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Should You Wear a Belt with Cargo Shorts?

If you're new to wearing cargo shorts, often known as "safari shorts," you might be wondering if you should pair them with a belt. Below, we'll go through whether or not you should wear a belt with cargo shorts and why.

Close up photo of men's casual shorts belt of pants and pocket.

If you’re new to the world of wearing cargo shorts, also affectionately dubbed “safari shorts,” you might wonder if you should wear a belt with them. You may worry a belt will look tacky or feel uncomfortable if you loop it through the waistband of these cropped khaki pants. While that’s a valid concern, the good news is that most men wear cargo shorts with a belt.

These pants are usually worn too loose to stay up without some extra reinforcement. We’ll discuss whether you should wear a belt with cargo shorts (and why) down below.

Should I wear a belt with cargo shorts?

Close photo of brown leather belt.

Because cargo shorts are usually bought in a larger size than form-fitting shorts, it’s safest to plan to wear a belt with cargo shorts. If a belt becomes uncomfortable, you can always take it off, coil it up, and stuff it in one of your cargo shorts’ many pockets.

However, if you find yourself pulling up your cargo shorts every few minutes–or worse, showing off your boxers accidentally to everyone at an event because your cargo shorts hit the floor–you’ll be wishing you took our advice and wore a belt with your cargo shorts.

In general, if your pants or shorts have belt loops, you should probably wear a belt. Although shorts don’t necessarily require you to wear a belt, it’s a good idea if the shorts are loose. Wearing a belt becomes even more necessary if you plan to tuck your shirt into your cargo shorts. 

As says, you should wear a belt “when your pants have belt loops. This rule mainly applies to pants with belt loops, rather than shorts, which you can get away with not wearing a belt.” You should also wear a belt when your shirt is tucked in. The article goes on to say that “regardless of the bottoms that you are wearing, you should always wear a belt when your shirt or top is tucked in.”

Where should I wear cargo shorts?

Lee mens Dungarees New Belted Wyoming Cargo Shorts, Buff, 42 US

You can wear cargo shorts anywhere you’d like, but some casual settings find cargo shorts more socially acceptable than their formal counterparts. Also, some places are safer for these leg-baring pocketed shorts than others. As says, “‘Cargo shorts’ or safari shorts with side, front, and back pockets are great for hiking or working outside anywhere that’s hot but not particularly overgrown (or otherwise hazardous to bare legs).”

Some say that cargo shorts are too laidback to wear to formal places like college graduation or the workplace. However, cargo shorts can be dressed up if you pair them with a polo shirt or casual button-up. Ultimately, you should consult a dress code and ask those in charge of an event if cargo shorts are allowed. 

A belt can elevate cargo shorts. Look smart and snappy by pairing the right type of belt with your cargo shorts. According to an article by, men should pair “narrow belts with dress pants, chinos, dark jeans, and trouser shorts; and wide belts with lighter denim, cargo pants, and cargo shorts.” These rules will be a good starting place for making sure your belt matches the mood and aesthetic of the cargo shorts.

Is it weird to wear a belt with shorts?

It’s not weird to wear a belt with shorts–quite the opposite! Cargo shorts especially fit loosely enough that they warrant some protection against accidental fashion slip-ups. Even if you’re wearing a regular pair of jean shorts, a belt can tie together a look (literally) and add some extra security that your shorts will stay up all day.

What do cargo shorts go with?

A man enjoying in the railroad.

Cargo shorts are considered a very casual type of clothing. Since they are so laidback, you can pair cargo shorts with tank tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jerseys, and even wear cargo shorts on their own to pool parties or the beach. You can also dress up with cargo shorts by pairing them with a polo or a button-up. 

Even when you add a polo or button-up into the mix with cargo shorts, they still lean on the casual end of business casual. Because of this, you should double-check with an event planner or supervisor if you want to wear cargo shorts to a formal event or work setting. 

For shoes, cargo shorts look great with sneakers, boots, sandals, and loafers. You should base your footwear on the type of setting where you’ll be wearing cargo shorts. If you’re spending the day on the beach in cargo shorts, sandals might be your most comfortable, practical choice.

On the other hand, if you want to wear cargo shorts to a semi-formal event, you should opt for dressier shoes such as loafers to balance out their laid-back vibes.

Cargo shorts also look great with hiking boots and workboots. Hiking boots and work boots can go well with cargo shorts and give a practical element to an outfit if you’re wearing them outdoors. Between the breezy shorts and the comfortable, supportive footwear, this combination is perfect for hiking or taking a long walk on a trail.

As we’ve mentioned, wide belts go well with cargo shorts. Consider matching cargo shorts with a canvas belt for a casual look or a wide leather belt for a more formal vibe.

Why do some people think you should not wear cargo shorts?

Cargo shorts get a lot of love from guys (and even gals) who want comfortable, casual shorts. But cargo shorts aren’t for everyone. Some folks find cargo shorts ugly or too casual for wearing outside of the college fraternity days.  As explains, “If the only issue was a few extra pockets, that would be one thing.

But the extra pockets also add considerable weight and bulk to the shorts, dragging them down further from your hips. Cargo shorts also completely ruin any balanced silhouette you might have.” From a fashion perspective, cargo shorts aren’t attractive to everyone. The bulkiness and shape aren’t flattering in some folks’ opinions.

In terms of practicality, the pockets might tempt you to put everything you need for the day into them. This can be convenient, but it could also make your walk feel extra draining and, as the quote mentions, it can drag your shorts down with your energy levels. Of course, a good strong belt can help combat the effects of gravity on your well-stocked cargo shorts’ pockets.