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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


Cargos and cutouts: Autumn’s fashion tickets

Far from their 90s origins, this season's cargo pants blend practicality with a tailored aesthetic, marking a departure from their untidy baggy predecessors.


At some point the heat will be gone and temperatures will start biting at the heels of winter. And this autumn, fashion takes both a bold turn and a practical one as functional clobber along with revealing some skin, conservatively yet unmissable, takes centre stage. 

Image consultant Lynne McMaster said that this season fashion marries comfort with avant-garde aesthetics. Alongside cargo pants, blazers, cut outs, and stockings, the shirtless blazer also makes a star turn.

But it’s not the cargos of the Nineties that turn flattery into truck driver vibes. Instead, while baggy, cargo pants this year are more tailored. “Choose cargo pants that flatter your body type, strategic pocket placement can optimise a silhouette,” said McMaster. “For those with fuller hips, choosing cargos with pockets situated lower can visually elongate the legs,” she added.

Meanwhile, cargos with pockets on the hips or thighs can enhance the silhouette of those with narrower hips. “It’s about leveraging the design for your body type,” McMaster said, and noted that this is where functional and practical aspects of fashion merge with aesthetic appeal.

This season, said McMaster, cargo pants are back for men, too. Far from their 90s origins, this season’s cargo pants blend practicality with a tailored aesthetic, she said, marking a departure from their untidy baggy predecessors. “Baggy cargo pants have made a magnificent comeback, but not as you remember them,” she said. “Today’s cargo pants are celebrated for their refined look and practicality, with a more tailored fit that ensures functionality without the bulk. This season’s iterations are a far cry from the oversized, overly pocketed cargos of the past.

Pairing cargo pants with a crisp white shirt strikes the perfect balance between utilitarianism and urban chic, said McMaster. “This combination exemplifies the trend’s adaptability, effortlessly transitioning from a day in the office to an evening out. Functional fashion continues to reign with style and practicality that can coexist harmoniously.”

For a more layered approach, McMaster said that oversized sweatshirts and camo jackets complement the cargo’s casual, rugged vibe. At its opposite, polo shirts offer a slightly more polished option.

Blazers are one of fashion’s hottest tickets this season, said McMaster. “Blazers have broken out of the boardroom and into the spotlight, offering endless styling possibilities,” she said. It’s partly inspired by the pantless trend that, when paired with blazers, allow for playful yet elegant looks suitable for different occasions. 

cutout pants
Cutouts are still one of the season’s big numbers. Picture: Supplied

“Leather blazers and those in vibrant colours like bright pink further push the envelope, introducing texture and lively hues into autumn wardrobes,” she added. 

Also, as the pantless trend grows, stockings will gain greater prominence for their functional and aesthetic. “They offer both a layer of warmth and a canvas for expression,” she said. “Whether opting for classic sheer stockings or those with patterns and colours, stockings provide an opportunity to experiment with looks without compromising on comfort during cooler months.”

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The shirtless blazer trend also returned for autumn. “It’s a a daring expression of style, combining the structured elegance of blazers with a bold twist,” said McMaster.  “It translates to a powerful statement of confidence and style,” McMaster said. “This trend challenges conventional dressing norms. Paired with high-waisted trousers or skirts, it will maintain balance and sophistication.” 

“This season is about exploring new boundaries, where each trend offers an opportunity to redefine personal style,” shared McMaster, “as much as there is a move towards the practicalities of comfort. Aesthetics have married chilled, so to speak.”

The red carpet at the Grammys and other award events earlier this year also indicated that the cut-out trend continues to captivate, with designs ranging from subtle to bold. “Cut outs are a conversation between the wearer and the viewer, it tells a story, and it’s a very public narrative,” she said. Minimal accessorizing is recommended to let the cut outs themselves be the focal point of the ensemble, McMaster suggested. 

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