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The Thread Guide to: Shorts

The Thread Guide to: Shorts

Shorts are on our minds at the moment for obvious reasons: they're all you want to throw on when it's hot (or hot and rainy). And yet they're certainly not the easiest thing to wear well. Go for a style that's too short, long or tight—or with too many details—and you immediately look a bit less put together. 

Below, Thread’s style director, Shaunie Brett, shares our four favourite shorts, plus what to look for (and avoid) and how to wear each pair well. 

Thread's favourite shorts 1. Chino shorts that go with (almost) everything

Why we like them: "Neutral-coloured chino shorts are bound to be your go-to summer shorts because of their in-between level of smartness: they're smart enough to wear with a shirt to more casual offices, and yet still relaxed enough to wear with t-shirts."

What to look for: "A zip fly and button closure; length that hits within a few inches above the knee; colour like navy, stone or grey; and mid-weight cotton twill material (like your favourite chino trousers)."

… and avoid: "Details like cargo pockets make chinos instantly less smart, meaning you can't wear them as much. Skip skinny fits, too, as they're almost universally unflattering."

Wear them with: "Literally any casual clothes: t-shirts, polos, chambray or Oxford shirts, sweatshirts, bright colours, neutral colours … plus casual shoes ranging from trainers to desert shoes. I love the way woven belts look with chino shorts."

Photographed: Jigsaw Oxford shirt (£69); Selected Homme navy Harrington jacket (£32); Sanders desert shoes (£129)

Thread's favourite shorts 2. Swim shorts that look like normal shorts

Why we like them: "The last thing you want to think about on holiday is what to wear, which is why these are great. They look equally appropriate at the beach and out to dinner, so they make packing and dressing for holidays easier."

What to look for: "Zip fly; length that hits within a few inches above the knee; solid colour; and fabric that's not too shiny."

… and avoid: "If shorts have a drawstring closure, feel tight, or end above the thigh or below the knee, they're absolutely fine for swimming—but not for pulling off as normal shorts."

Wear them with: "T-shirts, polo shirts or a linen shirt. When you wear them to lunch or dinner, go for shoes that are a notch or two smarter than flipflops, such as espadrilles or canvas shoes."

Photographed: Orlebar Brown white polo shirt (£115); Orlebar Brown swim shorts (£145)

Thread's favourite shorts 3. Tailored shorts

Why we like them: "These are the shorts you can wear without the slightest feeling that you're stuck in university. Because tailored shorts have pleats and tucks that help them sit neatly and look refined, they're like chino shorts' smarter older brother. You can wear them to work, or save them for dinners out on hot days (or on holiday).

What to look for: "The same things you'd look for in tailored trousers: a zip fly with a flap closure, thin belt loops and a sharp crease or pleat down the front of the leg."

… and avoid: "Any iffy fits. Order two sizes and see which looks and feels better: if either is tight (or overly floppy) when you sit down, size up or down."

Wear them with: "Shirts and lace-ups or minimal trainers. You could probably go so far as to wear tailored shorts with brogues and a blazer, but that's quite daring. Again, a woven belt looks nice."

Photographed: Orlebar Brown white polo shirt (£115); Peter Werth shorts (£41); Peter Werth suede shoes (£34)

Thread's favourite shorts 4. Comfortable jersey shorts

Why we like them: "These are all about comfort. You'll want to wear them all weekend, and because they're quite simple they're not only for lounging around the house."

What to look for: "Sweatshirt-like material, an elasticated waistband with a drawstring, and a length between knee and mid-thigh."

… and avoid: "Anything tight, which is unflattering as well uncomfortable. The larger a logo on jersey shorts, the less likely you can wear them anywhere but the gym."

Wear them with: "Your most casual clothes: any trainers, t-shirts, jumpers, polo shirts, hoodies. Just don't wear anything that's smart or exactly (or almost) the same colour as the shorts." 

Photographed: Research Garments grey sweatshirt (£35); Research Garments white t-shirt (£15); Converse white trainers (£45)

Plus! Four other shorts lots of guys like (and why they're not in our top four)

1. Denim shorts. These fulfil the same purpose as neutral chino shorts—so you can wear them with the same types of clothes—but they have one major drawback: they're hot and restrictive.
2. Cargo shorts. Popular because they're practical, cargo shorts are another chino short alternative. And yet they're often unfortunately unflattering: packed pockets can make your proportions unbalanced. If you do go for these, stash your stuff in a bag (rather than the pockets) and make sure they hit within a few inches above your knee.
3. Board shorts. These are very particular to surfer style. If you're going for that look, you'll love board shorts. If not, they're niche.
4. Patterned or brightly coloured swim shorts. We favour solid, shorts-like swim shorts only because they do double duty. If you're up for packing an extra pair, your holidays are a great time to go for bright colours or bold patterns.