Wearing shorts – Why does such a simple garment invite so much controversy?

There is so much confusion as to whether you should wear them or not.

I believe that with the right guidance, they can be as successful a piece of men’s style as any other garment.

The bottom line is that there are no strict rules on how to wear shorts, but there are guidelines to keep in mind.

Today in a short and simple guide, we’ll discuss how to wear shorts like a pro.

Let’s get into it.

Click here to watch Ultimate Guide To Men’s Shorts (2020)


  1. When to (and when not) wear shorts
  2. How shorts should fit
  3. The right length
  4. Summer fabrics
  5. Choosing colors
  6. What to wear with shorts


1. When To (And When Not To) Wear Shorts

When To Wear Shorts

Shorts are casual garments and a staple of summerwear. You wear shorts because you want to be comfortable in the heat and you want to avoid sweat.

Men’s shorts are appropriate for summer hobbies like the beach, the poolside, and most outdoor activities.

Lounging with friends? Walking around town in the daytime? Going to a private party? You’ll do fine in a well-fitting pair of shorts.

man wearing shorts outside

No matter how good they look, shorts are casual garments.

When Not To Wear Shorts

You don’t want to wear shorts in any workspace. They’re too casual for that.

Business meetings will always require trousers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s inside or out on the golf course.

A job interview or a regular day at the office will require business-casual wear at the least. Men’s shorts only function in the most relaxed scenarios.

The best advice I can give you? If you aren’t sure if you can wear shorts, then you shouldn’t wear them. Opt for a pair of trousers instead – it’s a safe bet.


2. How Should Men’s Shorts Fit?

Since shorts are lesser-known, shorts invite confusion when it comes to fit. This is why so few men pull them off effectively. They are either too long, too short, or too baggy.

As always, the fit is king.

body types

Click here to learn more about dressing for your body type.

Shorts For Athletic Bodies

Athletic men have broad shoulders that taper down to the waist.

Such gentlemen have the widest range of choices when it comes to wearing shorts. Your priority should be to avoid skinny shorts as they will look pressed against your thighs.

Men with muscular bodies tend to go baggy because they assume it’ll offset the torso. It won’t, it will simply make you look slovenly.

Instead, opt for a tailored fit that strikes a solid middle ground. You want shorts you can move comfortably in but won’t flap like a skirt.

If bulk is a concern, then consider a lighter color – these balance the body out more effectively. We’ll talk more about the right color down below.

There are men’s shorts sold with elastic bands down the sides that allow for stretching. If you find yourself gaining or losing weight quickly, these are fine choices.

muscular man at the beach

Athletic men should take care not to wear shorts that are too tight. Go for a tailored fit.

Shorts For Slim Bodies

Men with rectangle bodies are complemented best by slim-fitting shorts. Avoid baggy shorts as they will only draw more attention to your upper body.

Most of all, you want to avoid elastic waistbands unless you are exercising. Elastic will pinch around the waist and cause a muffin top, causing belly fat to extend horizontally over the waistband.

You also want to take precautions against flaring. Your shorts should go straight down without having excess material around the edges. Again, this will make for a “skirt effect” if ignored.

skinny man in shorts

Slimmer guys should avoid wider shorts at all costs. Instead, purchase a slim-fitting pair.

Shorts For Larger Bodies

For men with a wider waist and soft centers, it will be prudent to avoid slim-fitting shorts. They will only accentuate the belly.

Instead, you want to go a little wider with straight-legged shorts. This will make for a more cohesive silhouette and allow your belly to be ignored.

If you want as little attention as possible on your stomach, go for some flat-fronted men’s shorts. Pleats create literal lines that go down from the waist.


3. How Long Should Men’s Shorts Be?

This is perhaps the hardest question for most guys to answer. When it comes to wearing shorts, there is no solidified rule that dictates the length.

The most common lengths for men’s shorts are 3 inches, 5 inches, 7 inches, and 9 inches.

Short-shorts encompass athletic variants like swim trunks. Longer shorts will be those worn with a casual t-shirt or button-down.

