The men’s casual shorts bus is a big bus. In this seat you’ve got the cargo shorts. Over in that seat you’ve got the athletic shorts. Drawstring shorts are sitting up front and the linen shorts are back there.
Men’s Khaki Shorts & Men’s Chino Shorts
We’re focusing on what might seem like two styles, but it really boils down to one: men’s chino shorts. When you talk about men’s khaki shorts, you’re really talking about the color of the shorts. Khaki is, in fact, a color and a fabric. But it’s usually a bit coarser and thicker than chino fabric. They’re both extremely similar to one another (both have their origins in military wear), but chinos are, generally, a bit lighter. Nine times out of ten, nobody’s gonna know the difference between the chinos and the khakis.
Men’s Casual Shorts: Fit & Length
Besides coming in many different styles, men’s shorts come in a wide variety of lengths. The trend right now is for shorts coming about to the knee, although the celebrity style watchers are taking note of some shorter, some longer (even below the knee). For the past several years, the trend is for shorts that fit well. Take this comment from The Trend Spotter:
“Shorts, given their casual reputation, can read messy and unrefined if done in the wrong fabrics and if the fit is off.” – The Trend Spotter
This statement indicates a more tailored look. It’s saying, “You wouldn’t wear sloppy, poor fitting pants, so don’t wear sloppy, poor fitting shorts.” Now juxtapose that with this from GQ:
“It makes sense that as pants get looser and more relaxed, shorts would follow suit.” – GQ
GQ, ever on the lookout for what the trend-setting celebrities are wearing, points to the actor Shia LaBeouf and the recording artist Frank Ocean for helping to loosen the ideal on what the best shorts are.
The upshot is this: it’s about what you like. What works for you. This list has some shorts that are more tailored, some that are looser. All of them are flat-front, but pleats shouldn’t be ruled out, particularly if they’re small pleats.
Men’s Shorts: Good Go-Withs
A couple of quick options if you’re shopping for more than just a pair of shorts:
Top 10 Best Summer Shirts for Men: Plaid Short Sleeve
Big Men’s Hawaiian Summer Shirts: 10 Must Have Styles
Top 10 Best Men’s Summer Shoes
Top 15 Best Sandals, Slides & Flip-Flops for Men
Men’s Casual Shorts
The list below isn’t ranked. We’re just numbering them for convenience. And the photos each show what we think is a great looking pair of shorts. But remember: each pair is available in a lot of different colors. Whatever you pick, you’ll be able to dress it up or down, depending on what else you’re including with your fit (shoes or flip-flops? tucked or untucked shirt? etcetera). You’ll find just what you need in our list of the Best Men’s Casual Shorts: Top 10 Khakis & Chinos.
1. Dockers Men’s Classic Fit Perfect Short D3
These are a great pair of flat-front casual shorts with a little bit longer leg. They’re cut to fall just above the knee, with around a 10-inch inseam. They’re 100 percent cotton and they feature five pockets: two side hand pockets, two rear button pockets and one small welt pocket on the right leg. (A welt pocket is simply an opening in the fabric. The rear pockets on these shorts are also welt pockets.) These men’s khaki shorts have a button closure and zip fly. The cut on these men’s shorts is a little bit on the roomy side, but because of the styling, they don’t have a baggy (or sloppy) look. As shown, with the thongs-wearing-dude, they’re very casual. Put on a belt, add some nice sandals and a great looking summer shirt and you’ve just elevated the game a bit. These are an extraordinarily popular pair of shorts: almost 2,400 reviews with a 4.5 out of 5-star rating average. Available in eight different colors; shown in “new British khaki.”
Price: $9.99 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Dockers Men’s Classic Fit Perfect Short D3 here.
2. IZOD Men’s Saltwater Flat Front Short
These men’s khaki shorts have an ever-so-slight, just a bit more casual look to them. They’re cut just a little bit roomier, so they’re going to be comfortable and not constricting, while still maintaining a look that will work very well for dressing things up. The fabric, which is 100 percent cotton, is a medium-weight cotton (some reviewers say they’re medium to heavier weight cotton). They feature two side hand pockets and two rear button welt pockets. Double stitching on both the waist band and the hem. Shown in “true cedarwood khaki” color, they’re available in 36 different colors. A great go-with would be this white Hawaiian shirt from Pacific Legend.
Price: $14.50 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the IZOD Men’s Saltwater Flat Front Short here.
3. Goodthreads Men’s Standard Flat-Front Stretch Chino Short
These are a very classic chino, so the fabric is slightly lighter than you’ll get with traditional khakis. They’re made with a cotton stretch twill — 98 percent cotton and two percent Spandex, so they’ll be very comfortable. They’ve got side entry pockets in the front and two rear button welt pockets. The inseam is nine inches, so they should lay a couple inches above the knee. These men’s chino shorts are made by Goodthreads, which is owned by Amazon. Reviews are very good, with a 4.5 out of 5-star rating average. They’re shown in navy and they’re available in three different colors. These will work dressed up or down. For more casual, some slip on sneakers would be great.
Buy the Goodthreads Men’s Standard Flat-Front Stretch Chino Short here.
4. Nautica Men’s Flat-Front Short
These men’s shorts are on the shorter side, with a six inch inseam, so they’ll end up a few inches above the knee. They’re cotton twill flat-fronts with a button closure and a zip fly. Two side entry pockets and two rear button welt pockets. The reviews are very positive, with a 4.2 out of 5-star rating. One reviewer says “They are comfortable and soft. They have plenty of room in the legs while not being baggy. Very flattering fit.” Shown in “true quarry” and they’re available in nine different colors.
