The Short VersionShorts...men like Tom Ford and GQ's Glenn O'Brien tend to avoid them, but personally, I find myself waiting with great anticipation for those warm, sticky summer days, when shorts are just about the only appropriate way to cover one's bottom. And who knows, maybe I'm just longing for greener pastures, particularly given that it's expected to snow today, but recently, my desire to sport some shorts has grown exponentially and I find myself mulling over the topic on the reg.
But up until a few years ago, though I looked forward to summer and my shorts wearing days with the same anticipation as I do today, when those days used to arrive, I found myself overcome with stress. I never quite knew if I was wearing the “right” shorts in the right fabric, in the right color, and of the right length, at the right time. But since that time, I've gotten things sorted out, and am always learning things along the way. Over the next few days, I'll provide a little “short” guide to “shorts” and I hope in return, whether through Twitter or Facebook, you will drop a little of your knowledge on us as well. Though we love to impart our knowledge, we love to expand it just as much.
From 5 Inches to Just Above the Knee: Where Should My Shorts Start and StopFirst things first: shorts are not pants and pants are not shorts. I know, that seems like a stupid thing to say, but the point is, it's important to know that when you throw on some shorts, you are making the conscious decision to accept and embrace both the benefits and shortcomings of shorts (pardon the pun).
One of those tradeoffs is that when you wear shorts, you will show some leg. So, when you throw some shorts on, be mentally committed to showing some leg and please, by all means, do not try to avoid this by hanging your shorts them halfway down your arse. No one wants to see your undies and regardless if your legs are toned, tan, smooth, or hairy, be proud of what you got and we assure you that you are your own harshest critic.
Now that we have those things aside, on to the particulars:
Just when you thought that you had gotten past all of that “rise” stuff when you left the world of pants for the world of shorts, you see that pesky little term once more, “rise.” Yup, rise matters and rise differs even in the shorts world.
But, the benefit of having to deal with the concept of rise when shopping for pants is that you can pretty much use most, if not all, of what you learned about rise and pants and apply it to shorts. That's because, shorts, like pants, come in different rises the application of rise, with respect to shorts, is no different either. The primary difference being that in the men's shorts world, while you will be able to find shorts of high rise, medium rise, and low rise variety, shorts of the high rise variety are few and far between. And, when shopping for shorts, you are less likely to find explicit mention of shorts' rise.
Thus, often times, the best way to find out what you're working with is to try it on. And much the same way that your size may vary depending on rise when buying pants, be mindful that the same may hold true when purchasing shorts.
However, one thing you don't need to worry about is that, aside from golf shorts, shorts are thought of as more casual items (though not always the case), and unlike the distinctions and impressions people have about the differences between low rise and medium rise pants, people tend not to draw those same “formal” versus “informal” lines when differentiating between low and medium rise shorts. It's all kind of the same to the masses, so focus on comfort and overall fit/look when deciding between low rise and medium rise shorts.
So this is where I used to get really tripped up. Do I want shorts with a 5 inch inseam, 7 inch inseam, 9 inch inseam? And then I learned: 1) inseam in isolation (i.e. without consideration of rise), means little if anything and 2) there is no right answer.
I will admit that I, along with many others, do adhere to the one almost universally agreed upon truth about shorts: shorts should ideally sit a few inches above the knee. But other than that, the only person who can really judge if 2 inches higher above the knee is 2 inches too much (difference between 5 and 7 inches in my case), is me.
And guess what? That answer isn't static either. Sometimes, 7 inches feels just a bit too long for the look that I'm going for, and other times, 5 inches is a bit too short.
Ultimately, there are no rules to live by, except for the “universal truth” and aside from comfort and quality, I personally think about what would I wear these with too. But the beauty of it is, you don't have to. There is no golden ticket.
Frankly, if I can comfortably sit in them, pair them with other stuff in my closet, and I'm not exposing the world to anything that I don't want them to be exposed to, then frankly, that's the long and short of it.