Here at GQ, we spend a perhaps unreasonable amount of time thinking about the ideal length for a pair of shorts. You mileage may vary, but generally speaking, the five-inch inseam is the perfect, happy-medium length: they’re short enough to be shorts, but they’re not too short. We’re not the only ones who prefer our shorts to be on the…shorter side, either. Shia LaBeouf is pretty damn good at showing off some leg, and so are John Legend, Pharell, and LeBron James.
Joining Shia, John, Skateboard P, and the King in their love of the abbreviated inseam? An entire generation of young women on TikTok.
The Generation Z-dominated platform is absolutely flooded with videos of users straight-up roasting shorts. And not even long ones! Just the standard seven- and nine-inch inseam pairs you see in cities and suburbs, on golf courses and beaches. In the hive mind of TikTok, there is only one correct length, and that is five inches.
Like most good memes, these videos are demented, slightly horny, and funny as hell. Menswear nerds have been arguing the merits of different inseam lengths on message boards and Twitter threads for years. (We’ll admit a bit of shock at seeing the debate blow up on a mega-popular social network among an audience otherwise uninterested in double-monkstrap shoes or Craig Green chore coats.) Beyond that, the five-inch inseam remains a pretty divisive length for men’s shorts. It’s probably shorter than the typical adult American man wears, which makes hordes of folks riding so hard for the short-short that much better.
Shorts have only just recently found their moment in the sun. For years, they remained one of the last faux pas among the menswear-obsessed until suddenly…wearing shorts was cool. And all kinds of shorts, too. Swishy high-end shorts, pocket-heavy streetwear shorts, ultra-tailored dress shorts. Labels like Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons, and Jil Sander continue to prove that giant shorts can look pretty damn stylish. Just don’t tell the TikTokers I said that.