One thing’s for sure on these shores: give British men so much as a sliver of sun and we’re rifling through wardrobes and shop displays in search of something that lets our legs breathe.

But with this new-found freedom comes a whole list of potential style gaffes that’s anything but short. To better your chances of success of baring your legs in style, bookmark these five time- and stress-saving ways to wear shorts.

Denim Shorts + T-shirt + Sweater

Jeans are easy, but cut short, denim is risky business. Too far below the knee, and you’re wearing what could be misconstrued as pedal pushers; but opt for a pair that’s too short and suddenly you’re a 1990s Playgirl cover.

Since neither situation is particularly desirable, look for the ideal in-between. What’s that? A pair that’s cut slim, but not skinny, and which ends a couple of inches above your knee. Oh, and hold the rips. (Unless your life is one very long, very weird Take That throwback themed party.)

Remember that denim shorts have a real knack for looking unkempt if styled incorrectly. So swerve the string vest and pair yours with care. Start with a simple slim-fitting tee, then layer a fine-gauge jumper or sweatshirt on top so your teeth don’t start chattering once the sun wanes.

Tread carefully, too. By this we mean it’s never OK to wear your denim shorts with flip-flops. Ever. Running trainers can be tricky as well, so pull on a pair of canvas or leather low-tops and you’ll be in step with the rest of this low-key look.

(Related: Foolproof shorts and footwear combinations)

Men's Denim Shorts, T-Shirt and Sweater Summer Fashion/Style Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

mango man ss15zara 2016mango man ss16tommy hilfiger ss16

Key Styles

  • Allsaints Barham Switch ShortsAllsaints Barham Switch Shorts
  • Selected Homme Grey Denim ShortsSelected Homme Grey Denim Shorts
  • Topman White Skinny Fit Denim ShortsTopman White Skinny Fit Denim Shorts
  • He By Mango Dark Denim Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Dark Denim Bermuda Shorts
  • River Island Vintage Blue Slim Fit Denim ShortsRiver Island Vintage Blue Slim Fit Denim Shorts
  • Topman Rinse Wash Skinny Fit Denim ShortsTopman Rinse Wash Skinny Fit Denim Shorts
  • Topman Black Denim Slim Fit ShortsTopman Black Denim Slim Fit Shorts
  • River Island Light Blue Wash Slim Fit Denim ShortsRiver Island Light Blue Wash Slim Fit Denim Shorts
  • He By Mango Dark Denim Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Dark Denim Bermuda Shorts

Sweat Shorts + T-shirt + Bomber Jacket

It’s strange to think – in this era of athleisure – that just a few years ago the mere thought of wearing shorts stylishly was laughable. Had we been told sweat shorts would be a thing, then, we’d have chuckled heartily at idea and then promptly returned to adjusting our bow ties, shining our brogues and twiddling our comically large moustaches.

(Related: Everything you need to know about athleisure)

But times change. And contrary to the claims of the naysayers, it’s possible to wear these comfy-as shorts and keep your sartorial credentials intact.

The key is in thinking more minimal, less Maximuscle. That is, opt for a pair of sweat shorts that could work both inside and outside of the gym – i.e. something subtle that’s logo- and flashy branding-free in a versatile colour like off-white, black, grey or navy. Marl styles and raw hems work especially well in giving sweat shorts more of a fashion edge, distinguishing them from your average SportsDirect fare.

Keep the rest of your outfit on track by pulling on a crew neck T-shirt and a bomber jacket or luxe hoody. Similarly, neutral hues work well, but revving up the colour with one piece – either the tee or the jacket – can add some punch to this casual look.

Slip on some minimal low-tops – with pulled up tube socks if you fancy yourself a fashion killa – and you’re good to go.

Men's Sweat Shorts, T-Shirt and Bomber Jacket/Hoody Summer Fashion/Style Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

zara 2016pull and bear 2016reiss ss16Brunello Cucinelli ss16

Key Styles

  • Allsaints Trema Sweat ShortAllsaints Trema Sweat Short
  • Allsaints Rigged ShortAllsaints Rigged Short
  • Zara Textured Bermuda ShortsZara Textured Bermuda Shorts
  • Reiss 1971 Gull Flecked Drawstring Shorts Grey MelangeReiss 1971 Gull Flecked Drawstring Shorts Grey Melange
  • Reiss Maldive Jersey Shorts IndigoReiss Maldive Jersey Shorts Indigo
  • Reigning Champ Loopback Cotton-blend Jersey ShortsReigning Champ Loopback Cotton-blend Jersey Shorts
  • Folk Jersey Short GreyFolk Jersey Short Grey
  • Todd Snyder + Champion Cut-off Fleece-back Cotton-blend Jersey ShortsTodd Snyder + Champion Cut-off Fleece-back Cotton-blend Jersey Shorts
  • Nike Slim-fit Tech-knit Cotton-blend ShortsNike Slim-fit Tech-knit Cotton-blend Shorts

Chino Shorts + Breton Shirt + Blazer

Thanks to their smart-casual pole position, chino shorts are pretty hard to steer wrong with. But almost by virtue of the fact that they’re so easily dressed up or down, they can quickly start to look boring, so it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to styling.

First, the shorts themselves. Fit-wise, you’re looking for something similar to the denim ones mentioned above – i.e. not legging-long, not gigolo-short. And, most importantly, cut slim to limit the chances of you looking like holiday snaps of your dad in a French zoo circa 1996.

In terms of colours, sand, navy and white are timeless choices, while pink and cobalt blue shorts offer a more novel, but equally as stylish, alternative. Don’t shy away from subtle nautical embroidered motifs on shorts either – they add interest without turning your legs into a fairground attraction. (Prep authorities Tommy Hilfiger and Gant both have styles worth a punt.)

