Men’s denim shorts get a bad rap. Maybe it was the Nineties. Maybe it was the rise of bad dad fashion. Mostly, probably, we’ll never truly know. The thing is, casual, breathable bottoms are a warm weather essential and it doesn’t get any easier than a pair of denim shorts.
Denim short styles and offerings have come a long way in recent years too. There’s a wider variety of cuts including skinny, slim, loose, and regular. Lengths are also available in a number of inseams, so whether you prefer casual and below the knee or tailored and above the knee, there’s a pair for you. Plus, all of these different features can be found across a great range of price points. Our best advice? When you find one you love, don’t hesitate to make the investment. Denim literally goes with anything and everything in your closet. It can be dressed up or down and the material itself is durable and classic (denim as clothing was introduced all the way back in 1873 for Western laborers looking for stronger and more long-lasting pants).
Now the task of finding your perfect pair is no easy feat. The number of cuts and trends to choose from, combined with a slew of washes and colors can be downright exasperating. Luckily, we did the digging for you. We’ve rounded up the top ten best men’s denim shorts for every age, body type, and even style preference. Each of these options will stand the test of time and are something you’ll be able to wear again and again and again. Just think of them as your very favorite pair of regular jeans, except with more ventilation.
Check out our selections, in no particular order.
1. Lucky Brand 401 Athletic Denim Short
Lucky Brand is all about good jeans. Their men’s styles consistently rank high in style, fit and function. Here’s a good-looking pair when it comes to their shorts offerings, with your traditional five-pockets in a nice medium blue wash. These Lucky Brand 401’s also achieve a nice balance with a tailored fit and upturned, raw-edge cuffs, making them casual enough for a night out with your boys, but still nice enough for dinner at grandma’s house. The sizing is on point too and the cotton is comfortable and durable. Grab these for a total score you’ll reach for day in and day out.
2. Levi’s Men’s 569 Loose Straight Denim Short
You will never go wrong with a great pair of Levi’s. They’re the denim originators who were responsible for launching jeans into the American workwear stratosphere all those years ago. That longevity says a lot about their products and a total fan favorite is the 569 Loose Straight Denim Short.
If you like the 569 jeans, you’ll especially love the short option too. Firstly, the looser, longer fit is great for guys who aren’t into the trendier slimmer and shorter styles you see more and more of these days. Maybe you don’t care about that though and you have muscular thighs that require a bit more leg room. These will work great for you as well. They give a nice silhouette, yet are relaxed without looking saggy or sloppy. Secondly, the waistband features a slight stretch for added comfort right where you need it most. Thirdly, it is available in a full spectrum of colors and washes—16 options to be exact, from deep blue to fire engine red to basic black, so you can stock up for every day of the week and then some.
3. Carhartt Men’s 10.5″ Short
Like Levi’s, Carhartt is an American company built on rugged, workwear-inspired clothing, and their 10.5″ Short does that lineage proud. While it might not be high on the style-front, it’s durable and wearable with a hefty 12-ounce, 100% cotton denim. It also features tough bar tacks at common stress points. A bar tack is a series of stitches used to provide reinforcement to areas of clothing that may be more strained upon repeated wear like button holes, belt loops, and pocket openings.
The 10.5″ inseam provides excellent length and comfortable coverage. This pair will be your weekend workhorse, perfect for cutting the grass, running to the hardware store, or doing other maintenance around the house. Plus, they’re priced right at $25.
4. GUESS Men’s Regular Denim Short
If you’d like your denim shorts with some extra interest, the GUESS Men’s Regular style is for you. In 100% cotton and a classic five pocket construction, this pair also features a natural whisker pattern, fading, slight distressing and white paint splatters. These details aren’t overpowering though, and the straightforward fit still shines.
While these might not be an ideal everyday option, they work great for summer barbecues and beach parties. Simply pair them with a t-shirt or tank-top in a solid color or wide stripe (a similarly distressed or busy patterned shirt will be too much). Then add your favorite flip flops or canvas slip-ons and you’re good to go.
5. Calvin Klein Five Pocket Short
There is something just so cool about these Calvins, especially in this “Concrete Gray” wash. These are the shorts you’d see on a guy at your local outdoor brewery and think, “I could never dress like that.” On the contrary my good dudes, you totally can.
