Running Fashion Police: Boy Shorts

Dromedary camel in outback Australia, near Sil...
Make sure your boy shorts fit right! You don’t want to end up with toes like this guy. Img via Wikipedia.

Recently, Salty reader Colleena sent me the following tweet:

Discussing how fit one’s legs should be to not be judged in a tight fitting boy short for a race. @saltyone, thoughts?

I responded:

@ColleenWithAnA I think if you’re comfortable rockin’ them go for it! We can get away with a little more skin showing for races. Go #BUNZ!

After thinking about it for a while I couldn’t help but wonder if I was too hasty in my response and way oversimplifying a complicated subject. While I do believe we should all wear what makes us feel good and not worry about what those cattier among us might think, would Stacy and Clinton leave it at that?

I talked it over with Cinnamon and Ginger and we all agreed that we need some dos and don’ts about running style. Not all running styles flatter everyone’s body equally. For instance, most long-bra tops (shimmels) look like crud on my very muscular body. I prefer the softer look of a singlet.

In our first installment, let’s take on Colleena’s query: how to wear boy shorts flatteringly?

First, what are they? Boy shorts are essentially running tights cropped very short. A 2″ inseam seems to be most common.ย  The shorts will hug your butt and pretty much leave little to the imagination!

Image via backcountry.com (heh)

If you think you’re ready to rock the boy shorts look, here are the keys to finding a flattering pair:

1. Make sure they fit. Not too loose or too tight. Too loose and they’ll possibly show more than you bargain for as they flop around on your body. Too tight and we’re talking muffin tops and wedgies. Try them on! And find a pair that fits just right.

2. Try to find a pair that doesn’t have a seam right down the middle of the crotch. Those seams like to ride up and cause “camel toe.” We don’t want that!

3. Try on different styles to find the right rise for you. The rise is how high the shorts come up on your waist. Right now while I’m pregnant I’m LOVING my low rise boy shorts! But when I’m not pregnant and sporting a couple of pounds over race weight they are much too low for comfort!

4. Do not wear underwear under them! Boy shorts, bike shorts and tights are all meant to be worn commando.

5. If in doubt, stick with dark colors. It’s just smart.

While these are pretty cute, white boy shorts is a bad idea. Trust me! Image via runningskirts.com

So if you’re ready to rock the boy shorts (or BUNZ! as we like to call them around here), follow these simple style rules and go for it!

Are you a boy shorts kind of girl? If you’re not sure, take the official Salty Running race shorts quiz.

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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18 comments

  1. This is an old post, but something I have been pondering as I just bought my first couple pairs of boyshorts! So if anyone reads this comment…my question is..on all the boyshorts I’ve found (from Oiselle to Saucony) the crotch is this teeny tiny triangle area surrounded by seams– I’m afraid this will cause MAJOR chaffing during longer runs, as opposed to traditional running shorts that have a soft liner. Thoughts?? I’m afraid to wear boyshorts while running because of my concern about chaffing in that very sensitive area! And thanks for posting articles like this! Everything I ever wanted to know about running but was afraid to ask!!! :-)

  2. I should also mention you can get these slightly longer and that they may be flattering if a little longer. Mine look more like the first photo and have a 3-4″ inseam and less like the second photo. No one needs to see that much of me when I am running. :)

    1. Just want to tell you that I love your choice of topics on the blog. Your posts are insightful, wise, fun and kind hearted and I just want to say thanks. I enjoy every post, and especially loved the piece on catty behavior. I coach a high school girl’s team, and when I took over as their coach last June, my first lesson was exactly about the latin root of the word competitor—and working together instead of against each other.
      Now I have a little straight talk about boy shorts. I love them by the way, and keep a close eye on their fit.
      Thanks for your great blog. The topics you choose almost make me feel like we are running side by side together in the woods. : > )

      1. Mimi, it’s so great to hear from a high school coach! I had a mixed bag of experience with mine, but that was long before blogging gave us the ability to network and share our experiences with running. Your girls are really lucky to have a coach who spends her spare time reading about stuff that can help and encourage them!

    2. Coincidentally I’m sporting boy shorts in my backpack post pictures! I definitely don’t have model legs but I still love wearing them, and they make me feel cute (and feeling cute = feeling FAST). There definitely are boy shorts out there for every shape and size of lady. I second Mint’s recommendation that you can always try a little longer inseam if you’ve got big, juicy thighs like mine!

  3. This season was the first one I was bold enough to do the boy shorts (without a cute skirt on top). I LOVE them! My only other tip would be making sure you find ones with the sticky “tape” at the bottom of the leg hem so they do not ride up at all. This is key.

    1. That’s funny. I hate the tape! It’s on my longer pair as well, but I find it kind of pinchy and annoying. That’s why we must try them on to find the right ones for us. Boy shorts: they’re the new jeans :)

      1. Not me – love the tape as they keep everything in place! I bought another pair and they rode up entire run! I don’t want to spend my run yanking my shorts in place. They need to stay put.

  4. I 100% agree with your statement about going commando. There is not much worse than seeing an underwear line or bulge underneath fitted shorts!!

    1. They should come with a label: no undies required! When I first started running I didn’t realize the liner in split shorts were an undies substitute and I wore basically double undies. Some of us need explicit instructions on these things :)