Clamdiggers and walk shorts make my must-have list for Summer 2009 as a warm weather go-to alternative to pants and jeans. One specific variation on this theme that deserves more attention is the utilitarian cargo clamdigger.

Their look is uber relaxed when offered in fabrications like crinkle cottons, terry cloth and twills. This makes them work with casual flats and sandals. But sometimes the vibe of the cargo clamdigger is a little smarter when offered in fabrications like silk and linen-rayon blends, making them work well with a dressier sandal or heel. Both are good looks on the right body type.

Unfortunately, this animal is hard to wear. It’s best on inverted triangles, racy rectangles and some adorable apples because straight-ish upper legs are a prerequisite. Stay away from the look if you don’t want to draw attention to your thighs, which means “no” for pretty pears and “be careful” for hourglasses. This does not mean that you have to be super slim to wear the style. It’s a question of having thighs that aren’t curvy at any size. I hope that makes sense.

Petite Martin Cropped Cargo PantMarisa Weekend Utility CaprisGarment-Dyed Capris

The cargo clamdiggers worn with flats are casual. The style on the left from Banana Republic is dressy, which is why it’s shown with dressy heeled sandals (but they would work with cute flat sandals too). I like the vibe of the dressier cargo clamdigger best and I’ll stick to basic clamdiggers for casual and smart casual dressing until I find a suitable pair. If not this season, then next year will do.