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Who in the world ever. . . ?

Just one of the pairs of so called casual pants on offer from L.L. Bean.  How much better these would look without those awful cargo pockets on the thighs.

Cargo pants have been around for quite a few years now among the general populace.  And while they certainly have a place in actual police and military settings, I simply don't get it when it comes to the rest of us.  I'm certain my question will bring out the internet trolls, who will accuse me of this, that, and the other, but. . .  Who in the world EVER thought this might be a good look for casual wear??!!

Oh yes.  I enjoyed a pair of honest to goodness woodland camougflage BDF pants, purchased from a genuine military supplier, way back in the early 90s in homage to Sting and David Lee Roth (yes, I know, I know. . .), both of whom were photographed wearing British paratrooper pants a decade before that.  Fortunately, that stage ended abruptly, when I arrived in Madison in August 1994 and moderated my appearance a bit to fit in more with the academic direction my life took at that point, re: haircut and serious wardrobe reappraisal.

The first time I noticed people (young men) wearing the kind of garment shown above as casual pants was several years later while studying in Norway in 1999-2000.  There, everything was always black.  Or faded black.  Occasionally gray.  Never tan, khaki, or stone however.  Sticking out from the crowd is not something Norwegians like to do.  But at least the cargo pants I noticed among the male student throngs didn't puddle around their wearers' ankles, were pressed, and held a crease.   I can't say that the addition of the cargo packets added anything to the overall look though.

Fast-forward 17 years, and I cannot ever remember seeing a guy in the U.S. wearing these things pressed.  It does not matter how they look online or in the pages of that J. Crew, L. L. Bean, or Land's End catalog, or on the racks in Old Navy, The Gap, or J.C. Penney for example.  Invariably, so called cargo pants when worn by guys in real life are rumpled, wrinkled, and look -- forgive me, trolls -- like hell regardless of the age or build of the guy in them.  If one is a soldier on patrol in Afghanistan, well, I suppose you've got more pressing things to worry about than rumpled pants.  But for us civilians?

The same is true when it comes to the related cargo short.  It's just not a good look on anyone.  You might as well go for that 70s porno vibe and dress in snug, elastic waist gym shorts, knee-length white tube socks with two or three stripes around the top, and mirrored aviator sunglasses. . .  along with cultivating a John Holmes mustache.  Or wear the overly long, current variety of knee-length, thin nylon baggy basketball shorts that leave as little to the imagination as their briefer 1970s cousins.

No.  Casual pants are fine in theory, but it's time to leave the damnable cargo pockets behind, gents.  When it comes to casual pants, it's far better to stick with normal khakis/chinos, jeans that actually fit, or perhaps something in linen (rumples and wrinkles permitted) or wool depending on the season.  And hey, if you protest that you need some place to keep your pack of smokes and Bic lighter, well, roll 'em up in your t-shirt sleeve.  Isn't that what it's for?

As I said, who in the world ever thought cargo pants/shorts were a good idea??!!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Comments

  1. Well said. A few years ago the superb photographer Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) declared he refused to photograph men wearing the cargo shorts because they were (especially worn with flip flops) beyond pointless and ugly. I wore cargo pants for 16 years whilst in the military but was very happy to leave them behind. The pockets were designed for maps and ammunition magazines - I have yet to feel the need to be out in public carrying either!

    Is there an element of the 'military wannabe' makes men wear them? It is one of life's mysteries.

    I make do with just smiling when I see them worn in public, content that I simply am not on military operations (and never carry enough 'stuff' to fill all those pockets).

    Keep up the pithy writing!

    Mark

    ReplyDelete

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All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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