A Man's guide: Shorts for the Summer


Who wears short shorts? Apparently most guys are now, and that’s fine with us. While shorts by nature are rather informal, they do have a place in modern fashion culture. Exposing the knee is no joke, and flashing some thigh can be a big deal, depending on how defined your thighs are.

The biggest concerns guys have with shorts revolve around length and cut. How long is too long, and how short is too short? Well to make this easy, let’s delve into different body types and figure out what works best for each. Find yours, and see if your shorts match your body type.

Length and Cut

Tall (over 5’11”) and Skinny


Inseam Length: Anything 7” and longer

Cut: Slim to Skinny

Because you're tall, the longer length inseams will still hit above the knee, without making your legs look a mile long (leave that look for the ladies). Since your legs are likely skinny, a cut that looks like your legs fill up your shorts, make them look meatier than they are, which in turn makes you look more jacked.

Tall and Athletic


Cut: Straight or Athletic

Inseam Length: Anything 5” and longer

You’ve worked hard to get those well-defined, all-beef franks, so you might as well show them off and let those large hot dog legs breathe. A 5” inseam well show off a healthy portion of your quads, but beware, shorts this short on a tall guy can look like he is trying a little too hard. And note, if your shorts are tight, your polo or t-shirt should at least be a fitted cut, a mismatch in formalities and fits can make you seem a little messy.

Big and Tall


Cut: Straight or loose cut

Inseam Length: Anything 7” and longer

Since you are tall, If you have some wider thighs, that perhaps aren’t super defined, you’ll want to give them a little room to avoid the squeezed sausage look, and to keep the feeling in your lower extremities.

Medium Height (5’8” - 5’11”) and Skinny

Cut: Slim or Skinny

Inseam Length: 5”-7”

While there is nothing wrong with skinny legs, showing off uncooked noodles can be a gamble. With a 5-7” inseam, you are likely covering ¾ of your thigh which is enough to show of your knee and the bottom of the sticks, showing that you do indeed jog from time to time. A tighter cut is crucial in order to make your legs seem more muscular than they might actually be.

Medium Height and Average Weight

Cut: Straight or Slim

Inseam Length: 5”

You likely have some meat on your bones, so we suggest going with a 5” inseam to show off the squat work you’ve been working on all winter. If you land towards the taller end of the medium height spectrum (5’10”, 5’11”), feel free to go closer to the 7” inseam, if that is what you are comfortable in. But if you have paler skin, an upper thigh tan is a war of attrition and you won’t get those thighs any darker with constant coverage.

Medium Height and on the Thicker Side

Cut: Straight or Loose Cut

Inseam Length: 5”-7”

As with most guys in the medium height range, a 5”-7” inseam can be acceptable. However, if you have larger thighs that are less defined, a longer, wider short will look better and be more comfortable. But, if you're proud of those sausages, show ‘em off with something in the 5” realm! Short length is really just a confidence game. Just don’t get anything too skinny, the squeezed in look is not flattering for anyone but women in jeggings, and even that’s a stretch.

Shorter (Under 5’8”) and Skinny


Cut: Slim or Skinny

Inseam Length: 3”-7”

Shorter guys have the freedom to show off more leg. The longer your shorts, the shorter you look. To avoid looking like your a kid who stole his dad’s shorts, a shorter inseam is encouraged. 3” inseams are tough to feel comfortable in, so a 5” is preferred, but if you want to expose some skin in the hot sun this summer, then grab some suntan lotion and some short shorts. Just make sure you avoid the floating leg look with shorts that are wider cut. Wider cut shorts with legs that can’t fill them look more like skirts than a pair of shorts.

Shorter and Medium Build

Cut: Straight or Slim

Inseam Length: 3”-7”

The key here is filling up your shorts. If you have thicker thighs then a straight cut at any inseam will look pretty good. If you have thinner thighs, then a slimmer cut at a 5” inseam should do the tick pretty nicely. The longest you should ever go is 7” and that is only in the case you are self conscious about your thighs, and want to keep them covered. Again, the longer the short, the shorter you look. That being said 3" shorts are not only hard to find, they are hard to pull off, so if you are feeling really frisky, then great show them off, but make sure you have some tight undies to make sure nothing pops out.

Short and Wide

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Cut: Straight or Loose Cut

Inseam Length: 5”-7”

The main factor here is confidence. If you have a lot of confidence in your thighs, regardless of how large they might be, then feel free to go shorter than 5”. However, if you have larger thighs, just know a lot of thigh will be showing, so we suggest tanning those puppies (if applicable) as quickly as possible before showing them off. On a more practical note, 5” inseams at a straight cut, or loose cut for those with a decent amount of girth in the man thigh, will work swimmingly without making you look bigger, or shorter than you are.


What color, pattern, or style of shorts you wear is entirely up to you. Some preps love the Madras style, where we think its a bit too much. In terms of formality, if you are going to a formal meeting outside in heat over 85 degrees, Bermuda shorts are always a go to. We typically tend to lean to two plain front, chino, or cotton blend shorts, one in tan, and  one in navy blue. These two standards will be appropriate for 90% of occasions you can wear shorts, and they never really go out of style.


These are some of our favorite shorts on the market right now.

Note: Items marked with a * indicate What is a Gentleman receives a commission on purchases made at that retailer to help us continue to create content for you!

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Bonobos Summer Weight Shorts*

Available in 5", 7", 9", and 11" and in a variety of colors, these light, stretchy, plain front shorts are perfect for almost any summer activity.

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J.Crew Varick 5" Broken-in Shorts*

The cheapest option of the lot, these plain front chino shorts come in 6 colors and look great cuffed for those days you really want to show off your legs.

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Boden Chino Shorts*

Available in 7" and 9" inseams, these shorts are garment dyed, meaning every pair is slightly different. If you are looking for a longer pair of shorts with a straight to slightly relaxed fit, these are for you.

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Chubbies Cruise Control 5.5" Shorts

These bad boys are the most versatile of the bunch. Made from a cotton-polyester-spandex blend, they are super mobile, breathable, and quick drying. Complete with mesh pockets, you can go from land to sand to water and back without having to change pants.

What shorts are you rocking this summer? Let us know in the comments down below!