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How to Dress in the Summer If You Don’t Do Shorts

From MC Hammer pants and Scottish kilts to chef pants and capris, here are ideas for dudes who hate shorts but also don't want summer swamp ass.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
​pants shorts sandals

And the word was made flesh—specifically, fleshy man thighs in five-inch inseam shorts, which we have declared The Look for Summer 2021 in light of the vaccinated romping and rising temps of the season (there has also been a resurgence of 1970s trends recently, from the aforementioned Tom Selleck men’s short-shorts to mustard bed sheets). But short-shorts aren’t for everyone, and even when it's crawling toward the triple digits, even when the humidity levels are like a sauna, a lot of dudes won’t stop wearing pants.

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On one end of the shorts-averse spectrum, you have the #NeverShorts camp. Not to be confused with Never Nudes, Never Shortsers have been analyzed in pieces by MEL and Slate, both of which sniff out a tinge of deeper body shaming in the extremely anti-short group beyond the simple preference of longer shorts or pants. “The majority of the Never Shorts apparently took their hardline stance due to the inherent uncoolness of shorts defined by the Tom Ford Decree of 2011,” explains the latter article, referring to the mandate that “a man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.” So, yeah. Big finance bro energy. That’s one side of the Bitcoin. The other is probably filled with dudes who just feel more physically comfortable in longer-fitting bottoms. 

“What can I wear in LA summer if I hate wearing shorts (I'm a guy)?” asks one Quora thread on the topic. “Okay, let us talk about the body a bit, What holds heat?,” comments a fashion consultant, “Your head, your feet and your hands”; “I wear a lot of ripped/distressed denim in the summer time down here in SoCal,” writes another, “Very trendy and the knee holes let your legs breathe.” Skirts, kilts, and skorts are another liberating option, while linen pants can help keep you cool without exposing your calves or clinging to your body. 

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For whatever reason you’re not on the shorts bandwagon (or even the summer bandwagon): We see you. Here are some of what we look for in a summer outfit situation when you want to cover up, but don’t want to boil your keister in corduroy. 

Try a wide leg fit

It comes down to physics, man. How will the air floweth from your body if your ankles are bound in elastic? As a general rule, you want to go for a fit that looks like it was tailored for one of those flailing, tube-shaped car dealership blow-up guys. Breezy. 


$18.69 at Light in the Box

$18.69 at Light in the Box

$54 at Urban Outfitters

$54 at Urban Outfitters

Linen, linen, linen 

As close as one can come to a magic fabric, linen is such a naturally cooling and breathable material that it’s ideal for everything from, IDK, excavating in deserts to becoming your best summertime sheet and bedding material. It doesn’t cling to your sweaty skin, it chills it out. 


$287 at Bodega

$287 at Bodega

$275 at Nordstrom

$275 at Nordstrom

$19.95 at J.Crew

$19.95 at J.Crew

$178$130 at Macy's

$178$130 at Macy's

The Chef’s Pant

While these won’t magically make you better at cooking, they will look sick while providing a ton of leg room and space to let the boys breathe while you pound Tecates at your local dive. 


$49 at Urban Outfitters

$49 at Urban Outfitters

$118 at Huckberry

$118 at Huckberry

Skirts, kilts, and skorts

“Do we not all deserve a nice swishy, breezy clothing experience in these hot months?” asks Mel Compo, and the answer is: Kilts. Skirts. Total free-ballin’ bliss. Give it a go, because what have you got to lose? Perspiration?   


$27.95 at Amazon

$27.95 at Amazon

$57 at Etsy

$57 at Etsy
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$190$95 at SSENSE

$190$95 at SSENSE

$432 at Farfetch

$432 at Farfetch

Rip these yourself 

Cross ventilation? Sure. Why not. Also love the peek-a-boo effect. Drive the nuns crazy with that sultry kneecap! Most pre-ripped jeans look kind of forced, so shop wisely (or just DIY it).


$49.99 at Carhartt

$49.99 at Carhartt

$50 at ASOS

$50 at ASOS

Not the juice pouch  

Don’t listen to your parents when they tell you that you look like you’re preparing for a flood. (After all, their pants will be soaked, and you’ll have the last laugh.) Capris—excuse me, “cropped chinos,” in some cases—are a nice middle ground between shorts and pants. Pop a short-sleeved shirt on top and you’re good to go.  


$16 at Shein

$16 at Shein

$29 at ASOS

$29 at ASOS

Parachute pants

The pants MC Hammer immortalized in the 1990s *do* have more fabric than your average trousers, so be wary of what fabric your hammertimes are (steer clear of poly-blends). The plus here is in having more breathing room for your bits. 


$20 at Shein

$20 at Shein

$23.49$14.29 at Light in the Box

$23.49$14.29 at Light in the Box

Light joggers 

Disclaimer: You don’t actually have to jog while wearing joggers. That’s not in the rules. However, these light, breathable, sweatpant-adjacent bottoms are vastly more comfortable than wearing jeans in the summer heat. They also provide good tacticality, in case you need to jump through the window of a burning building or show off your Russian split without fear of rippage. 


$32 at ASOS

$32 at ASOS

$325$162.50 at Nordstrom

$325$162.50 at Nordstrom

Zip-off pants

Despite all of the memes and the stigma that surround zip-off (aka “convertible”) pants, you know you want these. Plus, all of your hipster art-kid friends will think you’re wearing them ironically, or something. All we know for certain is that when the bottoms are off, the party is on. 


$60 at REI

$60 at REI

$79 at L.L. Bean

$79 at L.L. Bean

If these picks aren’t working for you, perhaps this is the year you finally step out of your comfort zone and into some shorts.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.