Can Cargo Pants Ever Be Smart Enough for Work?

A reader asks:

“Is there ever a time when it’s okay to wear cargo pants to work (unless you’re in the army)?”

The answer? Absolutely. If you can wear chinos to work, then you can wear cargo pants. However, baggy army-surplus style cargos will not do: cargo pants for work need to be as smart and as well-fitted as any other pair of trousers in your wardrobe. Luckily, the Italians have taken to the task of making smart-casual cargo pants with relish. Brunello Cucinelli has perfected the look (as the samples from his Fall/Winter 2010 collection, below, attest) while Incotex offer dressy cargo pants in a number of colours.

A number of high street shops have also done a good job of bringing smart-casual cargo pants to the masses. Both Banana Republic and Gap sell them, though, as always, you should wait for one of their (very frequent) sales before buying any.

If you’re looking for something to wear with smart-casual cargo pants, stay away from anything too smart. Try pairing them with a casual button-down Oxford shirt and crew neck sweater, or even a shawl-collar cardigan. If you need to look a bit smarter, slip a tweed sports jacket over the top.

(Photo: Brunello Cucinelli)

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