A Man’s Guide to Wearing Shorts

by Antonio on May 30, 2012 · 224 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Style

Few items in a man’s wardrobe seem to elicit as much debate as shorts do. Today we’ll uncover just why that is, and then offer some guidelines on the how, what, where, and why of wearing them. Guidelines I’m sure will be much debated! Let’s get right to it.

Why are some men reluctant to wear shorts?

Why is there so much confusion about such a simple garment?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were a number of English words for shortened men’s pants. “Knickerbockers” were baggy pants that gathered below the knee, covering it. Shorter, tighter-fitting trousers that ended at the knee were “knee pants.” “Short pants” sometimes meant knee-pants and sometimes meant shorter garments still.

All of these varieties were clothing for boys, both unofficially and as part of many school uniforms.

Grown men didn’t start wearing shorts outside of extremely hot climates until after World War II, during which soldiers stationed in the tropics had been issued short trousers both for comfort and to ration cloth.

In the post-war years, shorts caught on as a specific uniform for some kinds of sports and recreation. They weren’t fashion items or clothing that could be worn outside of a specific athletic activity — much the same way that a biker’s spandex shorts and jersey wouldn’t be worn off the bike path today. Tennis players might wear shorts on the court, but would clean up and change into trousers before socializing afterward.

In the middle of the 20th century, shorts were considered athletic-wear only. "Shorts" was more likely to refer to a man's boxer shorts, which he wore under his pants.

Shorts as a piece of comfortable, casual summer wear for men did not show up until the 1950s. Even then — championed by trendsetters in Hollywood and other men in the spotlight — the idea took a long time to catch on as “normal.”   There are still plenty of men alive today who remember shorts being basically clothing for young boys.

Shorts are a modern addition to a man’s wardrobe and thus are still finding acceptance.  Although common everywhere in North America, they are not common wear in many other parts of the world (to include hot climate countries).   

Interestingly, while shorter trousers have gradually become acceptable in most arenas, athletic shorts went through a major shift from short, boxer-style shorts to longer mesh shorts in the 1980s. These days it’s unusual to see the extremely short athletic shorts that end as soon as the hip turns into the thigh, though some runners do still wear them. For team sports, mid-thigh or longer has become the rule.

So shorts, at the end of the day, still have a boyish association. That’s no longer a cultural expectation, and no one’s going to think you’ve lost your mind if you wear them. Clothing manufacturers love the idea of being able to sell men even more pieces of clothing each season, and men love the cool comfort shorts provide, so that genie is unlikely to ever go back into the bottle. But it is still something we, particularly if you’re an older man, instinctively think of as “boyish,” even when we’re not conscious of making that judgment.

When to Wear Shorts

Shorts are a casual piece of menswear. So when to wear them?

The simple answer is two-pronged:

1. When there’s a good reason to (temperature, environment, location) and

2. When you’re not conducting business or attending a formal ceremony/event

Recreation with family and friends is always a good default category for “shorts times.” Beaches, private parties, outdoor sports and recreation, and anything else purely for fun and not in the company of strangers or business associates is definitely in the clear.

Even those situations, of course, need appropriate weather: wearing shorts when it’s cold out is going to draw attention. Wear them when it’s hot enough that you really want them, and switch to light trousers as soon as it’s bearable.

In our modern world it also seems worth saying that a man who plans on leaving an air-conditioned house to get in an air-conditioned car and drive to an air-conditioned building can endure wearing trousers no matter what the weather is like. At the point where you have that much climate control you might as well wear the sharper-looking garment that better compliments your build.

FYI – The only people that can violate these rules are Californians.  Please see Seinfeld.

Target practice in Australia is a perfect occasion to wear shorts.

When to Skip the Shorts

Business dealings of any kind call for trousers. Even if it’s just an informal game of golf, wear a pair of light trousers instead of shorts, regardless of whether other men are wearing shorts or not. Take a cue from the pros here (the exception being John Daly).

Any sort of structured event outside the immediate family and close friends is also a time to avoid shorts. Even casual luncheons, picnics, weddings, or other outdoor, summery sorts of events should merit light trousers if you’ll be meeting strangers or relatively unfamiliar acquaintances.

Never wear shorts anywhere a jacket or blazer is expected. If the situation calls for that level of formality, it also calls for more formality than shorts offer. A few cultures have exceptions to this (shorts with blazers and ties are acceptable business wear in Bermuda, for example), but in most of the world it looks both out of place and a bit confused.

Finally, be aware of wearing shorts when traveling the world.  In many countries it clearly marks you as a tourist and may draw unwanted attention.

How to Wear Shorts Well

As a lesser-worn piece of menswear, shorts prompt all kinds of questions: How long should they be? How baggy? How many pockets? Belt or no belt? And so on.

How Long Should Shorts Be?

The far left pair are too short in my opinion. What do you think?

Short enough that your knees are visible or just slightly covered if standing still. Long enough that you’re not showing the world you rarely tan your thighs; if I have to be specific, I would go more than 2-3 inches above the knee, depending on your proportions. Barron from the Effortless Gent backs me up here.

Anything past the knees has ceased to be “shorts.” Those are high-cut pants, which is something else entirely (and not very flattering).

Shorts that do come up to mid-thigh should be limited to lightweight athletic shorts, and should only be worn in athletic settings. Running shorts get more leeway than casual shorts because the expectation is that you’re not going to walk into a store or restaurant wearing them. Exercise devotees should bear this in mind, and should go home and change (and shower) before inflicting themselves on the public outside of gyms, courts, or bike paths.

How Loose Should Shorts Be?

To some extent this is a matter of taste and style. Worth keeping in mind, however, is that shorts add bulk to the upper part of your legs only. Your lower legs will be bare, meaning that everything above them will look thicker by comparison. The baggier your shorts are, the thicker the look. So baggy shorts make your butt and thighs look big — not a look most men are seeking.

A close fit in the seat and straight legs down to the top of the knees looks good on most men. The style is reminiscent of military shorts, and their descendents, the Bermuda shorts, which are good classic styles that people have had a generation or two to get used to by now.

A baggier fit is sometimes common on the golf course, where it evokes the knickerbockers previously favored in the sport. These should obviously always be belted, preferably with a canvas and leather belt.

Pockets, Patterns, and Styles in Shorts

“Cargo shorts” or safari shorts with side, front, and back pockets are great for hiking or working outside anywhere that’s hot but not particularly overgrown (or otherwise hazardous to bare legs). Outside of that, they don’t have much of a role in your wardrobe.   Let me be clear here: baggy, multi-pocketed shorts don’t look great in social settings.  These are ultra-casual and should not be worn to college social events.

Solid colors such as tan, khaki, white, navy, olive, and off-white are the most traditional styles for men’s shorts. Plaids, especially plaids with a white base, are a preppy look staple, but should be paired with at least a polo shirt to avoid looking like a frat boy (and no collar pop, please). Madras pushes the prep look even further, and should be worn with caution.

Notice how color affects the mood of the same pair of shorts. By introducing a brighter color you can take shorts from boring to eye-catching.

Louder-patterned shorts, the kind that look like Hawaiian shirts for your lower half, should be saved for beach vacations and Jimmy Buffet concerts. (Interestingly, these are often referred to as “Bermuda shorts,” presumably because of the tropical association, but true Bermuda shorts are civilian versions of traditional military uniforms from the Pacific islands and are almost always khaki or white cotton).

