Come summertime the livin’ is supposed to be easy, but finding the best shorts for men can be deceptively difficult.
Stylish shorts have to strike that perfect balance between casual and dapper, and do it all with only half the fabric available to pants.
But why do I say it’s “deceptively” difficult to find the best men’s shorts?
Because while you can technically buy shorts at pretty much any major retailer, the problem is that shorts tend to look great on a store’s website, shelf and catalog models, but not as sharp on your actual legs.
I know all too well how easy it is to waste money on a pair of shorts that’s too boxy, too tight, too short, too long or just too wrong.
While it’s too late for me to get my money back (or erase people’s memories of what my scrawny-ass legs looked like in board shorts), you don’t have to make the same costly mistakes.
In this post I’ll round up 15 of the best men’s shorts stores and recommend a few must-have pairs that will help you step up your warm-weather style.
The Best Shorts for Men in 2021
Rounding Up the Most Stylish Mens Shorts
Deep Dive ⬇
- I recently did a full, in-depth review of a few different versions of Western Rise pants. Check out my full Western Rise review here.
Coming in at a very close second to the Western Rise Evolution short above, Public Rec’s Workday shorts are versatile, comfortable, resilient and (this part is crucial) look good as hell.
Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, the Workday shorts stretch in all the right places, but look more polished and put together than traditional spandex athletic shorts.
As I wrote when I reviewed a number of Public Rec products awhile back, they “hued closely to my leg, creating a slim and sharp silhouette, but weren’t so tight that they looked painted on.”
Deep Dive ⬇
- Check out my full Public Rec review to learn more about the Workday shorts, and a few other key Public Rec pieces.
Though it’s known primarily as J.Crew’s denim-focused little brother, Madewell also offers a pretty wide range of stylish and casual staples, including shorts.
It’s probably the best place to go for modern jean shorts, but they also offer chinos, swim trunks and sweat shorts, all in on-point styles, patterns and colors.
Banana Republic has been one of my go-to stores for years, and with good reason.
This past summer I picked up a new pair of their Core Temp shorts in army green (which is one of my favorite men’s pants colors for both shorts and full length pants) and wore the hell out of them.
I’m happy to report that they not only looked great but held up expertly. After a full summer they still look brand new, and I’m looking forward to busting them out again next year.
Deep Dive ⬇
- I did a full review of Banana Republic shorts (back when they called it the “Aiden” line), which you can check out to learn more about the brand and the quality of its shorts.
Bonobos might just be the brand whose overall aesthetic I enjoy the most, and their shorts are no exception.
They offer a wide range of styles, lengths and sizes, so whether you’re looking for slim-fitting short shorts or extended sizes for bigger fellas, they’re a great place to turn for the kind of well made and timelessly stylish shorts you can own for years.
Don’t call it a comeback, although that’s basically exactly what J.Crew did when they came back after filing for Chapter 11 in 2020.
And that’s good news for those of us who love J.Crew’s modern-meets-classic aesthetic, which they very much apply to their shorts, a diverse lineup that includes pairs in a wide range of styles, lengths colors and fabrics.
Best Athletic Shorts for Men
Where Public Rec’s Workday shorts are like a more comfortable version of the kind of dressier shorts that you could pair with a button-up shirt, their Everyday shorts are like a slightly dressier version of an athletic short.
These are my pick for the best workout shorts for men because the elastic waistband and 12% spandex makes them perfect for running, golf or any other athletic activity, while the pockets and faux front fly give them a more formal look that can carry you straight through to your post-workout drinks on the patio.
(Oh, no, I’m sorry, no one goes for a drink or two after working out. How silly of me…)
It’s no surprise that the classic Americana brand best known for mastering the chino also sells some of the best shorts for men.
Gap offers a pretty wide range of shorts that vary in style, from vintage and linen to denim and hybrids which, like the Public Rec Everyday shorts, can be worn just about anywhere.
