There has undoubtedly been a rise in Dad Style in recent years that coincided with the birth of normcore. The dad hat with its well-curved brim and slouchy cap has supplanted the five-panel cap (which, for its part, replaced the New Era 59Fifty baseball hat) as the headwear of choice in the world of streetwear. But another sartorial staple of fathers everywhere remains a fashion pariah: the cargo short. It isn’t just that kids aren’t wearing them. No less of a source than the Wall Street Journal has found that the shorts are actually damaging men’s interpersonal relationships.
The article titled “Nice cargo shorts! You’re sleeping on the sofa,” comes complete with one of those Journal-esque black-and-white stipple illustrations. It tells the story of a man in Utah whose wife has thrown out 15 pairs of the offending shorts. He now clings preciously to a pair that he hides from her. An actor in Los Angeles has resorted to wearing his cargo shorts only when he knows his wife won’t be around. There is even a quote from a college professor who wrote his thesis about cargo pants. (His parents must be so proud.)
The basic argument is one of function vs. form. Men love cargo shorts because of the utility of the pockets and their comfortable, baggy design. Women think they are ugly.
“There were so many good things about the ’90s. Cargo shorts were not one of them,” says one wife who takes her husband’s shorts to Goodwill when he isn’t paying attention.
Of course, fashion is always cyclical. And the people described in the article may be catching on to the slimmed-down bottoms trend that has been going on for years now just as the style is waning. Recent men’s runway shows have featured looser silhouettes and, yes, cargo pockets. So you could either look at these cargo-short wearing men as way behind the curve—or as trendsetters who are way ahead of it.