What to Wear with Shorts

Can You Wear Socks with Shorts?

Can you? Yes. Should you? Only sometimes.

Socks and sandals is an appropriate pairing for old German men on vacation and no one else. So if you’re wearing sandals, which is what you’d expect when it’s hot enough to need shorts, skip the socks.  And sandals are the most casual option: fine for beachwear, not OK for a graduation party.

Shorts worn with closed-toed shoes usually look best with ankle socks. Mid-calves are starting to cover almost as much skin as just wearing trousers would have, and if you’re going to be that covered you might as well look better in trousers. Knee socks and shorts are downright laughable.

Slip-on casual shoes like boaters or loafers are also good companions to shorts, and don’t require socks (though if you need them for comfort inside the shoe, most good shoe stores will have “ballet” or “invisible” socks that don’t show above the shoe).

Shirts that Go with Shorts

Shorts are casual, so the shirt should be too. Don’t wear a long-sleeved, button-fronted, collared shirt with shorts. Even with the sleeves rolled up it’s too much of a stylistic mix-and-match.

Collared short-sleeve shirts are usually the best choice for men who want to look good but stay cool and casual. These can range from button-fronted (seersucker is particularly nice) to your basic monochrome polo shirt. Hawaiian shirts, like loud-print shorts, should be reserved for occasions where a little obnoxious tackiness is part of the fun — tiki bars yes, regular bars no, even near a beach.

T-shirts and shorts is a look that flatters no one. It may be appropriate in casual settings, but it’s not going to make you look as good as other options.

Blazers or Jackets and Shorts

This is a very fashion-forward pairing. In a few parts of the world, most notably Bermuda and South Africa, shorts with business shirts and blazers is actually an established style, and tailors will happily make you a “suit” with short pants instead of trousers. Outside of those countries, however, it’s very much a “fashion-forward” look.

If you’re looking for more fashion-forward ways to wear shorts, visit Josh and Travis here.

Materials for Shorts

Before closing, it’s worth noting a few of the cloth choices men have for shorts. These are garments meant for the most extreme heats of the year, so there’s little point in wearing them if they’re not made from something lightweight and breathable. Unfortunately, the most comfortable fabrics are often more expensive to produce, so a lot of mass-marketed shorts will be made with a thick cotton that’s worse than wearing full trousers of a lighter, more breathable material.

Cotton Shorts

Cotton is a great menswear material for heat — if it’s woven right. It’s lightweight and breathable and is by far the easiest to wash and dry without special care. However, tight weaves of cotton hold hot air close to the body, and sweat or water evaporates from it very slowly.

  • Seersucker is one of the lightest cotton weaves, with a dimpled surface that lets air flow. It’s a joy to wear in the summer and one of the best options available.
  • Madras (true Madras cloth, not just the reddish plaid print) has a very loose weave that lets air flow and dries quickly. There’s very little domestic production in the United States, so it can be costly unless you happen to be in India.
  • Gauze is more commonly associated with medical bandages, but the large weave with its visible square gaps was used for tropical military uniforms for some time and is reappearing in consumer clothes as well. It’s another good option, though not as durable as Madras or seersucker.
  • Drill or twill are both tighter weaves that hold in more air and moisture. Unfortunately, they’re also cheap and common, and make up the majority of most commercial lines. Wear them when you need a bit more durability but aren’t expecting to exert yourself too much.

Linen Shorts

Linen trousers are more common than linen shorts, but if you can find a pair they’re very lightweight and comfortable. Linen tends to wrinkle more than cotton, but the distinctive creases are part of the style, like the bumps in seersucker. Don’t bother trying to smooth them out.

Wool Shorts 

Tropical-weight wools are used for summer trousers because of wool’s smooth drape, but that property is largely wasted in shorts. There’s not a real reason to buy wool shorts, even ones made from very nice, lightweight wool.


Athletic shorts are usually made of synthetics like nylon or spandex. For the most part this is beneficial — the loose weave of basketball shorts keeps the artificial fibers from holding in heat and sweat, while newer synthetics can actually wick moisture away from the skin and let air flow even better than a cotton weave.

Want more?  Then click on the image below to see Primer’s visual guide to wearing shorts!

Also – don’t forget AOM’s guide to dressing in hot weather.

In Conclusion

Watch the video to have me talk you through the article.

Shorts are a modern classic piece of menswear with a storied history. They have a place in every man’s wardrobe.  Just make sure you wear them right!


Written By

Antonio Centeno
Founder of Real Men Real Style
Author of the Internet’s Largest Style Video Library

{ 224 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Griff May 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I saw this (http://rulesformyunbornson.tumblr.com/post/46344768/115-short-pants-are-for-little-boys-decide-for) on 1001 rules for my unborn son and completely ignored it 1) because I lived in CA at the time (so, there’s that) and 2) because I thought it was complete garbage which was good enough reason as any to me. But thanks for confirming that shorts DO have a time and place.

2 Josh May 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

The part about Californians breaking the rules… yes, it’s very true. I see people in shorts and sandals all the time, even in winter, when the weather is not at all appropriate (picture baggy jean shorts, long socks, sandals, and a hoodie. Yep… that’s how most of us dress here in Cali. At least it makes it easy to stand out as being the stylish one =P ).

I’ve been looking for a good style guide for shorts, so this is quite helpful. We’re getting 100+ degree highs this week (pretty normal for 1/3 of the duration of the year around here), and shorts are pretty much mandatory unless you stay inside all day and spend $500/mo on air conditioning.

3 Toby Barnett May 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Culture I think depicts how shorts are worn. The above post, which I do like, seems fitted to how white guys over 40 wear shorts. As someone who grew up in the 90s, our shorts tend to be a bit longer, just past the knee, which I do not consider short pants, clam diggers, or capris. What is your take on how different generations, especially newer ones, wear shorts? On a similar note, one thing that should never go with shorts, no matter how they’re worn, is socks with sandles.

4 Steven May 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Shortpants are for the beach, the gym, the backyard, and that’s about it.
And flip flops/sandals… ugh. They should never be worn outside of the locker room or the beach.

Even in California, where I live.

5 Dustin B May 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Wonderful article, thank you.

@ wow, sorry you didn’t care for the article, but I don’t see anything metro about this.

For me, I find it highly frustrating trying to find a pair of shorts that allow me to look like an adult. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong stores, but it seems like all of the shorts that I try on go 3-4 inches below my knees. More like capris, if you ask me.

More thoughts:
Denim – no
Magnum P.I. – haha, but no
Natural fibers > synthetic fibers, unless you are working out.

6 Chris May 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I’m 5’4″ and it is hard to find shorts that are the right length. It seems that clothing vendors want to sell longer shorts than years past. Even swim shorts are getting to the point where they are below the knee even from those that are 6′.

7 SF May 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm

The old copy editor in me can’t help but point out that Jimmy Buffett has two Ts in his last name.

8 Sean May 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I have to say, I disagree with most of this. The assertion about cargo shorts having no place at a college social event… I’m 23, currently in my 5th year at a major US university (finished my undergrad, working on masters), and I have never seen anyone wear any of the things suggested in this article. Maybe this is correct for my dad’s generation… but not mine.

