The thing about menswear is that it changes very little from month to month, season to season, even year to year. And when it does change, the differences are subtle. And even with those subtle changes, the previous style is almost always still acceptable, particularly if the previous style works better for that particular man's body type/profession/lifestyle, etc. For example, one year the trend may be suit coats with one button, and a few years later that's changed to two buttons, then a couple years later, it's back to one button, and so on. Of course every now and then a trend in menswear will come around that should NEVER be repeated: "Cosby" sweaters, leisure suits, platform shoes, Z. Cavaricci jeans- you get the picture.
Since it's unreasonable to think I can cover all the menswear rules in one post, I'm going to focus specifically on dressing for the spring and summer, since it's nearly 70 degrees here today and I'm starting to get that spring fever again. Even more specifically, I'm going to narrow the focus of this post right down to shorts. Some people hate when guys wear shorts. I have no problem with guys wearing shorts, but I do have a few guidelines:
1.) Wear the appropriate length. Shorts should hit at or just barely above your knee. Below the knee? Please. No man has ever successfully pulled off capris. Don't try to be the first.
2.) Wear the appropriate footwear. Believe it or not, there ARE nice sandals and flip-flops made for men. If you must wear sneakers, and I understand this is sometimes necessary, wear those ankle socks that all but disappear inside the shoe. Tube socks? Ew. Black tube socks? Honestly, who raised you?
3.) Don't wear wrinkled shorts. Get out the iron and press out the majority of the wrinkles. I'm not saying you need to have them starched and stiff, but have you ever seen a guy walking down the street in super wrinkled cargo shorts looking practically homeless? Don't be that guy.
4.) Wear the appropriate waist size and please please please wear them high enough that when you bend over, we don't have to look at either your underwear or the fact that you aren't wearing any. Catch my drift? Plumber's crack is SO not sexy.
Now that you know my rules, here are some nice shorts options for all you gentlemen out there:
These cargo shorts are available in five colors, but my personal favorite is this "Charleston Brown." Dark fabrics hide stains well, so even if you spill your beer at the tailgating party, it won't ruin these shorts. Another thing I like about these shorts is that the cargo pocket is sewn down to the shorts. Have you ever seen cargo pockets that are bulky and stick way out from the shorts? That looks terrible. I'll prove it. Take a look at these cargo shorts from the Gap:
They look pretty sloppy compared to the Banana Republic ones, don't they? And let's be honest, how many of you guys actually use those pockets to lug stuff around? That's what I thought- not very many of you. Back to the B.R. shorts- did you notice the model is wearing a nice pair of leather flip-flops? Very manly, yet totally stylish.
A note on sandals, flip-flops and feet: There is nothing wrong with getting a pedicure to clean up your feet at the start of the warm weather season. A pedicure for a man basically involves cleaning up the feet- trimming the nails, smoothing them down, and in general just making them look neat and clean. There is no nail polish or girly-scented lotion involved, just a little maintenance. Trust me when I tell you that grooming matters most when wearing sandals. You can have on a pair of $2,000 shoes from Saks, but if you have skanky feet, there is no point.
Ok, back to the original topic of shorts. I don't want to give you the impression that I don't like the Gap because of their poor cargo-pocket design. I actually really like a lot of their clothes, including these:
Gap Flap-pocket shorts, $39.50
The fit is right, the length is right, the model is wearing them at an appropriate place on his waist and he's even got on a pair of sneakers that don't show any signs of a sock! This could be because he's not wearing socks, but I understand that's not always comfortable, so like I said before, be sure to wear the kind you can barely see. Not sure where to find them? Check here, here, here and here.
Finally, some people feel that shorts are not appropriate for "dressy" events, and 99% of the time, that is true. However, if there is an event that is borderline- not so dressy that you feel you need to wear pants, but also formal enough that you need to look really polished and put-together, then I recommend a crisp, seersucker short:
Ralph Lauren Seersucker Shorts, Nordstrom, $75
Whether it's a casual, backyard, afternoon summer wedding, or a company picnic where you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, seersucker shorts are the way to go. Wear them with a nice pair of leather sandals or flip-flops and an untucked polo or short-sleeved button-front. To keep yourself from looking like too much of a "snooty-country-club-guy" wear a t-shirt under the button front, but only button the two middle buttons and leave it untucked. And definitely avoid wearing these shorts with docksiders or topsiders or loafers of any kind. Even vans should be used carefully when seersucker shorts are involved. The key to a pair of seersucker shorts like these it to keep the rest of the outfit polished but with a bit of an edge.
Well, I hope that is has been useful to all of you gentlemen out there. Please feel free to peruse the other menswear-related posts here on the blog- just enter "menswear" in the search box to the left or click on the "menswear" label below this post. Ladies, feel free to use this information to help your man look his best this summer.
Happy Thursday, everyone! One more day until the weekend! Whoo-hoo!