3 Ways to Wear Cargo Pants

Cargo pants go in and out of style, but they’re having a moment right now, and I’m loving them as an alternative to jeans this spring. I’ve surprised even myself by how often I want to wear them, so today I’ve rounded up 3 ways to wear cargo pants!

3 Ways to Wear Cargo Pants This Spring

During the Bloomies Friends & Family sale, I ordered 3 pairs of cargo pants to try and shared them all in this try-on post. I kept the Paige pair, but before I sent the others back, I shot these looks in my backyard. I thought it might be nice to see the 3 ways post with 3 different pairs of pants.

3 Ways to Wear Cargo Pants

Of course there are way more than 3 ways to wear cargo pants. Like jeans, the possibilities are virtually endless, but here are a few for starters.

#1. With Striped Shirt + Wedge Sandals

I feel like this look photographed rather dull, but I love it in theory. A black and white stripe top with olive pants is a classic combination. Maybe it’s because the landscape behind me is so dull, or maybe because the shade of green in these pants is darker than most. Anyway, you get the idea.

These are the Joie cargo pants, and they have a 8.5″ rise and a 27″ inseam. I like how the legs have a regular hem (as opposed to the jogger style), and the 27″ inseam is the perfect crop length on me. These pants are also at Amazon and Zappos.

To dress the look up a bit, I wore wedge sandals. These are the perfect not-too-dressy, not-too-casual pair of espadrille wedge sandals, and they have a comfortable cushioned footbed. I wore them with a black maxi dress to church and out to lunch last Sunday, and they felt good all day.

The striped top is the Sanctuary brand, and it’s a nice linen fabric that can look dressed-up or more casual, depending on what you wear with it. I like the split neck and the longer sleeves.

Because the look is pretty simple, I added large geometric hoop earrings and a cuff bracelet. I think I’d also like a couple of delicate gold necklaces in the neckline. I wish I’d thought to add them.

I love the juxtaposition of the feminine/dressy wedge sandals with the masculine/casual cargo pants, and this linen top bridges the gap and pulls them together perfectly.

#2. With Navy Top + White Jacket

This outfit is the most casual of the three because of the sneakers, but the white jacket keeps the look polished.

I wore a navy tank for variety’s sake (the other two looks feature lighter tops) but I think I might prefer my light hthr grey tee with this look, or the subtle pink would be nice too.

Typically I like navy and olive green together, but I’m not crazy about the shades of these two pieces in combination. I think the navy needs to be darker, or a black top would work too.

I added a white denim jacket as a completer piece, and I like how it picks up the white from the sneakers.

For accessories, I wore a silver layer necklace and cuff bracelet.

These cargo pants are by Sanctuary, and they have a 26″ inseam with a 9.5″ rise. They also have an elastic waistband, which is not my favorite, but they’re a really pretty shade of green. They’re also a little baggier in the legs than the other two pairs, which could be a pro or con, depending on your needs.

I carried a neutral tote to break up the look a bit and keep it from being too matchy.

#3. With Graphic Tee + Denim Jacket

This is my favorite of the three looks by far. I have actually worn this a few times already. These are the pants I kept. They’re by Paige, one of my favorite denim brands, and they have a great fit. Plus I found them the most comfortable of the three pairs I tried. They have a 9.5″ rise and a 26.5″ inseam.

I was conflicted between these and the Joie pair (#1) but my husband was walking through the bedroom when I was going back and forth between the two of them, and he declared these to be more flattering, so I ripped off the tags and wore them, and that was that!

They really wear nicely all day, don’t bag out, and because of the higher rise, they’re super comfortable and don’t need constant “hitching up”.

I wasn’t crazy about the jogger style at first, but as it turns out, I think it gives them a great casual-cool vibe. Since my lifestyle is very casual, they’ve been working out great for me.

I’ve also worn this look with a grey tee and espadrilles, but I love how this white graphic tee pops against the rest of the colors in the outfit. Of course I added a denim jacket!

