The Perfect Fit: Shorts

by Beau Hayhoe  |  in Casual Style

You might have noticed something as the seasons change – it’s about to get hot.

Like, “sit in front of the fan all day” hot. And your wardrobe should change accordingly.

In addition to shedding layers, you should rotate your jeans or chinos out for shorts. Yes, let those legs breathe and get acquainted with how your shorts should fit in the latest entry in the Effortless Gent Perfect Fit series.

Last time out, we talked about how your dress shirt should fit. This time, we take things much more casual.

If you’ve got a favorite pair of slim chino shorts to wear all summer, good for you.

Still searching for that perfect pair – and that perfect fit? We can certainly help there, too.

Make no mistake: We’re looking for upgraded fabrics and slimmer fits. No baggy cargo shorts that most of us went for in high school and college. *raises hand*

So, who’s with me? Let’s get to it.

Prefer video?

I covered how shorts should fit, which colors to pick, and what to wear with shorts in this video from the Effortless Gent YouTube channel.

By the way, if you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so here!

How Should My Shorts Fit?

Today’s key question — How should your shorts fit? — doesn’t have a straightforward answer – not least because we’re all different heights, roughly.

Yes, one of the keys to look for when shorts shopping involves length. And that’s also an easy place to start when it comes to how your shorts should fit.

For all but the very tall among us, shorts with an inseam of 7 or 9 inches do the trick in terms of length.

That brings us to our first key point: Avoid shorts that hit below your knees. Their baggy, sloppy appearance just looks odd visually.

A shorter pair of shorts (pun intended) brings another benefit. Less fabric = a slimmer fit.

Think of it like this: When you tailor your suit trousers to hit the tops of your shoes, you create a clean finish and slim fit.

It’s the same with shorts that hit above the knee. They’re instantly more polished, whether you pair those shorts with a slim chambray shirt or a classic pocket tee.

That’s the case with your average, everyday shorts – like a pair of slim cotton shorts or more versatile shorts made with casual fabric blends – but more on all that in a second.

One more thing to look for – rather than reaching for “relaxed fit” shorts, opt for something slim.

Retailers like J. Crew are making modern, relatively affordable, and tailored cotton shorts that fit the bill nicely. And hey, that particular pair in the link features the coveted 7-inch inseam! Not too shabby.

The Perfect Fit: Shorts

Now, that doesn’t mean that you want your shorts to fit as tight as tailored swim trunks. Go for a pair that gives you room to move, sit, stand, and maybe even take on a game of beach football (don’t get too crazy, though).

Finding the perfect fit could require trying on a few pairs, but practice makes perfect and it’s well worth it.

Think Of It This Way:

  • Reach for shorts with a shorter inseam – 7 or 9 inches ought to work nicely.
  • Look for shorts that feature a slim-yet-mobile cut.
  • Avoid cargo shorts or shorts that hit below the knee.

What To Avoid

OK, class is still in session. You know how your shorts should fit for summer. But what about how you don’t want them to fit?

Pay attention, because this one’s a doozie (I kid, I kid).

But in all seriousness, there are a few mistakes to avoid when it comes to how your shorts should fit.

For one, excess fabric – usually through the thigh and toward the knee – is a killer.

Excess fabric makes your shorts hang too low or hit below the knee. Both are great ways to wreck an otherwise solid outfit. And baggy shorts with too many pockets detract from all the high points of summer style.

Whether the focal point of your outfit is classic white sneakers or a slim printed shirt, you want style that’s on-point.

You should absolutely avoid those outfit-killers. And if you want your shorts to stand up to repeated wears and washes over the summer, avoid paying for shorts on the cheap – as we always discuss here at Effortless Gent.

It pays to invest in a quality pair of shorts. Retailers like Bonobos make consistently excellent and versatile chino shorts that are built to last. And companies like OLIVERS Apparel go the extra mile with tailored shorts made from performance-ready fabric.

The Perfect Fit: Shorts

Brands like Bonobos also offer a range of fit and fabric options (we particularly love the plethora of colors and fits available via the brand’s Washed Chino Shorts).

If that all sounds simple – pay for quality and look for a great fit – know that it takes time to get it just right.

The Perfect Fit: Shorts

Think Of It This Way:

  • Baggy shorts with excess fabric and too many pockets detract from your style.
  • Shoddy fabrics and construction should be avoided – reach for quality instead.
  • Look to brands that make shorts built to last through multiple wears and washes.

How Do I Style My Shorts?

Answering this question is a rather pressing matter as it gets warmer outside. There are a few ways to go, each of them simple and classic.

If you’re reaching for a pair of tailored cotton shorts for an easygoing Sunday brunch or a day at the park, the world is your oyster. Menswear staples like a slim polo shirt and classic white sneakers are your very best friends here. Crisp-yet-casual leather boat shoes also get the job done nicely.

The Perfect Fit: Shorts

You can also layer up with stylish outerwear if need be – a classic piece like a suede bomber jacket provides a nice top layer if it gets cool and breezy.

What about more casual shorts – like the technically minded, terry cotton Mack Weldon Ace Short? Match them with pieces like a simple broken-in pocket tee or a slim, rugged short-sleeve henley.

Once again, classic, understated sneakers are fair game – just leave the flip-flops at home.

The terrific thing is that once you nail how your shorts should fit (tailored shorts that fall above-the-knee, to start), the rest is easy. When you grab a neutral pair of navy chino shorts or a slim pair of khaki shorts, the styling potential is nearly limitless.

Think Of It This Way:

  • Slim shorts in a neutral color can be styled any which way – from a slim pocket tee to a crisp white polo.
  • Accentuate neutral-colored shorts with classic touches like leather boat shoes or clean white sneakers.
  • Pair shorts in more casual fabrics – like French terry cotton – with casual staples (like a short-sleeve henley), and style chino shorts with dressy-yet-casual staples like a cotton polo.

Clean, Slim, and Stylish

Once you’ve figured out what you want in a pair of shorts – be it casual versatility or laid back style – it’s easy to go from there. Dialing in how your shorts should fit (tailored yet not too tight, free of pesky cargo pockets, etc.) makes it easier.

Experiment with fabrics and colors — from cotton chino to soft French terry cotton — for more variety and styling potential. Reaching for well-made shorts from quality brands is always a smart decision.

What shorts length do you prefer? What’s your favorite way to style your summer shorts?