The answer to this question will inevitably be biased. It will depend greatly on what the wearer values most: comfort or style.
If I am to give the reader a more informed answer to the title question, I should start by telling him a little about my own tastes and preferences. I live in Scotland. It is a nation that sees very little warmth or sunshine, even in the summer. But there are occasions when the sun is bright and the air intensely hot.
In some years, this can occur for days or weeks at a time, and then end abruptly. When the weather is hot and the days long, I like to wear shorts. But I find myself conflicted. I like to be comfortable and stylish. I like my man parts to breath in the open air, and at the same time, I like to look good in designer shorts.
So, to get back to the question, what is my recommendation? Should cargo shorts be tight, loose, or in between? There is no straightforward way to answer the question. To give the reader a more intelligible point of view, I must explore the issue a bit further.
Related: Different Types of Cargo Shorts
Why I Rule Out Tight-Fitting Cargo Shorts
One option I can exclude from the start. It is a bad idea to wear tight-fitting cargo shorts for two reasons.
First, they are just uncomfortable. I cannot believe the sincerity of any man who says that tight cargo shorts can be worn with ease. Shorts,by their very nature, tend to ride up between the legs and bunch up around the man parts. Tight-fitting shorts take this condition to the extreme.
Second, most men look ridiculous in tight-fitting cargo shorts. I will have more to say about body build below. But for now, I will venture to say that not even the fish-like slenderness of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps would look good in tight cargo shorts.
How to Wear Shorts That Fit Well
You should wear shorts that fit well. For some people, this means loose-fitting shorts. Others should go with shorts that have an in-between fit. Body type is the most important determinant of how you should wear cargo shorts.
I said in my introduction that I like to wear shorts that are comfortable and stylish. I am able to find shorts that meet these criteria because of my build. I am tall, with long legs and medium thighs and waist.
I have little problems finding shorts that have a nice cut and an elegant appearance, and at the same time allow my bits below to breath. This is not the same for everyone. Some men have builds that require them to make trade-offs if they want to find shorts that fit.
Here is some advice to men of different body types:
1. Athletic Builds
Men who have broad shoulders and a reigned-in waist have the widest range of choices when it comes to wearing shorts. However, many such men assume that loose shorts will balance their torso. They will not. They will make you look disproportional instead.
If you have such a build, you should opt for a tailored fit. You want shorts that allow you to walk around comfortably, and do not flap against your thighs like a skirt. You should also consider buying lighter cargo shorts. If you are looking for a way to wear your bulk well in shorts, a bright colored garment will do so more effectively.
2. Slim Builds
If you have a slim body, it will be best complemented by slim-fitting shorts. This does not mean baggy. Wearing the latter will make your torso and legs look disproportionate. You should instead wear shorts that gently hug your waist but are cut in a way that gives space to your groin and stays close to your legs.
Indeed, if you have a slender build, you should avoid shorts that flare. Such a garment will not flatter you. It is best to wear shorts that go straight down without excess material around the edges. This is to, once again, avoid a skirt-like appearance.
3. Dad Builds
As I rapidly approach middle age, I am constantly on the cusp (and constantly fighting against) of a dad build. If you are a man who carries some weight around the midsection, you should avoid slim-fitting shorts. No, despite what you may think, it does not make you look cool, hip, or sexy.
If anything, you will look the opposite of these things: awkward, cheesy, and unattractive. You want to wear shorts that are slightly wider. You should also opt for straight-legged shorts. They will improve your silhouette and minimize the pudginess of your waist.
You definitely want to avoid pleated shorts, which have lines that will call attention to your waist. And you should never wear shorts that fall below the knees. These will make your legs look smaller and your stomach much bigger.
Finally, you should avoid cargo shorts with waistbands. They will pinch your waist and make you look like a muffin top.
4. Plus-Size Builds
I would advise even plus-sized men to avoid shorts that are too loose. Wearing the latter may seem like the perfect way to divert attention from your large limbs and big stomach. But in reality, they have the opposite effect. If you are a big man, your loose shorts will sag and hang off your body, calling more attention to those parts of it you would rather people not focus on.