Shorts are probably up there for one of the greatest inventions of all time. They’re light, easy to move in, and extremely comfortable…
IF you’re getting the right shorts. But that’s not always easy for fat guys and big dudes to pull off.
From the waist to the thighs, we need something that fits differently and this isn’t always easy to find- which is exactly why I put together this article.
We’re going to cover everything you need to know about picking out the perfect pair of shorts along with 7 our favorite options for just about every situation. But if you’re short on time (sorry about the pun) and just want to see what made the list, you can check them out here:
- Best All Around: Dockers Men’s Perfect Short
- Best Sizing Options For Big Thighs: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall 10″ Flex Chino Shorts
- Best Cargo Shorts: Wrangler Relaxed Fit Stretch Cargo Short
- Most Fashionable Shorts For Fat Guys: IZOD Saltwater Stretch 9.5″ Chino Printed Shorts
- Best Denim Shorts For Big Guys: Wrangler Relaxed Fit Five Pocket Jean Short
- Best For Short Guys: Dockers Men’s Classic Fit 8″ Perfect Short
- Best Athletic Shorts: Champion Men’s 9″ Mesh Short
- Best Tactical Shorts: Tru-Spec 24-7 Series Simply Tactical Cargo Short
What Should Fat Guys Look For In Shorts?
Before we dive into the reviews, let’s talk about what big guys need to look for in shorts. This is the same criteria we used to select the shorts on this list so reviewing this section will also give you a good idea of why we picked these shorts as our favorites.
What Is The Best Short Length For Big Guys?
One of the biggest issues with shorts and big guys comes down to length- especially if you’re not particularly tall.
Why is this an issue?
Frequently, clothing companies assume proportions that just don’t make sense for fat guys. Because we need a bigger waist, they assume that we should also need a longer length and this can turn into a big, frumpy problem for heavy guys as you end up with shorts that are just way too long. It’s easy to find big and tall sizing with a short inseam of 11 inches or more which will usually fall well below the knee.
But how long is too long when it comes to shorts?
A solid rule of thumb is that shorts should always be above the knee or at least at the knee. Any longer will make it look like you’re in middle school or just swimming in your shorts- neither of which is a great look.
More specifically, most style experts suggest that shorts are around 1 to 3 inches above the knee and while this works for skinny guys, it can sometimes backfire for fat men and the ideal distance above the knee will really depend on how you carry your weight.
If you’re a big guy that carries a lot of weight on your thighs, then going too high above the knee can actually mess up your proportions and make you look wider than you really are. For guys with fatter thighs, keeping the length right at or just above the knee can be a better way to go.
If you don’t carry as much weight on your thighs, then you can go a bit higher and a shorter short length will usually make guys look taller.
I know, all that sounds confusing but the short version (last pun) is that 9.5 to 10 inches is usually a great length for big guys and most of the shorts on this list will fall into that length.
If you want to go into more detail, the video below has a great section on short length and some good images so you can get a feel for the impact of shorter vs longer shorts:
Don’t Go For A Tight Look… But Don’t Go Too Loose Either
Whether you’re rocking a sweater or a pair of jeans, going for a tight look is rarely the best option for fat guys and it’s no different with shorts.
If you carry a lot of weight in your thighs then it’s even more important since a tight or tapered look can add a contrast that makes thighs look bigger than they really are. But at the same time, you don’t want to go for a loose look that makes it look like you’re swimming in your clothing.
I’ve definitely got nothing but love for big man Kevin Smith, but if you search for any image of him wearing shorts you can see exactly what happens when a big guy goes for long length and a loose fit…and it’s not great.
So our goal is to find something in between loose and tight to find shorts that are just right.
Pockets…Or No Pockets?
Pockets could go either way and while cargo shorts have a bit of a bad reputation, they are coming back into style albeit with some less bulky pockets. Similar to whether or not big guys want to rock pleats on khakis, this style choice really is up to you and there’s no reason that cargo shorts can’t work.
But if you do go for the bigger pockets, make sure to avoid pockets that are too bulky as this can quickly mess up your proportions.
Picking The Right Fabric
We’ve got shorts on this list that cover just about every type of fabric there is from chinos to the classic mesh athletic shorts and it’s up to you to decide what works for you.
But let’s talk about stretching fabric which can be a huge benefit for fat guys…most of the time.
