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A Gentleman’s Guide

How To Wear Shorts In The City

MR PORTER’s guide to keeping – and looking – cool this summer

  • Photograph by Mr YoungJun Koo/Lickerish

Until just a few years ago, wearing shorts in town was regarded as something of a bad look. In 2011, no less an authority on men’s style than Mr Tom Ford decreed that they “should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach”. In stating this opinion, he seemed to be echoing the words of one of his predecessors, the couturier Sir Hardy Amies, who wrote in 1964 that a man should “never wear shorts except actually on the beach or on a walking tour”. How things have changed. Men are no longer in thrall to such diktats, and shorts are now considered acceptable attire in all but the most formal of environments. About time, too, if you ask us. Beyond their obvious benefits as a breezy alternative to trousers during the torrid summer months, shorts also present a number of opportunities for the sartorially adventurous gent. Below are just a few of them.

Try a tonal look

  • Photograph by Mr Daniel Bruno Grandl

A pair of navy shorts that finishes just above the knee should form the cornerstone of every man’s warm-weather wardrobe. Anyone who doubts the truth of this statement should refer to the photograph above. Navy is highly valued for its adaptability, and works well with just about any other colour. By pairing his shorts with sneakers and a shirt in similar shades of blue, this gentleman has imbued this already elegant look with an added dose of Côte d’Azur chic. A masterclass in simple summer style, we heartily recommend you try this at home.

Get the look

  • 120% Grandad-Collar Linen Shirt

  • Aspesi Slim-Fit Washed Cotton-Twill Shorts

Play with proportion

  • Photograph by firstVIEW

One of men’s fashion’s greatest ambassadors, Mr Nick Wooster, has been instrumental in dragging many a tricky trend out of the muddy waters of obscurity and into the mainstream. Tailored shorts have long been a part of his repertoire. The fashion consultant and street-style favourite can often be seen wearing them with a jacket and shirt, as is the case here. Take note of the exaggerated, over-the-knee fit, which creates a nice sense of balance with the top half of his outfit and stops the whole thing from veering into overgrown schoolboy territory.

Get the look

  • Officine Generale Cotton-Poplin Shorts

  • Cutler and Gross Round-Frame Acetate Sunglasses

Fashion yourself a pair of cut-offs

  • Photograph by Mr George Elder

If you don’t already own a pair of these, it’s quite simple. Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut the legs off an old pair of jeans just above the knee. Et voilà! Don’t worry about being too neat – frayed ends are all part of the look. The gentleman above has chosen to wear his with a co-ordinating shirt, breaking up the expanse of denim with a pop of handkerchief peeking from his back pocket. A nice touch, but to be deployed with caution.

Get the look

  • Oliver Spencer Eltham Denim Shirt

  • NN07 Slim-Fit Washed Stretch-Denim Shorts

Keep it minimal

  • Photograph by Mr Tommy Ton

While we would never suggest you co-ordinate outfits with a friend before leaving the house, as the two men here appear to have done, this picture nonetheless serves to illustrate an important point, which is that a simple, monochrome colour palette and a little co-ordination can go a long way. The streetwear credentials of this look are further boosted by the oversized fit of the knee-length shorts, which are free to sway in the breeze in the style of those worn for basketball. Bonus points are awarded to the gent on the right for remembering to stay hydrated.

Get the look

  • Prada Wide-Leg Nylon-Gabardine Shorts

  • Converse 1970s Chuck Taylor All Star Canvas High-Top Sneakers

White’s all right

  • Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding/Trunk Archive

White shorts might seem a touch impractical at first, prone, as they are, to attracting stains. They prove their worth during the dog days of summer, though, when the colour helps you to stay cool in the sun. Choose a breathable, lightweight fabric, such as linen, and you’ll be free to layer up on the top half, as this gentleman has done. The take-home lesson is that white works especially well with blue chambray or denim. Just be careful wearing it alongside raw denim, which can easily transfer dye.

Get the look

  • Rubinacci Navy Unstructured Double-Breasted Linen Blazer

  • Hartford Slim-Fit Cotton-Twill Drawstring Shorts

Be a good sport

  • Photograph by Mr George Elder

You will no doubt have heard a great deal about the convergence of sportswear and fashion. But what does it actually mean? Is it now acceptable to show up at the office in your gym kit? Not exactly. The trick to pulling off sportswear in a non-sporting context – that is, convincing passers-by that you’re not on the way back from a workout, but are, in fact, a man of forward-thinking sartorial tastes – is to focus on the details and dial the luxury up a notch. A pair of dark jersey shorts with designer basketball sneakers will leave nobody in any doubt.

Get the look

  • Off-White Logo-Print Fleece-Back Cotton-Jersey Shorts

  • Fear of God Basketball Panelled Leather High-Top Sneakers

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MR PORTER or the products shown