Are Cargo Pants Business Casual?

Added by on November 11th, 2008 @ 11:52 am

Cargo pants are comfortable to wear, but are these 6+ pocketed cousin to the chino appropriate business casual attire? It really depends on what industry you are in, and if your company allows it. Unless you are Bear Grylls and require 14 pockets on your pants to store supplies, avoid them in the workplace.

Identifying cargo pants:

Cargo pants are plain khaki pants with 2 or more pockets added, and sometimes come with their own canvas or drawstring belt. They are handy for outdoor work, or storing a mid-afternoon snack, are very comfortable and very casual looking. Cargo pockets are not subtle pockets like the hip pockets on most pants. Instead, they stick out in a distracting manner and are usually fastened by giant buttons or zippers. Basically, if there is a pocket below your hip pocket, it is a cargo pant.

What about skirts? “Cargo” can also come in skirt form and should be avoided in the same manner.

What you should wear instead:

For guys and ladies, look for pants that have 2 side pockets and 2 back pockets. If it has more than 4 pockets, only buy it for after work or the weekends. Corduroys are also acceptable in a business setting.

Always check with your workplace:

Always check with your company about dress code policy. Depending on what industry you are in, employers will have different opinions of cargo pants. Companies that are in an office setting or work with the public tend to shy away from cargo pants. But if your employer is a small company with a flexible dress code, by all means add them to your work wardrobe.

Where to buy business casual pants:

Believe it or not, Goodwill or your favorite second hand store, will have a great selection of work appropriate pants. With a price point of $5, they can easily help you build your business casual wardrobe. In addition to great second hand deals, there may be stores in your area that sell discounted designer clothing like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Kohls in the $10-$40 price range. Stores like Gap and Banana Republic also have a great selection of business casual clothing that range from $30-$80.

What does your company think of cargo pants in the work place? Are you wearing them right now? Let us know.

Ken Christian
Senior Director, Communications
Goodwill Administrative Office

Updated 3 months ago by Calvin Gilbert