The perfect shorts length is one of the world’s eternal questions. Each year, style enthusiasts lie in their hyperbaric sleep capsules wondering what inseam will dominate that summer.
The search for inseam perfection is a debate that's had people divided for months, both on social media and in the offices of Highsnobiety. Some of us find comfort in the familiarity of the 5-inch Patagonia Baggie, while others are strictly knee-length-only; no compromise.
With the inseam debate still raging, we have created a guide to the best-in-class shorts for every length. No matter which style you entrust with bearing your legs to the world with, there's a pair to choose from here.
From barely-there to cursed Capri, scroll to settle the shorts length debate for yourself.
Ultra-Short (0-4 inches)
Starting off with the most risqué option of the lot, it's the ultra-short shorts.
We're talking about the 80s John Travolta-style hot pants which leave little of the leg to the imagination. If you're someone who does not venture into the territory above the knee for their legwear, this one is not for you, but there is some fun to be had with styling short shorts.
Take, for example, Harry Styles' beachside outfit worn by his character in the film My Policeman, as shown above, or Donald Glover's high-riding sports shorts.
If you're willing to take a walk on the wild side with some super short shorts, check out the selection below.
Short (5-8 inches)
Slightly less daring but still very much above the knee, we have the typical short shorts — ie. those in the 5" to 8" range.
This is the area where much of the debate surrounding shorts length derives from, as it includes the now-renowned 5-inch inseam. Supposedly the perfect length for shorts, according to many vocal social media users who have weighed in on this topic, it is arguably the most popular of the categories.
The classic Patagonia Baggies are the most famous 5-inchers, but below you can find some other options. These are the pairs you can rely on for years to come, ultra-short shorts swing in and out of fashion, but this inseam size has lasted the test of time.
Mid-Length (9-12 inches)
Venturing into longer territory, this is a category that has become increasingly popular in recent seasons. Just hitting the knee but not completely covering it, this is where you will find something a bit more baggy and comfortable.
We're not going for a full-on Adam Sandler look here, but you have the space to move freely.
The return of the dreaded jorts have us taking a step ever closer to the knee and embracing the comfort of mid-length shorts but you can also dress this style of shorts up, as A$AP Rocky recently did with a blazer.
And since oversized and boxy silhouettes are becoming more of the standard fit for clothes, it's only right that our legwear matches.
Long (13± inches)
You're going to have to stick with me on this one, but we may be about to see a resurgence of 3/4 lengths. Sitting in the grey area between shorts and trousers, everyone's favorite style from the early 2000s was bound to make a comeback at some time, and when would be better than at the height of Y2K hysteria?
Not only have the shorts in the recent SS23 collections for Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Kenzo made the case for shorts lengths reaching down to the shin — but they've also received celebrity backing.
The master of baggy outfits, Justin Bieber, has naturally been giving long shorts a try along with Angus Cloud and the king and queen of Y2K: Bella Hadid and Marc Kalman. But the real winner when it comes to long shorts is Robert Pattinson — take a look at these baggy cargos that recently went viral.
It's debatable whether some of these pairs are even shorts, but you can shop our favorite styles with over 13-inch inseams below.
Want to keep browsing? Head to the Highsnobiety Shop for more products that we love. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.