It’s officially short season, which means your shy and retiring legs are finally getting some much needed air time after the best part of eight months swaddled in long trousers.
Shorts are a diverse bunch, all the way along the smart-to-casual spectrum, with a wide variety of shapes, cuts, fabrics and styling options to consider.
This season’s offering from menswear’s finest is really eclectic, with plenty of trending styles to suit every kind of wardrobe, from the uber-casual pool sleuth to the discerning sartorialist. Here’s our the designs to note…
In recent seasons, the trend for ‘whale-spotting’ has been prevalent as corduroy’s rise to the luxury echelons of menswear shows no sign of abating. The once-maligned fabric has had a complete makeover and now finds itself the beneficiary of designers who love it for its tactile, textural handle.
It’s typically regarded as a winter fabric, but when constructed from lightweight cotton it makes for a great pair of summer shorts, adding a nice element of textural pattern to a look.
You’ll find plenty of corduroy styles doing the rounds, from athletic drawstring options to more tailored cuts, as well as some terry cloth designs.
An athletic-inspired short, the drawstring style is casual cool writ large, quite literally in some cases as many brands have created oversized silhouettes for summer.
What we love about drawstring shorts above all else is how easy they are to wear. Pull them on, throw over a plain tee, slip your feet into some sandals or sneakers, and you’ve got yourself a timeless summer look.
The elasticated waistband is something of a lifesaver too. Track-inspired styles constructed from cotton jersey and that finish around the knee are a great fit with contemporary kicks and streetwear silhouettes.
The perennial summer style question: how short is too short? Short lengths have fluctuated like the tide over the decades, with the award for the highest hems going to the 1980s when it was de rigueur to free the thigh.
Think back to messrs McEnroe and Borg playing in a Wimbledon final, both wearing a pair of skimpy white cotton shorts, or an iconic picture of Harrison Ford at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in an equally diminutive pair of navy shorts.
Truth is, anything goes these days, which is why the short short is back on the style menu. Tailored versions, as well as sporty drawstring options, are a good look for the summer, but the single biggest caveat is your body type – ultimately you need to be slim to make short shorts work for you.
One of our favourite summer fabrics, French terry cloth is the fluffy cotton pile that just embodies what laid-back summer style is all about – comfort, texture, tactility and functionality, all of which makes it the ideal fabric for shorts.
This has not been lost on menswear designers this season, as it seems like every good brand has produced a resortwear line in which terry cloth plays a significant part.
Best deployed in a drawstring style, terry cloth has a nice natural drape which makes it good for mid-length to longer short styles, and brings an injection of soft texture to a look.
It’s both highly absorbent (thanks to the cotton loop construction) and quick drying, characteristics which make it excellent poolside kit when on holiday. Wear terry cloth shorts with tees, knitted polos or short-sleeved Cuban collar shirts for an effortless summer vibe.
Linen is just the perfect summer fabric in so many ways, and makes for beautiful tailored shorts. It’s derived from the flax plant, the crops of which are typically irrigated with rain water and don’t demand a great deal of fertiliser, making linen one of, if not the most ecological fabrics you can buy.
Lightweight, moisture-wicking and with a unique slubby finish, it brings a casual elegance to tailored shorts, which are perfectly cool when paired with a linen shirt, or even an unstructured linen blazer.
Brands such as Percival, Luca Faloni and Officine Générale offer slick options for styling out in the city with your smart-casual outfits, whereas resortwear brands such as Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin have a number of more relaxed, sportier linen options for going on vacation with.
Much like linen, cotton seersucker is one of those perennial fabrics that comes to the fore every summer due to its excellent heat-regulating, moisture-wicking properties.
But seersucker is so much more than merely functional. The same dimples that give it these summer-ready characteristics also provide seersucker with that unique texture that instantly adds a different tactile dimension to a look.
It’s often expressly thought of as a summer suiting fabric, but seersucker is perfect when rendered for shorts, especially the longer Bermuda style – the bigger the silhouette, the more impact those dimples have.
Given its sartorial proclivity, we would recommend opting for tailored styles, which nicely juxtapose seersucker’s slightly dishevelled coolness. One of the best curations of seersucker shorts we’ve seen this season comes from American designer Thom Browne, who has created a number of Hamptons-ready pinstripe styles.
Not many fashion observers would have put crochet shorts on their trend predictions list this year. But here we are, with brands from Marni and The Elder Statesman to Aimé Leon Dore and Nanushka getting in on the artisanal act with a bunch of excellent crochet short designs.
While the open-weave style obviously has its benefits in hot weather, crochet shorts are all about the decorative element rather than the functional one. Interesting woven patterns bring a vintage bohemian vibe to a look.
Bold knits are the ones to make a statement in, but can be difficult to style, so opt instead for crochet shorts in neutral tones such as beige or cream which you can wear with complementary tonal shirts, or bolder, brighter contrast hues.
Of all the short styles on this list, the pleated variety has the most sartorial aesthetic. Cut much in the same way as a tailored pleated trouser, the single pleats provide a roomy fit as well as a smart old-school military vibe, which can look elevated when worn with relaxed tailoring, or even just a linen shirt.
While double pleated versions are available, they can make the shorts a little busy. If in doubt, always opt for the single-pleated style.
Neutral tones such as beige, white, khaki and olive drab are smart choices for summer looks and can be worn with a variety of colours, both tonal and contrast.
A ghurka-style fastening has become popular in recent years and can drop the formality a touch too, otherwise stick with a classic button-up with belt loops.
The ultimate summer utility garment, the cargo short is one of those dependable icons of modern menswear that has transcended its workwear roots to become a seasonal essential, no matter what kind of wardrobe you rock.
Cut loose to the knee or just below, the cargo short is defined by its side patch or bellow pocket(s) and rugged cotton fabric, although these days you can find them made from modern technical fabrics, too.
Smartly tailored options exist for those of you who prefer a more sartorial look, but the bulk of cargo shorts come with a drawstring waist and are designed to be worn with a modern workwear/streetwear or preppy aesthetic.
Brands such as C.P Company, Stone Island and Carhartt WIP tend to have a tonne of options each season, while you can also find edgier fashion-forward options courtesy of Rick Owens.
Denim shorts win most of their plaudits in womenswear collections, but in recent seasons the menswear collections have been awash with great denim options, from soft cotton chambray styles to grungy distressed iterations.
What they all have in common is the length – typically down to just above the knee, so nothing too short. The silhouettes we’ve seen have been diverse, with voluminous oversized skater styles vying with more slender thigh huggers.
The denim, too, has been a real mix, with plenty of black styles going up against the whole gamut of blue options, from acid rinses and stone washes to embellished and distressed versions.
The likes of DSquared2, AMI Paris and Off-White have all come up with excellent denim shorts this season, while specialists such as Ksubi, Levi’s, and Diesel are always great value.
Techwear has been on a tear in recent seasons, as brands such as Salomon, The North Face, Acronym and Stone Island Shadow Project bring out the textile nerds in all of us. As such, technical shorts have become a thing, with multi-pocket, strappy, buckle-heavy cargo styles becoming a must-have piece of contemporary streetwear kit.
Typically constructed from innovative nylon shell fabrics, these kinds of lightweight shorts are typically cut in a long and loose style and pair really well with statement sneakers and edgy sweats.
Multi-pocket details give them a futuristic utilitarianism which is just what you need for a fashion-forward urban wardrobe this summer.
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