Primer’s Complete Visual Guide to Shorts – Updated!

Still struggling to find shorts that fit like a glove?

We've updated our Visual Guide To Shorts including everything from inseam length to trim, taper, colors and more.

When dialing in your style with shorts, you have to take into account the little details to form the overall look of your outfit.

With so many shorts options in every men's clothing store, it's extremely difficult to narrow down your options and choose the best overall pair or style for you.

We've simplified the process for you, giving you a wide array of options and suggestions that you can tailor to your own personal preferences.

In addition to giving you a starting point with the inseam, we also guide you through the proper accessories to complete your look and exude confidence.

Explore our visual guide below!



Choosing shorts is complicated. You don't want a pair that flares out or makes your outfit baggy. We hope that you enjoyed this visual guide to help inform your style and improve your look.

Now, go out there and strut your new style!


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Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • kwalker

    Nice layout of shorts and styles. As one with shorter legs, it’s difficult to find shorts that are not too long. Good info as always, Andrew.

    • Andrew

      Glad you liked it! 🙂

    • Almarie de Villiers

      Have a good tailor or seamstress shorten it for you.

      • kwalker

        For sure I do. Especially with golf shorts because it’s extremely difficult to find those with shorter inseams. Thank goodness Gap and others are offering stuff that suits me.

  • PB

    My go to shorts are J.Crew Factory’s 11″ Rivington short. I’m a little taller with longer legs, so for me the 9″ shorts are my “absolute shortest.” But by far, my favorite shorts are my Rivingtons.

    • Andrew

      Nice! Yep, you have to know your body. One of things I think is so funny about how some folks talk about shorts length on the internet is how universal an inseam should be. But no one says your jeans should only be a 32″ inseam, because that obviously doesn’t fit everyones body. Shorts are no different, it’s not he inch length that matters, it’s the final look.

    • Dan

      I am 6’2-6’3, a 9 inch inseam looks a little to short for me. The other issues is as a former football player I have bigger thighs. So a lot of these modern slim shorts are almost always a no no

    • Bill H.

      Same here. The 11″ Rivington is my best bet as well. At 6’3″ those 9 and 10 inch options show a little more thigh than I’m prepared to…

  • jbird669

    Thanks for this!

  • RLM

    Hey Andrew, are the Florsheim Berkley Loafers an appropriate match for the shorts and styles you’ve shared? Looking great, as always

    • Andrew

      Yes definitely, you have to make absolute sure that the shorts are fitted – if they’re too baggy/loose the dressy loafers won’t look right.

  • Umair Bilal

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. I’m set for the summer!

  • gjackson

    Great job once again Mr. Snavely!

  • TSM

    I’m Mormon and wear the famous underwear, which goes to the middle of my kneecap. Any advice on shorts? Or should I just stick with pants (which sucks, because Arizona)?

    • Andrew

      If you can find a decent knee level pair that covers them that’ll work, or stick with lightweight chinos in the summer.

  • Nick Arcieri

    Andrew, thanks for the great article! Got it bookmarked and will refer to it regularly.

  • TJ

    Nice info. I’m a relatively tall guy at 6’2″ and while I know I could wear longer shorts and be ok, for me 7″ is where it’s at. Some say they’re too short but I think I pull them off.

    • Andrew

      You gotta do you! Every guy reading this site has had to deal with their friends giving them crap for dressing well. If you like it, rock it.

  • Nick

    this is a great post. really enjoying this site, very helpful. keep up the good work!

  • Aaron

    Great update! Your first one it seemed the shorts were longer than seems to be the fashion this year.
    Nice, simple breakdown. Well done!

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  • Eric Henao

    Boo to no plaid shorts, I say! Boo!

  • Danno

    My problem isn’t having shorts that are too baggy, rather, too tight! Any thoughts? My Crossfit obsession is starting to make finding well fitting clothing a problem. Shorts always get stuck on my quads, any suggestions? Know of a looser fit?

    • Justin

      I’m with you dude. Small waist and big thighs. The RVCA Americana shorts are my go-to.

  • Taylor

    No white or printed shorts?

  • Danny

    Whats the word on rolling the bottom shorts? To get the length I want I usually roll the bottom once — is that a fashion faux pas?

    • Andrew

      I think it should look ok, you can post a pic and we can take a look if you want.

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  • Wedge

    Great discussion!

