If you ever went to a school that had a strict dress code, you may recall the finger test. Basically, it’s this: If you’re standing up straight with your arms at your sides and your skirt is shorter than where your middle finger falls on your leg, the skirt is too short. I lost too many afternoon lessons being sent home for the length of my skirt (that is a whole different essay). So I want to reclaim that test, put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it. Here goes. Men: if your shorts are longer than where your middle finger falls on your thigh when you are standing up, they’re too long for you, bro. And if you won’t take it from me, take it from the women of TikTok. Welcome to the 5” inseam movement.
The past few weeks of this cursed summer have seen a sudden rise in markedly non-cursed 5” inseam content across TikTok, platform of the Youth. It began with a viral video from user @sabrinaxrod celebrating her boyfriend wearing a pair of 5” inseam shorts. That video has more than 300,000 views now, and Sabrina has since gone on to label herself as the “sole reason men are wearing 5” inseam shorts now.” She did indeed spark a TikTok trend. But really, it’s a lifestyle.
Bury me in 5” inseam TikTok, where the content is thirsty and the shorts are short. For example:
There’s comedy, too! @dxnielbennett went viral last week with this skit on the delicate act of purchasing 5” inseam shorts. Users have even leveraged the most epic Bella Hadid soundbite of all time – the “homeboy can get it” soliloquy, if you will – used impeccably here. Poetry.
We at Esquire have no choice but to stan. Of course, short shorts aren’t new. Fashion bros have been preaching 5″ Patagonia baggies for years. Short bathing suits have been trending for several summers now. And honourable mention to this viral paparazzi photo of Paul Mescal on a casual snack/bev run in May. Normal People star Paul of course looks good in anything, and as my colleague Avidan so eloquently put it, “he and his sturdy, athletic gait could stroll into my life (and yours, tbh) and fuck it up completely any day he chooses.” So yes, you can tell the man doesn’t skip leg day, but you don’t need thighs-a-la-Mescal to rock 5-inchers. I promise.
As the writer of this MEL Magazine piece put it, “I’ve personally never seen a man thigh I found unattractive.” I have to agree. For the past few days, I have been hyper-aware of men’s shorts lengths as I walk around New York, and like a good routine haircut, all shorts could do with a healthy 2-inch trim. All thighs are Good, and confidence is half the battle here. Official statement on the matter: 5” inseam shorts are always the best choice. Hot calves are of yesteryear; these days, the more thigh the merrier. We stand with the women of TikTok. Plus, less fabric! It’s hot out there!
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