How to Choose the Right Length and Cut of Men's Shorts

How to Choose the Right Length and Cut of Men's Shorts

The warmer seasons are on their way, so it's time to break out those summer clothes. A staple of summer wear is shorts. Whether they are swim trunks, jean cut-offs, or chino shorts, every man's wardrobe has some version of this apparel. Since you do, the next question is, does it fit you in a way that makes you happy that it is summer?

For many guys, the answer is "I don't know." For the others, well, they are probably thinking, "Does this really matter?" Yes. Yes, it does.

The right length of shorts in the correct cut changes how you look. It's the difference between looking like you have a teenager's baggy silhouette or the contour of a man. You know which one you want. Your shorts can help!


Let's deal with the silhouette first since that's one of the easier things to see. The saggy-baggy look happens when the bottoms of your shorts are wider than the tops. Firstly, it makes your legs look thin because there is so much surrounding material. Weak legs are not what you want. Secondly, it gives you a trapezoidal shape. Some shorts even approach the silhouette of a woman's fit-and-flare skirt. This happens a lot with generically-sized, mass-produced shorts. They have to fit everyone, so they go a bit bigger... and we can all tell.

The fit should be slim, following the line of your leg, even tapering in a bit at the bottom. For some guys, you may specifically need "slim-fit" cuts to get the silhouette you are looking for. Your shorts shouldn't be tight, though. They should be loose enough to let you move freely and dynamically without feeling like you will rip something. These are the shorts you are looking for.


You can sometimes see how a pair of shorts will probably look when they are on the hanger, though you should still try them on to make sure they work for you. For how the length will look on you and your body, you definitely need to wear them. The best length of shorts for you will depend on your body. One thing you can take to heart is that your shorts should reach just above your knees—never beyond. Shorts that go past your knees recall the style of a teenager. Either his mom bought those shorts for him to grow into, or he just grabbed whatever off the rack. That's not you.

Now, if your legs are a little shorter, certain longer cuts will cross the line. If your legs are a little longer, certain shorter cuts might verge on risque. That's why we recommend trying them on and seeing how they look and how they make you feel. Shorts are measured by the length of the inseam, or the sem running down the inside of the thigh. In general, good inseam length ranges from 5 to 11 inches. From there, it depends on your personal preference. If you are looking for a happy medium, 7 inches seems to be a nice middle ground.

And if everything just seems way too short on you, look for big and tall shorts.


Ok. You know what you are looking for in the fit and the cut of your next pair of shorts. What else do you need to know? You want your shorts to work with as much of your wardrobe as possible, so choose solid, muted colors and neutrals that give you a lot of options. Navy, khaki, sage, and charcoal are all good examples. None of them are too bright, and all are flexible enough to work in several different scenarios.

If you want to branch into patterns, keep it small and simple. And be sure to pair it with a solid shirt on top. When you have big, bold patterns right next to each other, it gets a little overwhelming. Plus, a crazy pattern will limit your outfit choice a lot, so make sure you have some quieter shorts you can wear more frequently.

For what to wear on top, there are a few options. T-shirts make for great casual boardwalk and beachwear, especially with canvas sneakers and a suave pair of aviator sunglasses. If you need a more dressy look for a fancy resort restaurant, a collared shirt, either short or long-sleeved, is going to be an excellent match. For this combination, you can tuck in the top (and show off your belt if you have one) if it is a long sleeve. The short-sleeved polo shirt tucked in is a bit of an odd attempt to be formal with clearly informal pieces. The same reasoning goes for the t-shirt except more so. Pair the ensemble with boat shoes or loafers and a strong watch, and you are set.

Welcome to your summer of shorts!


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