Men’s Fashion Shorts: A Comprehensive Guide to Summer Style

man in shorts getting of a vehicle

Shorts for Men

‍Photo by Engin_Akyurt on Pixabay

Four men wearing shorts

When it comes to men’s fashion, few garments are as polarizing as shorts. Throughout history, shorts have been subject to cultural connotations, bad advice, and personal insecurities. However, with the right guidance, understanding the different styles, lengths, and fits of men’s fashion shorts can help you embrace this versatile and comfortable piece of clothing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the evolution of men’s shorts, the dos and don’ts of choosing the perfect pair, and how to pair them with the right shoes for a stylish summer look.

A “Short” History of Men’s Shorts

Shorts, as we know them today, have a relatively short history. While shorts have been worn in various forms for centuries, the modern style that we are familiar with is less than 100 years old. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, men experimented with cropped or “short trousers” known as “knickerbockers” or “plus-fours.” These billowy pants were popularized in the 1920s and featured a length that extended four inches below the knee.

However, despite their popularity among affluent elites, shorts were widely associated with boys’ clothing, particularly school uniforms. This association with childhood attire still lingers today and contributes to the ongoing debate around the appropriateness of shorts for adult men. The trend of wearing shorts in public only gained acceptance after World War II and became more mainstream in the 1950s.

The #1 Rule of Choosing Shorts

When it comes to choosing the right pair of shorts, there is one golden rule: they should never extend below the knee. Shorts that go past the knee visually cut your leg length in half, creating an unflattering and disproportionate look. To ensure a flattering fit, shorts should be tailored to hug your butt and thighs without being too tight. A good test is to gently pinch the material around your thigh; if you can pinch about an inch, they’re the perfect fit.

The Details to Look for & Avoid

When shopping for men’s fashion shorts, there are specific details that you should look for and others that you should avoid to achieve a stylish and flattering look.

Details to Look For:

  • Tailored Fit: Shorts should be fitted but not tight, accentuating your body in a complementary manner.
  • Flat Front: Opt for a sleek and universally flattering flat front, avoiding pleats that are more suitable for trousers.
  • Tapered Leg Opening: The hem width should taper and define the thigh without being too tight.
  • 2″-4″ Above Knee: Aim for an inseam length of 7″ to 9″ to achieve the optimal look for most men.

Details to Avoid:

  • Skinny Fit: Avoid shorts that are too tight and overly define your thighs, butt, and waist.
  • Oversized: Steer clear of oversized shorts, as they can appear bulky and unflattering.
  • Elastic Waistband: Opt for a standard buttoned waist instead of elastic waistbands, which can look cheap and lack control.
  • Too Many Details: Keep it simple and avoid shorts with excessive cargo pockets or unnecessary protrusions.

Inseam Lengths by Height

While the general rule is to avoid shorts that extend below the knee, the ideal inseam length can vary depending on your height. Here’s a breakdown of recommended inseam lengths based on different heights:

Short (5’8″ and under): As a shorter man, you can go a bit shorter with your inseam length. Aim for around 5″ to maintain proportion without appearing too flashy.

Average (5’9″ to 6’0″): For men of average height, a 7″ inseam is a safe and versatile choice that flatters most body types. If you prefer more coverage, consider a 9″ inseam.

Tall (6’1″ and up): Taller men should opt for a slightly longer inseam, around 10″ to 11″, to balance their height without exposing too much thigh.

Pairing Shoes with Shorts

When it comes to pairing shoes with shorts, it’s important to choose footwear that complements the casual and relaxed nature of shorts. Here are some shoe options that work well with shorts:

Option 1: Low Top Sneakers: A minimal white sneaker is a versatile option that goes well with almost any shorts outfit. If you prefer a different color, opt for a muted neutral tone like light grey or a luxurious suede material.

Option 2: Loafers: Classic loafers, whether made of leather or suede, can effortlessly transition from casual to dressy occasions. Suede loafers, in particular, are perfect for summer and offer a soft and comfortable feel.

Option 3: Leather Sandals: Choose thick, leather sandals that blur the line between casual and formal. Look for black or brown sandals in either smooth or full-grain leather for a versatile and timeless option.

Option 4: Derbies: Derbies are a more casual and approachable alternative to formal Oxford shoes. Opt for full-grain leather in medium brown or chocolatey suede for a stylish and comfortable look.


Men’s fashion shorts have come a long way in terms of style and acceptance. By following the golden rule of avoiding shorts that extend below the knee and considering your height, body type, and the right fit, you can confidently embrace this summer wardrobe staple. Pair your shorts with the appropriate shoes, such as low top sneakers, loafers, leather sandals, or derbies, to complete your stylish and comfortable summer look. Remember, fashion is about expressing your personal style, so have fun experimenting with different colors, patterns, and textures to create unique outfits that reflect your individuality.

Published by Fashion Trndz

Fashion Trndz offers comprehensive fashion coverage for men and women with engaging content and The Fashion Mag collection.

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