The Long And The Shorts Of It

Let’s face it. A lot of men have better legs than some women do. Women have a lot of other great things going for them, but when it comes to gams, men can generally show off with the best of them. What’s better, or worse, most men don’t even care what their legs look like. If it’s hot out, it’s shorts weather. Period. (We won’t discuss the guys who wear shorts even when it’s snowing, they’re from another planet.) And that’s the The Long And The Shorts Of It

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Surfers have their tropical print board shorts, teenage boys have their goofy droopy ones, and whatever preppies are still around had always favored madras Bermudas. But what kind of shorts should the well-dressed man about town wear?

Here are the options and the rules for wearing shorts:

Cargo 

When the first men’s cargo shorts showed up, they were baggy and bulky and probably the least flattering thing a guy could put on his body. That you could fill all those pockets with a whole lot of stuff is the most they had going for them. Today’s cargo’s, though, can be a good casual look. They’re slimmer, trimmer, shorter, and don’t have fourteen ginormous pockets for all those things you never needed to carry with you anyway. A roll of duct tape and a hammer? Really? If those are necessities when you’re heading out to the golf course, then you really should reconsider your game. Or get a tool belt.

Chino 

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These are classics, and a well-tailored pair of flat-front chinos will take you anywhere that shorts are appropriate. (For more on that, see below.) Depending upon your proportions, they should stop 1-3″ above the knee and definitely not cover it. The style may be traditional, but the color doesn’t have to be. While shades of tan and khaki typically come to mind when you think of “chinos,” the term actually only refers to the fact that they’re made of cotton, or more commonly these days, cotton blends, including some with comfortable stretch in them. You can find them in the standard neutrals, but also in reds, yellows, oranges, and every hue of green and blue. Pink is in the mix, too, if you’re man enough to accept the compliments.

Short Shorts

Unless you’re running a marathon or playing tennis, short shorts are a hard no, particularly for street-wear. Okay, go ahead and wear them for a barbecue in your own backyard, but an adult man has no business wearing them elsewhere. Granted, short shorts may be coming back to pro basketball after an era of clownishly long loose ones, but unless you’re on an NBA roster somewhere, anything less than a 7″ inseam is too short. If you’re tall, don’t go less than a 9″ inseam. The pants should be no shorter than mid-thigh when you’re standing.

Jeans Shorts And Cut-Offs 

Jorts, they’re called. Don’t even try and wear these unless you’re a castaway beachcomber. They might be barely excusable at a college beer bust, but they’re not for civilized society.

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What Shoes To Wear With Shorts?

They’re casual clothing, so any casual shoe will do. Sneakers or deck shoes with or without athletic socks, loafers with no-show socks (not ankle socks), or sandals with no socks. If you’re going to wear lace-up shoes and dark socks with shorts, prepare to be asked for your passport. 

Where To Wear Shorts?

The question is, where can’t you wear shorts. Never to a funeral. Never. Not to a wedding either, unless it’s on the beach and all the other groomsmen are wearing them too. In fact, not to any event that smacks of serious purpose or great occasion. As for what to wear to to the office on casual Friday, that depends upon your company culture, your proximity to the equator, and whether or not the air conditioning is working. If all signs are “go”, wear tailored shorts to the office with a collared shirt rather than a tee unless you want to be mistaken for the guy delivering lunch. Generally speaking, though all bets are off as global temperatures continue to rise if you’re the boss, or intend to be the boss someday, stick to long pants.