Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, June 24, 2019

Reader Question: How Short Shorts?

Scratchy Photograph from the SWNE Archives.  Maine Coast, 1980s.
A Reader Question for the Community:
I'm a huge fan of the 5 inch Stand Up short, and shorter short's in general. Since I'm wearing pants that go down to the ankle unless its 75 or I'm working out, I figure that I might at well get as much exposed skin to cool myself off better. 
Muffy and the rest of the SWNE readers, what do you guys think of short shorts, particularly on guys that are over 6 feet?

41 comments:

  1. 8-9 inches is what I prefer in shorts length!

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  2. Strange to look back at the 80s and see how short shorts actually were before the length and bagginess of the 90s changed styles and hemlines... shorts were actually quite short then. Fortunately it seems that that trimmer aesthetic has definitely come back. That said, as ever, questions like these I think are age, setting and body-type dependent. But as a general rule, I think shorts should hit at least above the knee; an unfortunate mistake is shorter men wearing shorts that are too long... not a flattering look. But if you're a guy in your 40s or 50s and in good shape and can get away with a shorter short in the summer heat, by all means, why not?

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    1. Back in the 80's it was trendy for young men to wear boxers longer than their short shorts. Remember?

      I think that longer Bermuda shorts are fine on shorter men as long as they are very trim and not baggy. Baggy shorts don't look good on anyone in my opinion.

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  3. I like and often wear 5” shorts. 9” is as long as I go as a 5’9” 165 lb, athletic person and usually when I’m going out to dinner. Anything longer than 9” feels too long for my frame and usually looks too sloppy for my tastes. But I see nothing wrong with a shorter length short and say go for it.

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  4. I would like to see shorter shorts come back into style, along with mini-skirts.

    Aiken

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  5. Magnum, P.I. 1980s.... You like that look, go for it.

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    1. My thought exactly.
      MaryAnne

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    2. Yep, had to Google...

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    3. I was going to say only if you're Thomas Magnum....

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  6. It depends on the occasion but I prefer that my husband wear the 5" Chino-style shorts ( I don't care for runner's shorts). If he's playing golf or we are socializing, he will wear the longer length. He's 56, 5'9 and very fit and trim.

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  7. Go for it - if you’re as slender and hairless as the young fellow in the photo

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    1. Not to start a fight but I bet few of us are as slender and hairless as the photo. That photo screams late 70s-early 80s.

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  8. No shorter and no longer than right above the knee.

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  9. Exposed skin is not the way to cool your skin. Ever wonder why desert dwellers, men
    and women, wear flowing robes?

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  10. If you are tall, have tan legs and are in good shape, then short shorts are fine. Otherwise stick with Bermudas that go to the top of the knee. And the only thing I would change in women's shorts is to make the leg a little wider -- shorts with tight legs make even a very trim woman look like a sausage.

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  11. Remember you have to sit, bend over = riding upwards, exposing.

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  12. For women, the shorter the better; they are more flattering. Bermuda shorts just don't look right on most women. For men, minimum 9", maximum 11", as long as the hem does not go below the knee. Under no circumstances must a man wear capri's.

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  13. Shorter shorts on men just look odd, out of date and certainly not classic in style. Even when those shorter lengths were popular, they did not reflect a classic aesthetic and good taste. I agree with those commentators above who recommend the top of the knee. That length always looks relaxed, self-confident and fits into any summer event, any time of day or evening and is practical for a variety of activities, from golf to a casual summer dinner.

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  14. It really doesn't make sense to discuss shorts by referring to the inseam length (5", 9", etc.)since people's legs aren't of standard length.

    The length of shorts for a gentleman, as others have pointed out, is just touching the top of the knee.

    Clark Sharpton

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  15. Just above the knee for sure. However, shorts are very casual. Wear them sailing, to the beach, at the cottage, etc, but as for socializing, never out of dinner, on the town, or any event where one wants to impress as adult, not a man-child frat boy! Good summer weight chinos let air flow and block the sun to keep you cool and just look better on adults! Better yet, a pair of madras pants (patch of course)!

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  16. At least an inch or two above the knee, or you look like you’re afraid of someone seeing your legs. I wear a 5 or 7 inch inseam myself, being just over 6’.

    When running or working out, I wear much shorter 2” shorts. I wouldn’t wear them to dinner, but they’re very comfortable.

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    1. No man should be wearing 2 inch shorts, ever. Something may peek out the bottom. Please do the general public a favor and never wear them again.

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  17. 9” is far too long on any man under 6’2”.

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  18. As was mentioned before 9" means nothing in isolation. What's important is that the shorts are just above the knee.

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  19. Equally important is the width of the bottom leg-opening.

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    1. Lands' End is the only firm I know that provides exact measurements for the leg opening on shorts. The garment bottom ranges from 23.75" for 9" inseam shorts with a 32" waist to 29.75" for 9" inseam shorts with a 48" waist.

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  20. Men with good bodies can wear shorts any lenght they prefer. Men without good bodies can wear shorts to their knees. The same goes for women.

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    1. What you just wrote, Anon 7:05, plus a full length mirror. Those should do the trick.

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  21. I vote for Kilts on men instead.

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  22. The Polo Classic fit Prepster short with a 6" inseam is very flattering if one is trim enough. My husband is 5'10" 148lb 32" waist and wears a size medium. I am 5'6" and 125lb and wear the mens extra small. We are in our late 50's. I live in these shorts in the summer, and as a women finding shorts with pockets roomy and deep enough to stick my hands in again is a thrill.

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    1. Big guys can wear the short shorts to. I am 44, athletic, with a small tummy and muscular legs. I love wearing 5'' gap and jcrew shorts that have that cooling material. Gives a great preppy/jock look!

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    2. Magnum to you, Higgins to others.

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  23. when i was guiding hiking and canoe trips, 5 inch stand up shorts were great. today, older, i go with the 7 inch. (once upon a time, Patagonia made 9 inch stand up shorts with slightly lighter-grade cotton - I still have 2 pair of those, hems starting to fray). i go with 7 or 9 inch for more formal shorts, eg. madras patchwork or nantucket reds.

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  24. An inch or two above the knee. Not out to dinner, and not in the city.

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  25. No more than 3 inches above the knee. 5 inch inseam seems way to short for an average height man. That is creeping into 1970s gym class territory

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  26. Ugh. Short shorts remind me of the days of Magnum PI. I prefer when they fall just above the knee.

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  27. You just gotta see the Daily Humor cartoon from the New Yorker. It’s titled “ The Formula for the Correct Length of Shorts”. It is certainly on point for many a shorts wearer.

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