Wardrobe Essentials: Summer Shorts

With plummeting temperatures, howling winds and endless miserable rain now hopefully behind us, it would seem that summer is finally on the horizon. Really. So if you haven’t already begun to do so, now is the time to start thinking about shorts.

Before I continue, I should first make a confession: I have never personally been a fan of shorts. Not unless on a golf course, a football pitch, or a platinum-blonde young ‘dude’ under a thirty-foot wave. I appreciate that this is not the most conventional way to open an article that is intended to illustrate the best ways for us men to bare leg, but this article is also not about me; it is about you. And as the saying would suggest, you should do as I say, not as I do.

The problem with shorts is that so many men get it wrong: there is too often a tendency to wear styles that are too short or too long, boasting myriad patterns or combinations of colours that would leave even Jackson Pollock wincing. BUT it doesn’t have to be this way.

shorts 1

Here are a few essential tips to help you make the right decisions when choosing shorts for this summer.

Patterned Or Plain

The suit short, or simply a pair of shorts as part of a suit, has seen real success in recent years and is ideal for those hot, stuffy days spent in the office. If, however, you are to incorporate this look into daily work attire, it is of paramount importance that you retain your gentlemanly decorum. Plain is probably safest but certainly not your only option. If you do opt for a print, go for lighter colours and avoid anything too unrefined – you are off to work, not the beach. And remember that logos or brand names emblazoned all over a pair of shorts will only ever look cheap.

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wool striped shortschic army shortsburgundy topman shorts

maritime shortswording shortscream printed shorts

Smart And Casual

To my mind, whether you are at work or off to the beach, a tailored style is the best way to go. Something in a soft cotton with a turned up hem is perfect for all occasions; a versatile piece that allows you to frolic in shallow seawaters before going out that evening, without ever having to demonstrate anything less than the height of sophistication. (If you think you have alternatives in mind, please note that board shorts are for teenagers. And do not get me started on football shorts.) The tailored short goes well with anything up top, from a vest to a shirt – there is really no excuse to deviate from this classic.

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oliver linenstraight newporttailored hackett

topman blue shortsorange twill shortsnewport straight

Size Matters

Length is probably the most key factor to any look built around a pair of shorts. Too short and you will look like an awkward interpretation of a schoolboy; too long and you will appear to be little more than a beach bum. There are no hard and fast rules to exactly where the short should stop, but three to four inches above the knee is a pretty safe bet.

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plaid beams shortspleat oliver shortsboating striped

stone topman shortsfreeman chinosmichael bastian shorts

If The Shoe Fits

If you are going to get things right, you will need to make sure you complete everything with the correct footwear. With your legs as exposed as they are, a poor choice will stand out more than ever. Flip-flops may be ideal for the beach, but nowhere else. Have some self-respect and smarten up – there is plenty of choice from espadrilles to loafers, sandals to summer brogues (which work very well when worn with a colourful sock by the more daring), trainers, deck-shoes…

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sultan suedesperry shoesnewwington laceup

new balancelongwing solepull and bear

To Finish …

Hopefully I have convinced you (and even myself) that we gents can wear shorts and can get it right. It is about the right pair for the right look and the right occasion. Erring on the side of caution is rarely a bad approach to something you’re unsure of, so if in doubt stick to a staple pair of plain chino shorts. We never know how long the weather will remain on our side, certainly not in Britain anyway – make sure that when those legs are out and proud, they have reason to be.