Military service: Taking on cargo

If you read fashion blogs, celebrity websites, fashion or gossip magazines, or are an avid shopper like myself then you'll remember that this summer and fall ushered the return of the cargo pant. Largely responsible for initiating this trend was J Brand's Houlihan cargo. Made from a super-soft Japanese twill, this pant featured a slimmer cut leg than the traditional cargo, removing much of the bulk typically associated with this style. A low waist, aggressive moto stitching and long zippers at the ankles completed the look. The military pants were aptly named, too - after Hot Lips Houlihan of the movie and television series “M*A*S*H.”

I first learned of these cargos in May through DenimBlog.com. The  blog's author raved about the fit, calling them "pretty and feminine", with a "surprisingly flattering" fit on the butt. In the weeks that followed the popularity of these pants exploded. In a matter of a month they were sold out at Bloomingdales, Bergdorf's and Barneys New York. Celebrities adopted them as a uniform - Beyonce caught a flight in them, Rachel Bilson fetched coffee in them, Kate Bosworth wore them to walk her dog, and Gwen Stefani dressed in them to cavort with her son at the playground. These pants were everywhere. Other premium denim companies reinvented them in denim, cotton, and even leather. Hell, even the NY Times did a feature on them in their style section.

Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I should scoop up a pair of these cargos myself. I'm always looking for an alternative to my beloved jeans, and they seemed like the ideal replacement. Then I saw the price tag: $230. Bargain shopper that I am, there is no way I'd consider spending that much on a pair of freaking pants. I don't care who wore them. Unless they could make me dinner and dispense cash like an ATM, these cargos were a personal don't.

Flash forward to October. I was waltzing through The Gap outlet near my home when I saw a rack of cargos that looked suspiciously like Houlihans - same cut, same wash, even the same long zippers at the ankles. At 1/3 the price they enticed me even further. I tried them on at the store, decided I needed them, and brought them home.

Here's my review: They are very low-waisted. If I was wearing them in the summer with a tank or tee, they'd practically require a bikini wax. I'm not the biggest fan of exaggerated low-waisted pants. Such a cut can be very flattering for petite women, because they elongate the torso. However, I hate feeling like I have to tug on my clothes to keep them on, and that's the effect these pants had on me. Furthermore, they stretched out a bit more than I expected, resulting in the dreaded baggy butt. It's possible I bought a size too large, though.

They also created a bit of a shoe conundrum. There's no doubt that these are pants best worn with a heel. However, they seem too casual to be paired with a stiletto or pump. I went with flats, and they look kind of sloppy to me.

J Crew denim jacket; Forever 21 sweatshirt; thrifted Gap buttondown; Gap Outlet cargos; Juicy Couture ballet flats




Despite my smile, I am not happy with this outfit. I had to go through a lot of pics to find these three. I've decided to bring these pants back to the store and exchange them for a smaller size. Hopefully, that'll do the trick.


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