Short pants that don't look stupid?
July 6, 2011 12:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm a skinny guy looking for some summer shorts that won't make me look entirely goofy and/or juvenile. Can you help?
posted by killdevil to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by gramcracker at 12:42 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Banana Republic carries nicely made, somewhat structured shorts that I like. I'm a little short so they're just a bit long on me; but their non-cargo shorts are fairly grown-up looking and don't necessarily look like you just came from a beach volleyball game. They're a little bit expensive but they last a bit longer than the cheapies too.
posted by ftm at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2011

In my experience (as someone who is married to a rather stylish guy), the trick to shorts is all in the cut.

Shorts like these will make you look either juvenile or old. The wide-legged cut of the short will make your legs look thin and/or shriveled. However, a slimmer short like this one accentuates leg muscles that only adults have, not boys. The length of a "walking short" may be a little long on you, or it may be just right. You'd have to try it on. Personally, I think the length should be right over your knee when you're standing - anything longer or shorter starts to look youthful.

I personally like patterend and colored shorts, and I don't necessarily think they're juvenile, but YMMV. No cargo shorts.
posted by muddgirl at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Cargo shorts look great with a tee-and you can get 'grown up' colours like grey or tan. Whatever you do decide to go with-make sure they FIT. Nothing makes a slim guy (like my SO) look absolutely scrawny like big, giant clothes. Makes it look like you are a little boy wearing your Dad's stuff
posted by Frosted Cactus at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2011

This J. Crew page was linked in the last question. I think it's a solid starting place for wearing shorts like a male adult.
posted by supercres at 12:53 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was militantly anti-shorts for years but last month I got this pair at H&M and they look super classy. I'm a very small person though (5' 7", 125 lb) and I'm not sure they'd work on someone taller.
posted by theodolite at 12:57 PM on July 6, 2011

LL Bean has shorts in a variety of styles (too many, really, I was looking before and now am less sure of what I want to get).

It's actually late in the summer shopping season, so the sizing options are more limited unfortunately.
posted by mikepop at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2011

These won't make you look goofy or juvenile. They are expensive, but they will last and look good for 10+ years, provided you take care of them. Everything I have from this company is washable at home and very well-made.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

General rule: No pleats.
posted by something something at 1:16 PM on July 6, 2011

Another rule: Unless you're hiking or still in high school--NO CARGO SHORTS.
posted by greta simone at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2011

The trick is the find something that's long enough to covers your knees when standing.
posted by WizKid at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2011

Cargo shorts generally suffer the same problem as the wide-legged shorts i linked to above - they widen the pant leg right where it should be slim and narrow to accentuate the leg. They also tend to look sort of ratty after awhile (it's really difficult to find cargo shorts of high enough quality that the pocket and flap hem won't start folding up on the bias) which comes off as sloppy.
posted by muddgirl at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2011

I'd take some old pants you like and cut them off at the knees (or above... "custom fit"). I haven't bought shorts in years using this technique. Depending on the style, the ragged edge might be ok--if not, then getting them hemmed isn't too expensive.
posted by markhu at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2011

Knee-length shorts are probably best. Narrow leg.

It really doesn't take much to find a pair of relatively narrow-legged pants or jeans that you like, cut them off at the knees, and hem them. If jeans, you can hem them first then turn them up and stay-stitch into place.
posted by tel3path at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2011

Oh and seconding WizKid's advice. If they end just below the knees the proportions will be good for most people, even the short-legged.
posted by tel3path at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2011

Shorts should be above your knee when standing if you want to look like an adult. Anything longer makes you look like you are in high school. Just like skinny guys should wear tailored pants, we should also wear tailored shorts. The J.Crew ones linked to are nice, see how they end above the knee and don't flare out at all? These are even nicer. Notice how slim the guy is and how the shorts fit proportionally? The L.L. Bean ones look gross and will only fit a larger person. All of the other shorts linked in this thread look like shorts I would see on a high school kid. White/plaid knee length Hurley shorts? Perfect for a high school kid to wear when skateboarding. The Detour shorts are ugly too. Look how long they are, fat belt loops, and what adult wears shorts with pockets that look like jeans?
posted by comatose at 7:07 PM on July 6, 2011

I recently bought my skinny husband some J. Crew shorts, and they look fantastic. We're 28 and they were a much needed upgrade from his 10 year old Aeropostale and Old Navy cargo shorts.
posted by gatorae at 7:14 PM on July 6, 2011

This slender guy looks perfectly adult in knee-length shorts. Of course they are impeccably tailored.
posted by muddgirl at 7:27 PM on July 6, 2011

Don't be afraid of shorts that end a little above the knee. To me they look hella tight, especially on the skinny. I linked this one before as an example (just for the visual - I haven't bought anything from this company before).

But really, almost any length is ultimately fine, except for maybe the 5/8s-length uncanny valley (and I'm sure someone will post a picture to correct me about that soon). Use your favorite full-length pants as a guide to how they should fit.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Uniqlo do some good chino shorts in a few colours (khaki, white, pink for the bold etc.) in sizes suitable for skinny guys like you and me.

They break just above the knee - but I like my shorts a little shorter than that, so I simply roll 'em up a little.

Frankly, I don't think shorts should EVER go below the knee. It looks crap.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:05 AM on July 7, 2011

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