The trick with shorts, as with a lot of things in life, is 'know thyself.' Are your legs in good shape? Just how short are you comfortable with? Right now, shorter seems cooler than longer. The closer to the knee, the closer they feel to the golf course and your dad's closet.
- Michael Bastian (who's included a pair in nearly every one of his collections)
The Sweet Spot
While there aren't hard and fast rules when it comes to the length of your shorts, there is definitely a sweet spot to aim for: about an inch or so above the knee. How far you sway north or south of that line is a matter of taste (and personal comfort). Keep in mind, if you're under 5' 9" or have thicker legs, shorter shorts will make you look longer and leaner. Taller gents or those with thinner legs should opt for shorts with hems that hit closer to the knee. And note: the longer the shorts, the more fitted they should be.
No matter where you live, it's likely that the heat has you ready to start showing some leg. Shorts have long been a summer essential but you want to find the right pair—not too long, not too short—that will keep you casual, comfortable and cool. And whether you're thinking a bold madras or something as timeless as khaki, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Recycle a pair of old pants and make your own shorts by cutting them off to the perfect length and fraying the edges.
Instead of jean shorts...
A pair made from a chambray-like lightweight denim (Saturdays Surf, $108), tailored in a trouser cut and dyed with natural indigo.
Instead of cargo shorts...
Camp shorts (L.L. Bean Signature, $69) with pockets on the front, instead of the side, to keep the baggy bulk down.