When I was growing up, I hated wearing shorts. Jeans were my pants of choice, and I wore them all year. I even wore jeans during some super sticky and humid summers in Tennessee. I’m not gonna lie, it was bad. So bad that not only did my farmer’s tan show on my arms, but my legs were also as pale as could be. Sure, maybe I protected the skin on my shins, but at what cost? Sweaty legs, chafing, irritated skin? I learned my lessons late in life, I guess. I didn’t really even wear chinos back then, just jeans...all the time. Thankfully, I’ve improved my pants game. Sure, I still love my denim, and I probably wear jeans more than anything else, but usually only October through April along with wool trousers. May through September is now khaki season, and when it warms up, shorts. Shorts all summer long. Unless I have a business meeting or formal event, I’m in shorts. Fortunately, the shorts available today are fantastic, with wonderfully light material and incredible colors well beyond khaki.
Before we get to a few recommended shorts, let’s talk about how they should fit. Shorts come with a variety of inseams, so naturally this causes a lot of confusion. Adding to the confusion is the recent introduction of different cuts or fits to a brand’s line-up of shorts. So let’s pick these apart.
Shorts with Different Fits
I think the easier one to tackle are the different fits. These days you can find shorts that are slim-fit, straight leg, relaxed, etc. While this seems to throw a wrench into the works for guys, I say just stick with whatever cut you usually wear for your pants. If the shorts aren’t labelled with a specific cut, assume they are straight leg. And use some common sense too. If you are a pretty big/athletic guy with bulkier thighs, chances are the slim-fit probably won’t work for you. Remember, style is about proportions.
Shorts with Different Inseams
I think a lot of guys are confused by different inseam measurements. Not what they mean, but which one they should buy. With pants, knowing which inseam to buy is easy. You just buy the one that stops at your shoes (more or less). However, with shorts, it’s not as easy. Luckily, there’s a little more wiggle room here. It’s generally accepted that your shorts should fall between two and three inches above your knee; however, I’m going to go a little further and say you can expand that to one to four inches. Just don’t take it too far and end up a Harlem Globetrotter. Most guys are probably going to shop in that seven to nine inch inseam range, but a lot of brands are putting out five and eleven inch inseams these days, so men that are on the shorter or taller side can find a great pair too.
Where to Shop
A couple stores are doing nice things right now. Club Monaco is in the midst of a major resurgence, and they have some fantastic shorts. I would stick to the seven inch baxter shorts though. If you’re in the market for a pair of madras shorts, like I am, then these from Ralph Lauren are far and away your best choice. Both J. Crew and J. Crew Factory are putting out some really nice shorts this summer. I really like the Stanton shorts and the Gramercy shorts. Of course, if I was forced to pick one company that is just killing it right now, I would have to go with those ninjas of fit, Bonobos. Bonobos' shorts are absolutely fantastic. They fit just like Bonobos’ pants, which are some of the best pants I own and the pants which get the most compliments.
Let me know what shorts are your favorites. Hot days are coming, be ready to cool off.