Cargo Shorts: Its Not Them, Its You.

Hated by manner arbiters, they’ll get you banned from certain establishments. At this phase, we’re not even fighting over a garment anymore–it’s deeper than that. “>

A few years ago I wrote an impassioned and admittedly inebriated essay in defense of the most polarizing piece of clothing a human can wear: cargo shorts. At the time I felt I was standing up not only for myself, as a decidedly aesthetically unorthodox addition to the staff of a renowned manner magazine, but also for median dudes everywhere. Why the hell shouldnt we have the right to wear what we want, especially when its comfy and, damn it, practical? The tale went broad, and to this day I receive a few emails a month from people staunchly staking a side in what, if youve tied enough of a belligerent buzz on, amounts to a modern day class war.

Of course, Im not the only person whos ever written about this topic. Every year someone dredges it up like a pair of cut-off camo surplus shorts from under the bench seat of their rusted-out Tacoma, airing out their grievances and triggering a brief, if impassioned, public debate. Its an argument thats likely been happening since some sweaty Brit took a bayonet to his woolen military shipment pants when they were first issued back in 1938, cleaving them off at the knees and immediately dividing his foreign legion brigade into fashionista factions. In the modern age, were not even fighting about the actual garment anymorethis has become as much about personality types as anything. Are you the cargo short type? Well, lets assure Do you radiate chill vibes, enjoy the outdoors, and have at least one fond memory involving a music celebration parking lot? Perhaps a penchant for tinkering, that over day has evolved into a general handiness? You, my friend, are squarely in shipment country.

Conversely, does ensure people do or wear things that you dont agree with define your teeth to grinding? Do you consider spontaneity as fouled as you do box wine, the lack of support in boxer shorts, and eating pizza without a knife and fork? Do you recoil at approaching dogs because theyre generally unclean and you dislike getting hair on your precious pressed slacks? Then shorts with extra storage likely arent your purse. Also, you should chill out before you have an aneurysm.

In case you havent noticed, Im a fan of the former. But heres the thing: as I get older, I do have to give some quarter to the other side: sometimes, cargo shorts arent okay.


I know, I know. It was hard for me to swallow at first, too. But then, I live on Cape Cod. Im writing this from a sunshine drenched deck wearing, yes, cargo shorts, flip flops, and a Flaming Lips t-shirt that says Dont Let Those Motherfuckers Kill Our Vibe. Theres a strong likelihood Ill be having a margarita or three with lunch. At 11:30 a.m. Viewed from that view, of course, cargo shorts are always okay. Anything else would be overdressed, or at the least trying too hard too early in the day to impress the cougars that prowl our local watering hole and clam shacks in these sultry summertime months.

But not everyones life is the beginning of a Jimmy Buffet song.

Its something I detected the hard way when I wore my nice shorts to the office in New York, merely to garner open stares of incredulity as I strode through a sea of well-tailored suits and decorator denim, my flip flops flap-slapping my path to my desk. No, they werent marveling at the magnificent mahogany tan of my exposed legs. It was almost as awkward as when, after run, I tried to drown my embarrassment in a finely mixed cocktail with some friends, merely to be barred entrance to a swanky bar due to my uncouth lower half.

Self-righteous at first, I eventually came to see their phase. Cargo shorts are a leisure item. If youre packing the pockets with energy bars for a through hike, tools and portions for your vintage Jeep, or heady nugs and a brewski for the Phish show, youre good to go. Just bear in mind that in a more formal set they turn you into a garish, hairy distraction from other pursuings. There are times to make a statement, and days to not. When youre power rinsing your mega yacht, even if that merely entails rinsing barf off an inflatable donut raft, wear what you want, and to hell with anyone who tells you otherwise. But if heading to the office entails actually going to an office, or if youre gonna grab dinner at a place where everyone else is wearing a jacket, show some restraint. Otherwise, dislike to say it, youre the doofus , not the uptight guy. Plus, youre constructing the rest of us look bad, and thats apparently not something we need any help with.

Confused about just what cargo shorts you should be wearing? Aspire to better than merely a pair of cut-off army pants with fraying hems and a cabernet stain? Here are a few of our favorites this summer.


Light weight with a somewhat slim fit, thanks to the stretch nylon cloth, these shorts can hold a tailored looking cut but move with you, whether youre headed to grab another round of tequila shots or purse another peak before nightfall. The dark ginger colorway has a classic mountaineering feel, while being refined enough to take to the artisanal pickle bar down the street.


Kelly Slaters Outerknown brand is bridging the gap between surf wear and manner, and doing it with an eye to environmental consciousness. That means you can cop these eight-ounce organic cotton shorts and, like Hannah Montana before you, straddle the best of both worlds. The pockets on these dont snap closeds like most of their kind, so you can use them to quick-draw a beverage or casually fell a shoplifted bar of Sex Wax into, and they come with a drawstring waist in case you go a little too loco on that burrito. The olive drab colorway channels traditional Army surplus, but without the everyman generic cut.


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