The short end of the … shorts?

Well, the unofficial start of summer has almost arrived. Hope it’s Memorable. (pun intended, of course) With that occasion, certain people start wearing certain clothes they certainly shouldn’t wear.  One particular article of clothing under such seasonal scrutiny is shorts. Even worse, it’s not just shorts, but those wonderful short shorts that for some unknown reason have made a fashion comeback. Especially for guys. Yikes!

As far as I’m concerned, no grown man should wear short shorts. Ever. Daisy Duke can wear them, like, everyday.  But according to Esquire Magazine, I’m wrong.  Why wouldn’t I be?

Shorter inseams were the name of the game back in the day, and they’re right back in style today. Call it the modern option or the throwback. Both descriptions are accurate.

However, Gentlemen’s Quarterly  had this to say, offering a glimmer of hope rather than a glimpse of more thigh.

For whatever reason, men’s shorts are fraught territory. When it comes to ideal length, to office -appropriateness, to styling, everywhere the shorts-loving man turns, he is besieged by legislation. Sometimes it feels like the world is terrified of the male leg. (Sometimes it should be!)

All that being said, what is a dude to do?


Just like with swim trunks, it’s crucial that your shorts don’t go past your knees. They should stop at the top of your kneecaps (at the longest). The general rule of thumb is 2 inches above the knee, depending on height.

  • Just like pants, the length of your shorts is measured along the inseam.
  • Men under 5’5″ might want to wear 5″ short inseam.
  • The best length for men under 5’9″ is 7″although you can get away with 9″ short. However, those are reserved for taller men.

Here’s some fun, yet disturbing insight into individual ‘comfort level’ regarding inseam. In the same GQ article, the writer went on to add his own ‘legislative’ input on proper short length.

Close your eyes. Wade into the swamp of your own body hangups and come back out having honestly considered how much you like your legs. Assign that love a number from 1 to 7, where 1 equals “my legs are too beautiful for pants,” and 7 equals “I’ve had at least one calf-implant consultation.” This is your Leg Love Quotient (LLQ).


  1. avoid the trapezoid silhouette – where your shorts are wider at the bottom than the top. This happens when the leg opening (or circumference) or your shorts is a lot wider than the circumference of your leg.
  2. avoid making your legs look thin and weak because they’re being swallowed up by your shorts.
  3. try to achieve a nice gentle taper that follows the line of your body.


Here’s a quick list of what to avoid:

  • Cargo pockets
  • Large, bold patterns
  • Obvious branding/logos
  • Distressing (tears, rips, holes, stains)

Stick with solid colors and small scale patterns or prints. For example, if you like polka dots or floral prints, that’s totally fine. Just make sure they’re small in scale (small dots or flowers).

Wow! Shorts really are a ‘fraught territory’, eh? Though, I think if certain men actually looked in the mirror before leaving their residence, the world certainly wouldn’t be that  frightened. But then there will always be those men who need to rethink their certain LLQ.

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