The Right Length for Shorts

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Summer is here and that means it is time to put a pair of shorts into the rotation. On Sunday morning, that means throwing on some basketball shorts – boxers not mandatory – but for the rest of that week, abbreviated pants deserve longer-term thinking. And the biggest question facing the non-skateboarding gentleman today is the question of length. Too short, and you’re channeling a seventies NBA player. Too long, and you end up looking shorter, wider, and generally less put together. A few inches makes a massive difference.

We asked award-winning menswear designer Todd Snyder for a little bit of bloomer guidance and he passed along the following wisdom: “I like shorts that have an 8 inch inseam. It’s about a few inches above the knee and goes great with a polo or woven shirt.”

Take Todd’s answer, do a little math – the average American man is 5’10” – and you arrive at a nice round figure: Shorts should hit about two inches above the knee. Imagine you’re in an all-girls school trying not to get admonished by nuns who make you kneel so they can measure your hemline. Feel happy that you aren’t in that position, but take the dictate seriously regardless.

As with any rule, there is an exception. If you’re a little more conservative about showing some leg, you might opt for Bermuda shorts, which should hit at – never below – the knee. Bermudas have a bit more relaxed fit, so make sure you pair it with a well-fitted shirt tucked in on top to even out the proportions. A baggy, untucked polo will make youlook like a loose sail in the wind.

If you’re the type who buys a pair of shorts and tries to wear them out in one season, the only prescription is more khaki. Think clean and crisp with no patches, doo-dads or frays. The right pair – check out Unis – make as much sense for casual Fridays as they do for grilling Sundays or no clean pants Wednesdays.

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