Stores only allow you try out shorts with an additional layer of underwear because of the hygiene issues. While this is great for public health, it seems to make it impossible to evaluate whether a pair of shorts is comfortable before buying. While it may be possible to return merchandise at some retailers, it would be nice to be able to compare different shorts before buying. The only usable advice I've heard is to always avoid gel padding.
What can I do to "kick the tires" on a pair of bike shorts to get a sense of whether or not the chamois will be comfortable? What should I look for either when looking at a chamois in person or when reading the marketing techno-babble on manufacturer websites (e.g., what the heck is a four-dimensional chamois)? Do more expensive shorts always have better padding, or are there certain styles of chamois that work for some people but not others?
Related questions: What should I look for in a good pair of cycling shorts?, Tights, Shorts, and Padding