The Proper Care and Feeding of your Summer Style

After writing on mens swim wear, I decided to continue the trend of helping men look swell in summer wear. When it is warm us guys want to be comfortable, and we sometimes have limited options depending on the occasion, so here is a guide to help – The care and feeding of your summer style.

Shorts:

There arent many items in a man’s wardrobe that elicit as much debate as shorts do.I am going to give you some help on wearing them. Shorts are a modern addition to a man’s wardrobe and thus are still finding acceptance.  Although common everywhere in North America, they are not common in many other parts of the world,even where its hot.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were many English words for shortened men’s pants. “Knickerbockers” were baggy pants that gathered below the knee, shorter, tighter-fitting trousers that ended at the knee were “knee pants”, and “short pants” sometimes meant knee-pants and sometimes meant shorter garments still. Outside of swimming trunks or boxer shorts most varieties were considered clothing for boys, both unofficially and as part of many school uniforms. Grown men didn’t start wearing shorts beyond a few extremely hot climates around the globe until after World War II.  Soldiers stationed in the tropics were issued short trousers both for comfort and to ration cloth, and this caught on when they came home.

When should you wear Shorts? Shorts are a casual piece of menswear. So there are two simple answers:

1. When there’s a good reason to, taking into account; temperature, environment, and place.

2. When you’re not attending a formal event or conducting business.

Recreation with family and friends is always a good situation calling for “shorts times.” Beaches, outdoor sports, summer parties, and outdoor concerts and shows, and anything else purely for fun are in the clear. Even those situations, you need to be mindful of the weather: wearing shorts when it’s cold is going to cause you to stand out, and not in the way you would like. Wear shorts when it’s hot enough that you really need them, and switch to pants as soon as it’s cooler.

In our modern world it also seems worth saying that a man who plans on spending his entire day in climate controlled locals; leaving an air-conditioned house to get in an air-conditioned car and drive to an air-conditioned building should be wearing trousers regardless of the weather. When you have that much climate control available to you, you might as well wear the sharper-looking, more complimentary clothing.

How short are shorts that are still appropriate? Short enough that your knees are visible or slightly covered when standing. Long enough that you’re not showing off your un-taned your thighs or any other anatomy; To be specific, no more than 2-3 inches above the knee, depending on your proportions. Once you get well past the knees, you are now wearing  high-cut pants, or capris, which is something else entirely.

Shoes:

mostly I prefer sandals in the heat, especially with shorts (not the Jesus and Moses variety, but a simple pair of nice thongs). Please remember proper grooming when you pull out those sandals, people will be seeing your feet. If you’ve got a gnarly foot fungus, or record holding toe-nails its best to keep those puppies covered, which leads me to some other options in the foot wear department

Can You Wear Socks with sandals? Socks and sandals is an appropriate pairing for old German men on vacation and no one else. So if you’re wearing sandals, which is what you’d expect when it’s hot enough to need shorts, skip the socks.  And sandals are the most casual option: fine for beachwear, not OK for a graduation party. Slip-on casual shoes like boaters or loafers are also good companions to shorts, and don’t require socks.

So then, how about socks with shorts? Yes, but only sometimes. Shorts worn with shoes (boat shoes, or tennies) usually look best with ankle socks ( if you need them most good shoe stores will have “ballet” or “invisible” socks that don’t show above the shoe). Sport socks cover almost as much skin as wearing pants would , and if you’re going to be that covered you might as well look better in trousers. Knee socks and shorts are going to make you look like that German tourist.

Shirts:

Shorts are casual,so the shirts that go with shorts should be too. Don’t wear a long-sleeved button-down shirt, this should be obvious.  Collared short-sleeve shirts are usually the best choice for men who want to look good but stay cool and casual. These can range from button-fronted (seersucker is particularly nice) to your basic polo shirt. Loud Hawaiian shirts should be kept for locations where a little obnoxiousness is part of the fun — tiki bars yes, regular bars no. There are some muted tamed varieties that look nice with a pair of shorts as well as a nice v neck T-shirt.

When your are called to be other than casual:

Business situations of any kind are not appropriate for shorts and T’s. Wear a pair of light trousers instead of shorts, regardless of whether other men are wearing shorts or not. And a light button down shirt or polo and you should dress to the level of the event. A structured event outside is also a time to avoid shorts, luncheons, work picnics, weddings, and the like should all merit light trousers.

Never wear shorts anywhere a jacket or blazer is expected. If the situation calls for that level of formality, it also calls for more formality than shorts offer. A few cultures have exceptions to this, blazers or Jackets and shorts is perfectly acceptable attire in Bermuda where it is blisteringly hot, but most other places it looks both out of place and a bit confused. In some ares, notably Bermuda and South Africa, shorts with a dress shirts and blazers is an established style, and tailors will happily make you a “suit” with short pants instead of trousers. Outside of those countries, though, it’s very much a “fashion-forward” look.

So take a few cues from here next time you scan your closet for what to wear on that warm summer day. Remember to keep in mind what looks good on you body type and to always try to be swell.

(Images courtesy of artofmanliness.com, and warrrelics.eu)

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