Wondering What Shoes to Wear with Cargo Pants? These 6 Are Definitely Your Best Bets

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Despite often quoting the adage that, like history, fashion is bound to repeat itself, I have to admit I was pretty surprised by the return of cargo pants. The last time I rocked pants with that many pockets was in the early 2000s and was definitely heavily inspired by Kim Possible. The look was all about embracing the utilitarian nature of cargo pants, meaning I was most likely to pair them with lace-up Dr. Martens and a sporty tee. But for 2023, the vibes have changed. So, what are the best shoes to wear with cargo pants? Luckily, we have plenty of options, including the six stunners listed below. Read on for my best tips on how to make this cute and casual trouser look fresh and chic.

The 10 Rules of Wearing Sneakers in 2023

what shoes to wear with cargo pants pointy toe
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1. Pointy-Toe Heels or Flats

Our favorite ways to wear cargo pants in 2023 take an “opposites attract” approach and aim to balance the utilitarian vibes of having so many prominent pockets with more polished silhouettes. Pointy-toe shoes feel much dressier than almond or rounded-toe styles, whether you opt for a heel or not, and help to elevate your cargo pants and make them feel much more appropriate for a day in the office (as opposed to a backpacking trip).

what shoes to wear with cargo pants sneakers
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2. Minimalist Sneakers

For those who prefer a shoe with a bit more support, a sleek and simple sneaker is a great option. The key here is to choose something on the minimalist end of the spectrum—monochrome or limited color accents, a streamlined sole that’s not too thick—as opposed to something more attention-grabbing, like a chunky sole athletic sneaker or a rainbow-hued high top.

what shoes to wear with cargo pants slide sandals
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3. Slide Sandals

In keeping with the approach of combining super casual pants with more posh shoes, simple slide sandals are another wonderfully chic option for warm weather. Be sure to opt for leather or faux-leather designs over sporty EVO foam to really play up the high-low contrast. (P.S. Black or dark brown leather look most luxe, in our opinion.)

what shoes to wear with cargo pants strappy sandals
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4. Strappy Sandals

A second warm-weather option to try is a minimalist, strappy sandal. Like all of the above, they have an inherently dressier vibe and make for an excellent balance to cargo pants. Feel free to play around with simple sandals that feature one or two straps, or to go all in with super strappy designs, but we suggest avoiding tassels and ties to keep things streamlined and not too busy.

what shoes to wear with cargo pants heeled sandals
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5. Heeled Sandals

We’re not done with our sandal suggestions yet! You can take either of the above styles (slides and straps) and add a heel to give your cargo pants a (literal) boost. We find that kitten heels up to about a 3-inch heel works best—anything higher than that feels a bit too disparate with such a casual pant—but feel free to mix in both stiletto heels and thicker block styles.

what shoes to wear with cargo pants flatform sandals
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6. Flatform Sandals

If you do want to embrace the nostalgic vibes of Kim Possible’s preferred pant style, we suggest opting for a flatform sandal a la the early aughts. A simple black or cream platform slide is our favorite option, but you could always embrace bolder colors if that’s more your style. Just be sure to keep things simple and sleek, and be sure to finish your look with more modern staples, like a minimalist shoulder bag or simple crewneck top instead of a metallic pink crossbody and baby tee.

what shoes to wear with cargo pants boots
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7. DON’T: Boots

Lace-up Dr. Martens, knee-high riding boots, pointy-toe ankle boots—boots of any and all styles just end up looking super heavy when paired with pocket-adorned trousers. Swap them out for something lighter and easier instead to avoid looking too bogged down.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...