An Ode: Polo Andrew Shorts, and Suitable Replacements

Anyone who wore shorts between the years of 1993 and 2010 knows all about the iconic Polo Andrew Shorts.  These jewels from Ralph Lauren were all the rage…at least here in the Southeast.  And they were just about perfect: boasting a 5″ inseam, which was a clear middle finger to the capri-like inseams of cargo shorts, and pleats, because flat front wasn’t all the rage (yet).  At $49 a pair, they were a deal, and could be found for much less as the discount stores, or on sale at department stores in the Mall.

They broke in just right.  They chino material got softer with age, to the point where the pleats almost disappeared.

I remember going through a few pairs a year during college.  As I added replacements, I didn’t get rid of my older pairs until they literally disintegrated.  Those old dogs, along with their frayed edges, salsa-stained fronts, and torn pockets became my GTH shorts.  By the time they reached that point, they were more comfortable than gym shorts.

The label above the back pocket was very Polo-esque.

There were three acceptable colors that stayed in my rotation: khaki, stone, and navy blue.  The navy pair didn’t get a ton of wear, but I’ve come to like navy shorts as much as khaki.  They offered them in other colors (black, a weird green color, and later on they offered Nantucket red), but those didn’t get much play.

Ralph Lauren elected to stop making these shorts, probably because the shorter inseam and the pleats no longer favored the middle 80%. I get it, but these shorts were the stalwart symbol of the frat/post-grad frat/anti-capri crowd.  It’s a shame, and those of us who were annual subscribers had to find replacements.  Pleats have become a thing of the past, so here are a few pairs of flat front chinos that I like.  I’m a 6″-7″ inseam guy, so some of these require a little work, but I’d argue it’s a worthy investment.  Here are some keepers:

From top left:

1. Onward Reserve Piedmont Shorts: These check all the right boxes: good colors, 7.5″ inseam, and minimal logo.  The price is good for what you get.  High value prop.
2. Bill’s Khakis Southport Shorts:  There are a lot of folks who are big on Bill’s, and were let down by the last few years.  Well, there is renewed focus on the USA cut and sewn, so let’s bring these back to the fold.  The inseam is too long (for me), so they’d need a little work, but it’s worth it.
3. Orvis Sun Washed Shorts:  These are a thinner chino, which is pretty nice in high temp/high humidity climates.  These have a 7″ inseam, so they are ready to rock off the shelf.
4. Sid Mashburn Canvas Shorts:  Canvas is tough, but it breaks in well.  The inseam is very favorable for those who like to show a little more leg, but size up in the waist.  The waist size does not include any vanity.
5. J. Crew Garment Dyed Shorts:  They’ve been doing it forever, and now offer a 5″ option for those who are into that.  And don’t sleep on Navy blue.
6. Peter Millar Winston Washed Twill Shorts:  I have couple pairs of these, and love them.  I got a few inches removed from the inseam, which was 100% worth it.
7. Patagonia All-Wear Shorts:  Love the dressed up outdoor look?  Add some of Patagonia’s All-Wear shorts to your collection of Stand Ups (now $41).  The 8″ may be OK, that’s your call.
8. Ball and Buck 6-point Duck Cotton Shorts:  The duck cotton is a nice touch, as it won’t wrinkle like other chino.  Ball and Buck offers these in a ton of cool colors.
9. Ralph Lauren Core Classic Shorts:  I have to include these as they are the Ralph Lauren replacement, but they aren’t the Andrews.  And the fabric isn’t like it used to be.  Buy at your own risk (and preferably on sale).

What did I miss?  What shorts are you wearing these days?

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  • Nolan Reagan05/15/2017 - 8:28 AM

    I know Lands’ End is more of a Midwest company than south east prep, but you have to give their shorts a try. They stock 6″ inseam in pleated and plain front all the time. 
    I recently bought these at just under $20 and I love them! As close to the Andrew short as I’ve ever found! 
    https://www.landsend.com/products/mens-classic-fit-6-plain-front-casual-chino-shorts/id_288890?sku_0=::WP9
    They also stock non-iron chino shorts in pleated and plain front for $40. Definitely worth checking out and usually on sale if you can find a 30% off coupon.
    https://www.landsend.com/shop/mens-shorts/-/N-fzyZfn7
    I hope everyone takes a look at these as they are a great value and as close to the Andrew short I’ve ever found.ReplyCancel

    • JRS05/16/2017 - 11:00 AM

      You know, I love what Land’s End and LL Bean do.  Great call.  However, I can’t get on board with a non-iron pair of shorts.ReplyCancel

