As a chap, I understand full well all the very manly and difficult questions and problems that we, as gents, must answer and face everyday. Questions such as – How many press ups, squats and sit ups should I do before leaving the bedroom (generally 100 of each I think is a good starting point)? What rough and ready breakfast shall I devour in mere seconds to set myself up for a very manly day? What strong, powerful statement clothes should I drape myself in to show the world just how manly I really am? And of course, just where can I put all the things I need to take with me to perform the many manly activities I have planned? After all, one never seems to have enough pockets!
It is this last and perhaps manliest of all manly questions that I intend to answer today. We men carry our whole world in our pockets; keys, change, phone, cash, cards, license etc. our only assistance coming in the form of a little rectangle of leather. Women must surely snigger and giggle, mocking our plight, feeling safe in the knowledge that their belongings are wrapped up safely in their quite frankly vast bag or purse, where it doesn’t become uncomfortable, jingle about or turn into a bugger to get out of a pocket when in tight spaces, under pressure or dealing with restrictive fabrics (read into this last point as you wish, but I was going for phone).
Consider the Man bag I hear you cry! All very well, a useful addition to any man’s wardrobe – but what is there for the fashion forward, practical gentleman, who wishes to have both superior storage facilities on his person and still maintain enough flexibility to wrestle bears, swim rivers, conquer mountains, do DIY AND go out for the day with a spouse or family? All activities proven to be far more difficult when attempted in conjunction with a very stylish and manly man bag.
What I present today, to you; the proud, brave and manly readers of FashionBeans, is the reincarnation of a trouser style most linked with the rough and tumble types of the armed forces, hikers, young children building forts, Ray Mears and Bear Grylls. After making its mark on the active and outdoorsy worlds, the humble cargo trouser is seeking to forge a very manly path into fashion, forcing aside the common jean and weedy chino, placing itself at the very fore front of trouser alternatives. But will it succeed?
The key point in this key item reincarnation is the change in cut and overall look. To be seriously considered in the fashion world, cargo trousers need to shake off their old image (and consumer market) and be brought right up to date. One advantage they have right from the off however, is that many of the current major trends seem to be tailor made for them, and they can be used almost immediately – the Avant Ski, Military, Town Meets Country and Heritage trends all allow you to make use of the utilitarian look and feel of the trousers, incorporating them straight into your outfit, helping to create a very rugged and varied style. They also provide a very realistic alternative to the standard jeans and chino choices, and because of their nature, they retain some of their original practicality and usefulness – whilst still being a stylish and fashion forward option.
As I have already mentioned, changing the cut and look of the style will be a key factor in any success they experience. There needs to be variation and diversification if we are all to avoid looking the same. This season we see Cargo trousers being produced in Banana, Carrot and Drop Crotch fits, as well as tapered and slimmer legs, along side the more recognisable (and unholy) relaxed fit styles. There has also been more variation in material, with pure cotton, cotton mixes and nylon. This variety helps to create more styles, looks and shapes, leaving more room for experimentation with outfits. All these styles will work well with the current A/W trends as well as in a more urban, street look style; a lot depends on how much of a statement you want the trousers to make. Cargo/Combat trousers do have a certain amount of stigma attached to them, so you will have to make sure you use them in the right way to avoid becoming another army man lookalike, some chap that thinks he’s the next Bear Grylls, or your dad going for a Sunday ramble. Thankfully, there are very few examples of Camouflage patterns emerging outside the Army Surplus stores.
So below you will find an assortment of images from a few great look books we managed to find online. These all encapsulate the new style of cargo’s perfectly; slim fits, unobtrusive pockets/detailing and new materials such as leather and jersey being utilised. These images are from the amazing Street Etiquette blog, Zara Look Book and Details Magazine:
To really make the most of Cargo/Combat trousers you should mix them in with other key items from this season; chunky boots, thick knitwear (Fairisle or otherwise), trapper hats and quilted or Barbour jackets. The current trends are so transitional that you can easily switch between them by changing just one or two items. For a more military inspired look, change the chunky hiking boots for military style ones, and change the Barbour for a high collared peacoat. If you want to make a real statement though, try mixing in more tailored items such as blazers, shirts, ties and waistcoats for a real clash of style.
When used correctly these trousers can provide a whole new dimension to your wardrobe, a real alternative to Jeans and Chinos, and in my opinion, are actually more interesting. Most importantly however, all those pockets provide ample storage space for those manly, practical types that fancy scaling a waterfall, fighting a tiger or saving a damsel in distress from a MASSIVE spider whilst still staying stylish.
So, do we think Cargo/Combat trousers are a realistic alternative to the more established styles, or should they be restricted the outdoorsy types?
Let me know in the comments below.
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