    I am working to improve my style, and making a big change from the too big, barely sitting on my hips, and well below the knee style that all my old cargo shorts have. Worse is that they were so baggy that I look like I have toothpick legs, which is not the case.

    I really like how you have the inseams as a starting point. There is no replacement for trying clothes on, even though the shorts I just bought have an 11″ inseam and are called “relaxed” fit, on me they hit just above the knee and very slim fitting on me. Because the new shorts have a nicer profile, my calves and overall lower leg and feet look more proportional and just better overall.

  • Scott

    The Target oxford cloth shorts are some of the best options I’ve seen from any seller. They’re nice and cheap too, and come in a number of different colors. They’ve been my go-to options for the last couple years.

  • Scott

    The Target oxford cloth shorts are some of the best options I’ve seen from any seller. They’re nice and cheap too, and come in a number of different colors. They’ve been my go-to options for the last couple years.

  • Hans Servando

    entirely relative!!! In my country, and many places, shorts is never ever dressy, it’s ultra casual! Therefore to dress with tailored shorts and shoes It is an absolute no!!! so if you do, you will not do more than look like a complete idiot or a eunuch.

  • Eepi8d

    This post is awesome, helped me a lot!
    Could you also pull of a blazer with shorts, with v-neck t-shirt perhaps?
    Also maybe suede brogues as shoe of choice?
    Keep em’ coming Andrew.

  • A Thadeus Strángɇ

    Just curious. What if you *need* the additional pockets of cargo shorts? There’s not enough space to comfortably carry my “stuff” with regular shorts.

    • Andrew

      Function should always trump form, however you may want to consider a better alternative like a messenger bag or briefcase.

  • Joseph Proscia

    Andrew I have to ask. What is wrong with plaids?

    • Andrew

      They’ve fallen out of style in the last couple years, current summer trends are a little more muted

  • Atl2015

    Great overview and I’m glad you tackled footwear but I have a few different short colors (kahki, grey, blue) and am wondering if I can get a single shoe that works with all of them…shoe color may be the real question. Any thoughts on how shoe color works with different shorts? I assume it matters…thanks.

  • mchan1

    Not read about so much Bias on the types of shorts against now.
    preppy/hipsyer look vs casual joe look
    what about hiking shorts as many hilers prefer 5″ inseams for obvious reason?
    whats wrong with cargo shorts as some are neat in appearance but with the side pockets?
    check out the WSJ re cargo shorts article!!

    not everyone wants to be a hipster and everyone ages!

    what a biased article!!

  • PaisleyPower Pat

    great tips! i’ll shorten my shirts! Patrick, UK

  • CodeCalibre

    real men does the opposite of this article.

  • Josh Houghton

    What about shorter men who are a little overweight Andrew? Going to Mexico soon and looking for some shorts that would work. It’s for a get together of internet marketers.

    • Andrew

      Hey Josh, the same rules apply. Do you have specific concerns?

      • Josh Houghton

        Hi Andrew, I’ve always been a pants guy, but Mexico is going to be hot and I’m just so confused on style of shorts. Chino’s vs Cargo shorts.

        I’m like 5’6, 220 pounds.

        I used to be 350 at one point. So I guess a lot of it just comes down to confidence and that I just feel like I know the right style…

        The event is a laid back, business networking event at a top Mexico resort.

        I wanted to wear polo style of shirts to the event. We have a JC penny’s basically here lol.

        And these are the brands they have?
        Flat front shorts
        Arizona shorts
        Flex shorts
        Oxford shorts
        Cargo shorts
        Stretch front shorts – John bay
        Comfort stretch shorts
        Plugg shorts
        Perfect short

        What out of these would work well?

        I’m new to the world of fashion and really trying to learn, but it can be overwhelming :-/ Just want some shorts that will go good with any type of polo type of shirt basically, but not make me look horrible since I’m on the heavier side.

        • Andrew

          Nice! Jcpenney has decent stuff. St Johns Bay and some of the Arizona line is nice. Avoid cargo shorts they’re out of style, don’t let the other guys around you fool you! 🙂 Find a pair of chino shorts that fall above the knee in some Of the colors above, I’d recommend olive, blue, and gray to start. Those will work great dressed down or up. Like the infographic above, how dressy your outfit is will be determined on footwear. I’d recommend canvas sneakers, white leather sneakers, or some kind of loafer.

