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Jeans and trousers

Five ways to wear: Chino shorts

Five ways to wear: Chino shorts

Hello, summer! (Or thereabouts.) If there's one item that will make all your year-round essentials (sweatshirts, Oxfords, t-shirts, trainers, etc.) summer-appropriate, it's a simple pair of chino shorts. Why? "They work for anything," says Thread stylist Alice Watt. "Day and night, in town or on holiday, with a t-shirt or a blazer, they can be your go-to." 

But how, exactly, will they become what you reach for every warm day this summer? First, they need to fit well: a length around the knee is most versatile (too short or long and the shorts are too casual) and they should leave you with room to breathe—in other words, they should be loose enough that there's a few inches of fabric to pinch at the end of the shorts when you're sitting down. Second, you're probably best off with navy as it suits every skin tone (whereas stone can make pale legs look even paler). 

When it comes to wearing chino shorts well, it's easy: they'll work with everything you'd normally pair with chinos (barring the obvious, like boots). Take Alice's five ideas below as a summer starter pack.

1. When it's hot—and you're not sure of your plans

The outfit: Chino shorts, cotton or linen shirt and boat shoes

Why this works: "The fabrics are breathable, the fits are relaxed, and the shirt's untucked—meaning you'll feel cooler than you would even in a t-shirt. And yet the shirt makes this a bit smarter than a t-shirt and shorts, so it will work no matter where your day takes you."

Photographed: Gant navy chino shorts (£80), G.H. Bass navy boat shoes (£115)

2. When it's hot—and the dress code's smart casual

The outfit: Chino shorts, shirt, unstructured blazer and loafers

Why this works: "Whether you're at a regatta, a garden party or an outdoor (and fairly casual) wedding, shorts and an unstructured blazer can save you from sweating. The key is that everything here is smart but casual: the blazer's unstructured rather than tailored; the shorts are on the smarter side; the shoes are leather, but slip-on; and the shirt's not too formal—with a few buttons undone."

Photographed: Private White V.C. navy blazer (£450), Paul Smith navy pattern shirt (£170), Gant navy chino shorts (£80), Grenson brown loafers (£145), Oliver Spencer tortoiseshell sunglasses (£185)

3. When you don't want to look like you've just come off the beach

The outfit: Chino shorts, t-shirt, any mid-weight khaki jacket (from an overshirt to a raincoat) and trainers

Why this works: "I reckon you could wear this every weekend this summer. As you know, you almost always need a jacket in this country, and this one looks summery and light because of the colour. That said, all the colours and fits are more urban than neutral—so you won't risk being that guy who looks like he's just flown in from Marbs."

Photographed: Folk military green jacket (£185), Private White V.C. ecru long-sleeve t-shirt (£89), Gant navy chino shorts (£80), Saucony grey trainers (£65)

4. When less is more

The outfit: Chino shorts, plain white t-shirt and minimal trainers

Why this works: "The best thing about this outfit is that it's secretly smart casual. Throw on a jacket and you're pretty sharp despite the fact that you're just wearing shorts and a tee. The reason? Everything's nicely fitted and devoid of extra details. Just make sure the tee is crisp and very white; a not-quite-white tee would let this look down."

Photographed: MVP crew-neck t-shirt (£12), Gant navy chino shorts (£80), Selected white leather trainers (£70)

5. When a t-shirt alone is just not comfortable (and/or it's kind of chilly)

The outfit: Chino shorts, long-sleeved t-shirt, casual jacket (such as a suede jacket, overshirt, Harrington or bomber) and minimal trainers

Why this works: "A jacket does more than give your chest and mid-section some structure; it also makes a t-shirt and shorts look smarter. (Oh, and it keeps you warm when it cools down in the evening.) Also, this isn't remotely beachy or preppy, so it works well if you're not going for either of those two styles."

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney suede jacket (£499), Norse Projects long sleeved t-shirt (£50), Gant navy chino shorts (£80), Superga white trainers (£50)