a no-no.
At home, sure, wear what you want. But in public, that is a hard sell… A dude can chill in regular plain shorts, I think.
Please go fuck yourself.
You are right. I love my cargo shorts, but you are right.
The only men who hate cargo shorts are men that hate themselves. Fashion is for vain self centered people with depression, who think eveeybody else is looking at them all the time. Who really gives a shit what your wearing. Its your body so do with it what you please and dont listen to fashion article men who think they know best or else you’ll end up walking around looking like Rupert the bear.