I went with neutral sandals and a neutral bag to keep the focus on the colors in the outfit.

I wore this exact look to a friend’s house for a patio party, and it was perfect for a casual spring gathering. I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot of wear this spring and summer.

Spoiler alert: I ended up ordering the Joie pair in black. I was wearing the Paige pair so much, I decided I should get a pair of cargos in a different color, and the Joie had been a close second choice all along. Here’s a picture of how I’ve worn them. I guess I could have called this post 4 ways to wear cargo pants.

#4. With a Pink Tee + Denim Jacket

The Joie pair also wears well and does not bag out, but because of the lower rise and skinnier leg style, I do find myself hitching them up throughout the day.

As an aside, I’m loving cargo pants with espadrilles for spring. I’ve been wearing them a lot with the black ones shown here, and also the white Eileen Fisher pair.

I have so many more ideas and ways I want to style my cargo pants this spring. Stay tuned, as I’m sure I’ll have more looks I can add to this post over the next few weeks!

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photos: Alison Cornell

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41 Responses

  1. I just bought some cargo trousers for the first time in my life! So now I have some fabulous inspiration ho to wear them! Thanks. Hope to see you on my Fancy Friday linkup party!

  2. I love the Paige pants, am going to order them. I have a question about the new high waisted, wide leg pants that are in the stores for spring. I’m on the fence about purchasing a pair  since I’m just under 5’2.-and almost 60.  Do you think this trend/style will be around for awhile? 

    1. I think you’ll love them! I’m struggling with the wide crops, personally. They’re really not a good look for me, and I daresay, I haven’t seen anyone who I think they truly flatter. But they’re definitely a hot trend, and I do think we are going to see wider leg styles for a while. Skinnies have been popular for so long, it’s time for that pendulum to start swinging the other way.

  3. As I was reading this post I was thinking how I should really get a pair of cargo pants in another color because they’re so versatile! I chuckled when I read you bought a black pair – great idea. I love how you’ve styled them – they can be dressed up or down and look great!

  4. I love it when my husband weighs in on my selections. It’s always nice to have a different perspective because what we see in the mirror can be different!!
    Besides, I do like the jogger trend when it’s not sweatpants!! They are fun and a little different!!

  5. I love all of these looks. My fav is #3 though. I’ve always avoided cargo pants because of the long pockets down the front of the legs but I really like the look of the Paige option, jogger-style hem and all. I’m contemplating buying them, just trying to figure out how much I’ll actually wear them. Bought the Boden shirt and LOVE it. Love it so much that I just ordered the other color available. I’m so tired of the long t-shirts that just aren’t flattering on my body.

  6. I really like your new black ones! Off topic, would you mind sharing more about your nail color? Is it polish, nexgen or something else? As always, thank you for all the time you pour into this.

    1. Sure, I get my nails done every 2 weeks with CND Shellac. I was wearing Studio White in these pictures. I like to change it up and hardly ever get the same color two visits in a row, but this one is definitely one of my favorites for summer.

  7. Love these looks on you! #3 is my favorite. Can you recommend what to wear over spring/summer dresses for warmth, without looking frumpy? Cruise or beach environment with casual halter and sleeveless dresses…cardies seem too ‘heavy’. TY!

      1. Do you keep that jacket on inside? I like the idea instead of a cardigan…but feel silly wearing it inside.

        1. I often do, yes. Like, I’ll keep it on in church or at the mall or even at a restaurant. If I’m at a friend’s house or something, I may remove it… unless I”m chilly.

  8. I think I’ll be ordering some cargo pants!  Such cute outfit ideas.  On a much different note, I subscribed to “She Reads Truth” at your suggestion.  Happy Easter to you and your family.

  9. Like you, my favorite look is the 3rd one. The cargo pants are a nice change from blue jeans. I like the flowers and pots that you and your daughter did yesterday. Yes, Good Friday is a very important day for us. God bless!

