The best shorts for men? Complicated question. Before we dig into the billion-and-one designs, we gotta talk length and shape. TikTok Teens would have you believe that a five-inch inseam is the only length that matters. Fellas like Milo Ventimiglia and Paul Mescal, however, might urge you to go up a couple of inches and show off a little more thigh. And on the other end of the spectrum entirely, our May cover star Justin Bieber prefers to step out in loose, baggy shorts that would make members of Michigan’s Fab Five proud. The beauty is that you can go for anywhere along the spectrum—or, better yet, make a few stops along the way and stock your closet with a wide variety of shorts. Because there’s an absolutely insane amount of styles out there.
To help with that, we’ve turned up the 17 best shorts for men for every possible budget and need. Whether you’re after for an elegant pleated pair—à la Giorgio Armani—or just some breathable nylon beaters to get you through the weekend, we’ve scoured the market to bring you the grade-A options that’ll free your trunks.
The Best Retro-Leaning Shorts
For a few years now, Noah’s been mastering the secret sauce of downtown style. The brand’s aesthetic references are deep and far-ranging, merging New England prep with New York skateboarding. Case in point: these expertly-executed pleated chino shorts, made in Italy from a hardy herringbone twill and cut to look like something your dashing grandfather would’ve worn on a balmy August afternoon. Hike ’em up high, tuck in a T-shirt, and lean all the way into the throwback flavor.
The Best Do-Everything Shorts
Earlier this spring, a very specific segment of menswear Twitter lost its damn mind thirsting over this unassuming pair of shorts from the Swoosh. We were skeptical at first. Then we saw the perfect inseam length, the sleek finish, the low-key colorblocking. Taken together, those details make for shorts you’ll want to wear all day every day, no matter what you’ve got on the agenda. Turns out, Twitter gets it right sometimes.
The Best DIY-Inspired Shorts
Don’t let those playful prints fool you: these Story Mfg. shorts are one of the most thoughtfully designed and finely crafted pairs on this list. The shorts themselves are ethically fashioned from organic cotton, and the block-printed graphics and embroidery are all carefully done by hand. And beyond all the crunchy appeal, the shorts would stand out for the silhouette alone: they’ve got a long-ish, flow-y, relaxed fit, billowing out around the thigh. That last part might concern folks used to a closer cropped fit. Trust us: not only can you pull these off, you’ll look elegant as hell in ‘em too.
The Best Dress Shorts
Sure, “dress shorts” sounds like an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “playoff contenders the New York Knicks.” If you haven’t worn a proper pair of dress pants in a while, you might’ve forgotten how good—how grown-up—they can make you feel. Ernest W. Baker’s subtly pinstriped shorts possess plenty of that smart, tailored appeal, but they’re still shorts, which means they’re also airy and comfy—and just right for the WFH era.