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The Best Men’s Shorts to Wear, According to Inseam Length

If we’re still working from home, we can finally abandon those sweats we’ve been wearing all spring and pull on a pair of cool, comfortable shorts. Time for another video conference call? You can still wear a crisp button-up on top to look business-like, but keep things refreshing down below with a pair of WFH-appropriate shorts. After all if you have the occasional need to get up and walk away from the camera, you’ll be much better off than if you’re not wearing pants at all. 

Shorts have a lot of style to offer this season, too; exemplifying trends that work for the more daring to the fully conservative. As always, pay attention to proportions: Are you super long and leggy? Short shorts may make you look top heavy. Guys with shorter legs should look for shorts that don’t make you look like you’re wearing Grandma’s Capri pants.

Also, pay attention to where the waistband falls on your body: shorts’ inseams mean that the bottom hem may land on a different place on your thighs than it does on models. Consider the shorts’ construction. Generally speaking, if your legs are in great shape … show ‘em off and go as short as you dare … but don’t forget the sunblock in any case. Here are some of our selects for shorts at varying inseam lengths; but always with on-trend style. 

Best 4″ Shorts: Topman Runner Shorts

Topman Shorts

If you’re looking for the perfect combo of trend and comfort this summer, this pair has you covered, if not by much: The four-inch inseam provides minimal coverage. While we highlighted mostly business-casual styles, you can easily throw these recycled poly shorts on for your morning run. The satin finish is right on trend for the season, offering a glossy look that isn’t too flashy. They look great on their own, but pair with a crisp white T-shirt for a day (or night) out on the town. 

Best 5″ Shorts: Club Monaco Jax Shorts

Club Monaco Shorts

Another trend this season is the return of the “coord,” or as we used to call it the “shorts set.” To be honest, it’s one of those retro trends that we’ve decided might be a bit too much, but we like Club Monaco’s interpretation of quietly pairing a tonally coordinated long-sleeve sweater with these five-inch “short shorts.” It won’t look overstated, and you’ll look sophisticated with your careful attention to hue.   

Best 6″ Shorts: Barbour Cove Stripe Shorts

Barbour Shorts

Like summer days, we’re getting longer here: These Barbour seersucker shorts hit mid-thigh with a six-inch inseam. The “boxer short” trend is also making a comeback, but at least you won’t have the neighbors wondering if you’re grilling in your underwear with these. They are 100% cotton, and have an easy elastic waistband and mesh lining. We like these with a crisp linen shirt in white or navy; but they’d also look great with a bright, colorful solid T-shirt. 

Best 7″ Shorts: Todd Snyder Weekend Shorts

Todd Snyder Shorts

It’s the blockbuster return of animal prints, which are stealthily making their way back into our wardrobes. We like this toned-down version, though; where the pattern fades into a subtle texture. The shorts themselves are done up in yummy Italian cotton with an elastic waistband and drawstring. If you really want to do the coord look, there’s also a matching camp collar shirt. 

Best 8″ Shorts: Brooks Brothers Pleat Front Shorts

Brooks Brothers Shorts

So, yes, your grandfather’s pleated Bermuda shorts are new again, and the timing couldn’t be better. The updated version features a comfortable flexible waistband and a stretch cotton twill, perfect for those business-meets-casual summer functions, but also perfect for an at home summer work uniform. Our advice? Don’t wear them too seriously: Throw on a well-washed cotton Oxford or a nice tank-top to knock ‘em down a peg. 

Best 9″ Shorts : Proof Nomad Shorts

Proof Shorts

These technical shorts will get you through a weekend of travel, but the poly/spandex blend means they can double for a swim or a quick workout if they have to. The styling is pretty straightforward, and they feature a nine-inch inseam. We chose this pair for their Chestnut color, fitting the “fall in the spring” on-trend color palette.  

Best 10″ Shorts: Peter Millar Shackleford Mélange Performance Short

Peter Millar Shorts

Pinstripes just don’t get old, but we still like the way Peter Millar updated this summer trend. These shorts feature a poly/spandex blend that’s perfect for the golf course or anywhere you need a little more movement; but the styling sees you straight through to cocktails and dinner at the club. 

Best 11″ Shorts: Levi’s 511 Slim Cutoff Denim Shorts

Levi's Shorts

Do denim cutoffs ever really go out of style? Maybe once in a while, but we’re happy to see them being embraced in any case. At 11 inches, these provide plenty of coverage, and have a little stretch for added comfort. We like this look best, though, when it’s dressed up a bit: Pair these with a dark, collared short-sleeve shirt, or a pique polo to keep it sophisticated. 

Best 12″ Shorts: Tommy Bahama Boracay Chino Shorts

Tommy Bahama Shorts

Softer, muted colors that calm our mood and just plain make us feel better are also trending for the season. These lilac-hued shorts measure in at 12 inches — hitting the top of the knee for most guys, we think this is the lowest you should go — and they feel as good as they look in a cotton, Tencel and spandex blend. Pull these on and consult the bartender’s manual for something tropical.  

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