We all know that shorts are perfect for weekend shenanigans, the beach, the pool, picnics, or
romantic walks in the park. Wearing shorts is one of the best ways to stay cool and casual when it’s hot outside.
Shorts are inherently casual, but that doesn’t mean they have to look adolescent and sloppy. So why do most men look so bad wearing shorts? Well, they’re just not wearing them correctly. This guide teaches you how to avoid these mistakes so you look amazing wearing shorts, just like the laid back, stylish gent you really are!
What Are The Types Of Shorts For Men?
Running shorts are designed to facilitate the most freedom of movement during exercise. Most running shorts include an inner lining that doubles as underwear. Most are made with polyester.
Swimming shorts (swimming trunks) – The best men's swim shorts are made with nylon along with a mesh inner lining to dry quicker.
Denim shorts came into style during the late 1960s as part of the counter-cultural movement. I do not recommend denim shorts as they look sloppy – like you just sheered off your jeans at the knees.
Flat-front shorts are the most common style of shorts. The material lies flat near the zipper for a slim, low-waisted look.
Pleated shorts feature creases where material is folded and sewn before getting attached to the front of the waistband.
Cycling shorts are skintight shorts designed to reduce wind resistance and friction.
Boardshorts are long, loose-fitting swimming shorts with an opening at the front as opposed to an elastic waistband.
Cargo shorts are loosely cut with large pockets on either side. They don't look well on most men due to the bulging appearance of the pockets.
Madras shorts are made with a lightweight fabric and are known for their vivid, brightly-colored patterns. The style takes its name from its home city in India – now named Chennai.
Bermuda shorts – During a WWII clothing shortage, the managers of Bermuda's two major banks hired a tailor to make shorts based on those worn by the armed forces. Bermuda shorts have been worn with a blazer in certain cultures ever since.
When Should Men Wear Shorts?
Shorts are casual garments and a staple of warm-weather clothing for men. They are appropriate for summer events when you want to be free to move and comfortable to avoid sweating in the heat.
Lounging with friends? Walking around town in the daytime? Going to a private party? You'll do fine in a well-fitted pair of shorts.
When to avoid shorts
Some casual workspaces do allow shorts. You might even get away with wearing them to casual business meetings though it isn't the norm in most parts of the world. It's important to judge the situation correctly. Look at how those around you are dressed, identify the unspoken dress code and decide for yourself if you should wear shorts.
Any situation requiring business-casual wear will require trousers. Law firms, corporate offices and banks are a few examples where shorts should not be worn. Instead, wear chino trousers or dress slacks. The golden rule is if you aren't sure if you can wear shorts, then you shouldn't wear them. Opt for trousers in any of these situations.
Choosing The Right Fabric
About 90% of all shorts are made of cotton, with cotton twill fabric being the most common weave. Twill weaves are dense but durable. The lack of breathability is offset by the shorts themselves which let air travel up the legs.
Linen is a durable fabric that is superb for summer wear. Wearing linen shorts will guarantee maximum breathability. However, linen is prone to wrinkling. You can mitigate wrinkling by going with a tighter weave linen fabric, but you need to accept a few subtle wrinkles nonetheless.
Wool is a luxury fabric in menswear and is rare in men's shorts. It requires upkeep. You have to treat them as you would wool trousers. Use a clothes brush on them regularly in order to remove any excess dirt or food particles. Make sure to hang them up after each wear. If necessary, use a steamer to work out any creases that worked themselves into the fabric.
Despite this, wool is an excellent choice for summer wear because it absorbs moisture better than many fabrics, keeping you feeling dry throughout the day. It also enhances your elegance in casual situations.
The advantage of synthetic fabric shorts is durability and low cost. They are less breathable though. However, you can find lighter weaves to compensate for this. Polyester is also excellent for repelling moisture and staying dry so maintaining these shorts is a breeze.
Are fabric blend shorts right for you? It depends on the purpose. One good example is cotton blended with spandex to give you more flexibility. However, blends made for the sake of cost-efficiency are usually poor quality.
