Tailored Shorts & Shorts Suits


True fashion followers always attempt to stay ahead of the seasons in order to be one step ahead of the trends – so although your body might currently be craving woollens and layers, your head should be thinking about what might be when the sun pops his hat back on. And based on the collections showcased at various fashion weeks across the globe, one of the key pieces for SS13 are tailored shorts, and the notion of shorts suits.

It may not be particularly ground-breaking to report that shorts are going to become an influential piece of menswear come spring/summer. Nevertheless, what you should be aware of is the style of shorts that are likely to become popular and the items you choose to pair them with.

It is clear from my research that a more traditionally tailored style will be favoured by the majority of the high street come SS13, and as Shortlist magazine writes: “It’s all about the slim cut – from hip to hem.”

The high fashion designers also demonstrated a penchant for shorts paired with blazers. The concept of the shorts suit (aka a suit jacket worn with matching shorts) has been simmering within spring/summer collections for several years now – could SS13 be the season that this trend comes to the forefront?

On The Runways

Turning our attention to the runways, several designers featured tailored shorts and shorts suits in their SS13 collections – from Wooyoungmi to Maison Kitsuné to Raf Simons.

However, two of my favourite collections came from Richard James and Junya Watanabe, who showcased a range of much more wearable styles and looks.

Richard James

The collection by Richard James, showcased in our own fair city of London, was entitled ‘Urban Fete’ and featured crisp linen shorts in bright tones, paisley prints and exciting stripes.

The collection worked so well due to the sheer amount of variation present in the outfits. There was a pair of pale blue tailored shorts with matching single-breasted linen blazer (also showcased in more adventurous shades of electric blue and tangerine), bold patterned board shorts and tonal patterned shorts paired with flip flops.

Richard James also mixed things up by pairing mismatched shorts and blazer combinations. There were candy striped shorts paired with a casual white blazer and paisley print shorts in bright yellow/red paired with loose-fitting shirts for an injection of vibrancy.

Vogue described the Richard James collection as “stunningly intense” and I truly believe that the collection could slip seamlessly into the wardrobe of any modern man:

Richard James Menswear SS13 Runway

Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe’s collection provided similar wearability to Richard James, although there was slightly less variation. The collection was clearly inspired by the notion of the shorts suit but Watanabe preferred to mix and match styles/colours of shorts and blazers rather than creating traditional two-piece sets.

Particularly notable were Watanabe’s double-breasted grey blazer paired with contrast black tailored shorts and a pale pink single-breasted blazer coupled with contrast white shorts.

Overall, Watanabe proved that the shorts suit can work and is completely wearable. By utilising your blazers and shorts as separates, you can make the most of your existing wardrobe and pull off high summer smart-casual looks with ease:

Junya Watanabe Menswear SS13 Runway

Raf Simons

We cannot touch on the influence of shorts for SS13 without mentioning the collection by Raf Simons, which contained shorts in almost every outfit.

Raf Simons’ shorts had a more contemporary, sports-influenced feel, with trainers and sports shoes being incorporated within several of the looks. The shorts themselves were much shorter than those featured in other designer collections and typically ended mid-thigh with some slit-detailing cut into them for added effect.

Although the looks created by Raf Simons were much more adventurous and visually impactful, this made them comparatively less wearable than shorts shown by other designers:

Richard James Menswear SS13 Runway

The Fashion Press

In the fashion press, one of the biggest advocates of tailored shorts – and more specifically the shorts suit – for SS13 has been Editor-in-Chief of Mr Porter, Jeremy Langmead. Langmead has written feature articles in both Esquire magazine and London’s Evening Standard showing his support for both of these looks.

He fully endorses Watanabe’s approach to the shorts suit by stating that it looks better if the jacket and shorts are slightly mismatched. He also argues that the key to pulling off this look successfully is to dress tailored shorts down, not up.

However, Langmead concedes that the shorts suit cannot really be compared to the normal suit, as it is much more directional and therefore not entirely appropriate for every situation where a suit is worn. In addition, he raises some key issues that need to be considered before even attempting to rock a shorts suit: things like where you work, what the climate is like, how confident you appear and feel and (most importantly) what your legs are like.

In other areas of the fashion press, Shortlist magazine has backed tailored shorts and argues that they are such a versatile piece of clothing they can be worn at all sorts of occasions – from dress down Fridays to city breaks to summer BBQs.

According to Shortlist, the key is to ensure the shorts fit well, and in terms of making an impact, Shortlist writes that “shorts lend themselves to this season’s colour-blocking trend so go to town with a bright pair and contrasting jacket with a natural shirt.”

Back in July 2012, immediately after the SS13 fashion weeks, Esquire magazine included a feature called “How to do summer smart” and showcased several types of tailored shorts in an effort to prove they can work successfully for most men. Esquire magazine wrote “The three rules with shorts are that they must be tailored, not remotely creased, and cut a few inches above the knee”. Sound advice.

How To Wear

In terms of how to wear, tailored shorts look best when matched with other smart-casual pieces. Oxford shirts, polos, granddad collars and slim-fit knitwear are the perfect accompaniments, and tucking yourself in is also something that complements the essence of this look.

Whether you opt for timeless neutral shorts or more striking statement colours/patterns is completely up to you:

Men's Tailored Shorts Lookbook

Modern Shorts Suit & Separates

It is clear that this is a trend which has been trying to claim the limelight for a several seasons now, and I think SS13 could be the time for the tailored shorts suit to shine.

For those looking to take on the shorts suit approach this SS13, it has already been proven that you don’t have to utilise matching pieces in order for it to be successful. The traditional shorts suit is a look that is still not appropriate for the majority of office settings, so instead mix and match your existing separates together in order to create refined, summer appropriate outfits for the weekends or holidaying.

With this in mind, the style of the shorts is more important, so keep them well fitted at the waist (they should be able to be worn without a belt) and make sure they closely follow the lines of your thighs, stopping an inch or two above the knee:

Men's Shorts Suit Lookbook

Final Word

So, what do you guys think? Are tailored shorts already a modern wardrobe classic? Would you go a brave step further and pair tailored shorts with a blazer in order to develop your own take on the shorts suit?

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