Dress Code: How To Wear Shorts This Summer

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Dress Code: How To Wear Shorts This Summer

Photography by Mr Iain Anderson | Styling by Ms Otter Hatchett

15 May 2019

The debate over whether it’s acceptable for a grown man to wear shorts, and if so in which context, has never felt very consequential in the grand scheme of things. With each passing year, it seems to have faded further into irrelevance. This change in attitudes can be attributed to a couple of factors: first, the loosening of sartorial standards that has taken place over the past decade, and second, the dawning realisation that global warming will soon render the planet so uncomfortably warm that shorts will be all but compulsory attire. A sad truth.

Old habits die hard and it’s only natural that men still approach wearing shorts with a degree of trepidation. That’s why MR PORTER has compiled this illustrative guide, which highlights five of our favourite pairs and how to wear them well. They’ve been chosen to suit a variety of tastes and occasions, in the hope that whoever you are, you might be encouraged to liberate your legs this season. Go on… you know you want to.

Wide boy

These generously tailored shorts come courtesy of the Provençal designer Mr Simon Porte Jacquemus, who released his debut menswear collection to much acclaim earlier this year. With an approach to style that’s indebted to his upbringing in the sunny south of France, it should come as little surprise that easy-going summer staples are his forte. Wider shorts are great for warmer weather, their extra material lending them a breezy quality, and the longer cut of these ones – they’re designed to finish at the knee – ensures that they’re more formal in appearance than most. It makes them a sensible choice for a summer garden party, or even a casual wedding (dress code permitting, of course). To complement the military feel, which comes through from the olive colour and virgin-wool twill material, we’ve picked out a pistachio-green shirt from Auralee with field jacket-style pockets and a camo-print tote bag by Porter-Yoshida & Co. A hand-embroidered cotton-canvas chore jacket from the sustainably-minded London brand Story Mfg. completes the look up top, while a pair of suede sandals by Dries Van Noten offers proof that you can still look smart with your toes exposed.

The Italian way

It was the tailoring house of Mr Gennaro Rubinacci that first pioneered the lightweight Neapolitan jacket back in the 1930s. That was in response to the needs of its aristocratic clients, who were accustomed to sweltering through the torrid Italian summers in stiff Savile Row-style suits. Eight decades later, the brand has not lost its knack for smart summer attire. These Manny pleated shorts are amply tailored in light, breathable linen, the excess of which is gathered around the waist by a neat double-pleated construction. (Linen’s inclination to crease means that pleats are a necessity on shorts with excess fabric.) A refined choice for summer, they’re a natural fit with other traditional warm-weather staples. We’ve paired them here with a linen grandad shirt from Boglioli worn over a white T-shirt from Loro Piana and a pair of suede espadrilles from TOM FORD. The watch is also provided by TOM FORD, while the sunglasses come courtesy of New York’s Moscot and complete an outfit worthy of high summer in the Gulf of Naples.

Get technical

Swedish cult favourite Acne Studios takes a function-first approach to summer style with these Romeo shorts. Cut from ripstop nylon, a lightweight material reinforced by cross-stitched thread that’s commonly found in workwear and outdoor gear, they’re sturdy enough to withstand the stress of everyday life and smart enough for running errands around town without looking like you’re on your way to the beach, making them the obvious choice for those days when it’s stiflingly hot, but you’ve also got things to do. (That’s most of summer, then.) Keeping the utility theme running through the rest of this outfit, we’ve paired these shorts with a rugby shirt from Carhartt WIP, the American workwear brand’s sought-after streetwear diffusion line, a pair of smart utility sandals from Hender Scheme and a fluorescent orange cross-body bag from Maison Margiela.

Fresh prints

The shorts suit – which, as the name would suggest, is an outfit comprised of shorts and a blazer in matching fabric – has always been open to some degree of scorn. The trick is to avoid the overgrown-schoolboy look – dress it down and avoid drab, institutional colours such as navy and grey. Take this example from the New York brand Engineered Garments, which is covered in a vibrant Hawaiian print, palm trees and all, and is panelled on the top half with seersucker and canvas. It goes without saying that you wouldn’t show up to school looking like this. As for the rest of the outfit, the trick here is to keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with dressing to make a statement, but from our experience, it’s best to make just one at a time. We’ve completed this look with a striped tee from Loewe, a breezy linen grandad-collar shirt from President’s and white slip-on sneakers from Vans, sticking with lighter colours to complement the tone set by the shorts and jacket. The single contrasting element here comes from the optional addition of a navy bucket hat.

Strings attached

Everybody needs an everyday pair of shorts: the sort that you reach for on lazy Sundays, or any day of the week, really, when it’s your prerogative to just kick back and do nothing. We’ve picked out this drawstring pair from our own label, Mr P., which combines pyjama-like comfort with a smart, tailored fit. And they’re cut from breathable linen, too, which makes them perfect for sultry weekends spent in the park (assuming, of course, that you take measures to avoid those pesky grass stains). A short-sleeved printed shirt – this one’s from J.Crew – adds a stylish point of difference to what is an otherwise straightforward, shorts-and-tee kind of outfit, and we’ve finished it all off with hoop socks from Mr P. and sneakers from everybody’s favourite eco-friendly footwear brand of the moment, Veja.