The big issue with stretchy fabric is that it usually doesn’t breath very well and this can be a big issue if anyone big is wearing khakis, jeans, or any other type of pants. I think you know why this can cause problems so I’ll spare you the sweaty details but shorts naturally have breathability since they’re much more open than pants.
That means we can go for stretching material more often without having to worry about putting the family jewels in a sweat lodge so you’ll see a few more stretching options on this list as a result.
Getting The Right Size
Obviously, you need your shorts to fit and there’s no getting around the need to find the right size.
But shorts are one of those garments that can be sized in both the simplified sizing of XXL, 3XL and so on along with numeric sizing based on your waist size. Dress shirts can be similarly confusing with some going by neck size and others using more traditional sizing. In both situations, this makes things more confusing and makes it more difficult for fat guys to find the right fit.
To get this sorted out, you’ll want to check the sizing chart for the specific pair of shorts you’re looking at.
Every brand will be a little different but this is especially true if you’re dealing with brand-specific sizing modifiers like big, tall, husky, or anything else.
To make things a little easier, I put together this chart which will give you a better idea of what you need to be looking for but just remember that is only a rough estimate of what you should expect and you’ll always want to refer to the sizing chart for that specific brand. However, not every brand has a sizing chart which when you can lean on this a little more:
|XL||40 – 44|
|2XL||44 – 46|
|3XL||48 – 52|
|4XL||54 – 56|
|5XL||58 – 60|
|6XL||62 – 64|
|7XL||66 – 68|
|8XL||68 – 72|
|9XL||74 – 76|
For this list, we’ll only include shorts that have at least a 4X sizing option which is roughly equivalent to a size 54 waist. However, that’s the minimum and we’ll have plenty of options for bigger guys including some in the 9XL range.
What About Guys With Big Thighs?
The one measurement you won’t see listed is the leg opening. Guys with big thighs are already used to the struggle of finding jeans that can fit big thighs and unfortunately you’re going to run into the same problems with shorts as well.
In most cases, the leg holes of shorts will be directly in proportion to the circumference of the waist. In other words, bigger size means bigger leg holes.
But depending on how you carry your weight or your muscle, your thighs may not be in proportion to your backside. In that case, you’re going to need to size up in waist to get the leg hole size you need and compensate with a belt or an elastic waistband.
Additionally, if you’re going that route, you’ll want to avoid cargo shorts or anything besides flat-fronted chino-style or denim shorts. When you size up cargo shorts you end up with a lot of extra fabric from the pockets that you just don’t need.
If you’re looking for a specific recommendation for big thighs, I suggest checking out these shorts from KingSize on Amazon. The elastic waistband will help keep your pants on if you have size up but since this is a big and tall brand, the leg holes are proportionally a bit larger than you’d expect from a brand like Dockers.
Best Shorts For Fat Guys and Big Men
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the individual reviews of our 7 favorite shorts.
Best All Around: Dockers Men’s Perfect Short
- Available up to size 60
- 14 stylish colors to pick from
- Easy on the budget
Dockers certainly isn’t going for subtlety with the name of these shorts…but I also don’t disagree that these really could be the perfect shorts.
But perfect for who is the question every big guy and fat dude needs to ask and while they aren’t marketed directly to us, Dockers has included big and tall sizing that runs up to size 60 which isn’t going to work for every guy but does give them more coverage than most other brands.
Still, it takes more than fat-friendly sizing to get the best all around spot on this list and it’s the combination of great pricing, comfortable stretchy material, and a variety of color combinations that helped these shorts earn the top spot. It also helps that there are more than 22,000 five-star reviews for these shorts on Amazon and even more across the web- so I’m far from the only big guy who’s a fan.
These fit like a nice pair of khakis which not only makes them more comfortable but you also have a better idea of what you’re getting in terms of sizing. I’ve got sort of a big behind and dockers always run tight so depending on how you carry your weight (or if you’re a strong fat guy that does a lot of squats) you might not be a fan of the tightness.
The only other downside is that the inseam is a little all over the place. On their Amazon page, Dockers lists the inseam at both 9.5 inches and 10 inches in different spots. I’ve found the inseam to be 9.5 inches so that’s the assumption I would make. Half an inch usually won’t make much of a difference and for most guys these will fall just above the knee as they’re designed to do.
