Cargo Shorts Style Guide

Cargos were picked up by outdoor enthusiasts, such as hikers and anglers, due to their practicality and durability. And by the 1990s, cargo shorts had entered mainstream fashion in earnest.

Are cargo shorts still in style today? Absolutely, in fact, cargo shorts are surging in popularity. Over time, this hard-wearing fashion staple has evolved to incorporate a load of different styles, fabrics and colours, making them appropriate for many occasions – far beyond adventures in the wilderness. You’ll see them just about everywhere, from the beach to the boardwalk and the park to the poolside.

In this handy style guide, we’ll give you a rundown of how to style your cargos. We’ll touch on everything from what to wear them with to what colours to pair and what accessories you can use to complete your cargo shorts outfit.

Casual daytime wear

For casual everyday wear for men, grab-and-go simplicity is the key. Style a pair of khaki, brown, olive or navy cargo shorts with a simple t-shirt and your favourite pair of sneakers. A plain white crew neck cotton t-shirt is a classic choice with cargos. Or, consider a graphic t-shirt in a vibrant hue like orange or green, with a bold print or logo. Want to channel some retro? Opt for a vintage-inspired tee or your favourite band tee in a washed-out colour like grey or black. Choose a top that fits well to offset their roomier style.

To complete this cargo shorts outfit for men, add a distressed denim jacket or a lightweight bomber. For shoes, a pair of neutral trainers or even beige or brown boat shoes will work well. Hot summer’s day? Grab a pair of brown sandals or bright flip-flops.

For women, pair white, beige, navy or black cargo shorts with a classic loose-fitting blouse, plain or print tank or a graphic crop top for an easy daytime look. When it comes to colours, the sky is pretty much the limit. A pair of neutral cargos work happily with everything from the plainest colour cotton fabrics to bright patterns and bold graphics. Opt for statement colours of the season to add interest. You can also add jewellery, such as a pair of statement earrings or a pendant necklace, to elevate the look. When it comes to footwear, grab a pair of tan or white sandals, metallic espadrilles, or even trainers, depending on the occasion.

Summer party

Headed to a barbeque or casual summer party? Consider incorporating a pair of cargo shorts into your outfit. Pair some black, navy or beige cargo shorts with a classic plain or patterned button-up shirt or a polo shirt. For the top, pick a statement colour of the season or opt for a light and summery tone like powder blue, lime green or white. For shoes, wear loafers, boat shoes or even sandals if it’s a very casual affair. To complete the look, add a pair of aviators or wayfarer sunglasses and a statement hat or cap.

For women, consider pairing light-colour cargo shorts with a flowy, floral or print blouse or a crop top. You can also add a lightweight cardigan in a pastel hue or even a bright kimono for some extra coverage if the weather gets cool. For shoes, pop on a pair of neutral wedges, some bright block heels or a pair of white, metallic or neutral sandals. Accessorise with chunky jewellery to add sparkle.

Heading to the beach

Cargo shorts are a great choice for any beach or pool day. For men, grab a pair of lightweight cargos or stretchy and comfy cargo sweatshorts in a pale colour such as white, beige, pale blue, or even a statement colour like orange. Pair with a simple tee or a lightweight plaid or print short-sleeve button-down.

When it comes to shoes, bright flip-flops or a pair of comfy leather sandals are the order of the day. Complete the look with a woven trilby or Panama hat or even a logoed cap in a statement shade for sportier vibes. Then pop on a pair of your favourite sunglasses and grab a tote bag in a contrasting colour.

Looking for cargo shorts outfit ideas for women? Ladies can style a pair of light-coloured cargo shorts with a black, print or even neon bikini top or a crop top for an easy beach look or add in a wrap for extra coverage against the sun’s rays. Hoop earrings or a layered necklace will add some personality to the outfit, while a pair of easy flip-flops keep everything low-key.

On a Night Out

Cargo shorts can also be worn for a night out if you style them correctly, and, importantly, the occasion isn’t overly formal. To do it, match a pair of dark-toned or beige cargo shorts with a button-up shirt in a classic tone, like light white, black or navy, and closed shoes such as loafers or oxfords. Also, make sure to choose a pair of cargo shorts that fit well. Plus, consider wearing a belt to help dress up the look even further.

For women, a unique night out look can be achieved by pairing darker cargo shorts with a flowing blouse or fitted top, such as a shiny halter neck top or sparkly cami. You can also add a tailored blazer or a leather jacket if the weather calls for it. For shoes, consider heels or ankle boots, depending on where you’re headed.

Cargo shorts are not only comfy and practical, but they’re highly versatile too. Whether you’re adding a splash of colour and fun by wearing your cargo shorts with a bright tee or keeping things more classic and neutral, you can create a stylish outfit that works for any occasion, day or night. 

At Timberland, our cargo shorts are engineered for ultimate durability and versatility. Whether you’re grabbing a classic pair of beige cargos or even a stretchy pair of cargo sweatshorts, you know you’re getting premium-quality fabrics and great design for a pair that’ll last and last.

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