How Stylish People Really Wear Cargo Pants

When I wore cargo pants in middle school, I certainly didn't look cool. Then, they cropped up on the runways the last couple of seasons, and I held my breath and thought, HERE WE GO AGAIN. Maybe Jenna Lyons could show me the way. I think I saw her styling cargo pants with a sequined blazer once, and remember thinking: I want that whole outfit.

The trick, it seems, is in transforming the utilitarian-looking pants with slim-fit t-shirts or tanks, button-downs, and fashion-forward frills (read: sequins and heels). If, like me, you've resisted the trend, we've tapped into the street-style set to deliver on all the outfit ideas. Ahead is a veritable buffet of looks to choose from, because cargos are back, but they don't have to look anything like the outfits you put together in seventh grade. Unless, of course, you want them to (and in which case, you're far cooler than I ever was).

Take on the cargo trend with a luxe leather pair, then top it off with a crop top and a printed jacket for a dressier approach.

Remix the sporty vibes of cargo jeans with heels and a sophisticated cardigan.

Contrast the utilitarian vibes of camo-print cargos with bright-pink accents.

Polish off cargos with a statement blouse in a standout color.

Keep it casual but cool with a colorful tank, sneakers, and a chic bag.

Lighten up a heavy cargo pant and boot combo with a flash of skin and a printed blazer.

Lean into the layered look and utilitarian vibes with an army jacket and denim to top off a pair of cargo fatigues.

Sophisticated cargos? That's a thing when you style neutral cargo pants with a cape and jeweled heels.

Neon colorways are one sure-fire way to keep the cargo-pant look fresh for a new season. Just add an ultrabright hoodie or tee to stay on theme.

. . . Or lean into the early 2000s vibes with camo cargos and a cropped top.

Temper a camo-print cargo pant with a classic white button-down.

Feeling fashion-forward? Top a sporty pair of cargos with a blazer and add ankle boots for the finish.

Embrace the utilitarian vibes of your cargo pants and adopt the coordinating-outerwear trend. Make it more wearable with easy footwear, like a ballet flat or simple sneaker.

In a cropped cut and understated color (like good ol' basic black), cargos are just as streamlined as your favorite slim-fit trousers, albeit infinitely cooler. Top them with an easy knit and finish with style-forward mules.

Want to keep your cargos from feeling like a blast from the past? It's all in the right cut, like this paperbag waist, and contemporary pieces like a cool tee and PVC slides to give it edge.

This take-your-cargo-pants-to-work look relies on understated separates, simple, functional footwear, and a blazer to tie it all together.