Short And Sharp

This past weekend, I found myself jealous of celebrities again – and not for all the usual reasons. Of course, free clothes, personal trainers/chefs/drivers and more money than you’ll ever need is enough to make any ordinary person’s blood boil, but this time it was down to one thing: The Oscars.

Normally, I’m not that interested. Most of the time the show just confirms what I already know: some celebrities are just like us (Ellen Degeneres buying everyone pizza) and some of them are total d*cks (U2’s entire performance). But this year, it just looked like so much fun.

By now you’ve all seen the selfie that shook the world, but that wasn’t what made me completely green with envy. It was the fact that I wasn’t there to witness the rebirth of the short suit, thanks to one of our very own style icons, Pharrell Williams:

Pharrell Williams In A Short Tuxedo Suit - The Oscars 2014

Believe it or not, I liked the look. A lot. Nothing says you know who you are sartorially AND have come to party quite like the short suit. Oh man, I can just hear you all gearing up to tear me apart in the comments section already.

But before you do, hear me out. Menswear is heading in a direction that the short suit sums up perfectly: classic with a twist. After years of studying the art of dressing, we’ve come to a crossroads.

One path is encouraging us to emulate the 1950s and develop a timeless personal style that will transcend the next fifty years. The other desperately wants to find new ways to stand out from the ever-growing crowd of stylish gentlemen. And the short suit does just that.

But as always, there are some rules that need to be followed…

1. Get The Fit Right

Firstly, you’ve got to nail the fit. And that starts off with knowing your body type.

A guy like me could not wear a short suit; I’m a 42″ chest and 36″ waist with a thigh circumference I’m too embarrassed to mention here. This makes wearing slim-cut, formal shorts a nightmare. However, if you have a tall, lean frame like Pharrell, go right ahead.

Just make sure that the shorts come in the same fit as your blazer. Much like when you pair suiting separates together, if your jacket and trousers/shorts don’t feature similar cuts it instantly throws out your silhouette and proportions.

So if you were considering wearing a shirt and blazer with your usual Sunday shorts, think again. When buying a new suit, either purchase two pairs of identical trousers and get one chopped and hemmed into shorts, or look to buy tailored shorts in dressier summer fabrics like cotton or hopsack wool:

Men's Short Suit Lookbook

he by mango ss12zara man ss13comodo square ss13David Mayer Naman ss13h&m summer 2013ted baker ss14michael bastian x gant ss14j crew ss14new look ss14ti for men ss13mj bale ss12farah 1920 ss14
2. Mix And Match

Secondly, you don’t need to match the colour of your jacket to your shorts. In fact, this will be pretty hard unless you’re buying a full short suit or making your own shorts out of the same material.

Instead, embrace contrast. Why not try a grey linen suit jacket with a white dress shirt, navy shorts and some tan suede Derbies?

You could even go a bit bolder and combine a navy cotton blazer with a grey polo shirt and some pale red shorts. As long as the colour combinations aren’t too wild, you can’t really go wrong:

Pepe jeans ss14h&m ss12tommy hilfiger Westcoasting ss14debenhams hammond and co ss14tommy hilfiger ss13topmanloewe ss13reiss ss14mj bale ss12house of fraser ss14Todd Snyder ss14Baldessarini ss14
3. Keep It Simple

Thirdly, let the short suit do the talking. Don’t start adding patterns or overly loud colours and embellishments into the mix.

It’s that sort of thing that will make you wander out of the ‘Pharrell Zone’ and into the ‘First Year at Design School Zone’. Or what I also like to refer to as the ‘Here Be Will.I.Am’ section of the sartorial map.

You’re making enough of a statement by wearing this outfit in the first place, so there’s no need to try so hard. Keep things simple and you’ll be fine.

4. Experiment

Lastly, have some fun with it. If I had the legs to pull off this look, I totally would!

What’s not to like, especially in warm months and even hotter climates? You have the chance to appear put together, stylish and at ease without even (literally) breaking a sweat.

Much like a traditional suit, wearing a short version means you’ve already sorted out 75 per cent of your outfit – grab a shirt, skip the tie, put on some shoes and you’re ready to go.

Example Combinations
  • Topman Navy Herringbone Skinny Fit BlazerTopman Navy Herringbone Skinny Fit Blazer
  • Peter Werth Suit Jacket In CobaltPeter Werth Suit Jacket In Cobalt
  • Topman Peter Werth Ingleside N1 Cut Suit Blazer Topman Peter Werth Ingleside N1 Cut Suit Blazer
  • Asos Slim Fit Shorts In OxfordAsos Slim Fit Shorts In Oxford
  • Asos Slim Fit Shorts In OxfordAsos Slim Fit Shorts In Oxford
  • Asos Slim Fit ShortAsos Slim Fit Short
  • Topman Indigo Oxford Skinny Fit BlazerTopman Indigo Oxford Skinny Fit Blazer
  • River Island Grey Slim Suit JacketRiver Island Grey Slim Suit Jacket
  • Gucci New Palma Notch-lapel Blazer 181978Gucci New Palma Notch-lapel Blazer 181978
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts NavyReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Navy
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts RoseReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Rose
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts StoneReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Stone
  • Blue Oxford JacketBlue Oxford Jacket
  • He By Mango Double-breasted Jersey BlazerHe By Mango Double-breasted Jersey Blazer
  • Our Legacy Unstructured Linen BlazerOur Legacy Unstructured Linen Blazer
  • Brioni Micro-check Tailored Shorts 192138Brioni Micro-check Tailored Shorts 192138
  • Ted Baker Ted Baker Bagend Chino ShortTed Baker Ted Baker Bagend Chino Short
  • Linea York Limited Edition Chino ShortLinea York Limited Edition Chino Short
Final Word

Obviously, if this is your first time trying this look, I’m not suggesting you go all out with a short tuxedo like Mr Williams did. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Some guys are just born cool, or at the very least have the number of Lanvin’s creative director. Yet with enough attention to detail, you could be rocking your own little red carpet number at your friend’s back garden BBQ or drinks on the terrace this summer.

But as always, I want to hear your thoughts on this subject – so why not drop a comment in the box below…