Men’s 5-Inch Inseam Shorts: Retro Style

Table of Contents

Introduction

I was looking for some new gym shorts. In my search, I noticed a selection of shorts that had a length of three to five inches. I had known that some gym trainers liked short shorts for the flexibility of movement for leg day. The style was popular in the 1980s, so the fashion trend is a blast from the past.

In April 2021, Alex Abad-Santos wrote an article for Vox on the popularity of shorts with 5 inches or lower inseams.

There are two popular styles that I noticed in my search:

  • gym (or Crossfit) shorts (in the athleisure category) and
  • swim-based shorts (that can be worn in a pool or other water and at a resort or other places).

Read an article at Esquire Magazine for how different shorts lengths look on guys from tall to short.

Many brands have shorts with lengths from 3 to 6 inches, so there is room to accommodate all heights.

Josh Riquelme

Shorts, MCE Creations
Read more about Roger Zacha.
Model: Josh Riquelme. Photographer: Carlos “Trey” Salazar.
Photo by Carlos “Trey” Salazar
Jono heads to the gym.
Shorts, Ismael Martinez (IM) Colleccion

Media Coverage: Are Short Shorts in Style for Guys?

Five-Inch Inseam Shorts

On TikTok, there are posts encouraging guys to ditch long-length shorts in favor of 5-inch inseam shorts (aka short shorts). (See an article by Esquire Magazine.)

In 2021, in the New York Post, there was an article about actor Milo Ventimiglia wearing runner’s shorts to the gym.

Andres Gaspar by Adrian C. Martin. Beach shorts, Bang! Clothes, Miami, Fla.
Paul Mescal, actor, in short shorts. Photo by Click News and Media.
Shorts, O’Neill’s. See related news article.
Shorts, Addicted
Fraser Wilson, Australia; Short Shorts in Action

Fraser Wilson, a personal trainer from Melbourne, Australia, is sponsored by GymShark.

In the YouTube video at the right, Fraser performs a follow-along mobility workout while wearing five-inch inseam shorts.

Are Men’s Shorts Getting Shorter?

The Guardian newspaper had an article about men’s interest in short shorts (the way shorts were in the 1970s and 1980s) (author Priya Elan). Men’s shorts became longer in the 1990s and early 2000s. The theme of the story was the connection of menswear, sensuality, and affordable style.

There is some tension as the inseam gets to 5 inches and lower. (See discussion in next subsection.)

In the bodybuilding (and physique) world, I think that there is a desire to show the results of leg day training as well as practicality—better movement in the gym. With athleisure clothing, this gym wear is also worn in casual wear.

(See a previous article on leg day shorts.)

Josh Watson

An article in the New Idea, a publication for Australian women, also supports short shorts and provides practical tips (author Rhys McKay).

Some parts of Australian fashion embraced short shorts (for example, brands (2Eros (Zyzz (the late Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian (1989-2011)) shorts, also known as the S01 Icon Shorts (mentioned in a previous blog article) and fitness trainer and YouTuber Daniel Vadnal) as well as sports (the Australian Football League (AFL) and Australian rugby).

Australian rugby
Expert calisthenics trainer and YouTuber Daniel Vadnal
Australian Football League

When Are Shorts Too Short for Guys?

For shorter shorts, like the Addicted mesh shorts, below, there may be some negative feedback received from the guy showing too much leg. Rick for The Running Channel on YouTube investigated this question with two-inch inseam side-split running shorts.

The Guardian‘s Priya Elan wrote an article asking how low can men’s short short’s go. There is a split opinion on where short shorts should be worn.

Teo van den Broeke, British GQ’s styling and grooming director, agreed: “We’re more au fait with wearing sport shorts right now, given how much exercising we’ve all been doing, we feel more comfortable going a little short.”

Others think micro is not the way to go. “In most urban contexts, it would be more acceptable for men to wear knee-grazing shorts,” said Elizabeth Wyse, at the etiquette experts Debrett’s.

Priya Elan, Micro shorts for men: how short is too short?

Bang Clothing brand offers show shorts that have a three-inch inseam.

As discussed above with the Guardian article, the shorts force a connection between men’s fashion and sensuality. However, bodybuilders and AFL athletes has embraced the fashion trend enthusiastically.

A YouTuber and male model, Brandon Pikulinski, was having this debate in his video log. He’s a tall guy, 6’3″ or 1.91 meters. Brandon is a jogger, wore short shorts and leggings on a hot day to go for a jog (at about 30 second-mark in the video).

Later, for a swim, he tried on short swim trunks with a four-inch inseam and felt the shorts were too short (at about the 6:52 mark in the video). His girlfriend liked them.

If you decide to embrace short shorts, be confident and go for it. Maybe another guy is debating the same question internally. If more guys embrace it (as in the 1970s), it will encourage other guys to support it.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

DW Chase (shorts, Addicted)

Timoteo offers a mesh short (which model Matt Luscious wears below) that has a very short inseam like the running short.

Cellblock13 reversible mesh short
See blog post on Carlos “Trey” Salazar

Fashion Bloggers

Ollie Pearce

London, UK, based fashion and fitness blogger Ollie Pearce did a YouTube video on short shorts. While the shorts that Ollie showed on his video was a form of board shorts, he did discuss how shorter length shorts can help taller guys as well as guys who love leg days at the gym.

Models

David Cihacek by Photographer Marc Spielberg

Model David Cihacek, from the Czech Republic, wears Adidas shorts in a photo shoot by Photographer Marc Spielberg.

David Cihacek by Marc Spielberg in Germany

Swim-Based Short Shorts

The shorts in this category have a mesh liner as well as fabric that can handle being in the water. The shorts also dry quickly to be worn away from water.

BrandStyle
TucannCherry white swim shorts
Bang ClothesBjorn to be alive – Tailored Shorts
2ErosS60 Bondi Shorts – Navy  
Scroll down for photos.

Tucann

Swim Shorts

Bang Clothes

Tailored Shorts

2Eros

S60 Bondi Shorts

Athleisure: Short Shorts for Workouts, a Party, or Just Relaxing

With the athleisure shorts, the garment has a low rise and does not necessarily have a liner.

BrandStyle
Jack AdamsUltralight short
Code 22Thrust short
AddictedTropical mesh short
Scroll down for photos.

Jack Adams

Ultralight Shorts

Code 22

Thrust Shorts

Addicted

Tropical Mesh Shorts

Conclusion

I have presented a selection of short shorts that are available. Whether you are looking for something to wear at the beach or pool, at the gym, or running errands around town, there is an option available to you.

Are you interested in short shorts? Please tell us of your interest and brand that you like in the comments. If there is a dream vacation spot or resort that you would like to visit post-Covid, please also write it in the comment area.

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