How short should a man’s shorts be?

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Yoliswa Dube

Never thought about that, huh? I hadn’t too until a friend asked me this question a few days ago.

It was quite the random question but it got me thinking. What kind of shorts would a man have to wear in order to qualify into the “looking good” bracket?

Should they be just above the knees or higher; right at the knees or below the knees? Ironically, on the day my friend asked how short a man’s shorts should be, I parked next to a car whose passenger was wearing shorts that reminded me of my first visit to Neighbourgoods Market in South Africa a few years ago.

As you already know, they have the whole homosexual rights thing going on and gays and lesbians are treated no different to heterosexuals. They are free to express themselves and wear what they like so at Neighbourgoods Market is likely the place you’ll find a man in a pair of bum shorts.

Anyway, this guy wore shorts that were riding high up above the knees. If he were a woman, those shorts would have turned quite a lot of heads! So, I watched him get out of the car and noticed that before he started walking, he had pulled the shorts down just a little bit. They were perhaps too short? It’s variable. This was an average built guy and the shorts were paired with a T-shirt and a pair of trainers — he looked okay to be honest.

Actually, he looked much better than guys who wear “cargo shorts” that cut across the knees and pair them with sneakers and socks! Or worse, with a formal shirt and flip flops. That, in my opinion, is a complete disaster! First of all, cargo pants are so 1990s, bulky and unflattering! No man today should still be wearing cargo shorts, honestly.

I think tailored shorts give a laid back yet polished look.

They are smart but versatile. Tailored shorts can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion and make the ideal warm-weather alternative to formal trousers.

The rule to remember here is that smart shorts should be paired with an equally smart shoe, so pair tailored shorts with your more refined footwear. Chic loafers will add a more laid-back feel, but still keep you looking suave.

Of course, these styles will only look sharp provided they’re worn sock-free; you’re going to need some invisible shoe liners.

With street-wear influences dominating trends for the past few years, jersey, nylon and other sports-inspired shorts have become a comfortable option for those that like to dress down, not up.

A pair of minimal low-top trainers in black, white or grey is probably the safest style to settle on if you’re prioritising versatility. Not only will they lend a sleek edge to your shorts — stopping them from looking like you’re always on your way to the gym — they’ll also act as a handy tool to dress down your outfit when you want to put a casual spin on your tailoring.

Denim shorts are one of those items you can turn to in more situations than you might think. They’re a good option when you don’t want to think too hard about what to wear.

Footwear that’s fuss-free and fashionably offbeat is the way to go when it comes to shorts.

Try teaming them with canvas trainers (Chuck Taylors being the obvious option), minimalist sneakers or skate-inspired slip-ons for easy off-duty looks.

Unbeatably versatile, a pair of chino shorts is an indisputable summer wardrobe staple. Straddling the line between smart and casual, there’re few footwear styles that don’t play well with chinos. For a classic pairing that works for almost any warm-weather situation, team them with boat shoes. Yes, it’s a casual silhouette, but there’s something unmistakably sharp and gentlemanly about a boat shoe that means you can sport them for slightly more formal events.

If you’re a shorter gentleman, opt for low profile footwear silhouettes (nothing above ankle height) with a good sole or slight heel in shades that are similar to your skin tone – all of which will combine to produce the illusion of height and longer legs.

When it comes to your shorts, go for a pair that finishes around mid-thigh or give the hems a couple of folds to emphasise leg length. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have long legs, opt for footwear styles that have a slightly higher profile. Slightly chunkier trainers would be ideal.

Similarly, your shorts should finish on or just above the knee, in order to break up your vertical lines lower down and reduce the amount of skin that’s on show. If you intend to bare your feet in a sandal or flip-flop, make sure they don’t look like gnarled tree trunks. At the very least, your toenails should be neat and clean; get rid of unsightly hard patches of skin, and if you really do look like a hobbit in the heat, consider trimming excess hair.

Until next week, flaunt your pattern and style and don’t forget to catch up with me on Twitter handle:

@Yolisswa

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