Shorts circuit

For hot summer days, shorts should be a staple in every man's wardrobe. But how to wear them? Melanie Rickey advises

There is no in-between when it comes to men wearing shorts. They either look good or really, really bad. Why? Because some men know the tricks of the trade, and others are too scared to make a statement. Ever seen a man wearing a perfect pair of navy linen shorts, a white T-shirt with lace-up shoes and socks? Mmm. It's not a good look. In fact, most often it's the choice of shoes that lets down the shorts' wearer.

Simon Calder, The Independent's travel editor (who you may have seen on BBC2's The Travel Show), is an ambassador for shorts' wearers everywhere. He is always on the move, and only last Monday was on Safari in Zimbabwe, wearing trousers this time, "to protect myself from Lion bites and that sort of thing." He wears shorts for purely practical reasons. "In the summer, trousers are simply not a sensible item of clothing," he says. He has six pairs of standard-issue khaki shorts that he buys from M&S, Next, or wherever in the world he happens to be, which he wears with Nike All Terrain sandals or trainers. "I never wear socks with shorts," he says, "especially after seeing the male staff at Sydney airport who have to wear shorts with knee-high socks and boots."

Confidence is a big issue when it comes to taking the shorts plunge. Most men wear trousers for 10 months of the year so wearing them to go out (unless you travel to sunny climes often, play football or go to the gym) may feel a bit strange. Lee Copperwheat from the design duo Copperwheat Blundell makes shorts an integral part of his summer collections. He is currently working on clothes for next summer, which he says will include extra-long baggy shorts, and shorter tailored ones. For this summer, however, Copperwheat designed sports and army-influenced baggy shorts in performance fabrics that are as good as sold out across the country. "Shorts are great because they mean it's summer. I love wearing them myself but you've got to be careful what you choose." Copperwheat suggests taking a critical look at your body shape, and legs, before buying a pair and also advises to spend that bit extra. "They may look good on the rail," she says, "but the cut is very, very important." So if you're opting for a smart look and you're snake-hipped, tailored flat-front short shorts are good, but for those with waists that are over 34 inches, it is worth considering pleat-fronted longer shorts. Otherwise baggy drawstring Bermuda's from the surf labels Quiksilver, Mambo and O'Neill can be relied upon to provide bright, easy-to-wear styles that can double up as swimming trunks.

Chris Bailey, the design director of Jigsaw Menswear, is responsible for some of the best shorts currently available. They are both in keeping with the current trends and flattering at the same time, which is no mean feat. The colours are basic shades of khaki, navy and army green. They are baggy, with structured seaming and sit below the knee. These are perfect for now if you want to be ultra-stylish, but Bailey advises that "shoes are important. As is the top half. We advise men to wear a simple white vest or T-shirt with a relaxed short-sleeved shirt on top." In addition, chains such as Burton's and Top Man both have affordable shorts whose designs are based on army pants and chinos - these are the most popular and easy-to-wear styles around. Just don't forget, whatever you do, to think about the shoes.

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