10 Best Men’s Shorts Styles For Summer 2023
Our comprehensive guide explores the most in-demand short styles right now, so you can navigate bare-leg territory with aplomb.
Summer, the season of sunshine, beach escapades and the eternal quest for the perfect pair of shorts. These leg-baring wonders not only keep you cool but also make a bold fashion statement, so it’s a wonder that so many guys get them so wrong!
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got sinewy pencils or tree trunks like Dorian Yates, shorts can look great on everyone, provided they are styled well.
Shorts styles have undulated massively over the decades, but since the internet democratised and disseminated every subculture known to man, these days you can wear just about any style you prefer and look great doing so.
Want to lean on a skimpy retro 70s aesthetic? No problem. Prefer a more sartorial influence to your shorts? Pleats to meet you. Or are you still hankering for a 90s oversized reference? That can most certainly be arranged.
Whether you want to channel Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), or you like the flavour of Bjorn Borg’s nuthuggers in the 1982 Wimbledon final, we’ll show you how to wear them and where to get them.
We can easily fall into the thinking that tailored shorts are somehow antiquated given that most contemporary styles follow a more sporty aesthetic, but that’s really not the case.
Tailored flat-front shorts in either cotton or linen offer a super-versatile approach to bearing your legs, especially if your personal style is leans more sartorial.
From Bermuda-length styles to shorter iterations, tailored shorts offer a smart silhouette with a number of different closure options, as well as the option for turned up hems.
Look for cotton twill and poplin styles in navy or olive drab that you can pair easily with a polo or linen shirt and a whole variety of footwear, from loafers and boat shoes to contemporary sneakers.
Given the tailored style, then we’d recommend focusing your search on the more sartorial brands on the market.
Officine Generale is a great place to start, and always produce stunning options in cotton and linen each season, with that sophisticated Parisian aesthetic.
Of the Italians, Lardini has crafted some stunning Bermudas, while Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana all deliver extremely high-quality options.
Elsewhere, Mr P, Luca Faloni and Aurelien offer great value, while Incotex does a fine line in slender flat-fronted styles.
Linen is arguably the ideal summer fabric, being lightweight, beautifully textured and extremely sustainable. Hence why it’s perfect for shorts. The best linen comes from Ireland and Belgium, so keep your eyes peeled for provenance.
Tailored styles work well but so too do more casual drawstring options in linen. The naturally slubby finish of the cloth means it looks its best in neutral and pastel tones, as well as pale pinstripes.
They have a touch of dishevelled elegance about them, which is perfectly complemented by a linen shirt.
British brand Oliver Spencer creates a large proportion of its spring and summer collection in linen and as such, always has a number of excellent short styles that are really good value.
Over the pond in LA, James Perse is good for understated takes, while in Italy, push the boat out with luxury linen shorts by Loro Piana, Boglioli, Zegna and Brioni.
Elsewhere, resortwear specialists Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin also produce smart linen styles in a variety of colours.
Streetwear used to get its shorts inspiration from basketball silhouettes. But since the arrival of ‘techwear’, shorts have taken on a more futuristic aspect, with multi-pocketed technical nylon designs staking a claim for attention.
And what’s not to like, especially if your own personal style leans on a dark urban aesthetic?
Loose silhouettes are still the order of the day, and while the basis of technical shorts will be performance fabrics like nylon, look out for canvas pouch pocket details, as well as unique hardware in the form of buckles and zippers.
All the usual streetwear and techwear suspects are great places to look for technical shorts.
Brands such as A Cold Wall, Our Legacy, Stone Island and C.P. Company all produce fine technical styles, as well as Parajumpers, Dsquared2 and Acronym.
While flat-fronted tailored shorts are a versatile style for summer, pleated shorts are an excellent tailored alternative. The addition of pleats offers a roomier cut to give them less of a polished look, and more of a military casualness about them. Hence why they look great in khaki tones, tobacco, and olive green.
You can accentuate the military styling with the addition of some suede desert boots, or you can go a more sartorial route with a pair of loafers to complement a safari shirt.
Similar to flat-fronted tailored shorts, your best bet for pleated styles is to seek out tailoring specialists. Rubinacci make some excellent pleated styles with a gurkha front fastening, otherwise the likes of Incotex, Caruso, De Petrillo and Stoffa are all good candidates for high-class offerings.
PT Torino, the trouser specialist, also has a broad collection of pleated styles in a variety of silhouettes.
Bold prints are usually reserved for beachwear but we’ve seen plenty of excellent summer shorts that have gone big on colourful patterns, geometric designs and eye-catching prints.
