Long story short – shorts are no longer limited to pool parties. With the likes of Prada and Thom Browne (among others) putting their names to the tailored short, menswear is awash with a wave of party-ready prints, swim shorts you can wear out of the water and even work-appropriate options (depending on your work, of course). But, where exactly can you wear legitimately wear shorts? As summer hots up (cheers, global warming) and menswear becomes increasingly casualised, where do we draw the line? Can we ever wear shorts to a wedding? And will Jane from HR ever allow you to get your legs out on the nine-to-five? Yes to all of the above – bearing in mind a few rules, of course. Read on for our decisive and definitive summer shorts selector.
Those Summer Niiii-iiiiights (Out)
Balmy temperatures are undoubtedly the best thing about summer nights out, when a relaxed pub garden visit can turn into a 6am session quicker than you can say ‘guestlist’. However, there are several things to to bear in mind if you want to both meet the bouncer’s standards and swerve heatstroke. “Summer nights are a great opportunity to be a bit more playful with your fashion choices and inject colour into your outfit – especially if the dress code is relaxed,” says Kasia Katner from Thread.com. “Chino shorts are ideal because they can be dressed up or down if there’s a tighter door policy, the best cut being just an inch or two above the knee.” And as for making sure you don’t die of heat exhaustion? “If it’s a really hot night, be sure to choose a breathable fabric like cotton or linen.”
Oddly – for a market that’s relatively small and seasonal – there’s an abundance of poolside shorts choices for men. Those who might describe their style as ‘Italian stallion’ can opt for a set of snug Speedos, while Newquay wave riders might prefer to pretend they’re from Sydney by sporting a pair of boardshorts reminiscent of that weird Kate Bosworth surf film (Blue Crush anyone?) For a less, er, niche garment however, Katner advises: “anything from above the knee to mid-thigh and don’t be afraid of a tasteful print. The likes of Orlebar Brown and Mocha Salt have some great choices.”
On The Clock
Okay, okay, we get that no matter how casual your Friday at PwC, shorts will never cut the mustard. But if you’re working for an agency or in a more creative environment, rules may be a little laxer, making shorts a savvy workwear choice (weather depending). “Opt for minimal styles in pared-back, muted colours,” Katner advises, stressing the importance of versatility in your work-appropriate shorts. “It’s also best to avoid detailing like flap or zip pockets, and anything remotely sports-geared.” And, just as you can melt in a nightclub (see above), many a tiled ceiling workplace comes without air conditioning, which means cotton takes the driving seat once more (with the window wound down, please).
Weddings are one of the last bastions of suiting. Despite suggestions to mix and match, unbutton your shirt slightly or opt for a pocket square over a tie, the formality of occasions that call for suits mean that while a cropped trouser might be passable, shorts aren’t. Unless you’re going abroad. If you’re part-lucky, part-unlucky to be invited to a holiday wedding (have you seen the prices of August flights?), keep your look smart. “Stick to tailored shorts in classic, muted hues,” Katner explains. “Navy, grey, black or stone always works best when paired with coordinating neutrals.” But the rules don’t end there: it is a wedding after all, and photos last a lifetime. “Keep it knee-length and choose a concealed fastening for an elegant finish – and steer clear of anything too shiny.”
Your liver might already be taking a battering on account of those boozy afternoons summer is synonymous with, but don’t let your style standards slip before you get tipsy. As you start to spend more time in your pub’s beer garden than your own, it’s worth opting for a pair of hardwearing shorts that will withstand a few washes – because there will pint dribbles. So many pint dribbles. And maybe even fag ash. Knee-length denim options are a good route to go. Although not as breathable as their cotton and linen counterparts, denim shorts are durable and transition well to the evening. Better yet, a dark colour will hide most stains and combine well with a shirt come sundown.