9 Brian May 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Resident bike snob here with a quick note on bike shorts and bike paths: people who wear padded spandex shorts are fairly serious about their comfort level while racking up miles.

Those found riding a(n expensive) road bike on a sidewalk or path are what we commonly call “poseurs.” Spandex is over-kill for these extremely short-range pedestrians-on-wheels.

Those who ride mountain bikes, cruisers, or hybrids–the dominant 2-wheeler on a multi-user path–are much less likely to wear spandex, and if they do, it’s owing largely to distance, or in the case of serious mountain bikers, for sweat, protection, and comfort on rugged terrain. (MTB’ers on their way to Turkey Mountain, for instance, or road warriors cooling down after the Saturday morning hill climb across West Tulsa.)

So, in short, the history of shorts needs a minor revision. Bike shorts are aimed at comfort for cyclists who exert themselves, either on a long haul or over the rough and tumble. “Bike paths” are for folks who are dabbling, and dabblers can get by in civilian clothes.

The Bike Snob

10 Jon May 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Probably more than not wearing shorts, I say that any open-toe shoe is not to be worn by a man in public. Let’s be honest, no one wants to see my ugly, non-pedicured feet. The only exception would be to the pool or beach.

I think Antonio can be too conservative (and I disagree with him on the long sleeve/shorts pairing), but he is pretty much right on in this article.

11 Nuno Lima May 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Whats your opinion on men with skinny(bone structure) legs? Is it still viable to use shorts?

I’m on that structure and the tips here does help loosing the boyish look that my thin frame provides, but I never felt that well using shorts. Just on the beach.

12 Jon May 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm

@Not Applicable – what you wear is the first impression people have of you. Don’t have to like it, and it may be unfair, but we judge each other by our appearance.
And I disagree about clothing being feminine; that’s a sexist stereotype. Manliness has many forms, I think that’s the point of the site.

13 Patrick May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

One alternative to a hawaiian shirt or any of the short-sleeve button downs could be a Cuban Guyabera. They’re very popular in Latin America (including the capital, Miami), and can look great with shorts. They have flat tails and at least two shirt pockets, as well as vertical print bands.

14 jhb090107 May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I have always found the concept of “dressy” shorts to be amusing. I wear shorts regularly and love cargo shorts for work wear and as daddy wear b/c the utility of a gusseted side pocket can’t be beat. You also can’t beat shorts for a workout or intense physical activity. Beyond the above mentioned examples man up and wear pants. If there is any formality to the occasion – if someone has bothered to call and invite you to an event beyond a backyard BBQ with neighbors – wear pants. I’m warm natured and run a little hot (not to mention live in the South) but there are a world of options for thin cotton, light weight denim, or the old tropical stand by of linen pants to stay cool and look good

15 tech_pilgrim May 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Worst shorts faux pas ever: I was in seminary for a year and a half, before I discerned I was called to marriage. While at an event at a parish I saw a priest wearing a short sleeve “tab shirt” (Google it if you don’t know what that is) and a pair of black shorts….

short sleeved tab shirt and black slacks? A little lazy but ok…I guess.

short sleeved tab shirt and black shorts….horrible, and it erodes respect. And while we’re on the topic of Church… NEVER EVER EVER WEAR SHORTS TO CHURCH, this is unacceptable even for children.

My personal worse shorts experiance, Freshman year of High school track team. All but one of the throwers were football linemen trying to keep in shape during the off season…average weight was probably 250-275. We had to wear track shorts during meets….. that’s a lot of man in a little bit of shorts.

During seminary I kind of lost all interest in shorts. Now I wear shorts when I’m doing laundry or bumming around the house, maybe to take out the trash or get the mail, also at a theme park or on a float trip.

16 Craig Smith May 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I followed the link to the Effortless Gents article and after reviewing the pics posted there (and here) I’m not sure how appropriate this article even is to a ‘Manliness’ guide. I’m 35, live in California and wear shorts about 11 months out of the year, regardless of weather, any time I am not on the clock. However, I would not be caught dead in any of the short/shirt combinations shown on this or the other article, they are so far from manly, masculine, etc., that I’m going to force myself to believe they were picked based on the fact that they have shorts in them rather than thinking this is how the author really thinks men should look in shorts. If this is how the author really thinks we should look in shorts, he should probably be writing for Esquire or GQ, not the Art of Manliness. Just saying…

17 Ray May 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I agree with a lot of this article but I also agree that the length of the shorts would depend on your age. Teens and 20′s would say longer the better. I like mine down to the top of my knees. We sell shorts and what we call pirate pants or 3/4 length pants. Most contractors can’t wear shorts on the job so a lot of them will cut about 6 inches off their pant legs to get air flowing through them. If you’re a framer, roofer and it’s July or Aug you understand the need to get cool. We even sell them with knee pockets for knee pads to slip in so these types do run longer. Protecting the body on the job carries more weight than how long your shorts might be. We also offer them with what we call holster pockets. These are additional pockets on the front to carry tools and nails etc. making the worker more efficient on the job. Time is money. So these days there are a lot more options available. As for the side pockets, mine all have them these days. I carry a cell phone and don’t like them to sit on my hips digging into my side or gut.. I also don’t like sitting on my wallet so these side pockets are a must. If you have never seen these types with the holster pockets or knee pockets you can view them at http://www.repconnw.com. Protect the body, you don’t get another one.

18 Duncan May 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

This seems arbitrary and capricious. I am disappointed.

19 Jordan Smith May 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm

yay for exceptions for Californians

20 rdfowler May 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I’ve always hated shorts, and refused to wear them as a boy. Now finally at the age of 60, and having lived in the sweltering climate of Louisiana most of my life, I broke down and bought a pair. I look like a pear impaled on sticks, but at my age comfort trumps vanity.

21 Kevin May 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Who was this intended for? T-shirt and shorts don’t go together? No cargo shorts? Honestly this is one article I do not agree with what so ever. Personally I think a lot of this is wrong.

22 Jessie May 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Long time follower, due to the excellent outdoors tutorials offered (I’m a woman, so the rest is more useful for the study of male culture than actual advice), first time commenter due to confusion. I feel compelled to ask: what makes above-the-knee shorts unflattering on a man? Is it likewise unflattering on a woman, according to these rules? What, if anything, defines the difference there?
Granted, for women, at the knee or just below the butt (i.e. the narrow point of transition between body parts) is generally “accepted” by sites like this as the most flattering, but what makes men feel ridiculous adopting the latter style? I personally feel that men wearing short-shorts can be very cute and/or sexy, given a certain physique – just like women – as long as they’re cut decently. And maybe even despite a bad cut. It’s more about the body inside the clothes than the clothes themselves. Heck, it’s not even so much about the body – if someone with a “less than ideal” physique wears shorts, who cares, if they’re comfortable it will look good… right? Will anyone really take them less seriously?
I don’t see a problem with cargo shorts, either, unless it’s for a really important event where I’m expected to wear heels and gobs of makeup – then, fair is fair, you don’t get to be comfortable either! ;)

I guess I don’t understand what makes something “appropriate” for women and not for men, and vice versa.

23 Alexis May 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm

As a woman let me say YES.

On my first “date” with my husband he was wearing shorts so short I expected that later he would be wearing them to battle lions in the arena. There I was in heels and a designer blouse and he was wearing the equivalent of man-diapers. Needless to say his charm, humor, and culinary skills won out. Barely.

