All that semiology, contained in a pair of trousers! Who could resist? They represented utilitarianism, rebellion, war, peace, masculinity, subversion, D.I.Y. practicality. Yves Saint Laurent was arguably the first designer to give cargo pants the high-fashion treatment, when he included a version in his Saharienne collection of 1968. Since then, it’s hard to think of a single label that hasn’t flirted with the style — on all ends of the fashion spectrum. Though they cycle up and down in popularity (big in the 1990s and noughties, less ubiquitous in the 2010s), they never disappear entirely. And at the moment they are having another major … well, moment.

A brief list of the brands that included cargo pants in recent offerings includes Dries Van Noten, Proenza Schouler, Mango, Cos, JW Anderson, Reformation, Valentino and Uniqlo. Vogue called them a “nonnegotiable for spring.” They come high-waist, low-waist and in all sorts of materials: cotton, canvas, velvet, satin.

There are cargo pants for pretty much everyone, and at this point they have become so denatured, so far removed from their point of origin, that the question of what you may be saying with your cargo pants — whether you are pro-military or not — is essentially moot.

Ms. Taymour recommends wearing cargos with a blazer or a button-up shirt, which makes them look less workwear, more debonair. Christopher John Rogers, who showed silk satin cargo pants on his runway under long button-up shirts left open from the waist down to create a quasi-train (and who lives in his own pair), suggested “wearing them low-slung with an oversize button-down and an elevated shoe, or high-waist and cinched with a belt and a contoured something on top.”

As for the pockets, Ms. Taymour suggests you think of them less as places to store stuff, as they once were intended, and more as architectural elements or “an accessory to your outfit.” The only cargo they should really be carrying, after all, is attitude.

By Vanessa Friedman

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