How short should men's shorts be?

Just how short should men's shorts be? The short answer, apparently, is quite short.

That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which earlier this year reported that men's hemlines have risen by roughly 10 inches (or 25cm). To which I say – thank you.

I've made no secret of my own 'sky's out, thighs out' approach, but I suspect I may have some way to go in convincing my fellow man to think likewise.

Sacks with pockets

What currently passes for shorts in many men's wardrobes look like sacks with pockets – more short longs than long shorts. Or culottes, if you want to be really unkind to a mate.

When it comes to their legs, Australian men develop a rather Victorian sense of propriety (and I don't mean that place south of the border, where shorts are broken out only a handful of times a year).

No, unless it's for a sport that requires you to wrestle other men on the ground, the rule of thumb seems to be that nothing can stop short of the knee.

Are men's leg's really that salacious – or shameworthy – that we need to keep them under wraps, irrespective of personal comfort? Apparently yes, because every summer we see men busting out the same shapeless three-quarter denim pants that look like they were purchased from the toddler section.

False modesty

Maybe the average male feels slightly vulnerable at the thought of having more flesh than necessary on display. Then again, given half the chance and a hint of sunshine, most blokes are ripping off their shirts to reveal what lies beneath – anything from the shredded abs of a CrossFit junkie to the soggy Weetbix physique of your average Joe.


But flash an inch or two of thigh? Escandaloso.

Admittedly, I may myself be motivated by a certain degree of vanity. Thanks to sport, cycling, regular gym visits and good genes, I've got half-decent pins. So why not show them off a little? For the most part, though, my argument is about practicality.

Unfettered legs allow for more freedom and comfort, particularly in the heat. And, done with the right shirt and shoes, something like these lightweight linen shorts from Jac+Jack or even these cotton twill shorts by American label J Crew can look perfectly polished and carry over from barbecue lunch to sundown beers at the pub.

Aesthetically flattering

They can also be aesthetically flattering, particularly if you're at the shorter end of the height spectrum. Cargo shorts, with all their pockets, and three-quarter-length denim numbers can make you look even shorter than you really are.

I'm not saying we should all go and invest in some Daisy Dukes (although, if that's your bag, go right ahead). I am, however, suggesting a rethink about what's in your wardrobe and a fresh look at what a pair of crisp, above-the-knee shorts bring to the sartorial table.

So to my fellow men, I say – release your quads. Let your legs live a little.

How short do you think men's shorts should be?

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