There are men — you know who you are — who refuse to retire the pants anywhere but maybe in the pool. On one hand it’s understandable: The world is air conditioned, pants are safer bets for style, and we all remember the once universal “no shorts” rule in the office. On the other hand, shorts are so much more practical, comfortable, and, if you play your cards right, they just look better — especially outside on an 80-plus degree day.
First, you need to find the right style and price for your budget (we did the leg work for you here). Next, find the right length (a 7 or 9-inch inseam should work well on plenty of guys). Fabric is crucial, too: There are options made with soft stretch fabrics, with classic cotton chino or with sporty nylon blends for outdoor summer pursuits.
And finally, we say allow yourself to have a little fun with color and pattern this summer. The best men’s shorts for summer clear each of these bars quite handily. These are our favorite pairs to shop, buy and wear all season long.
A touch of spandex for stretch, alongside classic chambray for texture and color, makes this a pair of timeless shorts that should prove comfortable straight out of the box. They feature details that are a touch more refined, like a coin pocket at the hip, plus belt loops and a button closure. For when you need a pair of shorts with a bit more polish — perhaps to wear with a navy polo and brown leather loafers — opt for this affordable Nordstrom set.
Linen is a staple fabric in any laidback summer wardrobe, from shirting to trousers, and it makes perfect sense (in our book) that the open-weave material would make for a standout pair of shorts. That’s not the only thing to love about these historically inspired Buck Mason shorts. They’ve been modeled after fatigue shorts, yet designed with a more modern 7-inch inseam. And while they boast belt loops for a dressy finish, there’s also a hidden elastic waistband for extra comfort. $128
Channel your inner “dad on summer vacation” look with these retro-minded corduroy shorts. Corduroy needn’t be a fabric solely reserved for the chilly fall and winter months, and the easygoing drawstring construction helps drive home that point quite comfortably. Plus, they’re garment-washed for a soft feel. When you’re in the mood to throw on comfortable shorts for a casual summer weekend day with the fam, but would rather pass on wearing athletic shorts, these are a solid bet. $98, huckberry.com
Drawstring shorts just got a touch more elegant and eye-catching by way of bright blue organic cotton chambray fabric. It’s as if Ben Sherman took your favorite chambray shirt and turned it into breezy shorts, which is a style move we can certainly get behind. They feature a garment-dye wash for added softness, but like anything else in your wardrobe that’s indigo, the fabric will fade over time for a statement-making pair of shorts. $40, bensherman.com
If a summer coastal getaway is on the horizon, you might as well dress the part. Handsome linen stripes call to mind refined summer suiting, with all the casual ease of a drawstring short. And because they’re coming from Todd Snyder, we’re certain the quality is worth the splurge-level price tag. Plus, you’ll have these for years, and that striped pattern will hardly go out of style. A white polo and brown leather loafers could be an ideal pairing for such a cool pair of dressy-meets-casual linen shorts.
Summer is a natural time to break out vibrant floral prints as part of your shirting rotation, but it can also be an optimal time to add some color and pattern to your lower half. The tropical pattern here is grounded nicely on a navy background, which should make these shorts easy to wear with simple, neutral summer staples (like a heather grey polo or a white pocket tee).
The same material famously worn in beach attire by James Bond as far back as the 1960s is having something of a moment right now. Terry cloth is ultra-soft (like wearing a towel or a bathrobe), and it makes for a seriously breezy pair of shorts. These are a fun, eye-catching set of shorts for when things lean a little more casual – just take care to bring along aviator shades, sunscreen and a trusty pocket tee.
The 1970s called, and they want their shorts back – or not. From the reinforced front patch pockets to two rich, earthy color options, these shorts are all about throwback style, in the best way possible. For good measure, they feature a dressy fixed front waist, complemented nicely by an elasticated back waist. No one will be any the wiser you’re lounging in comfort.
Backyard bonfires, family lawn games and casual BBQ grilling sessions call for laidback style with plenty of mobility – and perhaps a touch of retro flair, right? Wearing a pair of the best summer shorts should be fun, after all. Elwood nods to sporty styles of the past with a durable nylon pair in solid colorways. They’re also lined with mesh for a touch of performance, but we think these shorts are best-suited for lazy days lounging in the sun.
Switch things up from the ordinary ever so slightly with a pair of lightly striped shorts, the sort that wear well with anything (especially vibrant polos and garment-dyed T-shirts in cool colors). The 7-inch short is the standard for most guys of average to slightly taller heights — it shows off some thigh without overdoing it, and it’s neither too short nor too long. Plus, the fabric of these Bonobos shorts is lightweight and breezy, as the name implies.
At first glance, these might seem like your standard, plain old shorts, but look again: They’re done up in a throwback corduroy fabric, with texture and retro style. The front patch pockets add a nice touch of visual interest while keeping with that old-school vibe, too. And the 7-inch length hits the sweet spot. Wear these with a garment-dyed grey pocket tee and canvas sneakers for a casual BBQ.
For an agreeable sub-$50 price, step into subtle style with these cotton-blend shorts done up in a garment-dyed fabric for plenty of eye-catching style. The Burnt Olive shade in particular is a nice change of pace from standard tan or navy, while the elastic waistband provides so much comfort, you won’t want to take ‘em off. Team them with an easygoing slub T-shirt, or dress it up just a touch with a grey short-sleeve buttondown shirt.
That’s right: The same fabric that makes up your favorite soft shirt has been translated into a pair of laidback yet polished 9-inch shorts. The 9-inch inseam works well on taller guys while still hitting above the knee for a clean, not baggy, look, and it also works well if you prefer a touch more coverage. The chambray here also features a touch of stretch for comfort and ease of movement. Team these up with a white polo and brown leather loafers for an ever-so-slightly dressy summer evening.
Summer is a great time to go a bit more bold with your fashion choices, like rocking some camo shorts when the occasion calls for it. The cool grey camo tones things down just a bit, though, and be sure to note the lack of cargo pockets here. Because these shorts are more vibrant in terms of pattern, keep it simple on your top half with a navy polo or a crisp black T-shirt.
Todd Snyder has knack for taking the ordinary, like a set of 9-inch cotton-blend shorts, and ramping things up just a touch, as seen with these rugged utility shorts. They’re like a streamlined, much cooler version of cargo shorts, and they’re inspired by vintage hiking shorts for plenty of, well, utility. You can wear them for work, thanks to the plethora of pockets, but we think they’re best suited for kicking back with an ice-cold beer on the patio. A pricey investment? Yes, but a worthwhile one.
Shorts like these are best-suited when the mood is ultra-casual and fun — the stripes are seriously cool and breezy, and the seersucker fabric is a nice seasonal touch, too. The elastic waist is also a comfortable touch, too. Think of these like your go-to beach vacation shorts.
When you want to amp up your summer style with a shot of color (and showing off some extra leg, of course), go with these aptly named, super easygoing shorts in a washed cotton fabric. The Rust color in particular is eye-catching and made to wear with subtle summer style staples like a grey short-sleeve henley or a white short-sleeve button-down shirt for a bit of a preppy yet fun edge.
Planned out an action-packed summer day that’ll take you and the family from the trail to the town, and perhaps elsewhere? Go with shorts you can move around in, shorts that move with you in a recycled nylon fabric. The color-blocked design of the Foliage colorway in particular is sporty and visually appealing, while the breathable design is perfect for hot summer days and nights.
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