The Dos & Don’ts Of Shorts

Here at FashionBeans, we like to help our readers as much as possible. Regardless of whether you’re a regular who devours every piece of content we produce or a passer-by who has landed on this page via a well-placed Google search, we always aim to be as informative and helpful as we can. But, as with any creative industry, some areas of menswear require more guidance than others.

This is especially true when it comes to the warmer months of the year. Dressing for winter is easy: a decent pair of jeans, an Oxford shirt, neutral knitwear and some classic footwear is all you need to look put together and stylish. Anything over and above this and you’re just showing off.

But summer is a different beast entirely. Give a man a little bit of sun and he’ll lose all self-control when it comes to both style and everyday logic. Looking like a scorcher outside? Forget hats and sun cream, let’s really commit to the lobster look this season. The forecast says it’ll be sunny in the morning but with showers towards the end of the day? Might as well wear flip-flops and a vest when I step out of the door, regardless of how wet I’ll appear upon my return.

So, over the coming weeks we are going to publish a warm-weather primer. Let’s call it the dos and don’ts of key high summer pieces, starting with an item that British men are seemingly predisposed to getting wrong: shorts.

Do: Get The Length Right

This is often the real style killer when it comes to shorts. Ideally, they should finish an inch or two above the knee. Any longer and we’re starting to approach three-quarter length territory. Any shorter and we’re moving into the zone that only your swimming trunks should be in.

Just remember that no matter how hard they are trending this year, it takes a really good pair of legs to pull off short shorts – and even then their acceptability anywhere outside of a holiday destination is debatable. Just be honest with yourself and stick to a length that you know will flatter your specific body type.

Some quick guidelines:

  • Taller men should aim to have their shorts finish just above the knee, which will break up their vertical line slightly lower down and therefore balance their long proportions. A couple of folds of the hem will also add natural bulk to thin legs.
  • Short men, on the other hand, should be aiming for a couple of inches above the knee, which will give the appearance of longer legs. In addition, opting for a slim cut and clean finish (rather than folded hems) will ensure the eyeline moves quicker from top to bottom without stopping, emphasising length.
  • If you are a muscular gent or have particularly great legs, anything goes! However, just be wary of adding even more bulk to your substantial frame – in this case it might be best to opt for a clean finish, rather than folded/rolled hems.
Lookbook Inspiration

As you can see below, a slim cut pair of shorts that finish an inch or two above the knee can be dressed up or down effortlessly:

Men's Shorts - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

matalan ss14calibre ss14sisley ss14j crew ss14pepe jeans ss14sarar ss14he by mango ss14IKKA ss12jaeger ss14reiss ss14asos ss14next ss14
Don’t: Underestimate The Importance Of Fabric

Since you’ll be wearing shorts regularly during the summer months, you’ll want to make sure they keep you as cool as possible.

Opt for materials like cotton, linen-blends and madras or seersucker to not only help keep sweat at bay but also reinforce that you are a stylish gentleman who understands the importance of seasonal dressing:

  • Asos Slim Fit Shorts In 100% LinenAsos Slim Fit Shorts In 100% Linen
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts RoseReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Rose
  • Reiss Palmero S Tailored Chino Shorts GreyReiss Palmero S Tailored Chino Shorts Grey
  • Reiss Clark Stripe Cotton Shorts Blue StripeReiss Clark Stripe Cotton Shorts Blue Stripe
  • Nn.07 Florence Cotton-seersucker ShortsNn.07 Florence Cotton-seersucker Shorts
  • J. Crew 10.5 Club Short In Tonal SeersuckerJ. Crew 10.5 Club Short In Tonal Seersucker
  • He By Mango Cotton Oxford ShortsHe By Mango Cotton Oxford Shorts
  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Relaxed ShortsUniqlo Men Linen Cotton Relaxed Shorts
  • 120% Lino Flat-front Linen Shorts 183804120% Lino Flat-front Linen Shorts 183804
Do: Test Out Your Shorts

This is a mistake many of us continue to make when it comes to purchasing any type of legwear, regardless of the weather outside.

