Spring has officially arrived, and with it the heart of shorts season. The arrival of shorts season, of course, also means the reemergence of the neverending Great Shorts Length Debate. Last year, a critical mass of Gen Z TikTokers declared that there was only one acceptable short length: five inches. Not only did they proclaim it, but they did so by straight-up roasting anyone in standard seven- and nine-inch inseam pairs you see in cities and suburbs across the country. Enter Milo Ventimiglia, the 43-year-old (a cusp Gen X/Millenial) heartthrob actor, who was photographed leaving the gym the other day in shorts so tiny that they make the TikTok-co-signed five-inch inseam look tame.
Ventimiglia, who obviously doesn’t skip leg day by the looks of those thighs, was wearing what I can only guess are shorts with between a one- and three-inch inseam. Perhaps even split shorts? (They’re a go-to for serious runners everywhere, and great to work out in.) I understand the feeling: when it comes to gym attire, you want your shorts to get out of the way. But if you think about it, that same concept feels pretty applicable to most summer activities. Who wouldn’t want to feel the freeness of high-cut shorts on a hike, or hanging down by the lake? Also, let’s not overlook Ventimiglia’s high-top Converse with no socks, indeed a tremendous warm-weather style move. The actor probably didn’t think twice about his gym outfit that day, but when you leave the house in tiny shorts like his, you may just find yourself swept up in the Great Shorts Length Debate. With short shorts comes long responsibility.
At this magazine, we have spent a lot of time thinking about proper shorts length. We’ve gone as far as to try and nail down the perfect formula for it, and last summer, the GQ Style team got together for a roundtable that we dubbed The Great Shorts Survey. We may never know the answers to life’s biggest questions—How long is too long? How short is too short?—but something tells me there is no neat resolution to this debate. So, if you want to wear shorts so short that it almost looks like you’re wearing none at all, then more power to you. And if anyone gives you a hard time, just tell them that Milo Ventimiglia did it first.