Which shorts are best for summer

Which shorts are best for summer

Q.  Pretty much everyone I know only wears shorts on summer weekends, but I’m usually unsure whether they look right on me. I worry that they are too short or too long, too bland or too patterned, too young or too old. What is currently in style for someone in his 50s?

A. I’m glad to hear that you are questioning which shorts are right for you. All too often what comes to my mind when I see men wearing shorts is: Doesn’t he own a mirror? As you suggest, many men wear shorts that are too much of a-lot-of-things.   

Yes, in addition to being comfortably cool (in both senses of the word), shorts present a welcome opportunity to introduce variety into a traditional dresser’s regular wardrobe. And I realize that summer is a time to be more relaxed with what we wear, but that doesn’t excuse some of the major mistakes I see. Your shorts should not be the most eye-catching item in your combination. It’s better to allow the top you choose to be the most noticeable. The concerns you mentioned are definitely among the areas to focus on.

Length. Perhaps the most important factor when selecting shorts is the length. I recently received an email from another reader also mentioning shorts. He stated: “In your article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, discussing items that should be purged from a man’s wardrobe, you stated that above-the-knee shorts should go. I think that shorts below-the-knee are the ones you meant.” I actually meant what I wrote, but both too short and too long are mistakes. For young men, more than a couple of inches above the knee is not necessarily such a problem. For more mature men, really short shorts should only be worn in their driveways while shooting baskets (preferably without neighbors around) and not be on public display. Basically, the right length is hovering near the knee – either closely above it or closely below it.  

Color and Patterns. As to color coordination, shorts in solid neutral colors, such as khaki or navy, are easiest to work with. Most casual tops – from Tee shirts and polos to open-at-the-neck dress shirts – will work with them. The same rules apply that you would use when wearing long cotton khakis, jeans, or white pants. When the shirt is patterned, it goes well with shorts that “pick up” and repeat one color in the shirt’s pattern. Patterned shorts are fine as long as they are not too wildly attention-grabbing. “Fun” should be the word that comes to mind, not “goofy.” Or, when putting together a simple two-color combination with your neutral shorts, you can go several ways by selecting a solid-color top  in:

  • Red
  • Bright royal blue
  • Vivid green
  • Purple 

Choose a color to contrast sharply with the shorts, whichever is your own best color (if you don’t recognize your best color at your age, ask someone whose opinion you trust). Wearing solid bold colors is an acceptable way for men to dress when they are not in the office,.

Footwear. The most common mistake men make with shorts is wearing the wrong shoes and socks. Shorts are casual; they do not go with dark leather laced shoes and dark business socks. Choose casual shoes – from sneakers to boat shoes – and sporty white crew (or no) socks.   

Our clothes send all sorts of messages about us to the world. You are wise to avoid shorts that are too short, too boldly patterned, or too teen-influenced with printed messages. The adult male who commits these dressing errors makes us question his general good judgement.  

Categories: Male Call