There was the pervasive “dad shoe” trend. The revival of the once-blacklisted ’80s-inspired “belt bag” (read: fanny pack). The return of the mom jean—a now-ubiquitous must-have that was somehow deemed controversial five (or so) years ago. These movements, when considered together, signal a trend within the industry: The fashion set has something of an obsession with reinventing “ugly” relics from the past, rendering them cool girl-approved pieces with cult followings. The latest fad to get this treatment? Utility pants.
Cargo and utility pants, of course, got their start in the military. But they were popularized in the name of fashion—not war—in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And now, they’ve seen another sartorial resurrection. These days, the utility pant trend offers comfort seekers a break from the athleisure norm. Tired of street style-inspired tracksuits paired with chunky sneakers, or other enduring brunch-to-boxing class get-ups? Utility pants are just as cozy, but they’re a little more versatile; get creative with shoes and accessories to dress them up or down as you see fit.
Utility pants are a fresh take on the lazy-luxe trend many of us have cherished for the past several years—making them a dream-come-true for those of us who care about fashion but don’t have the patience to fuss. Several celebrities—Emily Ratajkowski, Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Elsa Hosk—count themselves among the advocates of the utility pants trend. And they’ve convincingly proven that you can style utility pants any way imaginable—juxtaposing them with strappy heels and a crop top, or pairing them with a band tee and your favorite beat-up sneakers.
While supersized pockets—and a slouchy, low-rise, often downright baggy fit—were the previous style markers of the cargo pant template, this spring, the outdoorsy bottom is being reimagined in an array of different cuts. Wide-leg trousers with flat pockets are on the sartorial menu—so are office-friendly paper-bag trousers that ooze with tomboy charm, and perfectly proportional parachute joggers with drawcord detailing, and workwear-inspired boot-leg pants that will have you looking like a street style star. Today’s utility pants are infused with thoughtful modern details—a far cry from the so-huge-they’d-swallow-you utility pants from decades’ past.
No matter your body type, aesthetic or office’s dress code, you’re sure to find a pair of utility pants that works for you. This spring’s burgeoning obsession is all-inclusive, and—unlike last year’s infatuation with rigid vintage denim—it’s actually pretty comfortable, too.
1. Margate Pleated Trouser, $98 at Free People
One of the first reviews on these pants claims these paper-bag trousers are the most comfortable pants ever (emphasized further by the use of all caps).
2. Wanderer Utility Pants, $98 at Anthropologie
A classic pair of trousers with subtle utility detailing to help you ease into the trend.
3. Wide-Leg Cropped Utility Pants, $68 at Everlane
Everlane’s classic best-seller, upgraded with on-trend utilitarian details. We’re adding every color to our cart.
4. OFF-WHITE Camo Cargo Pant, $1,085 at Revolve
You can always look to OFF WHITE for the most outrageous iterations of a trend, and these bold, camo-printed cargo pants are no exception.
5. Sand Utility Mom Jeans $80 at Topshop
Somewhere between the classic mom jean and utility pant—for those still on the fence.
6. I.AM.GIA Cobain Pant, $110 at Shopbop
The high rise and gathered ankle keep the chain detail from coming across as costume-y on these coveted trousers.
7. R13 Slouch Cropped Camouflage-Print Wide-Leg Pants, $365 at Net-a-Porter
Hurry, these wide-cut trousers were spotted on Kaia Gerber recently, so yes, they’re selling out quick.
8. UO Cream Soft Utility Pant, $79 at Urban Outfitters
We love the ’90s vibe of these drawstring workwear pants styled with chunk dad sneakers, but we also think these would look sexy with a pair of sexy floss heels.
9. Alexander Wang Belted Trousers, $650 at Shopbop
You’ll get so many compliments at the office wearing these paired with some pointed-toe calf-length boots and a crisp blouse nearly tucked.
10. Lioness Cypress Pant, $61 at Revolve
Slinky joggers armed with militarist-inspired detailing.
11. Fly Away Parachute Pants, $168 at Free People
The parachute silhouette is surprisingly flattering—especially with these customizable drawcord fastening.
12. UO Blayne Paperbag Utility Pant, $64 at Urban Outfitters
Add a touch of girlish charm to a tomboy get-up with bubblegum pink.
13. Re/done Originals High-Rise Cargo Pant, $260 at Revolve
These high-rise pants have officially convinced us that boot cuts actually might be coming back from the dead.
14. Proenza Schouler Bleach Dye Utility Pants, $340 at Farfetch
Tie dye has been another trend forecasted for the near future, and these perfectly tailored cargo pants plat with the look without looking over-the-top.
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