Fit is king, but practicality is just as important, especially in the warmer months of the year. You should be aiming for a slim but not restrictive fit in order to ensure comfort as temperatures rise. With this in mind, if you find that your shorts are oppressively hot, or you simply have trouble sitting down or lifting your knees, you probably need a different cut or to size up.

After all, when the sun is out there’s going to be a lot more leaping and bounding after wayward footballs and Frisbees. You don’t want to miss out on the fun because you’re afraid of tearing your shorts, do you?

Don’t: Spend A Lot On Them

Buy the best quality you can within your price range. I personally refuse to spend more than £30 on any type of basic item, be it t-shirts, shorts or Oxford shirts. And luckily, with places like Uniqlo, ASOS and H&M, you don’t have to.

As long as you nail the fit of your shorts, no one’s going to be able to tell the difference between a high fashion pair and some from Primark.

Also, consider making your own. I always take a look through my old trousers that I don’t wear anymore and decide if turning them into shorts will breathe new life into them. It’s a really simple job for you or your tailor to do, so why not give it a try?

Shorts under £30:

  • Topman Turquoise Chino ShortsTopman Turquoise Chino Shorts
  • Asos Slim Fit ShortAsos Slim Fit Short
  • Stretch Slim Fit Smart ShortsStretch Slim Fit Smart Shorts
  • United Colors Of Benetton Chino ShortUnited Colors Of Benetton Chino Short
  • Burton Khaki Chinos ShortsBurton Khaki Chinos Shorts
  • Asos Chino Shorts In Mid LengthAsos Chino Shorts In Mid Length
  • New Look Stone Chino ShortsNew Look Stone Chino Shorts
  • Uniqlo Men Chino ShortsUniqlo Men Chino Shorts
  • Next Oxford Chino ShortsNext Oxford Chino Shorts
  • River Island White Chino ShortsRiver Island White Chino Shorts
  • River Island Dark Red Skinny Stretch Chino ShortsRiver Island Dark Red Skinny Stretch Chino Shorts
  • River Island Light Pink Chino ShortsRiver Island Light Pink Chino Shorts
Do: Aim For Versatility Over Making A Statement

Sure, a pair of floral shorts may be fun to break out every once in a while, but in the middle of a heatwave a bold print is only going to limit your choices when it comes to the rest of your outfit each day.

By all means invest in a couple of statement pairs but keep the rest in classic block-colours such as navy, grey, beige, olive or white. Not only do these offer unrivalled versatility but they also provide you with a solid foundation to then incorporate key summer trends such as floral print, Breton stripes and colour pop shoes.

Lookbook Inspiration: Versatile Neutrals

Men's Neutral, Block-Coloured Shorts - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango ss14debenhams hammond & co ss14ramsey ss13calibre ss14Woolrich John Rich & Bros ss14he by mango summer 2014jaeger ss14selected homme denim ss14he by mango spring 2013reiss ss14h&m ss14asos ss14
Lookbook Inspiration: Statement Shorts

Men's Statement/Printed Shorts - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

pepe jeans ss14saturdays surf nyc ss14he by mango summer 2014tommy hilfiger ss14jigsaw ss14h&m ss14
Don’t: Forget About The Short Suit

We’ve previously advocated the short suit on FashionBeans for SS14, and although the look is definitely not for everyone, there’s no denying that when it’s done right, it can be an absolute knock out.

Here’s a reminder of the key rules to pulling off this daring summer style:

  • 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.
  • You don’t need to match the colour of your jacket to your shorts – embrace contrast.
  • Let the short suit do the talking. Don’t start adding patterns or overly loud colours and embellishments into the mix.
  • Have some fun with it, and wear with rock solid confidence.

Bear the above in mind and you cannot go wrong.

Lookbook Inspiration: Short Suits & Separates

Men's Short Suits and Short Separates Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango ss12h&m ss13comodo square ss13michael bastian x gant ss14j crew ss14jaeger ss14loewe ss13mj bale ss12zara man may 2014
Final Word

So there you have it, some style dos and don’ts when it comes to wearing shorts this summer. Next week, we’re set to tackle short-sleeved shirts.

But as always, we want to hear what you have to say, so leave your thoughts, ideas and trolling in the comments section below…

Matt Allinson