How to Rock Skinny Cargo Pants Like a Fashion Pro

Wearing skinny cargo pants

Somewhere in 2015, I bought skinny cargo pants in the men’s department. Made in gray jersey, with a deep crotch that didn’t bother me the slightest, I was 20ish and could pass whatever. I wore them with boyfriend white shirt – buttoned to the throat, unbuttoned from the bottom up to the navel, with black courts. And sneaker wedges, since it was 2015., lol.

Cargos were designed for British forces, with the aim to be comfortable and to hold lots of items. Skinny cargos are their less comfortable fashionable cousin, rising in popularity in Y2K. Nowadays, with all these fresh designer names on the scene, the possibilities to express your fashion are tremendous. Here are seven tips to make skinny cardo pants amazing.

1) Think about the Silhouette

You don’t have to be a skinny girl to opt for these. Imagine high-waisted military green cargo with a chunky burgundy up-to-waist jacket. The upper part is rounded, the waist accentuated, legs elongated – power trip, right? A waist belt could add, but not necessarily. This androgynous look can slide from a day look to an evening vamp – just by changing from sneakers into pointy heels!

Skinny black cargo pants
Photo: Instagram/@akingsny

Skinny gets along with various oversized stuff – bomber jacket, pilot jacket, baseball jacket, padded shoulder tee…

2) The Cute Top Issue

The rough cargo pants love cute tops’ gentler side. 

A drawstring tank in khaki pairs well with pockety pants of the same hue. Usually, drawstring pieces can be worn in multiple ways, so another cool feature.

Those tight-fitting tops with abstract print – yes.

Grandma’s vest in cotton with dainty flowery pattern and wooden buttons – oh yes!

Some crossover of tank top and corsetry as seen at Dion Lee – sure.

Cotton twill waistcoat for safari vibes – of course.

And just a classic, organic cotton, responsibly sourced tee.

3) Which Shoes?

I wondered how edgy square toe would fit here, like those from Miista, and I couldn’t picture them together. Maybe it’s not their time yet. 

Stylish skinny cargo pants
Photo: Instagram/@butik_dress.code

So pointy courts, pointy ankle boots, pointy sandals, pointy all everything… further elongates that skinny silhouette. For a touch of eccentricity, try clogs or textured shoes like shearling.

4) Accessorising

Integrating cargo pants into your wardrobe opens up many styling opportunities.

A bucket hat with a stimulating print adds a touch of whimsy and brings an artistic flair. that can elevate the casual nature of cargo pants to a more curated ensemble. Classic hoops and chain necklaces give a touch of elegance, blending the line between casual and chic.

On the more avant-garde side, cyberpunk-inspired sunglasses introduce an edge of futuristic sophistication, perfect for those looking to make a bold statement. 

A banana bag injects a dose of streetwear vibe, making the outfit versatile for various occasions. 

Such a combination of accessories — ranging from the playful and artistic to the edgy and functional—is what I call the modern approach to styling cargo pants.

5) I Love Textures

Skinny cargo pants with white sneakers
Photo: Instagram/

Usually, your cargo comes in twill or plain weaving, which goes well with linen shirts, as linen has that irregular texture. Raw silk also has it, with a dim shine that adds glam, but I rarely suggest silk for ethical reasons.

A new generation comes in crinkled acetate, transparent georgette, or silky cargo (which defies the whole logic of cargo since it can be easily stained, damaged, etc…). A great match for a no-lapels blazer or basic sports jacket for that clean, modern look for all occasions.

6) Colours

Classic tones for cargo: military, olive green, khaki shades, safari and earthy tones.

Skinny cargo pants
Photo: Instagram/@_serenede

This cluster of colors is drawn to cognac, orange-red, burgundy, all warm reds. White, black and all greys between… you don’t have to break your head at all. Strong accents like gold and deep purple can make it pop, but this comes with challenges on its own. I only recommend it if you are sure what you are doing.

7) What Not To Do

That Y2K aesthetic – that’s is long gone now. Today’s cargo needs fresher vocabulary, not just a low waist with a graphic tee and sneaker wedge. Stay away from fast fashion – they could defy another cargo logic when you see that double knee stretch. That’s fiber damage that you can’t mend in any way.

So, cargo comes with a laid-back feel, elongates your silhouette, and calls for that effortless adventure in pairing. Pick something from the list, play a bit, and see how it works, and don’t miss a chance to add something on your own.

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