As if all that wasn’t already enough, you can also pick these shorts up at a great price that’s easy on the budget. You can check out all the style options along with today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Sizing Options For Big Thighs: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall 10″ Flex Chino Shorts
- Available in up to 68 waist which equates to roughly a 7XL
- 7 colors to choose from including some unique patterns
- Features a hidden elastic waistband that gives you extra comfort without taking away from the stylish look
If you’ve seen any of our clothing reviews for fat folks, you’ve seen that KingSize almost always makes an appearance…and for good reason!
This is one of the few brands out that that’s producing quality clothing made for people of size and these stylish, simple, and comfortable chinos are no different. With sizing up to a 68 waist, KingSize is making great style available to more people.
But what I really love about these chinos is the hidden elastic waistband that lets these shorts move with you without looking like they’re shorts made exclusively for big dudes. For example, compare these chino shorts to this pair of jean shorts also from the folks at KingSize.
Those jean shorts have a clearly visible elastic waistband that really lowers the overall style. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that in the right setting but you don’t always want to show off your elastic waistband, and this is especially true for anything remotely formal.
These shorts from KingSize give you the best of both worlds: the style of a traditional chino short with the comfort of an elastic waistband.
The only possible downside is that these are slightly longer than some of the other shorts on this list with an inseam of 10 inches. That’s going to put some guys in the below-the-knee category and so short guys will want to avoid this pair.
You can read more reviews, take a closer look at all 7 color combinations and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Cargo Shorts: Wrangler Authentics Men’s Classic Relaxed Fit Stretch Cargo Short
- Available up to a 54 waist
- 6 colors to work with flat pockets for more modern cargo short
- Comfortable relaxed fit which is perfect for bigger guys
I know, cargo shorts have a bit of a rough reputation and may not be the trendiest fashion choice for big guys but these bad boys are coming back in style…with some adjustments.
The biggest change between today’s cargo shorts and the versions that were popular in the ’90s is the size of the pocket. The ’90s saw cargo shorts with big, bulky pockets that would make fat guys look bigger and skinny dudes just look silly.
Today, pockets are slimmer and are more focused on adding some subtle texture to the shorts instead of overpowering them. Of course, you can still go for the bulky look, but it’s not my go-to recommendation.
What makes these particular shorts interesting, is that they have several pockets along the sides of shorts. Not only does that help decrease the bulk but it also makes these shorts a lot more useful as you can organize what you put in the pockets.
While I do think cargo shorts look good, it’s even better when you can actually use the pockets and fat guys with kids will appreciate all the space for carrying everything extra that comes with kids on the go.
These also have a relaxed fit and a stretch waist that helps them stay comfortable without looking baggy. The waistband isn’t technically extendable as we’ve seen in other types of pants but it does stretch which is usually enough to get the job done.
Of course, it also helps that there are more than 28,000 five-star reviews on Amazon for these cargo shorts. You can read some of those reviews, check out all the styles and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Fashionable Shorts For Fat Guys: IZOD Men’s Big and Tall Saltwater Stretch 9.5″ Chino Printed Shorts
- Sizing available to 54 waist
- Stylish combination of pastel colors with print
- The model for a the shorts is a big guy which is always a good start
IZOD is one of my favorite brands for fat guys and even though they don’t always market themselves as a big and tall brand they have a wide range of great garments including some awesome and fat-friendly polo shirts some of which would look great with these shorts. IZOD also earns major bonus points for featuring a bigger guy to model these shorts so you can actually see how these look on a more typical body.
While some guys prefer to play it safe with simple, solid colors and rock a traditional style there are the big guys among us that aren’t afraid to wear something a little more stylish and that’s where these comfortable shorts from IZOD come into the picture.
With sizing up to a 54 waist, these comfortable and stretchy shorts let big guys pick from styles that are usually only left for the skinny folks and the cinder color with the dog print is by far my favorite.
Still, this is definitely a particular style that won’t be for everyone but if you want to rock a preppy look at that next brunch this can be a great way to mix up your style.
