With the official beginning of British Summertime (and the inevitable going forward of the clocks) looming ever closer, I’ve begun putting some serious thought into making the transition from my autumn/winter wardrobe to a brand new spring/summer version. It often starts slyly; a subtle introduction of linen or madras here, a touch of socklessness there. But sooner or later, we all have to start bringing out the big guns. And there is no gun bigger than shorts to sound the charge on long evenings, beer gardens and never ending hose pipe ban rumours.
But first – before we discuss why it’s perfectly acceptable to start wearing shorts as early as April – we should cover some ground rules. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a style beginner, it’s always nice to have a few guidelines to go by. Especially with an item that can make or break your look.
So why shorts so early? Well, honestly, why not? As soon as the weather warms up, everyone ditches their layers and feels fine in just a t-shirt and jacket (or some variation on it). Why not just invert the look? In my eyes there’s nothing wrong with an outfit that consists of a cotton shirt, merino wool jumper/cardigan and a pair of tailored shorts – it can often be seen in the spring/summer lookbooks for brands such as J Crew and GANT.
The key is, as with anything in a seasonal wardrobe, to pick the right kind of materials. Seeing as it’s only the beginning of British Summertime, why not start with some slightly beefier cottons or herringbone wools? Pair materials of similar texture with them such as Oxford cloth/flannel shirts and lightweight wools for the best effect.
Save those linen, seersucker and thin cottons for a few months down the line – and when you do break them out, pair them with chambray or madras shirts, linen ties or cotton-blend jackets.
If you fancy being really adventurous, why not make your own? Or, you know, get your tailor to make you some. You know those tweed trousers you wore the hell out of the last two years with the fraying hems? Any decent tailor can transform them into a pair of shorts ready for your transition into spring.
This is a great option for you thrifters out there, as you could easily pick up a pair of unwanted chinos or trousers for a couple of quid and get them altered to look like you paid 10 times the price for them.
Essentially guys, so long as you nail the fit of your shorts, stick to logical colour combinations and keep things season-conscious through the materials you pick, there is no reason you can’t start wearing shorts the moment you begrudgingly wind that hour hand forward.
Remember to keep an eye on the rest of your outfit and choose your footwear carefully. I find it best to stick with a more casual type of shoe – whether it be suede brogues, leather penny loafers or a bog standard boat shoe – but experiment to find out what suits your personal style the best.
If you just can’t bring yourself to go sockless, at least invest in some ankle/loafer socks to avoid any ghastly sock to skin contrast. Like my tailor always says – ‘when there are leaves in the trees, my ankles will feel the breeze’.
Let’s finish with some lookbook inspiration, to show you just how versatile shorts really are:
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