In Defense of Cargo Shorts

Cargo shorts can get a bad rap, but given some of the style's loose interpretations – military-style capri pants, seersucker cargos – it's not exactly surprising. Wearing them doesn't have to be a fashion blunder, though. In fact, based on their resurgence in higher-end stores such as Rag and Bone and Michael Bastian this spring, the ever-practical shorts may be experiencing a comeback, which is good news for men who are looking for something dressier than denim but more casual than chinos.

We like to think of cargo shorts as straddling style and gear. Here are three pairs that achieve both. 

Timberland's Twill Cargo Shorts: Sure, it's summer, but you still have your stuff: phone, wallet, keys, the works. For a lightweight short that can hold your essentials without bulking up, try Timberland's Twill Cargo, which come in a handful of bright colors such as elderberry and powder blue. With a straight fit and back welt pockets, they're a breezy choice for men who want something colorful, yet rugged. [$68, timberland.com]

Hurley's One and Only Cargo: These shorts have such a comfortable fit and feel, you might be surprised at how tough they are. With ample button-down pockets and a handy extra zip on the thigh, they're made for action but don't sacrifice style. They're available in solid black and a deep green Sequoia Camouflage, but we recommend Sand Storm, a classic grayish tan that goes with just about any ensemble. [$50, hurley.com]

Lucky Brand's Vista Cargo Shorts: For some, the key to a good pair of shorts is versatility. With its clean lines and super-flat, squared pockets, the Vista Cargo is sturdy enough to perform on hikes or camping trips and polished enough to work downtown. And they're almost universally flattering: Made from soft cotton with a hint of stretch and a mid-rise waist, these are one pair of cargos that will never go out of style. [$69.50, luckybrand.com]