OK, so summer is officially here if we go by the calendar but take a look outside here in the UK and it seems that somebody forgot to tell the rain clouds and thunderstorms to go on their annual holidays for a couple of months. Therefore I have taken it upon myself to write an article on fashion’s summer staple – shorts. Like a literary version of a sun dance, maybe this will encourage the summer we know and love to pay us a much-needed visit.

Now anybody who knows me might think the topic of shorts is a strange one for me to focus on because it is no secret that traditionally I detest wearing shorts. Primarily due to my own personal shame of exposing my pallid, corpse-like legs to the elements and (worse) the on-looking general public. However, a recent holiday to Ibiza provided me with the opportunity to shun my historical hatred of shorts and join the legions of leg-bearers with surprisingly positive (if not slightly sunburnt) results.

Before jetting off to the Balearics, I needed to jump on the shorts bandwagon and actually buy some, which threw up all sorts of questions; what colours should I opt for? What length is best? Should I go for plain or patterned? So many things to consider! A recent article in the Daily Telegraph showed that the sales of men’s shorts has recently shot up in the UK so it seems I’m not the only man in the country to make the decision to ‘get shorty.’ In fact, both John Lewis and ASOS said that sales of men’s shorts had more than doubled between January and April of this year compared to the same period last year.

Mr. Ford & The Spring/Summer Runways

Despite this, Tom Ford recently said that no man should ever leave the house wearing shorts unless he is going to the beach or to play tennis. Ford said that donning shorts in any other situation was simply ‘never appropriate.’ This is quite a strong statement and although Mr. Ford can normally do no wrong sartorially, I think he may be missing a trick here and the large presence of shorts on the S/S 2011 catwalks aptly demonstrates this.

Fashion houses and designers such as D&G, Ermanno Scervino and Tommy Hilfiger all featured shorts in their 2011 spring/summer collections. In addition, the S/S 2011 ad campaign by Tommy Hilfiger is suitably preppy in its styling and features a fictional family in a country club setting posing for family photographs. The preppy look is fully pushed to the forefront with the men wearing block-colour tailored shorts with sports knitwear and open shirts, as well as colourfully patterned shorts in and around the pool. The point is that shorts represent a staple item anchored at the centre of some of fashion’s currently hugely popular trends such as the nautical and the preppy.

Mens Shorts On Spring/Summer 2011 Runways and Tommy Hilfiger Campaign

Things To Consider

The question of length is largely down to personal choice and what you, as an individual, feel comfortable in. Although there are no hard and fast rules; there are, however, a few pointers that can be given. In the most recent copy of Fantastic Man magazine, the point is made that the age-old conundrum of length is a common one in countries such as the UK where the climate means it is only possible to wear shorts at certain times of the year. Classic menswear designer Jeremy Hackett makes the point that ideally shorts should be ‘tailored, tapered and not too long’. To be more precise, he suggests that shorts should stop about 3 inches above the knee, and if a turn-up is used – this should be approximately an inch and a quarter in width.

Although I am not suggesting mass hysteria and panic amongst the male masses until you are able to dig out your tape measures and scrutinise your own shorts, I think Hackett’s description is a good guide. Adam Brown, co-proprietor of renowned brand Orlebar Brown also agrees with Hackett and adds that this is how the ‘Bulldog’ style from Orlebar Brown is designed to fit. However, Brown adds that tellingly that it is their much shorter ‘Setter’ design, based on the short tennis-style shorts of the 1950s, which actually attracts the most repeat customers on their online shop.

This goes to show that personal choice when it comes to length is the key factor.

Plain vs Print

When it comes to deciding whether to opt for plain shorts or shorts featuring some sort of print – again, personal choice plays a role, as does a consideration for what you will be pairing with the shorts. As a general rule; if you choose plain, block-colour shorts, you can afford to be a bit more adventurous with your tee or shirt. However, if you opt for patterned, colourful shorts (which seem to be making a big impact this season) – just remember to not be too loud and colourful up top. You don’t want to end up looking like the illegitimate offspring of Timmy Mallett and a parrot!