          • Josh Houghton

            Thank you so much Andrew. You always go above and beyond to help. I’ll take your advice and let you know how it goes 🙂

          • Josh Houghton

   Hi Andrew,

            So my trip to Mexico is tomorrow and I took your advice and founds some of the stuff you recommended and it looks great. Although dude to my height and weight I couldn’t find any shorts that don’t go a tad big over my knee.

            I’m really short and 42 waist.

            The problem is tho I bought some dockers which looked like sperry’s since out JC Penny doesn’t sell them anymore and bought the no show socks you recommend front amazin from Stomper Joe. I bought medium since I do wear the shoe size they recommend for medium.

            Problem is they do show on the sides 🙁 they even show a little with my vans I bought which you recommended on Primer.

            So what would you recommend? I leave first thing in the morning and all the socks show.

            I’ll be at the Unico resort in mexico so any ideas? Can I just wear the boat shoes and vans without socks?

            Thanks for the help. Sorry for spelling. I’m on IPhone in a rush to pack

          • Andrew

            Nice! That is the frustrating thing about no show socks, it’ll vary a little bit depending on the specific shoe. I have some no shows that show with certain shoes. You can get away with not wearing socks for a little while, if you want, you can pick up some foot spray or baby powder to put on your feet and in your shoes before you put them on. That will help with moisture and odor also. That’s available at any drug store.

          • Josh Houghton

            Thanks Andrew. That is really helpful. Love the site and learning so much about fashion and just dressing better from here. Thank you

          • Andrew

            You’re very welcome, have fun!

  • 678457

    Gotta send this to my dad!

  • Luke Carroll

    JCPenney is actually having a HUGE sale with their summer wear right now. One of my favorite brands is Arizona, and I just got 3 pairs of khaki, one navy, and one charcoal for under $50! Plus, they also have some great patterned shorts if you’re looking for something a bit different. All have a 9″ inseam.

  • Big O

    Hmmmm…looks like I’m going to have to up my shorts game. As always…great content!

  • Dave

    An untucked shirt is always sloppy looking, not to mention it makes a man look like he’s too lazy to tuck in his shirt. The only time I don’t tuck in my shirt is if I’m wearing a bathing suit. That’s one ‘fashion’ trend I’ll never follow.
    9″ shorts are the absolute longest a man should wear. I’ve got nice legs and I’m not ashamed to show them off. I never did get into the long, baggy look. Hey, you look like you stole your fat grandpas shorts/pants!
    The only part of the article that I agree with is the ‘Things to Avoid’ section.
    This seems more like an article for men who are ashamed of their body. If you got it, show it off!

  • Datch

    Things to avoid: this article.

  • Josh Houghton

    I’m traveling to a beach resort in Mexico for a week. I’m 5’6, 220 and looking for outfits or things to wear. Any posts on this site that may help or give me ideas? Only stores in my areas are JC Penny, Gap, Target really.

  • Josh Houghton

    Are built in Built-In Flex Shorts for Men, from Old Navy good or Goodthreads Men’s 7″ Inseam Flat-Front Stretch Chino Short?

    I’m having a hard time flinding Chino shorts at the places we have here? ANd what do you do if everything you try on short wise has the inseam going a little under the knee. I’m short and the only size I can find that fits me is right around 40 and even pulled up at my waist, 9.5 and even 8 inseems to go a little beyond the knee? Thoughts?

    • Andrew

      Hey Josh those shorts are good for the price. Old Navy doesn’t last as long as other brands but they’re fine. For length, you can have them shortened pretty cheaply by a tailor. There are also some brands that have inseams shorter than 9″, including Amazon’s Goodthreads line.

      • Josh Houghton

        Hi Andrew. Thanks again for the help. I purchased a few of the good threads shorts with 7 inch inseams. Just hope they arrive before the Mexican trip. All chinos as well 🙂 hmmm..I need to find a tailor then, just in case for the future. Thanks again Andrew. You have been amazing. I owe a lot to you. Thanks bro

  • Josh Houghton

    Hey Andrew. So just got back from the mall looking for some shorts and wondering, couldn’t find any chinos anywhere but bought some online, but in case they don’t arrive in time before I leave for Mexico I wanted to grab a few backups…

    Now all I’m seeing at Dillard’s is flat fronts, atwoods and something called Classic Fit. I believe flat fronts are fine but what about Atwoods or classic fit?

    Thanks brother for all your help.