Don’t do this fellas. Nobody wants to see you in short shorts. Not at the gym. Not anywhere.

24 minuteman May 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I live in southern Ontario, hot summers, snowy but mild winters. I exclusively wear shorts for as long as I can get away with it. Khaki/tan mid thigh length cargo shorts with Blundstone slip on leather ankle boots. Tee shirt and sweat shirt if it gets cold. I can’t stand wearing long pants. Of course some times I have too, but I bicycle commute to work most of the time then put on my coveralls, so this makes sense for me. It might not be a look for everyone, you have to be pretty manly to pull it off :)

25 TMP May 30, 2012 at 8:51 pm

It seems many have forgotten that this article and site are about being a man. As I approach 40 my appearance has become more important in my life. There is nothing wrong with a twenty-something year old wearing any crazy outfit they want. However, once they mature into their manhood they will realize the importance of appearance in everyday life. I break the rules at work and wear a tie everyday, sometimes a suit. Nobody else does, unless a client is coming in then only the executive team (and me) will wear a suit. I dress for the status I want in life because you never know when you will meet the person who will change your life. However, being 5’4″ finding a pair of shorts that do not extent below my knees is a frustrating ordeal. Generally I will have to get them taylored. Sorry for the tangent.

26 Ernie May 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm

This article is bound to cause conflict, because something as superficial as wearing shorts will always boil down to personal taste. Even generational generalizations are too broad.

For example, I’m 23. But I grew up in a conservative household and was in a fraternity during college (No, I was not a “bro,” though some of my friends fell into the stereotype). These affected my clothing choices, so I would mostly agree with this article: I don’t wear cargo shorts because they are too casual (except for synthetic ones I use backpacking), and I opt for a length between mid-thigh and the knee. Anything longer makes you look like a lanky boy. Anything shorter makes you look like a ’70s basketball player.

For those crying foul, there’s nothing inherently “wrong” about cargo shorts or longer styles; it’s a matter of taste.

As for anyone worrying about the styles above appearing “unmanly,” I would suggest worrying about more important things. Wearing colored shorts and no socks has been a summer ritual for decades. Being scared to put on something bolder than gray, khaki, brown or green doesn’t make you a “he-man.” It makes you insecure.

I generally wear shorts on the weekends; a nice creased pair of light khaki from Jos. A. Bank with a bright button up plaid short sleeve shirt (untucked) or a polo shirt (tucked). I also have a couple of colored pairs: one a blue seersucker, and a mint green. Paired with a crisp, white polo-style shirt, dress belt and blucher mocs without socks…classy.

It’s my theory that everybody does or should eventually grow up and give up the long baggy shorts; it’s just a matter of when. Call me an early adopter.

27 David V May 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Overall height and proportion have more to do with the length then saying how many inches above the knee are allowed. I know this from many many years of experimentation. On a short man with short legs just above the knee is too long.

28 Travis May 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I’m curious what your opinion is on capris are. I live in Japan at the moment and capris are coming in huge this year. I see lots of people wearing them, creating a slightly more formal look than shorts. In fact, someone sent me this year’s GAP summer advertisement that had a guy wearing capris on it. I’ve never been to the GAP but it did seem like that seems to be the coming trend.

29 Steve May 30, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Yeah, this article misses the mark.

What about tall men? I’m nearly 6’5″ and I look ridiculous in shorts that are above the knee. I tend to go for ones that finish at the top of the shin / bottom of the kneecap, it really helps me look a lot less gangly.

And no t-shirts? That’s kind of a ridiculous statement, everyone wears t-shirts with shorts and it looks great. You’ve just got to find a good t-shirt.

30 Caleb May 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

What brand of shorts are in the 4-in-1 photo of the multi-colored shorts?

31 caleb May 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Yet again, another clothing article that is probably too off base to even make it in GQ.

Again, depends upon the setting, but we don’t all live in Manhattan in the 60s.

I live in Colorado. Many people wear shorts once the snow is off the ground and it is above freezing. Most do all summer when possible. Often with quality sandals (meaning well made; suitable for hiking). We have people holding business meetings dressed like this. There may even be people in suits and cowboy boots at the same meetings. No one really cares. Those that do need to get over it :)

I’ve preached in shorts and sandals. Also did a wedding in the same.

But one of my goals is to be me and help others be themselves. :) I make sure whatever way I choose to dress, it is clean and well done. Unless it is a hardware or auto parts store, always pants with a belt and usually a shirt with buttons. Can’t stand athletic clothes in public. Sloppy.

Life is too short to be uncomfortable to try to impress people I don’t care about.

And I also dress to CCW comfortably, which always breaks some of the rules. Or makes it too obvious.

32 caleb May 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

(Different calebs)

33 caleb May 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm

And anything other that sandals/athletic shoes/hiking boots look ridiculous with shorts. Nothing that even closely resembles leather dress shoes should be paired with shorts. If you are going that far, just wear dress pants. Same goes for most of this article :)

34 SIR May 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

These short/shirt/shoes choices remind me of a Southern Frat Boy look more than anything to be honest. And for the majority of my life I have not seen those guys as a symbol of manliness. T-shirts and shorts are very appropriate for Texas, among men of all ages, and in all honesty I never saw the draw of boat shoes… unless you were on a boat. Otherwise buy a pair of breathable running shoes. Those work well in the summer, especially when a game of football might just start up.

35 Limestone May 31, 2012 at 12:14 am

LL Bean Blucher mocs with plain front khaki shorts is a perfect combination…preppy de rigueur.

36 DipperDapper May 31, 2012 at 12:22 am

@Sean (cargo shorts champion) – you Sir, are what we call a geed. I pity the fact that you are 23 and are still clueless on how to dress like an adult.

37 DipperDapper May 31, 2012 at 12:24 am

@SIR. – I never saw the draw in running shoes…unless you were going running.

38 Hutch May 31, 2012 at 12:48 am

In Texas it gets to be 110 degrees in the summer time. Looks become a moot point when your pants would be drenched in sweat if they came down all the way.

39 Will May 31, 2012 at 1:10 am

I’m with Steve about tall men neading to wear longer shorts. I’m in the 6’3, 6’4 neighborhood and won’t wear shorts that don’t go to the middle of my knees. Generally I prefer them to reach just below the knee and hit the vey top of the shin. Like Steve said this prevents looking ridiculously gangily.

Oh, and I wear cargo shorts and a Tshirt all the time. Heck, I’m wearing that right now. For a younger guy who is not put in even semi-formal situations all that often, it works great and looks fine. Of course I would dress up for anything important, but really this article was too hard on my standard summer wear – cargo shorts and a Tshirt.

40 jaklumen May 31, 2012 at 1:36 am

I’m going to keep wearing my cargo pants, thanks. The socks and shoes don’t look so great with them, but… I have Doc Martens. Boots will do, more especially when I am doing homesteading work anyways.

I don’t have many formal occasions. But of course I’m mindful of dressing appropriately. I also melt like a snowman in the heat (no, I’m not exaggerating that much). However, I did have to wear high pants/long shorts for a bit to church while waiting for $$ for proper dress pants. A friend in the congregation teased me about all my pockets and I said yep, I was just like Captain Kangaroo. Seriously though, many handy-minded and tech guys like myself… we wear cargo shorts most of the time. Some of us will clean up just fine if the occasion truly requires it.