When it comes to styling, set your sights on the Riviera. Team your cotton or line-cotton chino shorts with a classic Breton shirt and a navy blazer (opt for unstructured if you really want to tap this look’s louche potential) and finish off with a pair of loafers. Johannes Huebl would be proud.

Men's Chino Shorts, Breton Top and Blazer Summer Fashion/Style Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

zara 2016mango man ss15zara 2016scotch & soda ss16

Key Styles

  • River Island Green Slim Fit Chino ShortsRiver Island Green Slim Fit Chino Shorts
  • Only & Sons Chino ShortsOnly & Sons Chino Shorts
  • Allsaints Miktre Lumen ShortAllsaints Miktre Lumen Short
  • He By Mango Cotton Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Cotton Bermuda Shorts
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Burnt OrangeReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Burnt Orange
  • Topman Navy Chino ShortsTopman Navy Chino Shorts
  • J.crew Stanton Cotton-twill Chino ShortsJ.crew Stanton Cotton-twill Chino Shorts
  • River Island Black Slim Fit Chino ShortsRiver Island Black Slim Fit Chino Shorts
  • J. Crew 7 Club Short In Lightweight ChinoJ. Crew 7 Club Short In Lightweight Chino

Tailored Shorts + T-shirt + Blazer

As hot a potato as the shorts suit is, is there really a better way to beat the heat without compromising on style? Sure, it’s not every office that’ll be cool with you getting your hairy legs out in front of the board, but that’s not to say some truncated tailoring won’t serve you well wherever else you’ve got to be this summer.

You don’t have to commit to a full shorts suit either; separates work just as well (if not better) provided they’re in some kind of sync – i.e. complementary colours and textures. When choosing shorts, be careful not to confuse tailored and groin-compactingly tight, and look for fabrications that feel that bit more formal, like good quality cotton, cotton-linen and cotton-satin blends.

That whole tailoring and trainers thing you’ve been hearing about? It works with tailored shorts too. Think of it as a balancing act: you want an outfit that doesn’t cut too many corners on formality, but that keeps you comfortable and sweat-free all the same. So if not a shorts suit, then a single- or double-breasted blazer in a summer-ready fabrication (again, cotton, cotton-linen and linen are your ports of call) and a pair of tailored shorts in a complementary colour (light or dark neutrals and pastels get our vote).

Meanwhile, a lightweight tee and some super-slick leather trainers keeps it grounded. (And stops you from looking like you take your styling cue from a 1940s schoolboy.)

(Related: 5 rules for wearing a shorts suit)

Men's Tailored Shorts, T-Shirts and Blazer Summer Fashion/Style Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

olzen ss15reserved ss16zara summer 2015zara 2016

Key Styles

  • Reiss Roman S Herringbone Shorts GreyReiss Roman S Herringbone Shorts Grey
  • Reiss Valley Linen And Cotton Shorts NaturalReiss Valley Linen And Cotton Shorts Natural
  • J.w.anderson Wide-leg Double-pleat Cotton-canvas ShortsJ.w.anderson Wide-leg Double-pleat Cotton-canvas Shorts
  • Dolce & Gabbana Tailored ShortsDolce & Gabbana Tailored Shorts
  • Theory Tailored ShortsTheory Tailored Shorts
  • Topman Stone Mid Length Tailored ShortsTopman Stone Mid Length Tailored Shorts
  • River Island Navy Smart Bermuda ShortsRiver Island Navy Smart Bermuda Shorts
  • River Island Light Tan Slim Fit ShortsRiver Island Light Tan Slim Fit Shorts
  • Peter Werth Cleave Pindot Cotton ShortsPeter Werth Cleave Pindot Cotton Shorts

Printed Shorts + Vest

Printed shorts can go one of two ways: loud, garish eyesore, or punchy point of interest. Assuming it’s the latter you’re after, there are a few things worth bearing in mind before taking the plunge.

Even more important than the printed shorts you choose are the clothes you wear them with. So, once you’ve picked a motif (florals, stripes, modernist geometric takes and microprints are all valid options) it should go without saying that everything else you’re wearing needs to take a back seat.

Considering printed shorts rarely work dressed up, team yours with a plain tee or vest, then simply layer an overshirt or lightweight denim jacket on top for coverage come sundown. And remember to strip accessories right back when wearing print: one chain or bracelet and a pair of shades does the trick.

Men's Printed Shorts and Plain T-Shirts/Vests Summer Fashion/Style Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

house of fraser ss16mango man ss16tommy hilfiger ss15ovs ss15

Key Styles

  • Asos Skinny Chino Shorts With Mini Dot PrintAsos Skinny Chino Shorts With Mini Dot Print
  • Asos Chino Shorts With Camo PrintAsos Chino Shorts With Camo Print
  • Pepe Jeans Mcqueen Hawaiian Turn Up ShortsPepe Jeans Mcqueen Hawaiian Turn Up Shorts
  • Reiss Jamaica Palm Print Shorts BlueReiss Jamaica Palm Print Shorts Blue
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Printed Cotton ShortsPolo Ralph Lauren Printed Cotton Shorts
  • He By Mango Striped Chambray Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Striped Chambray Bermuda Shorts
  • He By Mango Printed 5 Pocket Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Printed 5 Pocket Bermuda Shorts
  • He By Mango Printed Linen-cotton Blend Bermuda ShortHe By Mango Printed Linen-cotton Blend Bermuda Short
  • He By Mango Striped Cotton Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Striped Cotton Bermuda Shorts

Final Word

How will you be wearing shorts this summer? Is there a fail-safe way to pair a pair that didn’t make this short(s)list?

Give us the long and shorts of it below.