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Jeans and trousers

How shorts should fit

How shorts should fit

In 1964, Hardy Amies declared that a man should “never wear shorts except on the beach.” Some fifty years later, designer Tom Ford claimed, “a man should never wear shorts in the city.” If you follow the advice of these two supposed tastemakers, you’d be forgiven for wondering if it’s ever appropriate to wear shorts. But as dress codes have become more relaxed, opinions on shorts have shifted too. And while they both might not be seen dead wearing shorts anywhere that isn’t sandy, we think you should. Although, ideally alive.

That said, we agree with them if the shorts you’re thinking of are the below-the-knee, cargo-pocketed kind that so many men seem oddly attached to. Instead, look for a pair that are like chinos, only cooler. “Tailored shorts give you the best of both worlds,” says Thread stylist Brooke Philips. “You get the formality of trousers with the formal fabrics, foldover waistband and belt loops, but you’re in shorts so it is instantly less formal and means you’re not sweltering on your commute. The beauty of tailored shorts is that because the colours are often neutral colours you’d find in suiting – navy, grey, black – they work in the office if worn with a shirt and blazer.”

And while shorts aren’t appropriate for every setting, we say it’s a new era and style rules are meant to be broken – just so long as you get the fit right.


“You don’t want them to be too snug, so aim for a similar fit to formal trousers. You should have enough room to tuck in your shirt or t-shirt. There are belt loops on tailored shorts, so use them.”


“The rise is the measurement from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband, and at its simplest level, it determines where your waistband sits. You want them to sit on the top of the hips.”


“Aim for about an inch of space above the knee, for a suits-all-occasions length. Any higher and you risk looking like a confused tourist. If they are sitting too long on the leg, one turn up on the hem should help.”


“You want your shorts to be flattering and not too tight, but not so baggy that you look like you could be going fishing. About an inch of space at the hem is perfect.”


“Like smarter trousers, tailored shorts have two pockets below the waistband, and another couple at the back. They categorically do not have a pair of cargo pockets at the side.”

Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Alexander McCalla
Styling assistant: Toby Standing