41 John Rose May 31, 2012 at 2:11 am

I like the article. I don’t know why so many people get confused. I seriously just put on a pair of khaki cargo shorts (cream, brown, light brown, dark gray) and a blue or white button up and hit the town. If it’s daylight, and I’m going to the park or strolling around town, I wear my flip flops or chuck taylors without socks. NEVER WEAR SOCKS WITH SHORTS unless you are jogging. ***RULE 2 never wear running shoes unless you’re running.

So in all honesty, find what suits you’re personality. I’m the kinda guy that only wears cargo shorts. About an inch below my knee (no I don’t sag). You can t-shirt it or you can wear a button up or polo. Hoodies always go well. And if it’s any better to you, I never get any problems from anyone. Even if I have to pop into my office. I just get the compliments from the secretaries that I look good. Don’t over think such a normal piece of clothing. Worry about those slacks that don’t fit you, Skippy.

42 Brandon Myers May 31, 2012 at 4:53 am

Loved the article. Spot on! Thanks.

43 EssDee May 31, 2012 at 5:14 am

I am from India, and just wanted to comment on the Madras. You don’t get Madras (shorts, shorts, even fabric rolls) cheaply OR easily in India. Almost 100% of the production is exported. Unless you know someone who makes / ships / exports madras fabric / apparel, it is next to impossible to get it! In fact, I got a madras shirt through a friend in the US. It says, “fabric woven in India, garment manufactured in the Phillipines” :)

44 Jeremy May 31, 2012 at 5:57 am

Great article as always!

I love wearing shorts mainly because of comfort. Something bugs me though. Sometimes when I wear shorts, my female friends can’t help but notice my hairy manly legs. Wear comfy shorts, they said. They won’t notice the bushy jungles of leg hairs, they said.

But kidding aside, does curly/thick/uneven/bushy leg hair have an impact on wearing shorts?

Should I start trimming?

45 The Dutch Dastard May 31, 2012 at 6:17 am

Lot’s of interesting things going on in the article, and in the comments.

As for ‘cargo shorts’, button fronted collared shirts, and ‘anything ever resembling dress shoes’: i often wear a pair of barely knee high blue linen cargo shorts (buttoned pouches on the sides) with an army green epauletted shirt, dark brown suede belt and dark brown suede ‘dress’ shoes. It sort of looks as if i’m going on safari in the 1950′s, but with a tad of modern elegance. The shoes transform the look from a boyish look into quite a manly, tough look. They make all the difference.

46 TimJ May 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

Being of slim build and with slender (ok skinny) legs, I prefer shorts that are a somewhat above the knee and most importantly not so baggy! Otherwise my legs look like a couple of sticks poking out of a couple paper bags. It is quite difficult to find shorts these days that are not too long and too baggy for my taste. And pleats? No thanks! I agree with one poster above, no running shoes unless you are running.

47 Bill May 31, 2012 at 7:28 am

A few years ago there seemed to be a memo that went out to the fat men of the USA: “Wear shorts year round, regardless of the weather”.

It peeves me to no end to see men in shorts when it is nowhere near warm.

48 Adam May 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

Personally I loved this article. My father never wore shorts. NEVER. When I came to be a man, I started putting my shorts away. I have a few pairs that hit just above the knee, but mostly for holidays or vacations. Shorts can be stylish, I agree with some of the posters on that. For the most part I prefer to wear linen or light cotton in the summer and I am from Alabama, so you can imagine that the heat and humidity can be overwhelming. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that. For me there is a point where shorts are too short and of course I wear them to work out, but I generally prefer pants on the daily. For me it may be a subconscious association with boyhood and I have to say that this article made me smile. I like this site because it generally seems to appeal to classic notions of men’s style and life. I agree with many posts about no socks, but I like to wear chucks or sperrys…and no athletic shoes.

49 Jason May 31, 2012 at 8:49 am

These pictures look like they were taken from the St. John’s Bay section of the JC Penney catalog. Personally I find that this article goes over the line from “dressing to impress” to “how to look like a yuppy.” Seriously, anyone I see wearing shorts that look like these is immediately a piece of dry white toast in my eyes, especially if they are wearing boat shoes or moccasins.

If I am wearing shorts, I am not trying to impress you. I am more interested in my own comfort than whether you find me fashionably acceptable. Collared shirts are okay as long as they are summer weight. Sometimes I will wear a collared shirt if we’re going out to eat.

And SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS do not wear plaid shorts! That is the most ridiculous trend I’ve seen yet in shorts.

50 Mike M May 31, 2012 at 8:57 am

One of my favorite lines from the Sopranos is when Tony was playing a round of golf with Carmine, a boss in New York. Carmine mentioned that he heard about a barbecue at Tony’s at house, then he said “Bosses don’t wear shorts.” Seems like a good rule of thumb, also I think that was the episode when Carmine had a heart attack and died.

51 Brian E May 31, 2012 at 9:09 am

Well, I suppose this article is a good start, but there’s a lot of subjectivity thrown in there. And judging by the comments, there’s quite a bit of debate as to whether shorts are even acceptable wear for men. Personally, I find that they can be tasteful and even dignified under the right circumstances. I tend more towards a traditional Ivy look and there are plenty of good examples in Take Ivy of men wearing shorts (even madras ones) with moccasins, penny loafers and canvas sneakers paired with button-down shirts, sweaters, etc. As long as you avoid extremes and follow the same guidelines of proportion, fit and style as you would with any other part of your wardrobe, any guy can wear shorts successfully.

52 Lance H May 31, 2012 at 9:22 am

Can we all just agree right now that there is never, NEVER a reason for any man in this country to wear sandals? In my 51 years of life so far, I have never seen them look masculine or attractive. And yes, the same goes for flip flops outside of gym shower or beach.

While we are at it…Gentlemen, if the shirt has short sleeves and is not a Hawaiian or Tommy Bahama or camp shirt, then it has no business being button down!! And please don’t even think of wearing one of those monstrosities with a tie.

End of rant!! *smiles*

53 James May 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

For Pete’s sake, NO MEN I KNOW OR SEE ANYWHERE WEAR LOAFERS OR BOAT SHOES. Why does every new post on AofM insist that men should wear these? The only time I’d wear these–or ever hear of anybody else doing it–is when someone’s on their yacht or at a lawn party in the Hamptons. GOOD GRIEF

54 Bruce Williamson May 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

I only wear cargo shorts with sneakers in the summer. Along with a polo shirt which is NEVER tucked into the waist of the shorts as it becomes too hot.

55 Nate May 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

Many good points made here, but I think what rubbed me the wrong way was the authoritative way in which the article was written. What amounts to only one point of view is being hocked as sartorial law. Common sense and a brief perusal through these comments should make it clear that regional and generational differences defy a one-size-fits-all rule book for shorts (or most other things for that matter).

My general rule of thumb is to dress appropriately enough to be taken serious without crossing the fine line to pretentiousness. The looks advocated in this article have their place, but try wearing this stuff is certain places and among a certain crowd and you’re going to look like an ass and feel like a serious fish out of water.

56 Hartmann May 31, 2012 at 10:09 am

@Steve, I agree. The height of the wearer has everything to do with it. A cut that works on a man who is 5’8” will look absurd on a man who is 6’3″, and vice versa. For taller men, longer shorts are an absolute necessity, and good ones are relatively difficult to come by.

