NR Styles | Shorts Men Should Wear For Summer
Although limiting, shorts offer men a warm-weather alternative. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
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what shorts should a man wear cargos

What Kind Of Shorts Men Should Wear For Summer

Posted by Nicole in Men

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have noticed my update about a male straphanger’s cargo shorts. There is much debate about how men should wear shorts, and their place in fashion. Although limiting, shorts offer men a warm-weather alternative. Here are some guidelines to get you started.

The appropriate time to wear shorts (other than an athletic setting) is:

1. Casual settings around friends and family (lunch, the park).

2. Unbearably hot weather, and other environmental settings (the beach).

Never wear shorts:

1. In any business or formal setting (wedding, business lunch).

2. Where you’ll be interacting with acquaintances or strangers (friend’s party).

What’s the perfect short length for me?

Despite short shorts being a huge trend for men this 2013 season, more than 2-3 inches above your knee is probably too short. Although, if you’re less than 5’7″, a shorter inseam can make your legs appear longer. Outside of vacation – or you have amazing legs – really short shorts are just underwear (no matter what this guy says).


photo credit: All Things Menswear


Photo credit: Street Etiquette

If they fall past the knee, they are no longer considered shorts, they are now too-short pants. The only exception is if you are as cool as this guy. If that’s the case, then go for it.

what shorts should a man wear cargos


For most men, at or around your knee is an appropriate short length.

How much volume and bagginess do shorts need?

Essentially, this is a matter of preference, but shorts should be comfortable and fitted. Like pants, they should be tailored to your body.

The issue with cargo shorts is they add bulk to your butt and thighs, thereby hiding some of the best parts of a man’s body. They also tend to be worn oversized and fall past the knee. Unless utilitarian, they serve no purpose other than to make men look unattractive.

If you insist on them, wear a slimmer version. Like these:


Photo credit: Elle & J.Crew

Bermudas, and similar styles are your safest bet.

what shorts should a man wear cargos

What colors and styles shorts should I wear?

Whether you buy denim, cotton, or linen-blends is no mind to me. What feels good is what matters most with fabrications. Playing with colors and prints are a fun way to incorporate your personal style. Since you’ll be wearing shorts in less formal settings, it’s the arena to showcase some self expression.

There will always be more fashionable gents who can pull of short varieties outside of the guidlines listed above. If you’re not one of them, or needed a refresher, these baselines will keep you cool this summer, in many ways.

Feature photo credit: Street Etiquette


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About NR Styles:

Nicole Russo is a premiere New York City image consultant, personal shopper and closet organizer. For the best in online style advice for men and women, subscribe and get updates in your inbox or RSS feed.

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03 May 2013 9 comments
  • Men's short shorts 15 May ’13 at 12:33 AM / Reply

    Thanks for the information and I really appreciate it. But I think men in short looks fabulous especially If they are wearing their sport uniform and for a casual wearing there is a long short with 6 pocket they could wear it is look pretty.

    • Nicole 15 May ’13 at 9:56 AM /

      I hope I didn’t imply men should not wear shorts. I love it when a guy expresses his style with shorts. I used this post to illustrate guidelines for wearing them best. Thank you for commenting.

  • How to wear men's shorts 5 Jun ’13 at 7:48 PM / Reply

    [...] inches above your knee is probably too short,” writes image consultant Nicole Russo on her site NRStyles. “Although, if you’re less than 5’7″, a shorter inseam can make your legs appear longer. [...]

  • Zimmber 6 Jul ’13 at 2:51 AM / Reply

    Who are you to say that shorts more than 2 or 3 inches above the knee is too short on men? Would you say that to women? Many men look amazing in short shorts, especially muscular men, and in fact it was the norm in the 70s and 80s. Still is very common in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The time has come for men to stop letting people boss them around and tell them what to do, and men need to claim more freedom to wear whatever they want, just like women can.

    • Nicole 10 Jul ’13 at 12:18 PM /

      Hi Zimmber,

      I wrote this piece as a guideline for basic American standards. Of course men are free to dress in whatever they feel is best. That message is the basis of my work on this site and with my clients. I agree that many men look great in short shorts, but if a man is unsure how to dress or what to wear, generalizations such as above help steer him in the right direction.

  • Zimmber 17 Aug ’13 at 7:20 AM / Reply

    Those ‘American standards’ as you refer to them, did not exist in the 70s and the 80s, but only started in the 90s, the decade in which the goal seemed to be to make men look as crappy as possible, which continued into the end of the 00s, and only now are giving way to something more flattering. The social taboo against men wearing short shorts is a means toward denigrating males and to encourage discrimination against men. If you want to set standards for anything, don’t set standards against short shorts for men, but against the horrible cargo shorts, garish board shorts, and gangsta, billowing basketball shorts, all of which are shorts in name only and make guys look like clowns, which is exactly what man-haters want.

    • Nicole 18 Aug ’13 at 9:32 AM /


      I completely agree with your last line about referring to men looking like clowns. On the other hand, I do not agree that the social taboo against short shorts is discriminating against men. Women shouldn’t be wearing shorts as short as some on the market for men right now. This site encourages people to wear what makes them the most comfortable and if a higher hemline works for you, then by all means, wear it. Narrow leg, longer shorts do not make men look crappy. When proportions are balanced they complete a man’s physique. In the end, the standards are to help men that are not as confident as you about what is best for them sartorially.

  • Caro 18 Aug ’13 at 4:17 AM / Reply

    Great article. Agree entirely about length of shorts for men – also agree for those 5ft 7″ or below, shorter tends to elongate leg length. In Scotland, we just wish it was shorts wearing weather more often. Will now source more articles like this by Nicole. Informative, free, balanced, well illustrated and appealing to a wide readership, this type of style advice/commentary is difficult to find..

    • Nicole 18 Aug ’13 at 9:34 AM /

      Thanks Caro! Great to hear you appreciated the article. I put a lot into each one, so please return soon. I would love to read more of your comments!

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