Back in the day, shorts (or as they were also more epically called, knickerbockers) were predominantly only meant for children. By the time WWII rolled around, though, shorts were introduced into military uniforms both for comfort in warmer climates and because of fabric rationing. Ever since then, shorts have been working their way into mainstream menswear in a variety of fabrics and prints. However, it seems like most men are still pretty apprehensive about this relatively modern wardrobe staple, and there are a lot of questions regarding how to wear shorts without looking lazy or childish. Here are 5 quick tips to keep in mind when you wear shorts so you can rock yours in style.
1. Length is Key
Length is one of the most (if not the most) important make-or-break factor when it comes to the way you look when you don a pair of shorts. Ideally, your shorts should hit between 1 and 3 inches above your knee. Any longer and you’re approaching dangerous manpris territory. Any shorter and things get a little risky, but hey, if you’ve got the confidence and the legs to pull it off, go for it.
It should also be said that this rule varies based on your height, too. Taller guys should aim for shorts that hit just above the knee (~1 inch), which will help to visually break you up and balance your longer proportions appropriately. Shorter guys should go for shorts that hit 2 or 3 inches above the knee, which will help give off the appearance of longer legs.
2. Mind the Fit
It’s important to be aware of the fact that shorts, unlike pants, will only be adding bulk to the upper part of your legs. Since your lower legs will be bare, your shorts will cause everything to look thicker by contrast. So, the best fit will be one that eases the transition between shorts and bare leg–that is, tapered (or at least close-fitting) shorts. A pair of shorts that fits close in the seat and that features either straight or tapered legs will look good on every guy, regardless of size.
3. To Fold or Not to Fold?
This is a matter of taste, but in general, if you have thinner legs, a couple of folds at the hem of your shorts will help add a little bulk. If you are on the shorter side, a clean finish (i.e. no folds) will help the eye move through your outfit quicker, essentially helping to draw attention away from your height. Finally, if you are on the muscular/thicker side, you can go either way, but we recommend a clean finish as opposed to folded hems to not distract onlookers from noticing how you haven’t skipped leg day in years.
4. Leave the Socks at Home
Never wear visible socks when wearing shorts. Just don’t do it. It looks tacky and dated. Instead, go sockless or opt for some no-shows. And, if you’re confused about the kinds of shoes you should be pairing with your shorts, we won’t get into that here, but Men’s Health has some sage advice on that issue.
5. Style Shirts Accordingly
Polos and short-sleeve button-ups are a safe bet because their abbreviated design jives well with the warm weather vibe of your ensemble below the belt. However, you can also rock a long-sleeve button-up or a henley just as easily–just be sure to roll up the sleeves. You don’t have to tuck in your shirt, but tucking in a polo or oxford may contribute to an overall sharper appearance, whereas going untucked will give off a more casual, laid-back look.