Editor’s note: For more spring and summer shorts picks, click that link. Shop on!
It sure seems like it’s taken us some time to get to this point — gearing up for shorts weather, that is. As someone who loves a great pair of denim — be it classic raw denim or even a pair of lightwash jeans for spring — it can be tricky to shelve those pants in favor of shorts. The same thing goes for classic slim chinos, of which I find myself wearing a ton all year-round … and even when it gets crazy hot out. But, stylish shorts can be surprisingly versatile, including in looks both classic and more tailored (see this Effortless Gent piece on how to wear tailored shorts for more ideas). The below picks lean a bit higher end, and certainly, they keep a modern fit in mind — that is, they might be a bit shorter than you’re used to, and a little slimmer. They don’t necessarily cover casual picks like sweatshorts, but that should make ’em a little more versatile. And as to the slimmer fit — it’s definitely a good thing, trust me! Got your wallet handy? Get ready to shop away, and let me know if I missed any picks in the comments. Stay stylish!
#1. Bonobos Summer Weight Shorts — $78
Nearly $80 for a pair of shorts? A bit more than most of us are used to paying, true — but, these summer weight shorts are coming from the same folks who know just how to make a great pair of chinos (and of course, their famous Travel Jeans). The fabric in these things is lighter, the cut is more tailored and the option of a 7-inch, 9-inch or 11-inch inseam hits the sweet spot for most of us. Plus, that Wisteria color is a change of pace from khaki or even navy — and we’ll get to those color options (or similar ones, anyways), soon enough.
#2. JackThreads 7″ Chino Short — $39
If you prefer to go with a 7-inch inseam right off the bat, JackThreads has you covered with its reliable, stylish and versatile Chino Shorts. They offer a slightly more unique shot of color than the Bonobos shorts above, and they do it for a price that would allow you to snag two-for-one. Other color options (including a nice-looking Stone pair) are up for grabs, but if you’re of the opinion that shorts should be about throwing in some color and fun, these are the pick to reach for. Keep the rest of your outfit simple — say, maybe a white pocket tee and brown leather loafers — and get ready for stylish weekends galore.
#3. Bridge and Burn Stringer Dune Short — $88
Just as with the Bonobos shorts above, $88 is definitely nothing to sneeze at in terms of price. But, the Stringer Dune Short from Bridge & Burn provides you with a ton of value and a neat look for the cost. For one, there’s the linen-cotton blend, which just works a bit better to get airflow going if it’s hot out. For another, they should be super-comfortable — just check out that drawstring waistband. These are your go-to shorts for a spring or summer bar crawl, without a doubt. And the khaki color is just what most of us look for when buying new shorts.
#4. Johnnie-O Cotner Shorts — $79
For as much as this #menswear writer loves the color blue (A LOT), it’s sometimes nice to inject a different shade of color into a summer outfit — like the Cotner Short from Johnnie-O. For those times when you want to make a bit more of a statement (or just rotate in some new shorts), red is the way to go. Now, it’s a decidedly preppy look, but it works for some of us — and it can certainly work if you tone down the rest of your outfit (perhaps snag a slub jersey polo and simple white sneakers?). The 8-inch inseam is a bit more forgiving than the 7-inch inseam of some of these picks, too.
#5. Apolis Transition Scout Short — $108
While a slim pair of chino shorts works for all sorts of situations, there are a few times where you need to combine form and function in a rather literal sense. Maybe it’s a quick day hike that turns into drinks on a patio, or a summer BBQ with some vigorous yard games (or touch football). In that case, Apolis’ Transition Scout Short is your best bet. With nylon fabric, a tailored fit and styling details like adjustable waistband tabs for comfort, they’re very much ready for all sorts of activity — note that the Navy color is going fast, but the Olive or Khaki options would be just as versatile when paired with a white polo or a simple crewneck.
Putting together this post, as seems to be the case with our Online Shopping Picks entries, revealed a lot of brands doing shorts well. Mainstays like J. Crew are always worth a look, and even premium brands like Todd Snyder are getting into the game with tailored chambray shorts you could wear with a blazer. Of course, sporty-yet-crisp short options are out there, too — look no further than this warm-weather style suggestion from last fall. And if you find it exceptionally tough to trade in your denim for shorts, know that you’re not alone — it’s a process! But, reaching for a pair you can feel good about wearing — one made with quality materials and fabric — makes it easier to invest, and a lot more fun to wear ’em all through the summer.