For ultimate comfort in the hotter months, drawstring shorts are your secret weapon. Forget your tired old sweat shorts, modern-day iterations are available in a wealth of styles and cuts, from tailored chino designs to utilitarian cargos.
If you’re considering buying a pair – and you really should – here’s everything you need to know, from finding the right fit to the most stylish drawstring shorts brands on the market today.
Why You Need A Pair Of Drawstring Shorts
Once you’ve tried drawstring shorts, it will be difficult to go back to anything else. The expandable waistband transforms the humble short into something resembling pyjama shorts, such is the level of comfort on offer. Fixed waistbands will feel restrictive and overbearing in comparison, especially if you’re out for a day trip and have to endure them for hours on end.
Like with sweatpants, drawstring shorts expand with your waist as you move around, providing unparalleled comfort and maximum manoeuvrability. Plus, if you find a pair in a fabric usually associated with tailored shorts, like chino cotton or canvas, nobody will be any the wiser. It’ll look as though you’re wearing regular shorts, and you can style them as you usually would with polos, tees, Cuban collar shirts and more. Win-win.
Drawstring Shorts Buying Considerations
You’d be forgiven for thinking drawstring shorts are only available in designs suitable for sport or lounging around the house. But they’re now found in virtually every short style imaginable, from classic chino versions to tailored options in fabrics like linen and cord.
Therefore, when looking to buy, you should first consider how a pair of drawstring shorts would slot into your existing wardrobe. Will you be predominantly combining them with workwear pieces like chambray shirts and chore jackets? You’ll want to seek out drawstring cargos or fatigue shorts. Looking for something slightly sharper and better suited to loafers and an Oxford shirt? Consider investing in some flat-fronted or pleated drawstring shorts.
How They Should Fit
Unlike with trousers, perfect fit isn’t quite as crucial with shorts. The very nature of them means they only cover half your legs, so as long as they don’t cling to your thighs or balloon out to the hems, you can’t go too far wrong.
However, there are still a couple of points to consider. For smarter shorts you’ll want something in a slimmer cut, albeit one that still drapes over your thighs rather than sticks to them. Many men make the mistake of buying skinny fit shorts, which are almost universally unflattering. Instead, look for something with a bit of room that allows you to sit down without feeling as though you’re being cut in half.
For casual shorts, relaxed fits are best. Don’t be afraid to go for looser cuts, but make sure you balance it up top with equally loose tees and shirts, which’ll give your look consistency.
The final consideration is fabric. Drawstring shorts are all about comfort without sacrificing on style. As such, it makes sense to go for a material that’s soft against the skin – there’s no point in wearing drawstring shorts that are scratchy and uncomfortable.
Look for fabrics made from natural fibres including cotton twill, cotton canvas and linen blends, which are soft, durable and breathable, ensuring you’ll stay cool for longer. Don’t be afraid to consider slightly heavier fabrics like corduroy or cotton Terry either – if the shorts aren’t cut too close you’ll still benefit from air circulation while these fabrics will also help inject a welcome dose of texture into any stripped-back summer look.
The Best Men’s Drawstring Shorts Brands
For staples with a Danish slant, Foret should be your first port of call. Expect minimal designs with subtle branding and relaxed fits cut in soft, durable fabrics. Its drawstring shorts come in a flattering mid length and are crafted from soft cotton, ensuring they’ll easily slot into your summer rotation.
Form & Thread
If you’re only going to buy one pair of drawstring trousers, you could do much worse than Form & Thread. Coming in a relaxed fit that finishes just above the knee, the style is based on the brand’s double-pleated trouser block, giving them a sophisticated tailored feel that allows them to be dressed up or down.
London-based brand Percival is renowned for putting a modern spin on the classics, and its drawstring shorts are a case in point. Cut in breathable 100% linen and featuring slim but comfortable fit that finishes just above the knee, they are available in two versatile, summer-appropriate neutrals. We’d buy both.
L’Estrange takes things one step further with its elasticated shorts, which it designs with a carefully hidden drawstring waist. From afar they look like a regular pair of tailored shorts, but the subtle waistband ensures the wearer will be as comfortable as they are sharp.
ISTO has taken a traditional summer garment and given it a fall/winter twist by rendering it’s drawstring shorts in corduroy. What sounds like it should work really does, with the natural texture of the cord helping to bring texture and visual interest to any basic shorts and T-shirt outfit. They also come in an intentionally oversized fit to ensure comfort and breathability.
The Resort Co
The Resort Co was founded in 2019 with the mission to craft the perfect vacation wardrobe, and they clearly succeeded. It’s drawstring shorts in beautiful cotton Terry, making them ideal for wearing on the beach or by the pool. Handcrafted in Portugal and cut in a relaxed, mid-length style, you’ll want to pull them on day after day.
Colorful Standard is big on elasticated waists. Indeed, both its sweat shorts and twill shorts models feature them, so whether you’re after classic loungewear or something slightly smarter, you’re well covered.
The brand also promises to plant a tree for every order placed, so you can shop without any of the associated guilt. Look good, do good.
British brand Universal Works has a thing for workwear. Many of its designs are inspired by classic utilitarian garments, the label’s greatest asset is the sheer diversity of its fabrics on offer. Its drawstring shorts alone are available in everything from seersucker and herringbone denim to cotton canvas and Terry fleece, meaning there’s something for everyone.
J. Crew never disappoints with its contemporary take on American Prep, and its drawstring shorts are no exception. Coming in soft stretch chino fabric, they feature clean designs and are cut to the perfect length.
Combined with Oxford shirts and boat shoes, they will slot seamlessly into any Ivy League-inspired wardrobe.
With a focus on sustainable manufacturing and quality fabrications, Vuori specialise in wardrobe essentials with a performance edge. Its drawstring shorts feature plenty of technical design features including mesh linings and hidden pockets, meaning they’re as functional as they are good looking.
Founded by male model David Gandy, Wellwear focusses on high-end loungewear that works in and out of the gym. Crafted from the finest cotton jersey, its drawstring jogger shorts are available in signature grey marl or black – perfect for combining with other sportswear staples like hoodies, sweatshirts and retro running shoes.
Gap is defined by its American-inspired basics, which are made to some of the highest standards you’ll find on the high street. Its drawstring shorts are simple in design and perfectly marry smart and casual with their cotton fabrics and slanted side pockets. A versatile, great value addition to any summer wardrobe.