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How To Wear A Flannel With Cargo Pants (7 Tips)

Both items exude a certain laid-back ruggedness, but can you really wear a flannel with cargo pants?

Wearing cargo pants and a flannel together makes for a great casual outfit. Go for neutral cargo pants colors, consider wearing a jacket, and remember that contrast looks great. Layer your flannel for a more intentional look, and think about wearing a jacket over the top.

Although that’s the crux of wearing cargo pants alongside a flannel, there’s much more to it.

Let’s explore this further.

Image From Deposit Photos

1. Layer Your Flannel

It’s no secret that layered flannels look brilliant. After all, it’s an iconic ‘90s look.

When wearing a flannel with cargo pants, layering your flannel – as opposed to fully buttoning it without a base layer – can really add some personality to your outfit.

Not only that but a fully buttoned flannel could easily be mistaken for a more formal button-up shirt.

Wearing such formal attire isn’t appropriate with cargo pants, as cargo pants are incredibly casual, and it’d be a significant formality mismatch.

Therefore, it’s best to layer your flannel when wearing one with cargo pants.

While there are many ways to layer your flannel, the most simple yet effective way to do so is with a plain, white T-shirt.

White T-shirts are incredibly versatile and will pair nicely with pretty much any flannel – regardless of its pattern and colors.

Remember that it’s best to leave your shirt untucked when layering your flannel.

Initially, this may seem unconventional, as tucking in your shirt is generally done when layering garments.

However, this rule applies more to formal wear than anything else (for example, you should always tuck your dress shirt in when wearing a formal jacket).

Because of this, tucking in is generally associated with formal wear.

If you tuck in your T-shirt or flannel to your cargo pants, it’ll create a noticeable formality mismatch. It should, therefore, be avoided.

dark flannel shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

2. Contrast Looks Great

Contrast is incredibly hit or miss in fashion. Generally speaking, it either looks fantastic or terrible – without much in between.

A flannel with cargo pants is one of those outfits where contrast looks brilliant and can really add another element of depth to the outfit.

This is particularly true if you took the advice from the first tip and layered your flannel over a white T-shirt.

Typically, there are two ways to create contrast within this outfit: a contrasted checkered pattern or contrasting your flannel with your cargo pants.

Both are effective and look great, and the contrasting method you go for is ultimately down to personal preference.

For your flannel, consider choosing a black-and-white checkered pattern.

Alternatively, if you want to create contrast between your cargo pants and flannel, go for a lighter flannel with dark cargo pants.

A good example of this is a white or off-white and yellow-patterned flannel with black or dark grey cargo pants.

This, combined with the white T-shirt base layer, will maximize contrast with your cargo pants, making you really stand out as cool yet sophisticated.

3. Consider Wearing A Jacket

Wearing another layer over your flannel and T-shirt can look fantastic.

That being said, there’s a fine line between it looking great and looking over the top in terms of layers.

Therefore, if you go for an extra layer, it’s important to do it the right way. 

Avoid wearing another flannel or similar garment over the top. Instead, go for one that’s designed to be worn as an outer layer, like a jacket.

The term “jacket” is incredibly vague, as there are many different styles of jackets, from casual ones to jackets appropriate for even the most formal events.

flannel with cargo pants and jacket
Image From Deposit Photos

With a flannel and cargo pants, generally, it’s best if you steer clear of formal or semi-formal jackets, like sport coats, blazers, and suit jackets. 

Sticking to something casual, such as a zip-up hoodie or a denim jacket, is much more appropriate and looks better overall.

That being said, leather jackets can work brilliantly, too, for a more rugged, masculine aesthetic. 

When wearing a jacket over the top of a flannel, it’s important to leave it unzipped (or unbuttoned, depending on the style of jacket).

This will further contribute to the layered look and will be much more comfortable overall. 

4. Oversized Flannels Are Ideal

When layering garments, it’s important to get the fit of the layers right.

Poorly-fitted layers can be uncomfortable and look awkward, so getting the fit right is an essential part of looking good in this outfit.

For outfits leaning more toward formal, there are strict guidelines as to what is well-fitted.

However, when it comes to casual outfits, such as this one, there are much looser rules for what fits and what doesn’t.

Because of this, when layering your flannel, going for an oversized one is highly recommended.

Flannels are so commonly worn as layers that sometimes you’ll be able to find specifically oversized flannels to suit you.

However, if you’re unable to do so, go for one the next size up to what you usually are.

For example, if you’re usually a small (labeled “S”), go for a medium (labeled “M”).

This will keep the look intentional and guarantee your flannel is oversized without looking clumsy.

If you wear a jacket over the top of your layered flannel, as is something to consider, keep your jacket either the same size or slightly bigger than your flannel.

Anything smaller will look and feel uncomfortable.

5. Think About Rolling Up Your Sleeves

Something else worth considering when wearing a flannel with cargo pants is rolling up your sleeves.

It’s a minor factor but looks great and can be a subtle way of enhancing your outfit without having to buy or wear anything extra.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when rolling up your sleeves, to make sure it looks as good as possible.

The first is that – with a flannel – you should generally go for the basic sleeve roll.

This roll is the ideal casual roll if you don’t want to scrunch up your sleeves, as so many people do.

Secondly, ensure you don’t roll your sleeves up past your elbows; instead, keep them just below.

purple flannel shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

6. Go For Neutral Cargo Pants Colors

As mentioned in tip 2, contrast looks fantastic with this outfit. 

One of the suggested methods is contrasting your flannel with your cargo pants.

However, that’s not the only cargo pants coloration factor to consider with this outfit.

Not only is it best to create contrast within the outfit, but it’s good to go for neutral cargo pants colors, too.

There’s a lot of confusion about what’s a neutral color and what isn’t. 

So, to avoid such confusion, remember that, generally speaking, neutral colors can be defined as hues that appear not to have color. 

They also don’t appear on the color wheel.

Lighter neutral colors include cream, white, light grey, beige, and khaki. 

Conversely, some darker neutral colors include navy, black, dark grey, and charcoal.

Wear lighter neutral colors with darker flannels and vice versa.

7. Ensure It’s Appropriate

Turning up at an event underdressed could be seen as rude or disrespectful.

At the other end of the spectrum, turning up overdressed isn’t so bad as being underdressed, but could still come across as pretentious.

Therefore, getting it right is absolutely essential.

When wearing a flannel with cargo pants, one of the most important things to remember is that this outfit is incredibly casual.

This means that it’s inappropriate for any event of even slight formality.

With this outfit, avoid meetings, interviews, weddings (even “casual” weddings), funerals, and events of similar formality levels.