Price: $14.35 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Nautica Men’s Flat-Front Short here.
5. Dickies Men’s Relaxed-Fit Shorts
With these men’s shorts, we veer very close to skater territory. For starters, they’re long and, depending on your build, they may end up just at or a tiny bit below the knee. (As mentioned in the intro above, longer shorts are “GQ blessed” now because of the celebrities they’ve seen wearing longer shorts. Take this for what it’s worth.) The inseam is 13-inches. The fabric is 65 percent poly, 35 percent cotton, so they’re going to be super easy to care for. They’ve got side entry pockets in the front and two welt pockets in the rear, and one small welt pocket on the right side. The welt pockets lay flat, so these most definitely are not cargo shorts. They’re shown in charcoal gray and are available in four different colors. If you are interested in cargo shorts, check out these bad boys from Dickies.
Price: $19 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Dickies Men’s Relaxed-Fit Shorts here.
6. Levi’s Men’s Straight Chino Short
It’s just coincidental that these light blue chambray men’s chino shorts are from Levi’s. This straight chino is offered in 15 different colors, we just think the chambray A) looks great and, B) would be a great addition to the wardrobe. Jeans shorts — including chambray — are on-trend now but you don’t always see them, so this is a great buy and a great price. Great reviews, too, with a 4.3 out of 5-star rating average. These men’s shorts should be particularly comfortable, as they’re 98 percent cotton and two percent Spandex, which gives them a nice amount of stretch-ability. The inseam is 9.5″ and they’ve got the typical side entry pockets with two rear button welt pockets. These could be the perfect men’s casual shorts. For another jeans short option, the Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Hemmed shorts are terrific.
Price: $11.12 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Levi’s Men’s Straight Chino Short here.
7. Hurley Men’s Dri-Fit Chino 22 Walk Short
A very popular and very techie pair of great looking men’s chino shorts. Hurley’s Men’s Dri-Fits are made with 70 percent nylon, 24 percent poly and six percent Spandex, so they’re going to be very comfortable and have a whole lotta give to them. Hurley measures its shorts from waist-to-hem (21.5″ in this case) as opposed to simply showing the inseam, but it’s safe to say these are about 10 inch inseams and will lay just above the knee. They feature the classic side entry pockets and two rear button welt pockets. There’s a coin pocket, too. Button closure with a zip fly. They come in 24 different colors, shown in “palm green.” Another option — also with technical, quick-dry aspects — is the O’Neill Loaded Hybrid Boardshort, which is available in 21 different colors.
Price: $24 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Hurley Men’s Dri-Fit Chino 22 Walk Short here.
8. Volcom Men’s Frickin Chino Short
These are some cool shorts, if for no other reason than the name. Leaving that aside for the moment, there’s another unique thing about these men’s shorts: the construction in the back (the back yoke, for those of you who want the official nomenclature) features asymmetric seaming. You can see that in the backside shot. The outseam on these men’s casual shorts is 21 inches, so they’ll lay just about at the knee. Volcom calls them a “modern-fit” men’s chino short, with a bit slimmer fit, and they can easily be dressed up or just worn super casual (perhaps with some slip on sneakers). The shorts are made with reprieve recycled poly (65 percent) and cotton (35 percent). Classic side entry front pockets and two welt pockets in the back, one has a button closure. The front closure is button with a zipper fly. Shown in “charcoal heather” and available in seven different colors. Another option from Volcom is the Men’s Hybrid 21 inch short, which comes in 23 colors. The men’s chino shorts are very popular for Volcom, with more than 280 reviews and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating average. If you cop these, you can always say, when asked, “I’m wearing my Frickin shorts, with a capital ‘F’.”
Price: $27 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Volcom Men’s Frickin Chino Short here.
9. Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Flat Front Chino Short
These men’s casual shorts are another that are on the shorter side, with a six inch inseam. For a shorter guy, this length of men’s shorts will help give a taller appearance. They generally come to just below the mid-thigh. They’re 100 percent cotton twill, with side entry front pockets and two rear button welt pockets. Zipper fly and a button closure, and they feature a small “POLO” (the word, not the horse and polo player) tag on the right back pocket. The photo shows two colors: the blue and white striping is the front of the short, the back of the shorts are shown in Nantucket red. They’re available in 11 different colors. For something longer from Polo, a great option is the Greenwhich Chino Suffield Flat Front Shorts.
Price: $22.73 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Buy the Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Flat Front Chino Short here.
10. O’Neill Men’s Delta Plaid Short
These are definitely in the chino style, while — with the cool plaid fabric — they might not technically fit the definition of men’s chino shorts. They do feature all the classic hallmarks of men’s khaki or chino shorts: side entry front hand pockets and two rear button welt pockets. They’re tailored with a slimmer fit and they feature a 22 inch outseam, so they’re going to end up just at the knee. As for the fabric, it’s a very understated plaid that looks great (not too loud). However, if you want to really plaid it up, check out these great shirts on our list of the Top 10 Best Summer Shirts for Men: Plaid Short Sleeve. The O’Neill men’s shorts are shown in light blue and they’re available in nine different colors. Another option from O’Neill is the men’s contact cotton twill short, which is a classic men’s chino short.
Price: $19.51 and up (depending on size/color selected)