Put simply, cargo trousers are a rugged, durable trouser with large outer pockets. Perhaps termed cargo pants (or “utility” pants) for their commercial-like ability to carry personal items, they’re also known as “combats”, owing to their adoption by the US and British forces from 1938. This explains their tendency to be seen (or not) in camouflage. Although the many pockets are useful for workers and squadies alike, they are just useful: excess receipts, sunglasses, an impulse-bought block of comté, a bottle opener. You name it, the cargo trousers will swallow it up, no questions asked.
Cargo trousers will generally come in a slightly more baggy silhouette (suiting current trends) and are made of tough materials. Gone are the days of the skin-smooth surfaces over the thigh; let us embrace texture, depth and layering. Just one rule: don’t ever think of turning them into shorts. You will not be forgiven.
These utility pants lean into the aesthetic. The large button closure side pockets and flapped rear pocket embrace the military roots and give ample practicality. The Tencel Lyocell/organic cotton construction means it has improved sustainability over regular materials, achieving a reduction of 99 per cent of chemicals and water. Plus, the pleats bring a touch of elegance. £69. cosstores.com
Looking for something a little more jazzy? More moustached? More cigar-worthy? Well, these chocolate-brown trousers by Thom Sweeney ooze with cool thanks to the fine Italian corduroy and smooth-flapped pockets. They subvert the original cargo pants not just by the material, but in their tailored silhouette too. This is a sophisticated pair of cargo trousers. £395. thomsweeney.com