You can read more reviews, take a closer look at all the color and print combinations along with checking today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Denim Shorts For Big Guys: Wrangler Authentics Men’s Classic Relaxed Fit Five Pocket Jean Short
- Available up to size 54 waist
- 9 styles to choose from including the classic denim or solid black
- Relaxed fit for extra room where it matters
- Standard 10
Denim shorts are an absolutely classic style and while the term “jorts” has certainly taken away some of the prestige, you can still get the same feel with more style by going with the black denim option.
But with these jean shorts from Wrangler, you can choose a lot more than just black or classic blue and you have 9 different variations to pick from. I usually go for darker colors but also don’t want to rock an all black look so I love the Moonlight and Nightfall Flex color choices that hit the perfect dark blue. There are also plenty of lighter colors to pick from too if that’s more your thing.
These denim shorts also come in a relaxed fit that will give you a little more room to breathe, bend, and move. Even better, these denim shorts are easy on the budget and backed by more than 8,000 reviews five-star reviews on Amazon which is always a good combination.
You can read some of those reviews, including some from fat guys, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best For Short Guys: Dockers Men’s Classic Fit 8″ Perfect Short
- Only available up to 44 waist
- 4 simple styles to pick from
We’ve already seen the perfect shorts from Dockers on this list but this time we’re looking at the 8″ inseam variation which can be a better choice for guys that are under 5′ 8″ or so.
Fat guys that aren’t tall can have a heck of a time with shorts since the standard 10″ inseam can sometimes fall under the knee. This can leave you looking shorter than you actually are and can really throw off your proportions.
But when guys under 6 feet wear shorts with shorter inseams like these, it can make the legs appear longer and restore some balance to your overall look.
Of course, there is a point where shorter shorts stop helping your look and start to look strange. I’ve found that 8″ is a great spot for most guys and while some skinny guys can make the 7″ look work I don’t think it’s a good choice for fatter men with bigger thighs. After all, we aren’t trying to show off our thick thighs but just balance our look.
While this specific version doesn’t have quite the volume of reviews as the 10″ inseam, they are the same short overall. That means we can expect the same high-quality, stretchy fabric and fat-guy friendly fit that we saw in the 10″ perfect short from Dockers.
You can read more reviews, check out the four classic colors, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Athletic Shorts: Champion Men’s 9″ Mesh Short
- Available up to 4XL
- 10+ color combinations and varieties to work with
- Easy on the budget
Mesh shorts are an absolute classic and every guy should have a few of these for knocking around the house or working out. They’re easy on the budget, comfortable as can be and they don’t look half bad assuming you’re not trying to wear them to brunch or something.
However, not all of them fit and tight mesh shorts can turn into a much more revealing look than you want it to be so it’s important to stay loose. These may not be the biggest shorts around but they do run up to 4XL which will work for a lot of guys.
When it comes to mesh shorts, fit and price are the main factors since you’re not trying to win any style awards at the gym. It’s hard to go wrong with these and with more than 24,000 five-star reviews backing them up, I’m far from the only guy that likes these.
You can read some of those reviews and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Tactical Shorts: Tru-Spec 24-7 Series Simply Tactical Cargo Short
- Available up to 60 waist which is rare in tactical clothing
- 3 simple color options
- Won't break the bank
Tactical shorts sound fancy but you don’t need to be on SEAL Team Six to need these.
Tactical shorts can be a great option for anything outdoors from hiking up a mountain to a walk in the park. There’s really no reason you can’t wear them around town either since you’ll appreciate the comfort and breathability wherever you go.
Made from a blend of polyester and cotton, these shorts are lightweight but still more than sturdy enough to resist rips and tears while you’re in the field. As you’d expect, there are plenty of pockets and a full belt loop that can support your standard fat guy belt or a thicker gun belt if that’s what you need.
The only possible downside is that these can run a little on the small side so make sure you size up. With sizing up to a 60 waist (which is pretty darn rare in the world of tactical clothing), you’ll hopefully have enough room to size up.
The pricing on these is also great and it’s not uncommon to see tactical clothing or hiking shorts cost more than your formal wear options. That’s not the case here and you don’t need to worry about breaking on these shorts.
You can read more reviews, check out all three colors, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Now you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the sun in your brand new shorts!
While shorts are one of the simplest and most basic garments around, they can actually be a lot more complex than you’d think with a huge range of inseams and styles. But for most big guys, the 9 to 10-inch inseam will treat you well and most of the rest is up to you.
What do you think? Did you find a pair that works for you?