FOR men, wearing shorts is potentially even more of a minefield than it is for women. In the 70s and 80s they were too short, in the 90s they became vast and billowing, and in the Noughties they begat the crime against taste and rationality that is the three quarter-length trouser (which in America they call knickers, which speaks volumes about the advisability of wearing them out). Even now it’s all too easy of a weekend to pull on a pair of baggy cargo shorts and some flip-flops, a look that should be strictly reserved for Aussie barmen.
The temptation is to think of shorts as inherently casual – perhaps because of their sports associations – but Patrick Grant, director of Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, who’s included some natty shorts in the summer collection of his subsidiary fashion label E. Tautz, says there’s no reason for that. “Think of it as a pair of trousers and wear it in much the same way,” he says. “That means wearing a belt and tucking the shirt in, whether you’re going short-sleeved or with long sleeves rolled up. A shirt dangling scruffily just doesn’t cut it.”
The good news is that these days there are plenty of smart, fitted shorts with clean lines to sport for that preppy, down-at-the-yacht club look. “For length, if they get near your kneecap they’re too long,” says Grant. Wear them with smart leather sandals, deck shoes or, for classic continental chic, a pair of smart loafers – and of course, avoid socks at all costs.
1 Pink washed chino shorts, Uniqlo, £14.99, www.uniqlo.co.uk
2 Lilac Simon shorts, Aquascutum, £95, www.aquascutum.co.uk
3 Blue shorts, Calvin Klein, £120, www.calvinklein.com
4 Chino Simon shorts, Aquascutum, £95, www.aquascutum.com
5 Seaview chino shorts, Ben Sherman, £45, www.bensherman.com
6 Grey shorts, Lacoste, £100, www.lacoste.co.uk
...and for ladies
1 Satin tie-waist shorts, Forte Forte, £180, www.matchesfashion.com
2 Vintage cotton linen shorts, Jigsaw, £69, www.jigsaw-online.com
3 Gallia shorts in grey, Toast, £41, www.toast.co.uk
4 Madras plaid cotton shorts, Anna Sui, £132.50, www.netaporter.com
5 Rihanna shorts, Twenty8Twelve, £110, www.twenty8twelve.com