Dappered Classics: 10 Commandments for Shorts

How to wear em' yet not scare off women & children.

Originally published 5/4/2011

1. Thou Shalt Show Your Knees

Show your joints.  It’s a nice natural breaking point between you and the cloth above.  Think of your knees as that 1/4″ of shirt-cuff that intentionally goes past your jacket.  Show em’.  A max. 9″ or 10″ inseam should work fine for most.

2. Thou Shalt Not Go Shorter Than a 7″ inseam

If Ron Jeremy couldn’t somehow manage to go commando in them, leave them on the shelf.  You’re not a Nair model, nor are you playing in the ABA.  Leave the short shorts to the ladies.

3. Thou Shalt Reject The Temptations of Cargo

When’s the last time you actually put something in a cargo pocket?  If you’re carrying so much that you need cargo pockets, re-prioritize your load.  Even if they’re these new “slim” cargos, they’ll just add weight to your shape.

4. Thou Shalt Wear The Right Shoes For Shorts

Classic canvas sneakers like Jack Purcells, PF Flyers, or Supergas work great.  Most guys reach for a pair of boat  shoes.  But don’t count out other loafers.  Suede or soft (read, non dress) penny loafers can look great with shorts.

5. Thou Shalt Not Wear Socks.  Even With The Right Shoes

If it’s too hot for pants, socks won’t help much either.  Use foot powder instead.

6. Honor Thy Brighter Colors and Patterns

If you’re wearing shorts, that means it’s casual.  And if it’s casual, that means you can take more risks.  It’s summer.  Wear some brighter colors.  If you are going with a pattern, maybe steer clear from those large plaids all the frat boys favor.  Opt for something less noticeable like a pincord or gingham.

7. Thou Shalt Never Consider Jorts.  Instead Consider Chambray

It goes without saying, but jorts just don’t make sense.  If it’s hot enough for shorts, why throw on a pair made of heavy denim?  Do consider the lighter and more airy chambray.  Especially in grey.

8. Thou Shalt Reserve Shorts For Only The Hottest Days

Even above 85 degrees (unless it’s humid) a pair of light pants can be just as cool because they keep the sun off your legs.  There’s a reason why the Sahara dwelling Tuareg people are covered up all the time.

9. Thou Shalt Wear A Lighter Belt With Shorts

Your heavy leather jeans belt won’t feel right with your shorts.  Opt for something like a web or grosgrain belt instead.  It doesn’t have to be super bright or striped.  Better it’s not if your shorts are stealing the show.  Just something lighter.

10. Thou Shalt Not Categorically Reject Shorts

You know the type.  The “Short-Pants are for Children Only” snobs.  They’re shorts.  Not some goofy hat with a propeller on top.  If someone doesn’t like shorts, fine.  But if someone thinks wearing a pair of shorts on a walk downtown for frozen yogurt somehow makes the wearer less mature, they might want to calm the heck down.

Additions, subtractions, agreements or disagreements all go in the comments section below.  And as always, these “commandments” are never carved in stone.  Suggestions, and there are always exceptions.