We’re in an era where the big pants, small shirt combo reigns supreme. For that, we have our founding mothers of ’90s/Y2K-beauty, Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera, and Jennifer Affleck (her daughter Lopez) to thank.
The big pant du jour that occupies the closets of many New York City baddies and their dads? Cargo pants. Definition: “Loose-fitting casual pants with a large patch pocket on the thigh.” But to me, cargo pants are defined as: any pants, lots of pockets.
I bought my first pair last summer at El Babur Vintage in the East Village from Little Donkey Andy. These babies were almost never seen walking around wearing them on my body, but they were the envy of many cafes in the city. They fit me like a glove, are incredibly protective, and make my butt look like a bunch of perfectly inflated balloons. I usually pair them with a cropped shirt and platform boots.
I have been a cargo pant/cargo short hater for a long time. I thought they were ugly. I had no excuse. They’re practical with their abundance of pockets for storage, thanks to a loose fit, and nostalgic in the way they remind me of my dad (a good thing for some people, a bad thing for others).
Sometime last year I developed a taste for cargo pants. Or maybe I’m tired of my fingers and hands getting sick because we women and girls have not had pockets in our clothes for years and I’m glad when we complain and come out with beautiful articles: “Look! It has pockets!” As a result, we’ve become adept at holding 8 million things in our precious hands (think: a photo of Dakota Johnson holding two coffees, her phone, her wallet, a set of keys, a bag of food, and an unknown beverage all in her bare hands). Never again! Instead, thanks to our shared newfound love of cargo pants, we’ll have plenty of pockets to fill and hands free for more important things, like holding someone else’s case or making ceramics.
India Robi, fashion writer at NylonHe likes the phenomenon of being out of class: “I think people got into the cargo pants trend because no one wants to feel restricted, physically, by that clothing, especially because it’s too hot outside, or even in other areas of life. When she’s feeling like turning things up, she usually pairs her favorites with a Hollister shirt and platform shoes.
My personal preference for cargo pants would have to be second if possible. With cyclical, nostalgia-adjacent trends like these, quality pieces can be found at your local thrift stores and on Etsy, Depop, thredUP or Poshmark. If you’re looking to cast your net a little wider, below are some options we’ve covered.
I have never laid my eyes on a cuter pair of cargo pants than these. Our beauty writer Asia Millia Ware recommended these to me and I would do anything to own a pair (almost).
As usual with Colina Strada these are fun and whimsical and are made entirely of cotton. Convenience and chaos! We love to see.
Yes, these only come in black but they are a statement maker because of their taffeta material. Imagine how ridiculous these look in motion.
They can easily distract you because of how huge they are. The bigger the pant, the bigger the icon.
From Maison Margiela and upscale: 100 percent cotton and elastic waistband. I’m not sure it gets any better than that.
Another marquee brought to you by way of Isabel Marant, a good lady, recommended to me by senior writer Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, bought these because she likes to “just dress like Lara Croft.” Aren’t we all?
A beautiful marriage of wide leg, tailored pants trend and cargo pant.
Our shopping writer China Rodriguez chose this collection with an adjustable waist and cuffs, saying, “The perfect oversized fit.
What you see is what you get with these pants, a favorite of Marketing Editor Bianca Neves, who wore them so much she accidentally left them in the laundry. (If anyone meets them, do the right thing and talk to her.)
Our Deputy Style Editor, Joanna Nikas, picked these from Dave New York. They have an adjustable waist and straps that we love, and are probably tough enough to keep you going through the apocalypse.
This is the pair that started it all for me. They’re waterproof as heck, but thanks to the heavy material, I recommend saving them for colder weather.
Big-pants agenda in action.
I know I can climb a rock wall, mountain, or very steep terrain with no problem in this pair.
Beauty editor at Elle Margaw Anbuba swears by these waterproof, Kim Possible–esque pants. “I wear them when it rains,” she said.
I wear these films every time: 100 percent cotton and lots of pockets ready to be filled with snacks to sneak in.