Khaki shorts are staple masculine clothes, and for good reason: they’re versatile, durable, and also relatively affordable. But despite their ubiquity in many hotter regions, lots of guys remain unsure of just what khaki shorts are and when they should wear khaki shorts to maximize their effect.
If that’s you, keep reading. Below, we’ll break down what exactly khaki shorts are and how you should wear them to stay in style.
Khakis were first invented in 1846. A British officer serving India developed khakis to escape the hot wool trousers he was expected to wear. Khaki as a material is made of a type of cotton and dyed into a dusty tan color that the locals said was called "khaki." Khakis became incredibly popular thanks to how breathable and durable they were, then quickly expanded into the British Army.
From that point, khakis expanded worldwide, becoming staple menswear particles in the US, Europe, and elsewhere. Khaki pants are the default khaki article type, although khaki shorts are also increasingly popular for many of the same reasons as khaki trousers.
What Are Khaki Shorts?
Khaki shorts are simply shorts made of khaki material: that’s it. These days, they don’t even need to be a brown or beige color to qualify. That’s because the khaki material is the determining factor for the article type, not the shade.
Khaki shorts, however, are usually relatively short compared to some modern short cuts. For example, most khaki shorts end one or two inches above the knee instead of meeting the knee or going below it (though there are exceptions).
Like khaki trousers, khaki shorts are:
- Durable, and easy to wash in a standard machine washer
- Breathable, in that they won’t make your legs heat up
- Somewhat moisture-wicking, though not to the same degree as other materials
When to Wear Khaki Shorts
Given their versatility, there are lots of occasions when you can wear khaki shorts and look stylish at the same time.
Summer Work, Especially Outside
If you have work to do during the summer, particularly outdoors, your employer might let you wear khaki shorts as part of your uniform. If you’ve ever seen a UPS delivery driver in their uniform, you already know how common this is.
Basic brown or tan khaki shorts, like these Charleston khakis from Berle, are perfect for delivering packages, maintenance work outside, and everything in between. Lots of workplaces will allow you to wear khaki shorts so long as they are a neutral brown shade of some type – they might not let you wear colored khaki shorts, which could compromise your professionalism.
Casual Get-Togethers with Friends
Of course, khaki shorts can also be worn for any casual hangouts with your friends, especially in the spring or summer. Depending on the color of khakis you wear, you can pair them with graphic T-shirts, plain T-shirts, linen shirts, and everything in between and still look good.
For these occasions, colorful khaki shorts in shades other than brown might be called for. Berle’s fine-line stretched Charleston khakis are good examples. They’re available not just in beige but also in red, green, and even slate blue. Colorful khakis allow you to express yourself with a bit more creativity than normal while still adhering to the overall khaki aesthetic and practicality.
Yardwork at Home
Because of their durability, khaki shorts are favorite legwear options for guys who own homes. They can be worn during yardwork and other chores, like mowing the lawn, chopping wood, and more (though you might wish to wear jeans for more intense work to protect your legs). In any case, khaki shorts and a plain white T-shirt look great on any guy.
Don't forget you can also wear khaki shorts for your daily errands, especially if they are in a shade other than brown. Depending on the shirt and shoes you pair them with, you might even look relatively fashionable, albeit in a casual sense. Still, khaki shorts can often be seen as "all-around" good shorts choices for summertime activities or any occasion where the weather is too hot for full-length trousers.