Nevertheless, the most common length for shorts is 7 inches.

shorts infographic for length

The perfect pair of men’s shorts should cover one-third of your leg or 2-3 inches about the knee.

General Guidelines

There is, however, a margin that is widely agreed upon.

The easy answer is this: Never below the knee. Anything beyond that ambles dangerously into jorts territory, and that is never stylish.

It also defeats the purpose of wearing shorts. If the goal is comfort and maneuverability, why would you restrict the knees?

The more specific answer would be between 2-3 above the knee. The precise measurement comes with determining proportions for each man.

men inseam length

The most common measurement for men’s shorts is 7 inches – but it won’t fit all men the same.

Short Men

Modest men can afford to get close to 3 inches above the knee.

Medium Men

The average height for men in the United States is 5’9. These men are the most likely to look elegant with a 7-inch inseam.

Tall Men

Tall men comprise those who are 6’1 or above. Shorts that come as close to the 2-inch mark above the knees will do fine. You don’t want to go too short, because that will make for a bulbous effect in the center of the body.

Tall guys need to be especially wary of wearing shorts that are too long because they’ll make you seem even taller.

different height with shorts

The common 7-inch inseam fits men of average height, that’s why it’s so common. Shorter and taller guys may need to look harder.


4. Summer Fabrics

If the name of the game is coolness and comfort, you’ll need to hone in on lightweight, breathable fabrics.

Let’s take a look at some proper summer options for wearing shorts.


About 90% of all shorts sold will be made of cotton, with cotton twill being the most common. This is the same weave used with chino trousers. It’s comfortable, but not entirely breathable.

Fortunately, this is offset by the air traveling up the legs.

Seersucker is a three-dimensional fabric that uses a puckered texture to facilitate airflow. It also adds a measure of texture to your ensemble.

Madras is finely-textured cotton that makes use of bold checks and stripes. It originated from India to be sold around the world. The problem arises with durability. Madras is prone to damage after a few years of continuous wear.

We can think of Chambray as Denim-lite. It is the airy alternative to jeans but with an even crisper look.

fabric for shorts

If you want natural and inexpensive fabric, cotton may be your best bet.


Linen is the single most durable fabric in the world and is superb for summer wear. Wearing linen shorts will guarantee maximum breathability.

However, it is prone to wrinkling. If you don’t want to spend much of your time on the ironing board, you need to accept it.

You can mitigate the wrinkling to a degree by going with a tighter weave, but it will be a frequent issue nonetheless.


Wool is the most luxurious fabric when it comes to men’s shorts. It is rare, so I advise care when you find these gems. Take them to events that require more lounging than running.

It is also an excellent choice for summer wear because it evaporates moisture more efficiently than other fabrics.

You can take this a step further with Tropical Weight Wool. The threads are woven to allow larger gaps in the fabric, making it more breathable.

man at the gym

Synthetic fabric is ideal for performance, but it doesn’t offer the same breathability that natural fabric does.

Synthetic Fabrics

Also known as technical fabrics. Polyester and nylon are going to serve you best when it comes to sports and exercise.

Their advantage lies with their durability. However, they yield the least breathability. Keep that in mind if you’re planning to spend a considerable amount of time in the sun.

Fabric Blends

Blends are usually not ideal for grander garments such as blazers. However, they might prove useful when wearing men’s shorts.

The right mix of nylon and cotton could make for a formidable combination of strength and style.

As always, choose carefully. It may be simpler to decide between all-natural or synthetic fabrics.


5. What Colors And Patterns Should You Wear?


Solids such as navy, olive, white, and khaki are among the most traditional and interchangeable colors when it comes to men’s shorts. You can’t go wrong with them.

My personal favorite is gray, a noncolor that matches anything you could muster. You also have your pick of shades ranging from charcoal to light gray.

However, summer is a time to go bold. Casual men’s shorts allow you room for experimentation.

Don’t be afraid to throw some pastels into the mix. Eye-catching colors such as mint or salmon could be excellent additions to your summer wardrobe. They offer a more relaxed vibe while making you stand out.