Geometric prints are the smartest of the bunch and thus the most versatile. Linen styles will naturally be more muted in colour than cotton or technical fabrics so if you don’t want to be too outrageous, that’s something to consider.
However, most printed styles will come in the shape of swim shorts. That doesn’t rule them out for casual use – many, such as Orlebar Brown’s iconic Bulldog shorts, are hybrid swimmers that are perfectly wearable away from the pool or beach.
You can really take your pick from the luxury fashion houses, since they all produce logo-heavy options that make a statement.
Casablanca’s brand of decorative silk prints are right on trend, while the likes of Versace, Valentino, Amiri and Gucci are always on the money with their maximalist styles.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking Daisy Dukes here – the current breed of men’s denim shorts is cut to just above the knee in a variety of leg widths and denim washes for a slightly grungy look that pairs really well with streetwear pieces such as hoodies and sweats.
The kind of dye or wash effect is really personal preference, and you can take your pick from rich indigo-dyed options to bleached styles with distressed effects. Either way, this class of denim shorts have a great laid-back vibe that’s easy to style with some high-tops.
Head straight for the denim specialists for the biggest, broader selection. We’d be hitting up Dsquared2, Ksubi, Diesel and Levi’s for an eclectic array, while the likes of Off-White, AMI and Jacob Cohën have all got great options in classic washes.
Those most democratic and widely worn variety of shorts, the cargo style is all things to all men. An icon of utility, the multi-pocketed cargo is not usually viewed as a fashion item, but rather something a tradesman fills with tools and parking tickets. But menswear brands have been quick to appropriate this classic, upgrading it using finer cotton fabrics to make it part of an everyday wardrobe.
They’re just so easy to wear with a tee or a short-sleeve shirt and high-tops for a cool summer vibe.
The fashion world is your oyster when it comes to cargo shorts as it seems that just about every menswear brand on the planet produces some variant every summer season.
Contemporary workwear labels such as Carhartt WIP and Woolrich always offer excellent value for money, but we really like the styles coming out of AMI Paris, C.P. Company and Villebrequin this season.
While the average pair of shorts finishes just above the knee, the contemporary breed of oversized shorts is everything beyond that, with big, baggy cuts being the order of the day.
From cargo styles to minimalist shapes, oversized shorts bring a fun and fashion-forward dynamic to summer wear, creating an interesting overall silhouette that works really well with streetwear-style garments such as hoodies and chunky sneakers.
Interestingly, there’s quite a divergence in style at play with oversized shorts, with modern minimalist brands like The Row producing tailored options, versus the likes of Rick Owens with his unique brand of drop-crotch shorts.
Other labels to look out for include Fear of God Essentials, Gucci, Alchemy, Ambush, AMI Paris and Société Anonyme.
Terry cloth shorts
French terry cloth has been on an absolute tear in recent seasons as it exploded back into summer tees and polo shirts before being incorporated into shorts. What’s not to like about terry cloth? It’s textural, tactile, quick-drying and takes colour really well.
It is made by weaving or knitting loops of cotton yarn, creating a pile or loops on one or both sides of the fabric. This construction gives terry cloth its characteristic ‘towelling’ texture and absorbance properties.
Because of terry cloths’ quick-drying properties, you’ll find that a lot of the resortwear specialists such as Orlebar Brown, Vilebrequin and OAS Company all offer a wealth of excellent designs.
This season, Ralph Lauren has also produced a number of terry styles, while James Perse, the relaxed essentials label out of Los Angeles, has a great selection of muted tone styles.
Oliver Spencer is another great proponent of terry cloth, and has released a couple of different matching short sets.
How short is too short? It’s a contentious subject, but this season has seen an influx of gravity defying short shorts hit the streets, beaches and poolsides. You don’t have to look too far back in time to find an era when all shorts were short – think of the likes of Cary Grant in the 50s, or Bjorn Borg in the late 70s looking athletic and chic in their nuthuggers.
If you’ve got the legs for them and have a slim athletic body shape, short shorts will only accentuate your physique.
Technical nylon styles and hybrid swim shorts are proving the most popular options but you can also find tailored cotton styles with a short crop, too. Styling is definitely a casual arrangement, so think terry tees, and short-sleeved shirts with slides or sandals.
Orlebar Brown’s short Setter style is a great way to go for a smarter aesthetic, while fellow resortwear specialists Vilebrequin and OAS Company also do a great line of short shorts.
Elsewhere, Dolce & Gabbana are always good for luxury swimwear, while Fear of God, Club Monaco, Patagonia (especially the 5″ version of its iconic Baggies shorts), Jacquemus and Italian streetwear label Barrow are all worth a look, too.