While these provide a closer fit, they hang just below the waist for a laid-back look that’s still mighty comfortable. They also hit right at the knee, providing flattering leg coverage. If the gray wash isn’t your thing, there’s a few other great color and finish options to choose from too. You can also select from a distressed white, and three cuffed styles as opposed to the gray’s raw hem in a funkier bleached denim, traditional blue or lighter blue. The only downfall to the Calvin Klein Five Pocket Short is that it’s labeled as hand wash. Our easy work-around on this is to get an inexpensive garment bag, pop them in there before you wash, and then hang dry.
6. Wrangler Rugged Wear Carpenter Short
Denim carpenter shorts can be tricky. The pockets and the hammer loop can make you look extra bulky and the lighter washes veer too sloppy. So, if you’re going to do it right, choose a darker wash, flatter pockets, nicer details and a more tailored fit. The Wrangler Rugged Wear Carpenter Short checks all of these boxes, and it’s under $30.
Wrangler is another tried and true American denim company, with straightforward, hard-working styles designed to take you wherever your day goes. This short is soundly crafted, with durable, triple needle stitching paired with the hammer loop and ride-side ruler and tool pockets. Those pockets lay nicely while still providing bonus space for those work utensils or even your cell phone. The fit and sizing are as expected too. All aspects point to the Wrangler Rugged Wear Carpenter Short wearing nicely and holding up for years.
7. G-Star Raw Arc 3D Denim Short
This selection is one of the pricier picks on our list, but they’re definitely worth every penny. Everything about the G-Staw Raw Arc 3D Denim Short is classic and will stand the test of time. The darker indigo wash can be dressed up or down, and the longer, relaxed fit works on men of varying body types.
The special feature on this style though is G-Star’s exclusive 3D design. The process constructs twisted seams to create a bowed fit that turns around the leg, resulting in a lean, relaxed fit that moves with you. Their ultimate comfort and an attractive style is like the holy grail of any short, denim or not. These would work great for an outdoor, warm weather date night paired with a crewneck sweater and clean kicks.
8. Levi’s Men’s 541 Athletic Fit Short
Yes, another Levi’s pick, but it can’t be that surprising. Levi’s are the denim gurus, with tons of styles, and those styles work on most all shapes and sizes across all ages. Their 541 Athletic Fit Short is a nice, trendier pick, and was inspired by professional athletes (hence, the athletic fit name). This means you get a stylish short that offers more room for muscular legs or bulkier quads. That relaxed yet tailored fit has added stretch, boasts extra room in the seat and is slightly tapered to the knee. Another great characteristic of the 541’s is that the waist sits in a nice, comfortable spot.
You can choose from five different versatile washes, but we suggest the black. It can skew edgier with your favorite old band t-shirt and stand-by sneakers or preppier with a button down and boat shoes.
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9. True Religion Men’s Geno Short
The True Religion Men’s Gino Short is the most expensive option on our list, but you will surely get your money’s worth out of this hard-working, stylish pair. Another justification for the hefty price tag? Every pair of True Religion jeans and shorts are produced and manufactured in the U.S.A.
The white, charcoal or khaki denim is unique, yet versatile, and is a nice change-up from your usual blue pair. The fit is slim, yet relaxed and the legs hang right below the knee. The material itself offers a bit of stretch and is also an exclusive denim knit for maximum comfort and breathability. This is a pair you’ll have forever in a style that will always work. If you like this style, but prefer them in a traditional blue, you can score those here for $69.99-$179.
10. Dickie’s Regular Fit Denim Short
The Dickie’s Regular Fit Denim Short is rugged and built for men who do tough, hands-on work. Featuring am 11″ inseam, this comfortable style allows for more room in the leg, will cover your knees and the solid construction will hold up great. The strong craftsmanship can also be seen in the double-stitched seams, heavy duty brass zipper, and rivets at stress points. It also features a multi-use cell phone pocket.
While this pair is made for performance, it can also work well for casual sunny season outings like a family reunion or employee picnic. Make sure you switch out the work boots for something a bit more polished like nice canvas sneakers or slip-ons.