Moving on down the body we arrive below the waistline and it’s time for shorts. Now, to be fair, shorts are a practical and pleasant garment to wear during the summer. They keep your legs nice and airy and, well, that’s about it. The downside is that it shows off your legs, which at the start of the summer are invariably pale and hairy, and gives us serious sock issues, which we’ll get back to in a bit.
Shorts come in different types, mostly concerned with their length. My preference is for shorts that end above the knees. This isn’t entirely due to the fact that I have incredibly handsome knees, but more to do with the fact that this length looks best, follows the legs best, and for a man of lesser stature (aka. short) it makes you look a little taller. I prefer my shorts to be shorts, i.e. just like regular trousers, but short. To my eye this is the only way they really work. Other types I will dismiss as follows:
- Short shorts, in the style of sports shorts from the 80’s. No man has ever looked good in these, apart from possibly if he was extremely rich or powerful (these factors cause ocular distortion in women’s sight, which helps the aged or ugly to score otherwise unobtainable women) or a successful athlete in the 80’s. Nowadays the only possible use would be… No, not even then.
- Cargo shorts are probably really handy if you’re a boy scout, or have no other way to carry all your man-kit around, but anyone with half an eye for style knows they look terrible. I think men suddenly desire a pair of cargo shorts and solid boots after watching some beardy explorer type on Discovery Channel. Which is fine. If you are a beardy explorer type mostly exploring very non-urban areas. Big, floppy, empty pockets hanging off the side of your shorts, or even worse, big, full pockets? If you grow a large beard and affect the appearance of someone that lives in the woods, alone, you might conceivably pull it off, but then again, you’re living alone in the woods and no one cares. Men who go shopping on their own may often come home with cargo shorts. If this happens, they should be directed to an appropriate men’s style blog. Or take their wife, girlfriend or mother shopping with them.
- Then we have the long shorts, or Capri pants if you want to be technical. They go below the knees, often calf-length, and bridge that tricky, yet desirable, ground between the high-water trousers and the regular length shorts. A boon for those that want that airy feeling of short trousers, but don’t have the world class knees to pull it off. I am cracking wise, of course, no sensible person would want to be seen in long shorts. As a friend pointed out: “It looks like you haven’t a clue and you’ve been visited by the stupid trouser fairy during the night.” Unless you have really really long legs and want to enjoy the optical illusion of looking shorter. You often see these with a drawstring at the bottom as well. I’m not sure if this is to safeguard against weasels gaining entry or to stop them running away. A moot point, I fear. This class of garment also has an evil twin, a sibling in sartorial ghastliness:
- The convertible trousers, the characteristics of which is that they go all the way down to mid-shin height, often with an obvious zip round the bottom, giving the effect of making you look very short, but also very strange. It’s not as if there is any real benefit to showing off half your shin, or is there? From the small sample I observed a few days ago, it would appear that most men who wear these types of shorts are men who consider a two-in-one pair of trousers a really splendid idea and probably can’t wait till the sun comes out so they can unzip the ends of their trousers. Avoid at all cost.
In summary, shorts are tricky. A rule of thumb may be “Shorts for sports”, so it may be safer to stick with trousers. Or not care what others think of you.
So, we’re down to below the knee now, and at this point we run into an issue I call “the conundrums of socks”. The problem with wearing shorts is that it means your lower legs are unleashed upon the surroundings. Late summer this doesn’t cause offence, but early summer the pale, hairy flesh is, as mentioned above, not an attractive proposition to behold. And we also have the issue of socks. What the heck do you do with your socks?
- Wear socks that cover your calves? No, there is a reason you wear long trousers over these. Only footballers wear long socks, and they get paid lots of money to look silly. Regular guys like us would only consider this if we were 50+ and still living with our mother.
- Wear shorter socks? Well, still the same problem, but a little better. I’ll often try this, but rumple the socks a bit, in the hope that I’ll look a little more carefree and suave. Impossible to say if it works or not.
- Wear itty-bitty anklet socks? NO! This is a terrible trend that men seems to have inherited from women in recent times. While it makes a little sense for the ladies to wear these, they are after all much daintier and careful than us brutes, worn by men it is just very very wrong. Some say these are acceptable when worn with trainers.
- Wear no socks at all? Well, this is a popular option, and visually works satisfactorily in many cases. The issues I have with are related to comfort and hygiene. Socks make shoes more comfortable, no doubt about this, and socks also mean a lot of nasty foot-sweat is soaked up into a washable cotton piece that you renew every day, which helps avoid odious odours.
- No socks and no shoes? This does give us the option of going with sandals. On a hot sunny day, and nice and proper pair of sandals makes a good choice. Various styles provide varying amount of coverage for your feet, which is a consideration to make if your feet look like stand-ins from The Hobbit. Under no circumstance should you ever consider wearing socks in sandals though, even though it does make them nice and comfy (we all know this is the truth).
- Of course, maybe it’s a case of confidence? What would a guy such as Nick Wooster do? Knee length pink and purple polka dots and damn the consequences?
The final point I’d like to make is regarding the cheerful matter of colours, I really only have one horrendous hue I would warn against and unsurprisingly it is pink. Every time I see a man wearing pink, I get the feeling he’s feeling just a little smug, as if he’s thinking “yes, I’m wearing pink, and I’m a MAN!”. Pretty desperate. Pink is so firmly linked to little girls that trying to take it back is a futile exercise.
Above all though, when dressing, don’t forget to be a man. It’s easy to get a little too carried away in these metro-sexual times. You don’t need to be a hairless, impeccably coiffured specimen, that’s not the manly way of things. I’m not saying don’t wash, don’t shave, don’t wear clean clothes and behave properly. Quite the opposite, but don’t take it to the extreme. If you’re spending more time than your woman in the bathroom, take heed, you’ve gone too far.
So, this concludes my personal recommendations when it comes to summer attire. If you missed part 1, you can find it here!