What is a Cargo Skirt?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
A twill weave.
A twill weave.

A cargo skirt is an item of women's casual clothing. It's a variation of the cargo pants and shorts style inspired by the military field wear that became a fashion trend in the 1990s. Cargo skirts, like the pants, vary in material and construction style, but all of them have assorted pockets or storage pouches included in their design.

The most common fabrics used for cargo skirts are khaki, twill, poplin and denim. Some fashion cargo skirt styles are made of stretch fabrics in colors such as hot pink and may feature sparkly trims. Yet most of these pieces stay truer to their army roots by having a more utilitarian design. Neutral colors such as olive green, beige, black and brown are typically found in cargo skirts. Camouflage patterns are also common.

Cargo skirts with the most flattering fit tend to have pockets that aren't located on the widest part of the hips or thighs and that stay flat when empty. Cargo skirt pockets are often more like pouches in that many of them have an extra strip of fabric for closing the pocket. These pouch pockets may close with a drawstring tie, a snap or a button. While such pockets on original army field pants were used to carry items such as a map and compass, those on cargo skirts are often designed to hold a cell phone and wallet. Due to their practical storage capabilities, cargo skirts often make carrying a purse unnecessary.

Length varies greatly in cargo skirt designs. These skirts range from just past the thighs to floor length. Some wearers of cargo skirts like to wear tights or leggings with them to add warmth in cooler climates. As the fabrics used for the skirts are typically natural materials, they are also usually comfortable to be worn as is in warmer weather. Cargo skirts may also be sold as "safari skirts."

Large belt loops are a common feature of cargo skirts. Not only do the ample loops allow for wider belts to be worn with a cargo skirt, items such as a small change purse may be clipped on to them. Some cargo skirts have matching, self-tie belts that tie into a loose bow at the front. Most cargo style skirts are fairly straight, or A-line, in their basic shape. To allow for ease of movement, back vents, or splits, are common.

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Discussion Comments


Cargo skirts are not just for women. There is a trend for men to wear them because they are an economical substitute for a kilt. Cargo skirts tend to be plain, have belt loops and many pockets making them practical for men.

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    • A twill weave.
      A twill weave.