  10. Hi JoLynne! Thank you for the reminder of the meaning of today and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us all. You inspire in so many ways that are way beyond fashion, well done! In addition, as usual, you have an amazing post on cargo pants!! Love all the looks, you look great. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend with your family. Christ has risen indeed.

  11. I ordered a pair of cargo pants a couple of years ago during the N sale but took them back. I really like them, but somehow, I just always feel most comfortable in my jeans. #creatureofhabit These are all cute outfits and I like the jogger style!

    1. I don’t know about you Lisa but I always feel like they are a little bit “sloppy” looking (for lack of a better word!) and not polished looking enough for me. I like the idea of them and have a few pair but don’t wear them! The first look JL styled would be my favorite… I think because it’s the most pulled together looking. Maybe it’s my age… who knows!!

  12. Oh my goodness…love these pants and all the outfits you created with them!
    I am so glad you put out a post today. It’s encouraging to connect with other believers on this important day.

  13. Love the jogger style cargo pants! Look #3 with the graphic tshirt is my fav. Happy Easter to you and your family. In this crazy world, we need reminding of what God has done for us to put the other stuff in perspective. Thank you for the devotional email option. Will sign up. God bless!

  14. Thanks for sharing your faith on such a special day.. I to started my day with my devotions that focused on the importance of today and what a sacrifice it truly was:) I love all the ideas you’ve shown to us today. The third look is my favorite too.. my wardrobe is more on the casual style as I work from home or am out and about running errands. I need to find a cargo pant.  I have an olive green pant but do like the cargo style. When you look at the rise in a pant where are you measuring from? This is where I have issues. I’m 5’3 but longer waisted( those tiny zippers usually indicate to me it’s not going to work lol) I usually buy mid rise and find that’s good. Hope you have a wonderful Easter 🐣 

  15. Cracks me up when I see your post and realize I’m dressed the same way you are! What a testament to the impact and helpfulness of your blog! Thank you!! Also, thanks for the devotional suggestion. I’ve been looking for a new one and plan to give this a try. Happy Easter! What a sad day today would be if Resurrection Sunday wasn’t soon to follow!

  16. Cargo pants are one of those styles I want to love but every time I try on a pair I get Kim Possible vibes in a bad way. Maybe it’s the green? I don’t know, but you look great.

  17. That black pair look just incredible–I think they really fit that casual but edgy thing you do so well. I think the black is also a little unexpected. Really nice. Hope you’ll have a beautiful Easter.

  18. I really love them with the wedges in look #1 but I see your dilemma.  Maybe try substituting the striped top for a tee in a bright color like red or pink?  I agree that the wedges are a great juxtaposition of feminine vs the masculine pants, but the striped tee is a tad on the masculine side too, so maybe a girly color would tie it all together?  Also it would break up all the neutrals in the outfit.  
    Crazy how much we psychoanalyze our outfits isn’t it?! Lol

  19. I’m thinking I may need to give these a try.  I’m in jeans 6 days a week right now if not 7 and these would be a good alternative.  Do you recall what size your Navy top is from look #2? 

  20. Hi Jo-lynne, thank you for this post. We just got home from good Friday service, very sombering. You look very good in green. Me not so much. I love the black cargos and some of the ts but sold out, my fault I just checked email. I subscribed to the Bible verse. Thank you. I hope you and your family have a happy resurrection day and wonderful weekend! God Bless.

  21. I have such a weakness for any kind of green pants, so these are definitely my kind of outfits. Absolutely love #3!!
    And thanks for your J. Crew roundups in the newsletter. After you mentioned pairing that ice cream tee with pink jeans, it was on its way to me lol. I wouldnt have immediately thought of that one, but it will be so cute!

  22. I am currently living in cargo pants that I purchased from Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack. My go to cargoes currently are Maison Jules, Style & Co. and Union Bay. Thanks for sharing your takes on how to wear cargoes pants with different types of tops and denim jackets as well as shoes and totes.

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