Right on cue, the emergence of the sun is accompanied by the emergence of shorts. It takes a brave man to be a seasonal pioneer of a summer favourite, but that owes more to the awakening of pasty legs from their winter hibernation than the item of clothing itself.
Worn correctly, shorts can be a sartorialist’s best friend: comfortable, low-maintenance and, critically, stylish. The problem is, they’re so often not.
Let’s start with how shorts ought to look.
Notice how all three examples sit definitively above the knee, the vastus medialis (or ‘teardrop muscle’) clearly on show, without straying into hotpant territory. And that’s the first lesson.
Below you will see how not to wear your shorts. The image on the left may appear almost comical, but it’s a look that will be more popular than you think this summer. Unless you want to look like Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno, stay away: remember, the key, as with any outfit, is for people to notice you and not so much your clothes.
If you happen to own a pair of shorts that drop to the knee, but otherwise fit well, don’t be hesitant to roll them up – this can actually add to your look. But if they’re as long as those exhibited below, don’t bother – you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing doughnuts round your thighs by the time they’re hitched to a suitable length.
How your shorts fit around your thighs is as important as their length. Referring back to the images at the top – let’s call them ‘how to’ – notice that they’re fitted, but not tight. Over the past few seasons, a lot of high street stores, in trying to capture the more expensive tailored look, have ended up making their shorts too skinny. That’s a style best left alone since it creates an illusion of consistency from your calves through your thighs.
On the flip side, following my first tip (i.e. adhering to the correct length), but with a pair of shorts too wide in the thigh, will bear equally dubious results.
Wear your shorts so that they mimic, but don’t hug, your thighs. Leave room to move. Not everyone benefits from a svelte figure but, where possible, all good clothes should compliment the wearer’s frame by outlining and suggesting it tastefully. Shorts are no different.
Finally: wear the right shoes. Personally, and as readers of this blog will come to find out in time, I’m not a huge fan of sneakers. That said, if they’re simple enough – preferably made from a course canvas – they can work (see the last ‘how to‘ image). Boat shoes do the trick too but – and perhaps I’m being a pedant here – both are little clean-cut for me.
My personal preference is for driving loafers: Tod’s gomminis being my shoe of choice. More grown-up than plimsolls, and softer-textured than boat shoes, the driving loafer should be a staple in your wardrobe.