Introduction

As climates begin to warm and legs begin to bare, sartorial excellence can sometimes fall by the wayside – especially when practicality rules the day.

Shorts have been a hot topic as of late. Matt Allinson has already concerned himself with the re-introduction of specific buying guidelines; while our Editor in Chief, Ben Herbert, added an on-trend print spin.

A great pair of shorts goes far in creating a sterling summer outfit, however the dilemma remains about what to wear on top. A humble t-shirt? Perhaps some fine-gauge knitwear? Both are astute choices. But for those who have been taken by tailoring in the prior months, they can seem a little casual.

So gentlemen, I present you with the alternative: the short suit.

Short Suits

The short suit refers to your average two-piece – in whatever variation it may be for your occasion – with the exception of trousers, which are substituted for shorts.

At this point, you may be having flashbacks to primary school summers, but don’t let this cloud your judgment. The short suit, unlike the abhorrent onesie, is not an adventure into an unfulfilled childhood.

Today’s focus is the sophisticated man’s practical summer option. While not suitable for every office environment, it hits that smart-casual divide exceedingly well, keeping you looking put-together and most importantly, cool.

In Matt’s fashion basics [part 70], he advised getting a pair of shorts created by a tailor from an old pair of chinos or trousers. This is a fantastic way to begin building your perfect short suit, especially as smart, tailored shorts can be hard to find at certain price ranges. It is also worth considering buying two pairs of trousers with a blazer and getting one tailored down to shorts, improving the versatility and wear-ability of one ensemble.

Of course, the key thing to consider when building or buying a short suit is material. Wool or any other heavy fabric is a redundant choice. Cotton, linen or blend make fantastic summer fabrics, as they are breathable and light.

Short Suit Lookbook

Men's Short Suit Lookbook

How to Wear

If your outfit is all about substitution, you could also contemplate a waistcoat instead of a jacket (as shown in the lookbook above.) However, I wouldn’t recommend a three-piece short suit – it is far too formal up top and casual down below; not to mention the extra layer is defeating the purpose.

If you’re not entirely sold on the idea of a full corresponding suit, how about separates? Any lingering doubts coming in the form of book bags and transformer lunch boxes will hopefully disappear with a complimentary combination; that is unless you had some seriously stylish early education.

By keeping the two components different colours, you make the whole look that little bit more casual and slightly less suit-like. Combinations such as camel and navy; blue and red; and white and pink, are great palettes for the summer months.

Look 1

Pair an indigo blue shorts suit with a white shirt and knitted tie. The tie and shorts offer a casual tailoring tone to the look, which is great for work environments with a more relaxed dress code, a summer lunch event or even just a day about town.

  • Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In IndigoAsos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In Indigo
  • Allsaints Bruges ShirtAllsaints Bruges Shirt
  • Charvet Slim Knitted Silk TieCharvet Slim Knitted Silk Tie
  • Asos Slim Fit Shorts In IndigoAsos Slim Fit Shorts In Indigo
  • Reiss Edison Paisley Print Pocket Square Forest GreenReiss Edison Paisley Print Pocket Square Forest Green
  • Topman Nate LoafersTopman Nate Loafers
Look 2

Utilise separates in typical Riviera tones to create a continentally cool look. Light materials add to the overall aesthetic and textured boat shoes finish everything well.

This outfit would be ideal in a holiday setting.

  • Reiss Arrow Long Sleeve Linen Shirt PinkReiss Arrow Long Sleeve Linen Shirt Pink
  • Richard James Unstructured Gingham BlazerRichard James Unstructured Gingham Blazer
  • Dockers White Cotton ShortsDockers White Cotton Shorts
  • Ted Baker Aback Suede Boat ShoesTed Baker Aback Suede Boat Shoes
Look 3

What would a spring/summer 2012 article be without a mention of print? Try a suit in a smaller print for a truly striking look. A plain t-shirt, vest or Henley underneath adds a more dressed-down vibe and reflects the off-duty nature of the suit.

Base your footwear choice on the overall tone of the look i.e. for this look I’ve opted for casual leather loafers, in order to match the relaxed nature of the Henley.

  • Allsaints Zeppelin HenleyAllsaints Zeppelin Henley
  • Asos Slim Fit Leopard Short SuitAsos Slim Fit Leopard Short Suit
  • Topman Duke 2 LoafersTopman Duke 2 Loafers

Top Tip: Keep the shorts in a tailored cut, above the knee and the blazer fitted, and you can’t go wrong with a short suit.

Short Suit Product Picks
  • Topman Blue Tick Stripe Shorts SuitTopman Blue Tick Stripe Shorts Suit
  • Topman Apple Green Skinny Shorts SuitTopman Apple Green Skinny Shorts Suit
  • Asos Slim Fit Stripe Short SuitAsos Slim Fit Stripe Short Suit
  • Asos Check Blazer & ShortsAsos Check Blazer & Shorts
  • Allsaints Lorient JacketAllsaints Lorient Jacket
  • Allsaints Lorient Inception ShortsAllsaints Lorient Inception Shorts
  • Reiss Irving B Fashion One Button Notch Lapel Jacket Airforce BlueReiss Irving B Fashion One Button Notch Lapel Jacket Airforce Blue
  • Reiss Irving Shorts Oxford Weave Shorts Airforce BlueReiss Irving Shorts Oxford Weave Shorts Airforce Blue
  • Reiss Promenade B Two Button Notch Lapel Jacket GrapeReiss Promenade B Two Button Notch Lapel Jacket Grape
  • Reiss Prom Tailored Shorts GrapeReiss Prom Tailored Shorts Grape
  • Allsaints Ballast JacketAllsaints Ballast Jacket
  • Allsaints Ballast Mace ShortsAllsaints Ballast Mace Shorts
  • Reiss Promenade B Two Button Notch Lapel Jacket RhinoReiss Promenade B Two Button Notch Lapel Jacket Rhino
  • Reiss Prom Tailored Shorts RhinoReiss Prom Tailored Shorts Rhino
  • Richard James Slim-fit Linen-blend Suit JacketRichard James Slim-fit Linen-blend Suit Jacket
  • Richard James Tailored Slim-fit Linen-blend ShortsRichard James Tailored Slim-fit Linen-blend Shorts
  • Uniqlo Men Cordlane Jacket Slim FitUniqlo Men Cordlane Jacket Slim Fit
  • Uniqlo Men Belted ShortscordlaneUniqlo Men Belted Shortscordlane
  • Uniqlo Men Cordlane Jacket Slim FitUniqlo Men Cordlane Jacket Slim Fit
  • Uniqlo Men Belted ShortscordlaneUniqlo Men Belted Shortscordlane
Conclusion

This is not a look for those who are not confident about baring legs, sun starved or not. A short suit is certainly more adventurous than your standard summer outfit but it can easily be the most rewarding; bringing the advantages of tailored confidence and the feeling of a cool breeze.

Let us know your thoughts on short suits in the comments below.

Alex