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What are Bermuda Shorts?

Find the Bermuda shorts you need in the color and size you want and how to style them. The dressy Bermuda short provides a fashionable short you can wear during spring and summer.

This is a close look at various different Bermuda shorts.

When they say what goes around comes around, they usually mean fashion. In this case, Bermuda shorts came back. Forget the Connie Swale look of the 1970s though. You can ditch the knee socks.

Also, forgo the idea of knee-length madras shorts with flip-flops or boat shoes. You can Bermuda shorts without looking dowdy or dad-ish. So, what are Bermuda shorts, and what differentiates them from boy shorts or baggy shorts, or cargo shorts?

What are Bermuda shorts?

The term Bermuda shorts refers to a dress short with a hem that falls just above the knee. It stems from a military uniform created for the British in the 20th century. Bermuda shorts form the trouser portion of the British Armed Forces attire used in sub-tropical locations of the British Empire.

Typically, worn for desk duty in these areas prone to extreme heat, their name comes from the location in which they were first worn. The 2nd Battalion, Green Howards Yorkshire Regiment wore these shorts while stationed in Bermuda. Bermudians did not miss the fact that the armed forces had come up with a comfortable, yet attractive look and soon began copying it to sell in their stores throughout the country.

Bermuda businessmen adopted the look.

Bermuda Shorts Grow in Popularity

This is a close look at a man wearing a pair of cargo Bermuda shorts.

The next step in the propagation of the Bermuda short throughout the world came when tourists visited the island. British tourists spotted the new fashion and adopted it as a smart way to enjoy the island in relative cool. They left and visited the USA and other locations where it then became popular.

In most areas, these shorts became popular casual wear and a staple of resort wear collections. In areas like India and Pakistan though, it became a business look, replacing long trousers as the bottoms of men’s suits. They paired them with long socks similar to those worn by the military. Today, Bermuda shorts serve as the national men’s dress look in Bermuda.

Colors of Bermuda Shorts

Since they began as military attire, they originally came in khaki only. Bermuda businessmen requested gray, navy blue, black, and white, so they would have typical suit colors. As their popularity spread, designers released this look in a rainbow of colors. Now, it comes in solid colors, prints, plaids, etc.

Bermuda Shorts: They’re Not Just for Guys Now

This is a close look at a woman wearing a pair of khaki Bermuda shorts.

Women soon noticed how cool the men seemed and adopted the shorts look for themselves. Comfort won, but women dressed up the shorts with heels, blouses, and light jackets to match the shorts.

As women’s attire, the hemline varied by an inch or so. Also, some options added pleats, cuffs, or extra pockets. These shorts provide a finished look suitable for both genders.

Frequently Asked Questions

A shorts that you wear as a suit or dressy outfit? That probably sounds challenging to style. Here are the common questions regarding Bermuda shorts.

How do you wear Bermuda shorts?

Men have it easy. Bermuda shorts either come as the bottom half of a suit or they style them a polo shirt or short-sleeved dress shirt. When worn as the lower portion of a suit, summer dress shoes and dress socks go with the outfit. In a casual setting, pair them with sneakers.

When women wear these shorts, they should pair them with a cotton blouse, a light sweater, or a polo top. Since the length of these shorts can make even long legs look short, you can wear kitten heels with them or a heeled loafer. Tennis shoes also offer a suitable pairing with these shorts, as do sandals.

In what fits and styles do these shorts come?

You can find body-skimming, loose-fitting, flared, and fitted Bermuda shorts. They come in designs with low-, mid-, and high-rise waists. Closures vary from one to three buttons to zippers.

Most Bermuda shorts have at least two pockets. Denim versions have three to five — two standard pockets and a quarter pocket. Dressier shorts feature a set of welt pockets on back.

What fabrics do designers use in Bermuda shorts?

Cotton and linen provided the traditional fabrics for these shorts. You can also find them in denim, silk, polyester, modal, bamboo, hemp, and wool. Don’t laugh on that last one.

Light wool proves suitable for fall wear and lets those in cooler climates wear this sophisticated women’s look in August and September. Conversely, in the Deep South or Mid-South regions of the US, choose linen or cotton short.

How do you accessorize and style Bermuda shorts?

Guys have it easy. The same dress belt they wear with their long pants works with their dress shorts look. Avoid white socks with dress shoes always.

Unless you plan to travel to Bermuda or India, avoid the knee socks that started with this look. Also, trouser socks are out. Choose no-show socks that make your dress shoes still comfortable to wear, but do not detract from the suit.

Women have vastly more options. When worn with a summer sweater, a strand of pearls makes a lovely compliment. Choose small, unobtrusive earrings to match.

Pearl posts, for example, match the necklace. Some designs of these shorts tie at the waist while others come with a two-tone belt typically featuring a khaki stripe and a contrasting one in the color of the shorts. You can also vary the belt, wearing a leather dress belt to match the shoes.

With Bermuda shorts as a dress outfit, the Easter/Labor Day rule applies. You may not wear white dress shoes or sandals with these outfits until Easter nor after Labor Day. You should not wear black dress shoes after Easter until Labor Day.

Remember white shoes for spring/summer, black shoes for fall/winter. Once you match your belt to your shoes, you have your essentials. Add a matching purse and you’re done.

Bermuda shorts provide a refined look which should not be over-accessorized. In lieu of a necklace, you might wear a scarf.

Where can you purchase these types of shorts?

Most clothing manufacturers produce Bermuda shorts. They’re ubiquitous. Common purveyors of these shorts include Land’s End, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, and Talbot’s.

You can purchase them online at or Macy’s and at most bricks-and-mortar department stores. Designer Chris Knott’s Peter Millar sportswear features Bermuda shorts in its fashions, available at The Met.

What other names do these shorts go by?

You will also spot ads for walking shorts, mom shorts, and denim short designs and probably think, “Those look like Bermuda shorts.” Bermuda shorts go by those names, too. A pair of classic Bermuda shorts come in linen or cotton, but many denim Bermuda shorts exist now, too.

True Bermuda shorts set will have a hem that falls just to the knee, but you can find these short trousers in lengths two inches above the knee to two inches below the knee. Any longer length than that and they become capris, pedal pushers, or culottes which just are not the same thing.

Can you wear these shorts to school or work?

Yes, at many schools and organizations, Bermuda shorts provide the only shorts option that meets the dress code. When short shorts are out and cargo shorts too casual, Bermuda shorts provide the appropriate choice.