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

Thom Sweeney


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

Brunello Cucinelli


We adore the chic simplicity of these green cargo trousers by Brunello Cucinelli. Take note of the styling here: the belt is in keeping with the rugged DNA, while the navy-blue knit keeps things easy on the eye. The cotton gabardine gives these trousers their tenacity and strength, while the reverse pleats bring sophistication. Impeccable “legwear” from Brunello. £810. brunellocucinelli.com



Think of these as a compact, entry-level version of the cargo trousers. They are comfortable thanks to the softness of the cotton combined with the stretch of the Spandex and will sit easily due to the elasticated cuffs. The jogger style brings a sleekness to the design that, combined with the small external pockets, make these trousers both simple and practical. £34.90. uniqlo.com

Reese Cooper


These Reese Coopers embrace the textured aesthetic by introducing pockets, pockets and more pockets, making them absurdly practical in comparison to a regular pair of jeans. The deft paint splashes mark the insignia of organisations that’d put trousers like these to use, plus the little carabiner clip is a subtle homage to the climber. Fashion meets workwear done with panache. £450. At mrporter.com