The Ultimate Guide To Summer Shorts

As we approach the end of spring, and the thermostat inevitably moves towards the upper notches, jeans and trousers are no longer going to cut it.

Unfortunately, the only way to survive the summer heat is perhaps the most difficult maneuver to pull off in your wardrobe: shorts.

Between fabrication and size to silhouette and color, the options are astounding—and the opportunity to royally destroy your fit near endless.

Luckily for you, we have compounded a short (had to) list of all the in-and-outs of above the knee paraphernalia. Let’s get into it.


Perhaps the most difficult part about selecting shorts is figuring out what shape is best.

From your standard mid-thigh straight leg cut to much more aggressive choices like Rick Owens dropcrotch Pod’s (SSENSE, $352), shape beyond all else is the defining characteristic of shorts, and the correct choice can be arduous.

For those of you who tend to keep it more minimal, we recommend a boxy, slightly above the knee cut—Acne and Our Legacy both provide great options.

If your inclinations skew more towards prep, a slim, mid-thigh option like a J. Crew or Club Monaco is excellent.

Of course, those of you looking for a combination of athletic and leisure can’t look past some wide cut sweat shorts.

The point is that the shape should compliment your pre-existing aesthetic, while simultaneously taking your build into consideration—if you have wide thighs, opt out of the 5-inch Patagonia baggies.

Conversely, if you have short legs, a longer, more fashion forward pair will kill what little height you have.


Length is almost as difficult to nail as shape.

Hems drastically change between styles and designers, and finding something that suits you, particularly online, can prove rather difficult.

Our first tip—which applies to clothing almost universally—always try before you buy.

An ideal length is about two inches above your knee cap, a length that compliments without restricting movement.

If you insist on online shopping, grab a measuring tape and measure the length from your (true) hip to your knee, then subtract two, and you’ll have a pretty solid estimate of the length you’re look for.

Again, every rule can—and should—be broken, but when in doubt mid-thigh is your best bet.

Recently, a lot of guys have been killing it in longer silhouettes, like Comme des Garçons or Acne, but the key is making sure the fit is tailored enough that you don’t lose shape.

For those that insist on a shorter cut, try to stay mid-thigh at most, because chubbies never did anything for anyone.


Once you have nailed your fit and length, the next thing to consider is material.

While we’re sure your mesh shorts were great for 7th grade P.E., these days certain materials simply don’t cut it.

While cotton is by far the most common choice, blends with viscose or modal can be a better alternative when the weather is unbearable.

Linen Shorts To Combat The Heat

If you’re headed towards some serious heat linen is a great option.

Beyond the basics, technically advanced fibers, such as Nike Tech Fleece, are great for leisure and gym wear, but skew a bit too casual for a summer barbeque.

If you’re lounging poolside, terry cloth is your best bet. For a more formal look, a twill short is a great option—pair it with a white shirt and blue derbies for a killer look all summer.


Once you have nailed your fit, fabric, and shape, color is your last hurdle to clear in order to purchase the best shorts possible.

While we recommend to stick within the classic menswear spectrum—greys, tans, and blues—more adventurous colors are definitely an option, provided you keep the rest of your outfit fairly minimal.

If you are dead set on a salmon or rose, then make sure the rest of your outfit is mutual. There’s absolutely no need to pair a yellow Polo with a clashing pink bottom.

If you are interested in madras, stop now. Unless the pattern is extremely subtle, and the rest of your outfit is entirely white, you will scream Caddy Shack, and not in a good way.

Again, patterns can be great, but don’t go overboard, and stay committed to only one—that means if you are wearing patterned shorts, that’s the only pattern on your body.

Black and white is obviously acceptable, but can be a bit boring, so either commit fully with a monotone look or add a light, complimentary top or shoe.

Also, take your complexion into account, and try to find a color that does you justice.

Beyond these guidelines, feel free to go crazy, just maintain a solid balance.

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