Shirts to wear with cargo pants

Cargo pants are a great addition to your wardrobe, but they can be tricky to wear. They have a lot of pockets, which can look awkward if you don’t know how to use them.

Here are some tips for wearing cargo pants with shirts that will make your outfit look great:

  1. Wear a tucked-in shirt

Wearing a tucked-in shirt is the best way to work with cargo pants’ pockets. If you’re wearing an untucked shirt, the pockets will stick out awkwardly and make it look like you’re trying too hard. Tucking your shirt in helps keep everything neat and organized.

  1. Choose shirts with simple patterns

Cargo pants are already busy enough without having a pattern on top as well. Make sure that whatever shirt you choose has a simple pattern that coordinates well with the rest of your outfit. This will make sure that everything looks cohesive without being too busy or distracting from the main focus of your outfit (which should be your pants).

  1. Choose solid colors over prints/patterns

Prints/patterns can be difficult when paired with cargo pants because they draw attention away from what’s most important—the pockets! You want people looking at those babies instead of

Shirts to wear with cargo pants


Cargo pants are a military invention. They first emerged around the time of WWII, when large pockets were added to troops’ trousers to hold things like maps, bandages and ammunition. The very first cargo pants, created for the British Army, had just a single patch pocket (the large, sewn-on pockets typically found on cargo pants or jackets). The Americans added a second, with dual or quad pockets remaining the standard ever since.

All of this is to say that if soldiers – actual soldiers fighting wars – can make do with just a few cargo pockets, then less should be more for us civvies, too. The simplest styles have two pockets that are positioned closer to the hip than the knee, and that sit neatly rather than sagging down. Of course there are brands taking a more maximalist approach to pocket count and size and doing it well, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

Do Choose The Right Fit And Fabric

Brunello Cucinelli

The reason cargo pants got a bad rep last time around? Bad fits. The late 90s-early 00s era wasn’t known for restraint, which is why cargo pants gradually got big, baggy and bulky to the point where they looked like a parody. The best cargo pants of today are clean and streamlined, usually in a slim or straight cut. Wide-legged styles can work, but there’s a very fine line to be walked between gently oversized and cartoonish.

In terms of fabric, it’s quite hard to go wrong here. Sturdy cotton twill is the classic, but smarter options in chunky corduroy and fuzzy wools are also bang on the money.

Don’t Complicate Things

Brunello Cucinelli

Good style is all about balance. If you’re going all-in on cargo pants, even the polite, smartly-tailored ones, then keep things simple up top. Military field jackets and utility vests can work with cargo pants, but it’s difficult to pull off without looking like you’ve just raided an army surplus store (the trick is to mix colours and fabrics, and keep the fit modern).

For most men, the best way to wear cargo pants is with classic pieces – chunky fisherman knits, overshirts, hiking boots and denim jackets. In the summer, you can’t go wrong with an oversized T-shirt and some clean white sneakers.

Do Keep It Casual

Aimé Leon Dore

As we’ve mentioned, the best cargo pants are often smart and well-tailored. Sometimes they are even made from tailoring fabrics. But even so, one thing they’re absolutely not is formal. A pair of cargo pants with a cashmere sweater, an Oxford shirt and boots is slick, but that’s about as smart as it gets. Lean in to the utility of it all and keep things laid-back.

Entry Level Cargo Pants


The simplest way of thinking about cargo pants is as a slightly more exciting chino, which is to say that you can wear them with pretty much any casual jacket, T-shirt and sneaker combo. If you’re dipping your toes in the waters, stick to colour combinations you know well, like sandy-beige and blue denim.

Elegant Cargo Pants


Classic menswear fabrics like flannel, pinstripes and checks all work for cargo pants. Stick to muted tones and look for pairs with classic tailoring details like a pintucked or pleated front, or a properly turned-up hem. You can dress them down with a good, chunky crew neck or turtleneck, and simple Derby shoes or leather sneakers.

Rugged Cargo Pants


Fleece sits neatly in the same category as cargo pants – considered somewhat uncool for years, but secretly we were all thrilled to see it make a comeback. Also like cargo pants, it’s important with fleece to keep things uncomplicated if you’re after a mature look. Instead of the typical bright colours and graphic designs, think in neutral tones like cream, white and grey.

Loafers smarten this up, with hiking boots a more authentic alternative.

Smart Cargo Pants

Rag & Bone

You can, to a certain extent, dress up a pair of cargo pants for parties, dates or work. The simplest way is to choose a pair with a tailored fit and well-proportioned pockets that don’t shout for attention. Keep your shirt untucked unless you’re also wearing a jumper, and wear with a slightly cropped jacket for a more interesting silhouette.

Minimalist Cargo Pants


Minimalist needn’t ever mean boring, and stripping everything back to monotone is a classic move for a reason. Here, it’s all about focussing on the precise silhouette and details, like the way the trouser hem gently kisses the top of the boot, and the sharpness of the cargo pant pockets. If you aren’t sold on all black, this would work just as well with navy and a crisp white tee.

Everyday Cargo Pants

Buck Mason

It’s not a crime to want to dress simply and comfortably, especially in the warmer months. Cargo pants in soft, rugged cotton are ideal here – they have a little more edge than a bog-standard chino, but aren’t remotely fussy. Throw on some beaten-up skate shoes and a well-fitting T-shirt and you’re set.

Luxe Cargo Pants

Brunello Cucinelli

Often, the reason an outfit looks expensive has nothing to do with the price tag and everything to do with texture. Mixing tactile finishes like shearling, wool and leather gives a rich, luxurious feel to this cargo pant outfit – keep to muted tones like navy and tan, and make sure the fit is spot-on, too.

Workwear Cargo Pants


Cargo pants made from lighter, more fluid fabrics are ideal for this sort of easy, workwear-inspired styling: think boxy chore jackets, gilets and chambray shirts.

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