Himself

Super Member
I'm wondering what everyone's preferences are for shorts. Aside from how tall you might be, the basic categories would be at the knee (10-11"), slightly above the knee (9"), and mid-thigh (6").

What do you prefer?

Also, what part of the country do you live in? (Regional tastes vary.)

In southern CA the trend has been longer, even below the knee, but slightly above the knee is just as common. Mid-thigh was common 20 years ago but sticks out like a sore thumb now. I'm happy with at the knee or slightly above. My biggest peeve is that most shorts aren't tapered/tailored enough -- the leg opening is too wide and floppy.
 

Tiger

Elite Member
I'm wondering what everyone's preferences are for shorts. Aside from how tall you might be...
This is not an "aside" - it is crucial! Height and in particular leg/torso length play a vital role in determining the inseam length of one's shorts. I'm short (not quite 5'8") and my legs are quite short (inseam around 28"), so shorts with an inseam of 8" or 9" fall below my knees, not above them. 6" shorts fit me the same way 8" shorts fit many others. 7" would probably be a bit better, but they're difficult to find. Certainly, I could have longer shorts altered, but for the minor improvement in very casual attire, it's generally not worth the time or expense. There's the issue of balance, too - 8" or 9" shorts really distort my "torso to leg" proportion; makes me look clownish.

Like Trip, I prefer shorts that are a bit trimmer, and I live in New York City.
 

hookem12387

Elite Member
I like mine to fall above my knee (not just above the knee cap, but just above the actual knee, so a bit higher). But I'm on a 3 year expedition to the Pole, so I'm not wearing shorts much these days.

Edit: This is actually exactly how I wear my shorts:
 
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brozek

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
At the end of last summer, I donated all of my shorts that weren't Patagonia stand-up shorts with a 5" inseam. I'm 6'2", so they're at the upper end of mid-thigh on me.
 

Himself

Super Member
At the end of last summer, I donated all of my shorts that weren't Patagonia stand-up shorts with a 5" inseam. I'm 6'2", so they're at the upper end of mid-thigh on me.
Stand-Up shorts are great, but I've felt weird in shorts that short since the 80s. I wish they'd make longer ones. They do have 7" now. 6'0" here.
 

Andy

Site Creator/ Administrator
Staff member
From the PDF version of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes, Shorts Chapter:

Shorts look best when they are mid thigh to just above the knee.


By Occasion:


The shorter the short the more appropriate it is for causal events or sports vs. dressier social occasions.


Bermuda shorts which come to just above the knee can actually be dressy (even worn with a sport jacket). Bermudas are not a good length on shorter men, who may want to consider the Jamaica short which is 2 to 3 inches higher.


By Body Style:


The Shorts Effect -- Shorts provide a horizontal line at the knee that can make you look shorter. Great for tall guys, but short men should be aware of this effect.


  • Tall guys would do well in longer boxer style trunks.
  • Shorter men look best in trunks with shorter legs.
  • Thin men should steer clear of very short or very wide legs.
 

Marley

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I am 6'-0", live in the Desert Southwest and I like my shorts just above the knee.

In sizing shorts, it is imperative that you determine both the rise and the inseam measurement. I have had 9" inseam shorts that were almost down to my knee and then others that were ~3" higher. To just buy shorts by the inseam measurement alone is risking a poor fit (IMHO).

Marley
 

ExecAccess

New Member
Bearing in mind I am in Australia where board shorts rule these days.....at the knee or just above.

I remember being horrified when we first came of Oz and you would see male bank tellers and office workers wearing mid thigh shorts with long grey socks and shoes. Soooo not a good look.
 

AlanC

Sartorial Sultan<br> Moderator, Trad Forum
I generally think shorter shorts on men are invariably a bad idea.

I prefer 8-9", and live in the Midwest, although I'm from the South.
 

jwooten

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
At the end of last summer, I donated all of my shorts that weren't Patagonia stand-up shorts with a 5" inseam. I'm 6'2", so they're at the upper end of mid-thigh on me.
Yeah, I'm around 6' 3" myself and it may be the southern college town I live in, but anything longer than a 6" inseam feels weird. The Original Patagonia Standup at 5" inseam is a go to favorite. Definitely upper end of mid-thigh. I don't quite understand why the Standup short is not a trad staple fits the durability and patina effect requirements, IMO.
 

straw sandals

Senior Member
All my shorts are from Bermuda, where my family lived for many years (and where I was born). My understanding of the cut of Bermudas is a bit more specific than the Encyclopedia version quoted above. They should fall two inches above the knee, which I think is pretty perfect; longer shorts look a bit too casual to my eye, and shorter shorts are too short for polite company when sitting down. Even though I live in Connecticut, I still like to sport my Bermudas with a dress shirt and blazer.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
LL Bean used to do something similar to the Patagonia Stand Up, which I was unaware of. The Bean version had elastic on the waist, though, and a little nylon belt.

I like the look of those Patagonias.

I'm in the short leg brigade at 29 inches, so I like about a seven- or eight-inch inseam on shorts. I don't think I could do the Patagonia five-inch — looks like photos of the NBA ca. 1980.
 

The Rambler

Honors Member
^ca 1980, and before: I will maintain to the death that NBA will never regain the mystique it once had until they drop the long, baggy shorts and cut down on the tattoos. (yes, am an old fart).
 

YoungTrad

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Im 5'8 and normally wear 5-6' inseam on my shorts. Very short legs so they fall lower mid thigh. I live in Ky. Most of us like to consider ourselves from the south.
 
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