Harriet Walker: In short, a guide to bare-legged sartorial cool

Keep your shorts well conditioned too – nothing spoils the look like a rumpled crotch or bulging pockets

The designer and dandy Tom Ford declared last week that gentlemen do not wear shorts. The buying public, it seems, have largely ignored him – the business of summer apparel is a matter of personal choice, after all. Would-be wearers should note the importance of length below the belt – anything above the knee is too sporty and liable to be mistaken for swimming trunks; anything below should be left to the skateboarders. To flout Ford's maxim with confidence, gentlemen should look for a slim-fitting, tailored pair of shorts in a neutral navy or some other blue variant. Keep your shorts well conditioned too – nothing spoils the look like a rumpled crotch or bulging pockets. The biggest pitfall however remains the clunky athletic trainer. For a triumphant shorts ensemble, pair with plain lace-ups, espadrilles or loafers. And make sure that your socks and sandals keep their distance from each other.

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