Monday, April 14, 2014

Butch Basics: Shorts

I’m a Londoner, born and raised (and by this I mean moved there from New York when I was two…) so my fashion sense was developed in good old London town. I can summarise London’s influence on me simply by saying my go-to outfits are on the dressier side and relatively tight-laced, with a whole lot of emphasis on layering. Which basically means my innate reaction to summer dressing is one of complete confusion and intimidation.

However, no-one stays in cold climes exclusively! This Londoner and winter dresser is being dropped in the deep end as far as fashion is concerned as I am moving to Los Angeles in September 2014 to live with my life partner. I considered resigning myself to overheating/looking crap for my foreseeable future, but deciding this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I’ve set out to get to grips with it. And after researching and experimenting, I’m starting to enjoy it!

I’ve found precious little written on men’s summer dressing, so I thought I’d do a few posts covering my favourite basic tips. Men’s summer dressing does not have to be casual and messy but can be as dapper, fun and well put together as it is in the womenswear departments. So I’m starting with what is probably the main feature of a men’s summer outfit: shorts!

As someone who wears menswear, it’s understandable if you don’t normally pay a lot of attention to your bottoms. Believe me, I get it: although I am now partial to patterned pants and coloured chinos, I have lived in jeans for the best part of my life. But when it comes to summer dressing, the shorts are the focal point of your outfit.

Shorts receive a lot of stigma. “No shorts” is a phrase you will see on most dress codes. However, I have recently started loving shorts and think that it’s totally time for them to lose their casual stigma as wearing the right pair can look very smart and very dapper.

The first step towards looking dapper in your shorts is avoiding cargo shorts ALWAYS. They make you look like a teenage boy, and not even an up-to-date teenage boy, but one from the early 2000s who models himself on Blink 182. On top of this, but, as someone who wore cargo shorts for years (and felt ugly doing it) I can say I’ve always found them incredibly restrictive. They are so long and bulky that they do not give you the cooling benefit that shorts are, of course, meant to give.

So what shorts should you wear? I say go for chino shorts!

Chino shorts are sold absolutely everywhere: asos, River Island, Primark and Boohoo, to name just a few places. These are the shorts equivalent of the short-sleeve shirt: traditionally thought of as frumpy but revamped in recent years to cut a modern silhouette. Don’t be afraid to wear them above the knee: this is how they look best and you look clean cut and stylish enough for even a smarter summertime event. Chino is a lightweight, airy material and it is stretchy, enabling comfort and freedom. And what’s more, they come in a rainbow array of colours! Go for navy or beige if you’re looking for a more conservative look, but if you’re feeling confident, totally go for lime green or bright red! As stated, shorts are your outfit’s focal feature.

T-shirt: Alexander McQueen through asos (old)
Shorts: River Island
Shoes: Toms
Shades: Ray-Bans

Last year, patterned chino shorts were all the rage; they’re slightly less visible in the shops this year but I have to say that I’m still a big fan of them. What is summer for if not injecting a bit of fun into your outfit? You can get your chino shorts with a subtle all over pattern, including flamingos (Forever 21), scissors (River Island) and stars (asos).

If you’re not quite ready for an all over pattern, you can still inject some fun into your shorts with a patterned cuff on the bottom. New Look have shorts with a floral turn up, asos are stocking some gorgeous Bellfield shorts with a very hip swallow print and I’m obsessed with some Boohoo have in with LEOPARD PRINT cuffs – you know I love the leopard print, guys.

I always think of men's dressing as "blocks".
There's the top block (or blocks, if you are wearing a jacket or sweater), the bottom block and the footwear block. Shorts should be treated as your predominant block in summer dressing. Pair them with an understated t-shirt, vest or short-sleeved shirt for easy, effortless style which retains a polished, put-together look and ensures you don't look "too busy" (nice and easy way of saying like a crazy human kaleidoscope).

Although shorts can look fab with Vans or Converse, keep the look classy by wearing adult footwear. No, this does not mean pair them with your brogues! Boat shoes or loafers are your friends (worn of course without socks!) and if you can match them with either your shirt or shorts, you’re on to a winner.

Last but not least, the most important thing to pair with your shorts is confidence. Suddenly having your legs on display when you’re used to covering up is daunting, but remember to own it and wear it with the pride it deserves – it’s the best accessory for any outfit.

What are your thoughts on shorts? Do you have any shorts tips you swear by? Let me know in the comments!!


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