Best colors for shorts
Blue ranges from navy all the way to light blue. It's a highly interchangeable color that goes well with the heat. Pairing navy chino shorts with a white casual button-down for example is a classic combination.
Brown shorts are commonly found as khakis. It's a timeless, simple color with considerable versatility. Khakis are even the common choice for slightly more formal situations.
Gray is a noncolor that matches anything you could muster. You also have your pick of shades ranging from charcoal to light gray.
Pastel colors such as lime, lavender, mint, and salmon are considered ultra-casual. They are highly versatile but draw more attention than their conservative counterparts above.
Men's shoes to wear with shorts
Men's loafers are classic, elegant summer shoes that you can pull off with ease. Men's loafers are tried-and-true against the heat. They leave the ankle completely exposed which allows for better cooling. They are reliable for men seeking to enforce a more elegant air. Loafers offer a wealth of options as well – from streamlined penny loafers to the more casual tassel loafers. You can also opt for perforated leather to assist air circulation.
Boat shoes are another option. They are simple, flat leather shoes with rubber soles designed to maintain traction on boat decks.
Men's dress sneakers are acceptable. White sneakers are preferable but are prone to tarnish.
What Socks to wear with shorts?
My advice is to opt for an invisible sock also known as no-show socks. This is one of those stylish guy secrets. Most of us aren’t barefooted in our shoes, that’s just plain old nasty and stinky too. If you get the right pair, they’re comfortable, keep your feet cool, and most importantly are not visible, so you’ll be nailing that sockless look.
You can also go for a low cut ankle sock for sneakers, but I prefer the no-show variety. And absolutely, no sky high socks, unless you’re vacationing in Bermuda or something.
How to Wear Shorts with a V-Neck T-Shirt
This wardrobe staple will have you feeling comfortably cool all summer long. To continue with the casual vibe, I slip into a canvas sneaker in beige, matching the woven, cloth belt. Tying together the fabrics and colors is the canvas strap watch. I finish off this casual getup with a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses for effortless cool.
How to Wear Shorts with a Cotton Sweater
If the weather calls for it, you can opt for a lightweight, textured sweater in place of a t-shirt that’ll give you the warmth you need while still looking casual cool.
How to Wear Shorts with a Navy Blazer
This look is dressier due to the blazer and button up, but don’t be fooled, it’s still a relaxed, ‘I’m at play’ kind of look. It’s got preppy undertones and seems like something you’d wear on a boat, but I think it’s a look worth trying if you feel it could suit you.
How to Wear Shorts Well
Short enough that your knees are visible or just slightly covered if standing still. Long enough that you’re not showing the world you rarely tan your thighs; if I have to be specific, I would go more than 2-3 inches above the knee, depending on your proportions
Shorts that do come up to mid-thigh should be limited to lightweight athletic shorts, and should only be worn in athletic settings. Running shorts get more leeway than casual shorts because the expectation is that you’re not going to walk into a store or restaurant wearing them. Exercise devotees should bear this in mind, and should go home and change (and shower) before inflicting themselves on the public outside of gyms, courts, or bike paths.
Worth keeping in mind, however, is that shorts add bulk to the upper part of your legs only. Your lower legs will be bare, meaning that everything above them will look thicker by comparison. The baggier your shorts are, the thicker the look.
Solid colors such as tan, khaki, white, navy, olive, and off-white are the most traditional styles for men’s shorts. Plaids, especially plaids with a white base, are a preppy look staple, but should be paired with at least a polo shirt to avoid looking like a frat boy.
Collared short-sleeve shirts are usually the best choice for men who want to look good but stay cool and casual. These can range from button-fronted (seersucker is particularly nice) to your basic monochrome polo shirt. Hawaiian shirts, like loud-print shorts, should be reserved for occasions where a little obnoxious tackiness is part of the fun — tiki bars yes, regular bars no, even near a beach.
T-shirts and shorts is a look that flatters no one. It may be appropriate in casual settings, but it’s not going to make you look as good as other options.
Photo: The London Man Blog