  • Adam05/15/2017 - 8:49 AM

    LL Bean Double L 6″ReplyCancel

  • Brad05/15/2017 - 9:08 AM

    Great post.  I’m going to pick up some Onward Reserve shorts.  Thanks. ReplyCancel

    • JRS05/16/2017 - 11:00 AM

      Excellent – let me know what you think of them.ReplyCancel

  • Brandon05/15/2017 - 9:15 AM

    For the southerners, the Belk house brand Saddlebred makes great 7″ inseam chino shorts. I steer clear of everything else Saddlebred because its cheap-o stuff but the shorts caught my eye a couple years ago on a sale rack where I was looking for some Nautica shorts (my previous go to shorts). I looked them over and they seemed to have decent construction and were $10 at the end of the season so I pulled the trigger. They broke in nicely and I went back the next summer and got a couple more pairs.  Haven’t had to buy new shorts since. Have two khaki and one navy and they’re great. Wear a pair almost everyday during the summer. They’re my weekend go to and lounging around the house after work wear. I can’t speak to current construction and quality but these 3 have lasted me two summers and this will be the third.
    They’re the 7″ twill shorts here:
    http://www.belk.com/products/saddlebred-shorts-Cb56956.jspReplyCancel

    • Landy05/15/2017 - 9:29 AM

      I picked up a pair of these at that same price point – what do you have to lose for $10 – about a year ago. I’ve since ordered two more pair. The width of the leg opening, something I’m very particular about, is spot on. My navy pair have held their color very well which I’ve had issues with on other shortsReplyCancel

      • JRS05/16/2017 - 11:01 AM

        Good call on the leg opening.  A lot of shorts now have a pretty narrow leg opening, which is no good on my thighs.  They look like ladies work out shorts.  Gimme some space.ReplyCancel

  • Paul05/15/2017 - 9:58 AM
  • Matthew05/15/2017 - 12:22 PM

    it seems that people have strong opinions one way or the other about this brand, but for a classic, well made short, i’ve switched over to chubbies. yeah, all their branding is super frat-tastic, and some of the prints are off the wall (i love them, but not for everyone). $60 isn’t super steep when compared to the brands listed, made in the USA, they offer 5.5″ and 7″ inseam now as well. stick with the classic colors and you’re set. ReplyCancel

    • JRS05/16/2017 - 11:02 AM

      I heard a rumor that they offer a non-elastic version of the 7″ shorts?  Is this true?ReplyCancel

  • JSP05/15/2017 - 2:24 PM

    I love these shorts and the slightly longer inseam Tyler model.  The cotton is wonderful and you’re spot on about how soft it gets over time. As for the pleats, the key to me is that they are forward pleats – which offer some comfort but don’t balloon out when you sit like the more common reverse pleats. I think they also make the shorts look a little bit dressier, although they may be too much of an oxymoron for some. And of course I like pleats – I’m an old fart (UGA class of ’92).
    So my advice is that eBay is your friend.  I’ve replaced my worn-out, torn pairs with very gently used or even NOS ones for less than you’d pay for just about any of the other brands listed.ReplyCancel

    • JRS05/16/2017 - 11:03 AM

      I remember the Tylers…good call.  Another option is to buy old pairs of Polo Chinos from Goodwill and have them converted to shorts.  ReplyCancel

  • Trip05/15/2017 - 2:51 PM

    The best pair of shorts available right now are the 5″ inseam Varick from J Crew Factory. They come in several colors, have on-seam pockets, and can usually be picked up for under $30. They’re damn $21 today: http://bit.ly/2r9OkQIReplyCancel

  • Chris05/16/2017 - 8:26 AM

    Snappers by Vintage 1946. 5″ inseam, soft twill fabric and a little bit of elastic for those days when you eat just a little too much at the buffet. Only drawback is only one back pocket. That’s aggravating. ReplyCancel

  • Grant05/16/2017 - 9:48 AM

    Mountain Khaki’s Teton Twill shorts are a pretty solid alternative. They’re definitely a little more on the casual side, but look just as great with a polo and a pair of drivers as they do with a tshirt and newbies. The inseam is 10″ so you’ll need to get them shortened a little bit, but other than that they’re great shorts and are cheaper or as cheap as any of the shorts in this post. MK’s Lake Lodge shorts are also a nice, lightweight alternative.
    https://www.mountainkhakis.com/products/mens/bottoms/shorts/men-s-teton-twill-short-relaxed-fit/stoneReplyCancel

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