Not many men are confident in a pair of shorts. Not truly. Not in the cooler parts of the northern hemisphere anyway. And as a result, the menswear party line for the past decade or so has stubbornly been fixed when the weather is warm: stick on a pair of tailored shorts which hit just above the knee. End of conversation.
There’s no room for confusion and there’s no need to be ‘that’ guy in the shit shorts, vest and flip flops, with a patchwork of skin shades sprouting from the most unexpected places. Except that all that is now changing.
Such is the nature of menswear, just as you thought you were on solid ground in your tailored thigh-grazers, the rules are changing again. Yes, tailored shorts are still a solid option, but suddenly there’s a whole host of other attractive styles that play with length, texture and silhouette. Here are the eight pairs that offer a shortcut to sweat-free style this summer.
WHEN TO WEAR SHORTS
A staple of summer, you wear shorts because it’s hot and you don’t want to be sweating through your pants. If you don’t want to miss out on the fun part of summer and prefer not to be confined to air-conditioned shopping malls, then shorts are your friend. Because regardless of the potential style pitfalls of shorts, you’re going to look a whole lot less aesthetically pleasing with dark patches in your pants and sweat streaming down your legs. Get the length and the fit right, pair them with the appropriate shirt & shoes and you can keep cool in style this summer.
If you are in any doubt as to whether they would be appropriate attire for an outing, it is a safe rule of thumb to not wear them. Shorts should be a no-brainer when heading to the beach or for any athletic outing, and if you are heading for informal gatherings, then wearing shorts in hot weather is deemed acceptable. However if you’re headed to the office, a business meeting or even slightly formal occasions, they should normally be avoided.
HOW ARE MEN’S SHORTS SUPPOSED TO FIT?
A well-cut and properly fitting pair of shorts will make you look better and make you feel more confident and comfortable, simply because everything is in it’s right place. A tailored pair of shorts will define shape and create a flattering profile regardless of your size or build. They should feel comfortable and fit your body shape, without being too tight or restricting movement. And don’t be afraid to show off a little leg!
When we say tailored, we don’t necessarily mean slim-fitting. We mean: everything needs to fit properly, in other words: it needs to fit as it was designed to fit. Don’t wear shorts that are two sizes too big and call them “loose”; fit is important no matter the cut you choose. You can wear a looser pair of shorts and still look tailored, as long as the fit is good.
So be confident. It might take a little getting used to, but going tailored is the best style move you can make. Even though there are guys out there who think shorts are not for them: there are shorts available to suit every body type, you just need to find the right pair for you.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
For most body types, it is advisable to avoid baggier styles in favour of a more fitted pair. You’ll want to avoid shorts that are wider at the bottom than at the top, with a leg opening that is a lot wider than the circumference of your leg; it’ll make your legs appear smaller and thinner, and creates a bottom heavy silhouette. Not quite the look you’re after.
Unlike pants, which generally tend to follow your legs all the way down and are defined by their shape, shorts can quickly become shapeless and unflattering if they’re ill-fitting in any way. The longer and baggier you go, the more fabric will be flapping around, and you’ll risk losing shape and definition.
In contrast, a properly tailored pair of shorts that’s suited to your body will balance out your shape, by giving definition to your legs and working with your waistline, adding bulk where there is none and trimming down where there is plenty.
WHAT LENGTH SHOULD MEN’S SHORTS BE?
The short answer: never below the knee. Anything longer than your kneecaps and you’re either wearing cargo shorts or capri pants, neither of which will do you any style favours. Other than that, it depends on your body type, size and shape. The vast majority of the time, when people think they don’t look good in shorts it has nothing to do with their body or legs and everything with the length and fit of the shorts they’re wearing. Wearing shorts is about confidence; stop being uncomfortable in summer and show some leg. As a basic guideline, here are the most suitable shorts styles based on your height.
Very tall men should opt for mid-length shorts; longer styles will only draw more attention to your height, whilst shorter shorts on thinner legs can have the beanstalk effect. It’s all about confidence and how you feel about those legs though – if your quads deserve the spotlight, go ahead and show them off.
Men of a more average to medium height are fortunate in that they can look good in any length; just don’t go below the knee.
If you’re a shorter man, be bold: you have free reign to go even shorter in length, as the long and baggy styles will swamp your style.