The Cargo Shorts Wars have begun.
They started with two bits of information. First, the simple fact that the past year annual sales of cargo shorts declined for the first time in a decade. Then there was Nicole Hong’s Wall Street Journal story on the strife that cargo shorts — yes, I said cargo shorts — are causing in relationships:
“Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they’re comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors say they’ve been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly. . . .
“Travis Haglin, who has worked in the retail industry for more than 15 years, including atRalph Lauren and J. Crew, said he has never felt comfortable wearing cargo shorts because they ‘don’t look cool enough.’
” ‘Men want to be like James Bond,’ ” Mr. Haglin said. ‘Bond never wears cargo shorts.’ “
Now let me stop you right there, because while Bond would never wear cargo shorts, men also want to be Batman, and cargo shorts are basically another way to have as many pockets as Batman’s utility belt. SO THERE.
Anyway, this has prompted some furious Internet debate, with some women giddy at this trend, some men defending them, and the discovery that a doctoral thesis has been written about this subject.
I’m mildly surprised that no one has brought up the 2009 film “He’s Just Not That Into You,” as I believe that cargo shorts drove the entire plotline between Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck. Of course, it’s also possible that this film contained a chemical causing all viewers to immediately forget its existence after watching it.
Let me be very clear: Cargo shorts are great and anyone who opposes them should just acknowledge their misandry and be done with it.
Now, I’m not a cargo shorts militant. Cargo shorts are inappropriate at fine dining establishments or swanky cocktail parties or what have you. On those occasions, men with the necessary means should be draped in nothing but linen.
Cargo shorts are not appropriate for all summer occasions. Of course, the same is true for yoga pants, and I’m not aware of any movement to ban that article of clothing. (Side note: Please never ever, ever ever ban yoga pants. Ever.)
But for ordinary summer wear? Hell yeah, cargo pants!!
I don’t expect women to get this, because when it comes to non-beach fashion, women have it easier during the summer. (Note to self: Prepare online fallout shelter to protect deluge of angry emails.) Sure, women have had to endure millennia of discrimination and violence and whatnot; I’ll manfully concede that point. During hot weather, however, women have a decided clothing advantage. They get to wear sleeveless blouses and summer dresses and skirts — articles of clothing that afford some ventilation when the weather makes such ventilation very necessary.
As Sonny Bunch notes in the Washington Free Beacon:
“Assuming you’re not striding down a runway in Milan — thus necessitating a clean, straight-leg profile — you’re probably wearing shorts because you want to stay cool. And if you’re a guy, you’re probably wearing shorts without carrying around a European manbag. Which means you have a paucity of space to carry all your cargo.
“This is where cargo shorts come in.”
Indeed, as an occasional wearer of cargo shorts, I have found that said pants serve to hold not only my cargo but the cargo of my spouse, who often opts not to bring a large bag on our excursions and also owns no clothes that contain useful pockets of any kind.
This country is tearing itself apart right now because a short-fingered vulgarian decided to run for political office. There are few pleasures political commentators can enjoy during this summer of madness. For the love of God, do not make things worse by getting rid of cargo shorts. Any article of clothing that helped defeat Hitler is an article of clothing that should never go out of style.
– Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor to PostEverything.