The grown-up guide to wearing shorts in hot weather
In the office or on a night out, they are the elegant and functional alternative to skirts
Shorts, €19.95, Zara
With the mercury still on the rise, we’ve cranked up the air conditioning, slathered on the sunscreen and ditched the jeans for easy-breezy summer dresses. There’s so much to love about summer, but with all the perks, there are certain negatives associated with the sunshine. Let’s face it, bare-leg weather means the silent suffering of sticky leg-to-chair syndrome and sweaty upper thigh chafing situations. While some women turn to deodorant, talcum powder, Spanx or primer for anti-chafe solutions, there’s a more straightforward sartorial option – the shorts.
Embracing bare knees and exposing calves is nothing new, but why do most women recoil at the thought of the abbreviated garment? Believe it or not, they can be an elegant and functional alternative to skirts, especially when sudden gusts of wind are involved. Forget thoughts of bicycle-short clad Kardashians or distressed denim cutoffs with too much under-bum, instead, the humble short has evolved from skin-tight-too-short, to grown-up longer and structured pairs.
Shorts were grounds for creativity on the spring/summer runways, with grown-up iterations of pocketed cargo styles seen at Valentino, and athletic sporty shapes at Louis Vuitton. Saint Laurent made the case for the evening shorts, pairing high-waisted versions with ostrich feathers and billowy sleeved silk blouses. A more office-appropriate version – knee-length, crisp cuts teamed with suit jackets – were a surprise hit on the catwalk, popping up at Tibi, Dolce & Gabbana and Off-White. Eventually filtering down to the red carpet, with Kate Mara and Nicky Hilton, all swapping evening gowns for the summer-friendly short suit.
The trick to looking more stylish than schoolyard? Opt for a tailored cut that will instantly elevate the alluring staple bringing it from weekend-only to every day or evening. Longer, looser styles will resolve issues around the dreaded thigh-chafe, and a considered choice if you rather skim over your thighs. If you’re blessed with supermodel pins, gravitate towards a more slim-fitting pair. When it comes to length, examine how short you would go for in a skirt and identify the smallest part of your leg – this should be the marker where your hem should sit.
If you’re still skeptical of shorts beyond beach wear, scale back on embellishment and abbreviated hemlines, instead, try muted shades in non-coastal fabrics like satin, cotton or linen. And while shorts might seem tricky to style up, wear them just as you would an A-line or pencil skirt – a crisp T-shirt or silky blouse are both elegant partners to shorts. For the most effortless of summer wardrobes, try a button-down shirt and short pairing. Extra warmth and fashion kudos comes when you smarten up your shorts with a blazer for a no-brainer occasion-wear outfit.
Given the amount of leg that shorts show, it’s important to keep in mind the shoe/short combo that will best complement. Too high and it comes across off-kilter; too low and you’re legs can look shorter. For a simple and straightforward shoe rule to remember, the shorter the shorts, the lower the heel. A block heel sandal is the perfect choice, while espadrilles, mules and kitten heels are useful to have in rotation.