For the best combinations, look at your skin tone. The paler you are, the better off you’ll be with bold colors such as navy. Olive-skinned men are better-served by muted tones like navy stroke and olive green.

Black men have many choices, but bolder colors will bring out their skin tone much better than muted colors or pastels.

shorts color combos

You can get away with wearing darker colors several times a week.

Patterns On Shorts

With men’s shorts (and any clothing), patterns will limit the versatility of the garment. They can add some flair when paired correctly, but proceed with caution.

Madras shorts will be loud no matter what. Other patterns such as windowpane will seriously limit your options.

If you opt for a pattern when wearing shorts, make sure to go with a neutral or subdued top.

For instance, madras shorts would look silly with a plaid shirt. The patterns are far too similar. Contrast is essential.

keep in mind that patterns inevitably draw attention to the body part they adorn. If you feel insecure about your legs, skip the designs.

Likewise, if you prefer to distract from your torso – patterned shorts are a viable option.

men's short styles

You can find a wide variety of men’s shorts. While stylish men despise cargo shorts, most guys can pull them off if they don’t overstuff the pockets.


6. What Can You Pair With Shorts?


There are plenty of options out there depending on your preferred style. Considering how casual men’s shorts are, most dress shoes and dress boots are out.

However, men’s loafers are classicly elegant summer shoes that you can pull off with ease.

Men’s loafers are tried-and-true against the heat. They leave the ankle completely exposed which allows for better cooling. They are reliable for men seeking to enforce a more elegant air.

Loafers offer a wealth of options as well – from streamlined penny loafers to the more casual tassel loafers. You can also opt for perforated leather to assist air circulation.

You can also wear boat shoes. They are simple, flat leather shoes with rubber soles designed to maintain traction on boat decks.

Casual sneakers are another solid option. White sneakers are preferable but are prone to tarnish.

suede penny loafers

Shorts aren’t the only summer style classic. Click here for the ultimate guide to men’s loafers.


Can you wear socks with men’s shorts? It’s a gamble that can go wrong quickly. Flip flops and socks are suitable only for middle-aged tourists. Long socks only defeat the purpose of wearing shorts and look silly.

Stick with no-show socks if you’re wearing loafers. You’re still going to need socks to keep the moisture in your feet from ruining the shoe. Don’t worry – the socks will not extend beyond the loafer’s upper. Your ankles can breathe safely.

Ankle socks should work well enough if you’re wearing sneakers.

man wearing socks

No-show and ankle socks are your best bet if you want to beat the heat.


The kind of shirt you wear depends largely on the shorts. Athletic shorts will warrant an athletic top of similar make.

Longer shorts of cotton, linen, or wool can easily be paired with plain t-shirts or casual button-downs. You can also sport a polo to promote a more formal vibe. Make sure to combine shirts with a belt if you tuck them in.

Do not wear dress shirts. They are too long and too formal to be used with shorts.

plain t shirt white

A simple white t-shirt will pair well with most shorts. Consider upgrading to a casual button-down.


This is dubious territory. You don’t want to layer up if your goal is to stay cool. However, hoodies and athletic jackets can work well if your goal is to run or hit the gym.

You can also make effective pairings using light jackets. Consider a bomber jacket in suede if your goal is to go about the town. The lighter the color, the better.

Black leather is out, it attracts way too much heat.

bomber jacket

Only the most casual jackets go well with men’s shorts.


Summary – How To Wear Shorts

Men’s shorts have a place in every man’s closet. As long as you understand proper fit and setting, you can turn them into a potent weapon in your arsenal.

With this basic guide, you have the knowledge to go out there and rule the summer. Wear them without fear, gentlemen.

The post How To Wear Shorts With Style | ULTIMATE Man’s Guide appeared first on Real Men Real Style.

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By: Antonio
Title: How To Wear Shorts With Style | ULTIMATE Man’s Guide
Sourced From: www.realmenrealstyle.com/how-wear-shorts/
Published Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2020 10:32:08 +0000