Printed Shorts Look Book:

Mens Printed Shorts Look Book

Plain chino-style shorts are the easiest to style as they tend to be block-coloured – although this doesn’t mean you have to stick to muted tones. In fact, chino shorts now appear in all sorts of bright hues from vivid turquoises, to deep purples and cherry reds. Chino-style shorts also normally appear less bulky then alternative shorts, creating a much more slick, crisp look which produces a much sleeker, modern silhouette – complimentary to all body types and ages. Chino-style shorts also offer a sense of versatility, enabling the wearer to smarten up the whole look if desired. Just pair with a plain shirt and blazer for a much smarter look. Versatility is also offered by the ability to roll-up the shorts yourself, to create a variety of leg lengths and different looks with a single pair.

Chino Shorts Look Book:

Mens Chino Shorts Look Book

When it comes to patterned/print shorts, they are becoming more and more popular this season, both on the high street as well as on the catwalks for S/S 2011. I recently wrote an article on Fashionbeans about Hawaiian/Floral Shirts, and as expected, the article polarised opinion with feedback showing that readers either loved them or hated them. However, one consensus of opinion that did come out of this was that Hawaiian print on shorts is much more acceptable and remains popular. As somebody originally from a seaside resort on the South West coast of England, growing up, floral boardies from surfwear brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver and Rip Curl were rife – and these types of board shorts still appear to be prominent.

Current Season Shorts
  • ASOS Chino Shorts
  • Selected Three Paris Oxford Short
  • Dr Denim Eddie Chino Shorts Exclusive
  • Self Front Pocket Shorts
  • B-Store Basil Pleat Short
  • Unconditional Wrap Shorts
  • Folk Brown Chino Shorts
  • Foreman Shorts
  • dolce & gabbana Chino shorts
  • Lacoste L!VE Bermuda Shorts
  • Margaret Howell MHL Relaxed Fit Cotton Shorts
  • ralph lauren polo Mens Preston Chino Aviator Navy Blue Shorts
  • Brown Chino Roll-up Shorts
  • Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid Length Swim Shorts
  • Original Penguin By Munsingwear Blue Oxford Shorts
  • RALPH LAUREN Officers preppy shorts
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Brick Red Logo Chino Shorts
  • GANT Green Chino Shorts
  • Khaki Floral Shorts
  • Franklin & Marshall Flower Print Shorts
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Elephant Print Short
  • ASOS Paisley Print Shorts
  • Paul Smith Long Classic Swim Shorts
  • PAUL SMITH - ACCESSORIES 490A-U20 Long Classic Pink Swimshorts
  • Vilebrequin Morea Patterned Swim Shorts
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Paisley Patterned Swim Shorts
  • lanvin<br /> Distressed Prince of Wales Shorts
  • Grey Aztec Printed Shorts
  • Creep by Hiroshi Awai Floral Shorts
  • ASOS Floral Print Shorts /></a></li><li><a href=Charcoal Floral Print Short
  • Vilebrequin Peacock Swim Shorts
  • Vilebrequin Tribal Art Swim Shorts
  • Lou Dalton Textured Pink Spot Short
  • Burkman Brothers 2 Patch Pocket Shorts
Conclusion & Debate

The fact that both plain shorts as well as patterned shorts are increasing in popularity simply means that we have more options open to us. Personally, I think that patterned, print shorts are fine – but I see them as more successful in swimwear so would encourage them to be worn around the pool or at the beach.

When it comes to dressing in shorts for other occasions, I would recommend a chino-style short. Tailored and turned-up, and paired with simple tees or shirts and light-weight knits/blazers for the evenings – this is a style that suits men of all ages and body types. And despite Tom Ford’s comments, I think this type of look exudes a sense of stylish confidence and works just as well in the city at home as it does when on holiday.

So what do you think?

  • What are your favourite style of shorts for 2011?
  • How long do you think shorts should be? What is the perfect length?
  • Could you integrate colourful print shorts into your outfits, or are they confined to just swimwear?
  • Do you think more about your swimwear choice these days?
  • Do you like swimwear that can be integrated into casual outfits the same way as standard shorts?
  • Are you more open to bold coloured chino shorts this year, or do you think neutral colours are the way forward?

Let us know in the comments below, and make sure you add some links to shorts you have your eye on right now!