SS14 Shorts Guide
It’s that time of year when we begin to think about our legs again. Remember them? Those flesh-covered pylons that keep you upright most of the time.
The arrival of spring brings with it the promises of languid days spent lounging bare-legged beneath the sun. Great, except as an Englishman you are genetically predisposed to getting shorts wrong. Brazilians can pull off Speedos; Scandinavians, with none of our Victorian hang-ups, look positively nonchalant in skimpy briefs; while Australians look as if they were born into their board shorts.
Despite this, there is a pair of shorts for every occasion and, if worn wisely, they can make a confident style statement.
So, now is the time to prep your summer wardrobe with our guide to SS14’s key short styles…
The Tailored Short
Your go-to option for smart-casual looks is the tailored short, which should be a staple in any discerning gent’s warm-weather wardrobe.
Following the overarching industry trend, tailored shorts have become slimmer over time. And like much of English sartorialism, you can trace them back to military roots, where the patriarch was almost certainly the Bermuda short as worn by the British Army. Today’s incarnation is slightly shorter and closely follows the line of the hips and upper thigh, finishing just above the knee.
Extremely versatile, the tailored short can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. The most obvious way to smarten them up is with an unstructured blazer. Yet if you are even contemplating pulling off a short suit, whether matching or as separates, your blazer should be soft shouldered because any jacket with an encumbrance of padding is going to make you appear especially boxy with your legs bared.
A simple white t-shirt/polo and a pair of driving shoes will make for an accomplished outfit. Oliver Spencer combined some subtly patterned navy shorts with a royal blue double-breasted blazer within his SS14 collection, and we really liked the collaboration between Mr Start and Mr Hare at London Collections: Men, where tailored shorts were complemented with bold suede espadrilles and contemporary tailoring.
If there’s a secret to effortlessly pulling off tailored shorts, it’s keep the colour neutral. You can experiment with subtle patterns and textures – a pale pink or sky blue seersucker short combined with a polo makes for an excellent preppy look, for example – just keep the colours under control.
Although this cut suits all body types, elaborate or loud designs can often be jarring to look at and will only serve to bring attention to your mid-section and break up your vertical lines – not ideal for short or overweight gentlemen.
The pastel versions shown at Hackett and Lou Dalton are the perfect example of shorts that speak volumes without shouting, while Kris Van Assche used a darker palette of silky maroon to great effect at Dior Homme.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to experiment with colours and textures – but remember, your tailored shorts should be seen and not heard, so careful with the volume.
On The Runways
- Asos Slim Fit Shorts In Slub
- Asos Slim Fit Shorts In Washed Cotton
- Asos Slim Fit Shorts In Oxford
- Reiss Gold S Turn-up Tailored Shorts Blue
- Reiss Palmero S Tailored Chino Shorts Grey
- Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Rose
- Reiss Perry Grey Check Shorts Light Grey
- Balenciaga Slim-fit Cotton-twill Shorts
- J.crew 9 Stanton Cotton-twill Shorts
- Brooks Brothers Tailored Cotton Shorts 186722
- New Look Dark Blue Tailored Polka Dot Denim Shorts
- Balenciaga Seersucker Tailored Shorts 185956
The Cropped Short
One man’s cropped is another man’s mid-thigh, but for the purposes of singing from the same style sheet, we’re referring to any short that finishes at mid-thigh (or above).
The leisurely (even louche) cousin of the tailored short, this style is most at home in casual settings, be it poolside, at the beach or in the park. By that token, they’re sometimes referred to as swimming shorts and will generally be constructed from a quick-drying polymide fabric.
Since you’ll often be wearing them without anything else on, you can afford to be more extravagant with colours, patterns and designs, so feel free to go wild.
In recent years, Orlebar Brown have cornered this market with their sophisticatedly simple collections of cropped swim shorts, which are designed to take you from beach to bar without needing to change.
The shape and cut harks back to the classic Riviera aesthetics of the 1960s, when men were men and shorts were, well, short. Think Sean Connery’s pale blue Sunspels in Thunderball, Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief reclining on the beach in a tartan plaid number, or even Hunter S. Thompson crouched at a typewriter in a pair of graphic print shorts:
This style of short cries out for a simple polo or linen shirt in a neutral colour way, but you could also opt for an on trend floral top provided you choose a plain pair.
Keep your footwear casual and of the slip-on variety – espadrilles, drivers or loafers are perfect – and you’ve got a crisp, masculine summer look in your arsenal.
On The Runways
- Topman Indigo Textured Micro Shorts
- Asos Chino Shorts With Elasticated Waist In Polka Dot Print
- Asos Slim Fit Short In 100% Linen
- Topman Red Striped Micro Smart Shorts
- Topman Frost Grey Acid Wash Swim Shorts
- Oiler & Boiler Amazon Shortie Swim Shorts
- Next Navy Geo Print Riviera Shorts
- Dolce & Gabbana Double-pleated Cotton Shorts
- Marc By Marc Jacobs Short-length Printed Swim Shorts
- Setter Petrol Tread Print Shorter Length Swim Short
- Setter Sky Shorter Length Swim Short
- Myo Oxford Swim Shorts 196445
The Baggy Short
Designer went big on baggy for SS14 with the likes of Emporio Armani, Jil Sander, Salvatore Ferragamo, E. Tautz, James Long and Christopher Shannon all opting for shorts-cum-windsocks. Is it a look that’s here to stay? Will a nation’s collective crotch finally be released from the confines of the skinny fit?
As with any deviation from the tried-and-tested, only time will tell, but it’s definitely an aesthetic that befits a more urban character with an athletic physique – if you’ve been skipping leg day at the gym then you might want to think twice before parting with your hard-earned cash.
Designers were very experimental with fabric choice, with many opting for shiny, free-flowing silk-blends reminiscent of the Italian lounge suits of the 1980s. If you want to test the baggy waters, take your cue from Ferragamo’s SS14 collection where the shorts came predominantly in white and were paired with a mixture of sports-inspired clothing and tailoring.
Different is not always smart but smart can, on occasion, look different.
On The Runways
- Cheap Monday Maxi Shorts In Black
- Cheap Monday Denim Shorts In Loose Fit
- Vintage Renewal Sweat Shorts In Black
- Le Coq Sportif Chronic Sweat Shorts In Grey
- J.w.anderson Double-pleated Denim Shorts
- Boohooman Jersey Shorts
- Topman Black Raw Edge Jersey Shorts
- Asos Jersey Shorts In Oversized Fit With Pu Side Panels
- Carhartt Aviation Shorts In Green
So there you have it, a look at the key short styles for spring/summer 2014 and some guidelines on how to pull off the look. From classic and tailored to more experimental shapes and silhouettes, there is something for everyone this summer.
But now we want to hear what you think:
- Is it possible to dress up shorts?
- Do you think you could pull off a pair of cropped shorts?
- Will you be swapping your chino shorts for a baggier style this year?
- Are patterned shorts now a modern essential?
Let us know in the comments section…