I also love Gap’s activewear line and listed them among my picks for the best affordable workout clothes, in part because their Easy Shorts are some of the best running shorts for men who want to show a bit of style while they sweat.
Frank And Oak is a Canadian brand that specializes in sustainable and uncompromisingly designed clothes that are as beneficial to you as they are to the planet.
Their seersucker shorts are the epitome of laidback summer style, and stretchy, light weight and quick drying fabric makes them perfect for those extra hot days when even chinos shorts would be too heavy.
The second Western Rise pair on this list is a close runner up to Public Rec’s Everyday short for the coveted title (which I just made up) of Best Athletic Shorts for Men.
Designed with movement in mind – in case you couldn’t tell from the name – the Movement shorts are lightweight, water resistant and stretchy, and can be used as both a pair of workout shorts or a swimsuit.
J.Crew’s little brother brand, J.Crew Factory has a similar aesthetic, and sells comparable styles at (somewhat) more reasonable prices.
While not all of their offerings match the quality of their flagship brand, their shorts a pretty safe bet; like J.Crew proper, J.Crew Factory offers a varied selection of colors, fabrics and patterns in both 9-inch and 7-inch lengths.
All of those elements come together in their Dry Stretch Easy Shorts, which feature a 63/37 cotton/poly blend and are available in a wide range of colors and patterns.
I’m a big fan of Suitsupply’s suits, but an even bigger fan of their casual wear.
So it’s no surprise that I love their shorts, which come in multiple styles but are all cut to perfection. If you’re looking for the kind of stylish shorts that you can wear to a first date on a hot summer’s night – when you need to bring your A-game, but don’t want to sweat through your pants – this is the place.
So it should come as no surprise that Goodthreads offers a wide range of shorts that check all those boxes.
Personally I prefer shorts that hue pretty closely to my thighs (without making my legs look like they’re sausages, of course), so I prefer Goodthreads’ 9″ slim-fit shorts, which are excellently reviewed and available in eight different colors.
Best Mens Casual Shorts
OK, ok: whether or not these are the best casual shorts for men is admittedly a subjective question—but they just might be the best value.
Much like Amazon’s aforementioned Goodthreads, Target’s in-house line of Goodfellow & Co. specializes in the kind of timelessly stylish casual pieces you can keep in your wardrobe for years.
(Note to major retailers: including the word “Good” in your brand name is a little thirsty. Show us the quality, don’t just tell us, you know?)
And at about $20, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than their 7″ slim fit chino shorts.
What are the best shorts for men?
The best shorts for men are any pair that hits about two inches above your knee cap, hue closely to your thighs without making them look like they’re squeezed into sausage casings, and have enough stretch to keep them comfortable and easy to move in.
Where to buy short shorts for men
Most modern menswear brands have embraced the shorter shorts trend, so if by “short shorts for men” you mean shorts that hit above the knee, like I recommend, then any of the retailers listed above will fit the bill.
Where to buy jean shorts for men
The best place to buy jean shorts for men is definitely Madewell. They specialize in all things denim and offer a wide variety of denim jean shorts, along with all the casual staples that go well with them (think tees, sweaters, sneakers, etc).
You Know Where to Get the Best Shorts for Men
Now Learn The Secrets of Sharp Style
Now that you know which retailers offer some of the most stylish and overall best shorts for men, you’ll be able to step up your summer style game and look sharp when the weather warms up.
But knowing where to buy the best men’s shorts is one thing; knowing how to wear them (not to mention the rest of your gear) is another.
The (handsome) devil is in the details, and if you really want to level up your style you need to know how to do the small-but-vital things that add up to make a big difference on how dapper you look.
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More Men’s Style Advice from Irreverent Gent:
- What to Wear in the Summer
- What to Wear in the Spring
- The Best Summer Shoes for Men
- The Best Men’s Shapewear
- The Absolute Best Men’s Sweatpants and Joggers