Before you can talk about what kind of shorts look good on a man, it helps to clear the air by hearing from women what sort of calf-revealing summer trousers might act as an effective female repellent.
Afya Francisco is a professional stylist and creative director at The Style House, and has firm opinions on men`s fashion failures. “You can never say never because these things have a way of cycling around again, but when younger guys were wearing their shorts halfway down their bums, that did nothing for anybody, so we don’t want to go there again.”
Francisco is quick to evoke memories of the late ‘70s for other shorts flops: “Mini shorts and cutoff denim – two things that should never enter a man’s vocabulary.” Crystal Hartman, a marketing specialist at Mark’s Work Wearhouse is quick to concur. “The cutoff denims I would have to say are a no-no that I’d like to see not come back.”
Thankfully, trends in men’s shorts this year are more restrained, though hardly lacking colour. Both Francisco and Hartman note that checks and gingham, in particular, are big, and Francisco gives credit to Ralph Lauren, whose gingham short is currently available at high end retailers like Holt Renfrew.
Hartman is also seeing gingham, along with plaids and herringbones – “The gingham print is really big. A lot of it right now is about colours and patterns.” And since shorts are the only garment where hemlines matter for men, she says that 11 inches, just above the knee, is the standard for versatile, even dressy shorts for men, with hiking shorts running an inch or two higher, and baggy, beach-friendly board shorts running longer – almost 10 whole inches longer.
With an unseasonably warm spring, interest in shorts is apparently peaking early this year, in tandem with a longing for better weather. “As soon as it does get nice, after people stop hibernating, you see a big explosion in shorts,” says Hartman. “People are just happy to have some nice weather.”
While Canada isn’t Bermuda, the dress short is making some traction here, paired with blazers and, says Francisco, in fabrics like linen, which are both dressy and seasonally appropriate.
Since shorts draw attention to socks and shoes, she says that men have to pay attention to what they put on their feet. “A great boat shoe is still casual, actually, but it is a little more updated Americana – that’s a great look with a short.”
As for socks, if you must wear them, Francisco is adamant that you keep your white cotton gym socks in the drawer. “I would stick with dress socks if you have to wear socks at all.”