57 Charles Wilson May 31, 2012 at 10:11 am

I wear shorts (never jean shorts) outside for almost all occasions as long as the temperature is above 70*. I also wear flip flops shoes. I live in Missouri and it doesn’t seem to be near the issue it is in other states. I would say that half the men you see in the summer will have open shoes. I agree that in business meeting and events like church, shorts and flip-flops should never be worn but other than that it is up the man what he will wear. On a side note, I do think it is ABSOLUTELY APPALLING to see a man with a hat on indoors. And anyone who wears sunglasses indoors should be taken behind the woodshed and have it explained to them how RIDICULOUS they look. jmo.

58 dogg May 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

I’m totally smack about this article. I’m not into what’s fashion, or whether it’s right or not. I like the days of short shorts. The old NBA uniforms were great. These baggy hangers everyone wears now, look dorky and way uncool. It’s funny how some doofus will start wearing something in a really stupid way, and everyone thinks he’s so cool, they have to do it to, and then it becomes cool.

59 Ted May 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

I noticed Half of the models in the photos were clean shaven, as part of good grooming when wearing shorts could you comment on the need for this, Would my burly hairy legs meet the requirements of all occasions, Not so concerned with the great out doors more so in the arena pertaining to socials and club functions. I notice more men arriving shaven than in the past and fear I may be behind the times.

60 Grant May 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

23 years old, living in Arkansas. 6′ inseams about a year and a half ago and never looked back.
1)I’ve got pretty great legs for a guy (that’s from my girlfriend). 2)The heat of the summer will not allow me to wear anything else unless it’s a formal occassion.
Personally I can’t stand cargos and was fortunate enough to go to a private school were they wouldn’t allow them, so I’ll never be caught in them.
Also, I’m a fraternity guy and my question is, what idiot in a fraternity is popping his collar? Or better yet, what idiot is popping his collar?

61 buccaroo May 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

i personally wear my athletic shorts with a synthetic shirt almost all of the time. I often decide to play pickup games (basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer…) with my friends where i would not have time to run home and change. Beside, I’m able to pull off the athlete look.

62 Tim Hardy May 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

Good article and a must for some of the male population I encounter during the summer months. Remember also the importance of a good looking quality belt – don’t let your shorts down eh?

63 Jeff May 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

I figured the cargo shorts thing would cause a stir – and to be honest that is all I wear when it’s shorts season here – and I’m 39 and don’t feel like a boy or less than a man.
I would never consider wearing shorts to the office, a wedding, church, to parent teacher conferences, etc – that’s not the time or place.
However on a daily basis when I am not at work I do not feel uncomfortable or like I am not dressing my age. Our (meaning my family, friends, and general community) lifestyle is very casual. Obviously things need to be worn within reason but there aren’t many things (with the exception of the types of things mentioned above) that I would feel odd doing in cargo shorts.
I will also say that while the examples in the article have their time and place, I too think they are a bit too conservative for me and I would be much more uncomfortable wearing those shorts that cargo shorts.
Some may think that means I am not grown up – but I disagree. I have a professional career, sit on city council, and have a decent amount of respect in our community.
I will also say that I was disappointed to see the tone of some of the comments here – I’ve never seen that on this site before – imagine all this over shorts.

64 Ted May 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

one addition- I also notice more women not shaving their legs, hair color could play in to this presentation.

65 Oak May 31, 2012 at 11:04 am

In conclusion… just wear your kilt.

66 Doug May 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

While posts like this are of interest, I also think they go too far in promoting the shallow notion that a person can be summed up by what they wear. I read an article in the WSJ recently that made me want to chuckle. It was titled something to the effect, what a woman’s purse says about her. As if women were such simple creatures that a quick glance at a purse could tell us all we needed to know!!!

67 Al May 31, 2012 at 11:34 am

Having just returned from Hawaii, I can imagine everyone there laughing at this article. Shorts + tshirt + sandals is the way of life.

68 Tryclyde May 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

If I’m outside in the summer and it’s not a formal function, I’m wearing shorts regardless of if I’m meeting any new people. Sorry if this “breaks” the rule, but sweating in pants with the sun beating down on me is not my idea of a good time.

69 Tryclyde May 31, 2012 at 11:42 am

Also, there are plenty of cargo shorts that aren’t baggy anymore. The pockets don’t bulge out and they can be tasteful with a nice, button-down shirt.

70 Ralph May 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

I’ll wear my comfortable leather flip flops in warm/hot weather until my dying day.

71 Cris May 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

“Don’t wear a long-sleeved, button-fronted, collared shirt with shorts. Even with the sleeves rolled up it’s too much of a stylistic mix-and-match”

I couldn’t disagree with this more. There are many casual shirts such as this that go well with shorts. I guess I’m not manly?

72 The Desert Rat May 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Except for formal, semi-formal & business occasions, life is too damn short to be uncomfortable (within reason). So put on a pair a nice, clean shorts if it suits your style. I agree you’ve got to look sharp, but a lot of the advice here seems a bit preppy. Most important (shorts and otherwise) is avoid extremes, but man up, find your own look and style that makes a statement of who you are instead of mimicking some slick ad copy.

73 Pat Ryan May 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm

A long sleeved white linen shirt with sleeves rolled and khaki shorts and boat shoes is a classic summer look.

74 Buffet May 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

“…might as well wear the sharper-looking garment that better compliments your build.”????
If you’re a bodybuilder, shorts DO compliment your build. If you’re a pencilneck (i.e. non-bodybuilder), and have chicken legs – then you’re gay!

75 Nate s May 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I think it was a good article and is made more for the general population, who live in parts of the country with seasons. The goal is just to help you refine your wardrobe a bit. I’m 35 and a dad, and I have some cargo shorts for when I go to the park with the kids (carry a camera) and sandals for when I am canoeing or rafting. However, If I am going out somewhere, I try to look a little nicer. I just think that is part of growing up. I don’t necessarily want to get dressed and look just like my 7 year-old. Too many here are taking this as an attack, as opposed to some helpful tips to get you cleaning up your look a bit.

76 John Hosie May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Wow. Shorts.

I’m afraid that, being a shorts wearer for most of the summer for most of my life, I have to disagree with the article. This article may be fine for the fashion-conscious snob… but it is missing a whole bunch.

Shorts are a staple of anyone living in any sort of beach community – whether in California or Myrtle Beach, SC. They’re required apparel. Sure, most office visits pretty much require long pants, but away from the office, in coastal communities, they are essential. You’re really out of place without them.

Second is the issue of the height of shorts. I’m not talking about a gay thing, or hot pants or anything. I just prefer those that are a fair amount above the knee. This is something that goes in and out of style, for my dressy shorts. So at least be cognisant of the current trends – by taking a look at what shows up in the Men’s section of the SEARS and LL Bean catalogues.

Personally, when away from a business environment, having grown up on the beach, I dress down ALL the time. In summer, that means getting on a pair of some sort of baggy athletic shorts or, my favorite, cutoff jeans as soon as I get home from work. And when I am talking about athletic shorts, I’m definitely NOT talking about basketball shorts. They’re too long. Running shorts, but not those made of Spandex. That is a matter of taste, I suppose. I usually go with something more like jersey material.

