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Men's Shorts Style Guide | Spring Summer '21

Monday 22 November 2021


How can guys look better in shorts? We get this question a lot. Everyone knows what shorts are (basically trousers that end around knee-height), but not many guys know how to wear them properly. Men’s casual shorts can be tricky. Get things wrong and you look either 10 or 75. So what should guys wear with shorts? Well, we’re going to break down the basics in this article: what shorts to pick, how to style them, and what to match them with. Chino shorts, denim shorts, linen shorts, even board shorts. If they show off your calves, we’re covering them here.

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What you need to know?

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Men’s casual shorts are basically mandatory in summer. But there is a way to make them look much, much better. And for that, you’ll need to understand two things: your knee line and your inseam. Your knee line is simply where you knees are, pretty obvious. Your inseam is the length of the seam between your crotch and the bottom of the shorts. Your inside leg, in other words. While pants some in varying degrees of tightness (skinny, stretch, slim-fit etc.) shorts tend to be measured by their inseam. 


02How should men's shorts fit?


This is by far the most common mistake with men’s shorts. Guys either wear them too short, or too long. There’s no golden rule, because everyone’s legs are different, but you should aim for an inseam ballpark of 7-9 inches. The bottom of the shorts should finish an inch or two above your knee – not on your knee, or at the top of your thigh or (worst of all) two inches below the knee. You want a slight taper on your shorts and a trim, straight silhouette. Nothing too baggy, too wide or too long. 

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Types of shorts

There are lots of different types of men’s casual shorts. We’ve listed our five favourites below. Sometimes men’s shorts are defined by their materials (linen, denim etc.) and other times by their fit (slim-fit, loose-fit etc.) Which way you go is totally up to you, but avoid anything too tight or too baggy. If you pinch the fabric on your thigh, there should be 1-1.5 inches of excess. Anything less than that and you’re veering into short-shorts territory. 

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Denim shorts

Men’s denim shorts are in the high-risk high-reward category. They’ve got tonnes of 1990’s counter-culture personality, but they’re very easy to get wrong. The rule with these guys is: aged fabric, lots of character, slim fit, and nothing past the knees. Try chambray shorts instead, if you’re looking for something more forgiving.  

Linen shorts

Men’s linen shorts are probably the hottest shorts trend right now. They’ve got all the benefits of linen (natural fibre, anti-bacterial, light and breathable) and they look sharp as hell. You can double up with a linen shirt, but we’d recommend a loose-fitting tee or button-up cotton shirt instead. It’ll give you better contrast.

Chino shorts

The most popular men’s casual shorts on the planet, and for good reason. Chino shorts come in every possible shade and colour, they’re made from durable cotton twill, and they’re sharp enough to wear to smart-casual occasions. All you need is a linen shirt or patterned shirt, a nice belt, and some leather boat shoes. 

Jersey shorts

A pair of loopback cotton jersey shorts is a great little nod to the athleisure trend. With the rise of sports luxe, these guys are becoming more and more popular. Just be careful not to look too casual. Jersey is a very loose, unstructured fabric, so sharpen things up with some clean sneakers, crew socks and a well-fitted tee. 

Swim shorts

Lastly, we’ve got men’s swim shorts (AKA board shorts or togs, depending on where you come from). Most men’s swim shorts are made from quick-dry nylon. You can wear them casually, but we’d recommend sticking to the beach. Remember to follow the same inseam rules as before: baggy, knee-length board shorts belong in 2005. 



How to wear shorts to any occasion

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Shorts to work

Shorts won’t be appropriate for every office, but a lot of modern workplaces have relaxed their dress code (especially during the pandemic). Still, you need the right work shorts. Stick to sharp chino shorts in neutral colours like tan or navy, or linen blend shorts in a subtle grey marle. Pair these guys with a tucked button-up shirt. 

Shorts to summer wedding

Again, with wedding shorts, double check the dress code on the invitation. You really don’t want to be the only guy in casual shorts (especially if everyone else is wearing a tux). Pleated linen shorts can be great for a garden wedding, and we love the tailored finish of chino shorts. Don’t forget a good leather belt, a dress watch, and some summer loafers.

Shorts in summer

Shorts should be your go-to summer leg wear. We usually recommend buying a few pairs to keep on rotation: maybe two or three chinos shorts, one pair of linen shorts, and one pair of jersey shorts (for when you want a more athletic vibe). Ultimately, wear what makes you comfortable. And don’t forget your inseam length. 

Shorts to the beach

Wearing men’s shorts to the beach is a no-brainer. You can either rock your favourite board shorts (as long as they’re sharp, neutral, and not too long) or wear something light, like linen shorts. Avoid anything too tailored or formal at the beach – save those guys for garden weddings and cocktail parties. 


05What shoes to wear with men's shorts?


In short? Anything but boots. Chukka and Chelsea boots will look weird with shorts. You can low-ankle shoes or, even better, slip-ons and open-toed sandals. Leather sneakers, canvas low-tops, driving shoes, boat shoes, penny loafers, sandals, espadrilles and the ever-trusty thongs are all great with men’s shorts. The trick is to let your leg breathe a bit: you don’t want anything too heavy or too distracting down there. Some simple white sneakers or laid-back espadrilles are perfect for summer, and should see you through most social occasions. Shop Now

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06Tops to wear with men's shorts


There are four ways you can go here: t-shirts, polo shirts, button-up shirts or linen shirts. And each one has slightly different rules. For starters, never ever tuck a t-shirt, and only tuck a polo if you’re playing golf. Button-up cotton shirts and linen shirts can be tucked into your shorts, but they often look better flapping in the breeze. 

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Long Vuong, Designer

Long has been with Politix for over 13 years, and has worked across all facets of the business throughout his time. From having his own brand and lecturing with renowned universities his dedication to quality and love for attention to detail has been cemented into the core of the Politix brand. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, It’s the finishing of garments and longevity of pieces that make him tick.