A Guy’s Guide to Styling Shorts for Summer

Shorts are essential to a summer wardrobe. If you want to maintain your style, however, you’ll need to put a bit of thought into the fits, fabrics and lengths of your shorts. Whether you’re matching them with a business casual button-down or an everyday pocket t-shirt, you’ll want to embody men’s summer fashion.

6 Types of Shorts for Men

The first step to elevating your shorts look is to learn the difference between various styles of men’s shorts.

1. Flat-Front Shorts

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Flat-front shorts are basically slacks with less fabric. Designers make these from various materials such as linen, poplin, cotton twill and chino. They usually have a standard button-and-zipper fastener at the front with pockets on either side.

Flat-front shorts are a popular choice in men’s summer fashion because they’re extremely versatile. Available in virtually any color or length you could want, they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

2. Pleated Shorts

Pleated shorts are an excellent option for semi-formal occasions. They’ll keep you cooler than pants, but thanks to the pleated fold in the front of each leg, they’ll maintain a classy air. You can increase this vibe by tucking your shirt into their waistband. Pleated shorts can end anywhere from mid-thigh to the knee.

3. Athletic Shorts

Men’s athletic shorts come in several subcategories, including:

  • Running shorts
  • Tennis shorts
  • Swim shorts
  • Bike/cycling shorts
  • Basketball shorts

Each type comes with its own attributes. For example, basketball shorts tend to be long and loose, while running shorts are smaller and tighter. However, all fitness shorts are designed for things like comfort, breathability and a wide range of movement.

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4. Cargo Shorts

Cargo shorts are a type of casual men’s urban wear. Often made with rugged, durable fabrics, they were originally designed for military use before being adapted into a mainstream fashion item in the 1990s. A defining feature of cargo shorts is their multitude of pockets. They usually have two at the hips and two more down the leg.

5. Bermuda Shorts

Bermuda shorts are characterized by their length. They can extend to the knee and sometimes even lower, though they usually fall above the calf to distinguish them from capris.

Bermuda shorts are typically regarded as a casual or leisurewear item, and you can incorporate them into a more professional summer wardrobe, too. The trick is to choose Bermuda shorts of high-quality fabrics with classic button fastenings rather than something stretchy.

6. Board Shorts

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Technically, board shorts are a type of athleticwear. They were originally designed for surfing and other water activities. Today, however, board shorts have become an everyday style in men’s summer fashion. They’re characterized by their loose cut and a cinched waistband with Velcro or lace-up ties. Board shorts usually come in fun colors and patterns, so they make great vacation wear.

Best Shirts To Wear With Shorts

Once you’ve decided on your favorite styles of men’s shorts, it’s time to match them with appropriate shirts. The biggest distinction to make when styling shorts is between formal and informal. For example, are you looking for shorts suitable for meeting with clients on the golf course, or are you hanging out with friends at the pier?

For formal occasions, you’ll want to look neat, tidy and tailored. This means shirts with collars and sleeves. The good news is that they can be short sleeves in deference to the heat, so feel free to couple a pair of pleated shorts with polos and lightweight button-downs.

For slightly less formal events, you could get away with things like unbuttoned linen shirts and short-sleeved henleys. Just make sure that the rest of your outfit is polished enough to look presentable. You don’t want to overdo the casual fabrics and fits.

For everyday wear, you’ll have a lot more flexibility in terms of cuts, colors and lengths. You can throw on some Hawaiian-style board shorts and pair them with various t-shirts and tank tops for men. The latter will also work fine as fitness clothing for the gym.

Finding the Right Fit for Your Shorts

How should your shorts fit? When making a purchase, here are just a few things to check to ensure a proper fit:

  • Tightness around the waist
  • Length of the legs
  • General fit of the crotch

The inseam is one of the most important numbers to know in men’s shorts. This measures how long they’re supposed to be and where they should fall on your legs. Common measurements range from 5 to 11 inches.

You should also keep in mind that some shorts are deliberately designed with a tighter or looser fit. Board shorts, for example, are supposed to flow loosely. Other shorts are meant to weigh more heavily on your body than others. Cargo shorts are a prime example.

Final Touches

Here are just a few more tips for stylizing yourself like a rock star this summer.

Bring Together Your Entire Outfit

You don’t want to wear business loafers with men’s athleisure shorts made from jersey knit and spandex. Stylizing a good summer outfit means harmonizing all elements together, including shoes, watches, sunglasses, jewelry and any other accessories that you’d care to wear.

Consider the Utility of Your Shorts

What do you need from your shorts? If you are running around outdoors, for example, cargo shorts are designed to be durable. For job interviews, it is recommended to wear business casual shorts with a fitted waist rather than fitness shorts with an elastic waistband.

Expand Your Color Palette

Summer is the perfect time to expand your wardrobe beyond monochrome colors. Think about soft pastels like coral, peach, lavender and mint green. Think about going big and bold with a sapphire blue or a fire truck red.

How To Style Your Shorts for a Fashionable Summer

It might be hot outside, but you can still look cool and stylish in men’s shorts. By selecting the right fabrics, lengths, and shorts designs, you can walk into any room with confidence in your summer fashion.