Jeans shorts? I never saw a need for well-hemmed jeans shorts. They’re really kind of a “wannabe” thing – where you “wannabe” looking sorta cool, but are afraid of what someone will say if you wear cutoffs. Really, they may as well be plaid!!!

For good cutoffs, you need to nurture a pair of Levis or Wranglers for YEARS – giving them lots of time to fade on their own. Nothing worse than store-bought faded jeans, in my book. As they age, the threads get nice and soft and start to fade away. At some point, they get holes in the knees. Anyplace else, patch them. But once they start to get holes, just work with them. They’ve got to be comfortable, and it can take 2-3 years – or more – to really baby a pair of jeans to the point where they’ll make real good cutoffs. Then, finally, they get to where the knees tear, and maybe the tear starts running up the leg a little. That is harvest time. You take those pants, and tear the legs off. It can start just above the knee, but ideally, it will be 4-5 inches above. But remember nothing looks worse – other than plaid or hemmed denim shorts – than a neatly cut or torn pair of cutoffs. You’ve got to make sure they will have nice, ragged edges, but they can’t look too knew. So you may have to drop them in the wash a few times first… or wear them while fixing the engine so they pick up a bit of grime. Sometimes I even let my wife take them, and the legs, and use them on the floor, or I have my kids wax the car with them and my favorite old T-shirt. In any case, the edge gets to looking a little gray – no longer bright white. That is when you take them outta the rag pile, select some cool patches to cover any holes, stich them on, and run then through the wash one more time so the patches don’t look too new. That is when you’ve REALLY got a pair of good cutoffs.

Now, you may be wondering what I did with the pants legs? Well, they did go into the rag pile to start with. But that was just to allow them a little more curing – like mold on a good blue cheese. Then you tear them up into smaller pieces, and continue to use them for any sort of cleaning you can. And when they’re good and soft and pliable, theyre ready to use for patches. And, by the way, patches are not just for cutoffs. They also do a really good job of comfortizing your regular jeans you use for yardwork when it isn’t so not outside. Some of the best patches I have are maybe being used on the 3rd or 4th pair of pants or shorts. Like a good red wine in a nice, cool cave, they age amazingly well.

Yard work is a great place for wearing shorts. They help keeping you cool as you’re out in the hot sun. Of course, most men should at least consider some sort of hat while they’re outdoors – both to shade the face from excessive UV rays, and to keep the sun off the top of you head. I’m nearly 60, and by no means bald, but my hair has always been like baby-hair, and it doesn’t really prevent UV penetration to the scalp. Sunburned pate is a regular thing – even when I go back to my college days when I was working as a clam digger on my own boat, and had hair practically down to my tail-bone. Those of you who are lucky enough to have thick hair – enjoy it. From what I’ve seen, though, many men with thick hair when they’re younger go bald fairly young in life… Maybe it is God’s way of equalizing things…. you used up most of your lifetime allocation of hair when you were in your early 20′s, so it starts thinning, so by the time you’re in your mid 30′s or so, you have become a major investor in Turtle Wax. (Of course, my folically challenged friend Pablo never fails to remind me that “God only made a few perfect heads. The rest he had to cover with hair. ” I guess this is a bit of an ADD moment…) So where was I? Oh yeah…shorts. Well, like I said, if you’re anywhere near a beach, you have to seriously consider them if it is warm out. And I understand that in a business setting you may not want to wear them, and if you do, even make them something starchy and ironed. But all summer long, whether I’m stopping at the mall, going to the Home Depot to pick up mulch and lumber, or wandering through WalMart, I can’t see being without them. Flip-flops? Well, they always have hurt between my toes. Other sandals? Well, if I’m going to have that little covering on my feet, I’m going to keep them bare – indoors, outdoors, or even walking around the neighborhood. (A pretty brisk pace when the sun is hot.)

That’s my $.02… Hope it was worth it.

77 jamEs May 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm

All those examples of proper length shorts just seem wrong to me. Shorts for old people. As someone who is tall(6’2″) with long legs, I don’t feel comfortable with any shorts that go above the knee. It has to partially cover or fully cover the knee.

I live in Canada and basically you wear shorts whenever you possibly can. I’ll wear short as soon as it hits 20 degrees outside and up.

78 matt May 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Maybe these rules make sense in the Midwest. I live in Phoenix. We experience 110+ for the better part of 3 months. If I didn’t wear shorts and flip-flops while running errands and such, I would probably die from heat exhaustion. The suggestion that we go from a/c cars to a/c buildings and therefore could wear long pants is ludicrous. Have you ever driven a car when it is 115? By the time the car cools, you are at the next stop so your car just gets hot again.

I work in a professional office so I wear suits everyday to work. It is brutal to go outside for even a few minutes. You sweat through everything the minute you walk into a building (fortunately, the sweat immediately evaporates off you in the heat). Nobody in their right mind would do that all the time just for the sake of some silly fashion rules.

Of course I never wear shorts until we hit 100. Anything less than that is too cool for shorts in my opinion.

And the leg hair is necessary to prevent sunburns.

79 Tim May 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm

After reading this article I can imagine the author exploding in a puff of cologne-scented smoke if he saw me running in split shorts.

As several other people have pointed out, what type of shorts are acceptable depends on many things: such as the location, the event, the weather, your build and your age. This isn’t something you can pontificate strict rules about.

80 Raffi May 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Looks like its time to donate the abercrombie cargo shorts to goodwill store. Excellent tutorial!!! Much needed and really appreciated

81 Tank May 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

When wearing shorts one is choosing to dress down a.k.a looking sloppy. There is no need for rules as to how one wears shorts. I never wear shorts, it is unnecessary, and I don’t want to hear the garbage about it gets too hot, suck it up pansy. Your body will adapt to to the climate.

82 John Hosie May 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm

No. You miss it. “Dressing down” doesn’t mean looking sloppy. It means being more concerned about comfort, convenience, and flexibility of use than what a snobby )o( can understand. ,,, like yourself, for instance.

83 Mark P May 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I truly enjoy your posts and but suggest caution with your choices of partners. I found the Primer’s Guide to be the usual dull stuff found in magazines. I tire of hearing the same loathsome ads ‘if you are not wearing these sunglasses or seen with this type beer, you’re on the outside’. *** Promote style not brands or products. ***.

84 Nick May 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Insecure much?

I don’t let my clothes define me, I define the clothes.

You can suck it up if you don’t enjoy seeing my grizzly legs ;)

85 Tank May 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm


You make an excellent point, this country has fallen victim to the comfort and convenience bug. Which is associated closely with the boo hoo, whoas me bug. There was a time in this country when men wore a suit and women a dress from the time they woke until they went to bed. Now I am not saying we need to return totally to the days of old but there is certainly some things we could take from the past when it comes to dress. We have become so accustom to comfort and convenience that that we lack the ability to deal with adversity.

86 Shawn May 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm

It cracks me up more than a little to read how animated this article about shorts has made so many.

To those who are claiming the advice seems a bit on the old fashioned side, have your not read any of the other posts here?
“How to Shave Like Your Grandfather”
“In Praise of the Push Reel Mower”
“6 Forgotten Drugstore Colognes & Aftershaves”
Dating Advice from 1944: How to Pick Your Right Girl”
“8 Finance Lessons from Benjamin Franklin”
I could go on.
I thought we were all working on the premise that some things (certain elements of fashion sense in this case) have been lost in translation during the last couple of generations. I always feel like the AoM does a good job to make an attempt to fill that gap. Whatever your personal take may be, if you’re a frequent visitor, you cannot be surprised if the tone of the advice sounds as if it comes from your father rather than your fraternity brother.

Not to bash fraternities, but while I’m on the topic . . .
A good bit of “fratboy” style — and lifestyle — should be avoided simply because I’ve never heard the expression “fratman.” Every so often we’ll get new teachers who still dress like they’re still hanging out at the house. While they aren’t breaking any teacher dress code, their style lacks slightly in professionalism. (Don’t get me wrong. There are many teachers, former greeks or independents, new or not so new, male or female, who are lacking that professionalism in their dress. Maybe they doubt their status as profesionals because they are so rarely treated or thought of as such; however, that is an entirely different topic for another day.)

As to cargo shorts . . .
When I’m hosting / running / coaching a track meet and am carrying cargo, I wear them. When I’m working in the yard or doing some other kind of labor and am carrying cargo, I wear them. When I’m out and about with family or friends and am NOT carrying cargo, I don’t wear them. It’s a simple rule: no cargo, no cargo shorts. Function, men. Function.

Speaking of fuction . . .
As to running shorts (running since ’86, coaching since ’95), or any athletic shorts for that matter . . .
I always advise my athletes and my friends to go black — or dark navy, at the least. Otherwise, the sweat pattern invariably ends up looking like you’ve wet yourself. Length is all up to you.

As to cycling tights (several triathlons, 1 half ironman) . . .
Again — black. You’ll thank me later.
I can’t go all “bike snob” on ya, though. Anyone seeking a little more comfort in the saddle should get a pair or two. It doesn’t matter if you’re riding centuries with the “A” group or going to spinn class three times a month because your girlfriend is dragging you. You need to take care of your five points of contact with the bike: seat, feet, and hands.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. If anybody reads this far down the page, maybe it will amuse you as much as some of the other posts have amused me.

87 dannyb278 May 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I’ve seen a fair share of “old man” articals on this website, but this takes the cake. Anyone under the age of 60 should disreguard the advice given here. In my 30′s if i would go to anywhere and look to meet a nice girl dressed like the above i would be laughed out of the establishment. Cargo shorts, sandles a nice polo/short sleaved button up to me brings back days of going to the lake, hanging out and ENJOYING summer. something that lasts only a short while here in Minnesota.

88 Jason Detwiler May 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm

“Don’t wear a long-sleeved, button-fronted, collared shirt with shorts. Even with the sleeves rolled up it’s too much of a stylistic mix-and-match.”

This is my wife’s favorite thing for me to wear. With sandals, no less. I think I’ll keep it.

89 Bobby May 31, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I have no problem wearing jean shorts, or jorts. Some look down at them as only for rednecks but some of us from the boondocks stick by them. They’re definitley for fishing trips, concerts or mud bogging more than going downtown for a drink though.

90 don Roberto May 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Frankly, if they’re below the knee, then you might as well wear long pants. If it’s hot enough to wear shorts, I want them to be short enough to ventilate calf, knee, and lower thigh: if they’re closer to the knee than a couple of inches, I’m going to just throw on a pair of pants and be done with it.

91 Jonathan May 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Cargo shorts are invaluable with a baby. With both of my sons, there were times when I would wear cargo shorts and put diapers and a couple wipes in the cargo pockets so I could forego carrying a diaper bag. Excellent multi purpose clothing!

92 DOH May 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm

The last time someone got a handjob in cargo shorts was in Vietnam.

93 Alex May 31, 2012 at 11:31 pm

“T-shirts and shorts is a look that flatters no one.”

Very rarely do you see an Australian man -not- dressed like this in the summer. Shorts and tshirts is our go-to staple from morning shower to evening shower on a weekend. Even the fashion-conscious 20 somethings in the capital rarely pair shorts with anything else.

94 Patrick June 1, 2012 at 4:15 am

Disagree with most of this article. Clearly you don’t wear shorts to a formal event, and a person should dress within their age range. These styles seem more fitting to wealthy preppy people, hanging out at their dads yachts or someones catered back yard party, or what I (being Caucasian) call the super white (WASPS). I live in Florida and wear cargo shorts and sandals (no socks, not flip flops) whenever I can, top it off with a black Dickies work shirt over a black tee shirt (no print) both untucked. Obviously this isn’t what I wear to a wedding, out to dinner, or (if I went) to church, but when Im not at work and on my own time this is my uniform. Granted Im working class so don’t have anything to do with people who buy their leisure wear and their suits at the same place.

95 David June 1, 2012 at 4:42 am

To be blunt, grown men in shorts look like tools.

Shorts make us look like we haven’t reconciled ourselves to being grown-ups. Worse still is the t-shirt, shorts, ball cap, and sneakers combination on a 40-something year old guy. We just look like we are desperately trying to hold on to faiding youth.

When we were kids, we dressed like our peers. Fitting in leads to some poor fashion choices. At some point we should make the jump to dressing to look good, to be taken seriously, to appear to be an adult.

Leave the baggy grunge look in the photo albums to amuse the grand-kids.

96 Lance H June 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

@ David – very well said.

To those of you who insist on wearing sandals…I would be interested to know what kind of fashion sense your parents or peers had when you were growing up…

Men in sandals is ridiculous. Followed loafers without socks. Grow up!!!

97 caleb June 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

My dad used to never wear shorts outside of playing sports. His dad grew up during the depresson and became a mechanic after WW2. Dad always wore jeans, slip on work boots, and a white tshirt so he could throw on a nicer shirt if we went out. And then when I was 12 we spent a summer at a camp. And at 13 we did a week long backpacking trip. Now he wears shorts nearly all the time (unless it is a formal occassion). And is way happier :)

98 B C June 1, 2012 at 10:22 am

Kind of interesting how attitudes towards fashion has shifted especially starting in the 1960′s. I am old enough where my dad wore dress clothes to work – usually a suit with white shirt and tie. When he got home, the tie and jacket was taken off but the dress slacks stayed on until bed. The interesting is that and older generations dressed up even on weekends. See pictures from the 1940′s and 1950′s like baseball games where about all men wore suits ! Personally for me, I dress up when required, otherwise I dress casual which include shorts.

I have been to various parts of the country. Colorado and California is the most laid back and relaxed places on fashion and places like Wash DC, CT, NJ is pretty uptight. I worked in some places where we had to do casual overtime on weekends with our East Coast counterparts are at our location and they complained how our Colorado location have no fashion sense and would complain about us showing up in shorts on Saturday. Bad enough we are not paid for the time.

What it boils down is we dress similar to how we dressed in our youth. When I was young, I dressed in shorts, t-shirts and jeans and still dress like it today. My dad on the other hand always dressed up even on weekends and that is how he was raised. I know we clashed on dress.

99 Jeff June 1, 2012 at 10:27 am


Don’t look now but your strive to “look good, to be taken seriously, to appear to be an adult.” is in itself a form of trying to fit in.

100 bMac June 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

Man, did this article touch a nerve! Kind of separated the men from the boys… the guys from the dudes, the working class from the upper crust, and the stylish from the slobs.
Some of these guys never wear anything but jeans, boots & Ts… some are very adventurous with their Madras plaids. It wold seem the idea of shorts is almost political in its implications! Wow!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter