A guide to choosing summer shorts

If you haven't already bought yourself a new pair of shorts this summer, then now's the time to do so - it looks like this unseasonally warm weather might be here to stay - hooray!

But don't just get the first pair you see on the rack, give it a little bit of thought. Or if you can't be bothered, then no problem - I've done it for you. Here's a guide to choosing your summer shorts - what to look for and where to get it according to your body shape.

Oliver Spencer - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal styling for men

Drakes  - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal shopper for men

Big thighs

The best places I've found that cut looser on the thigh if you have big legs are Oliver Spencer and Drakes.

The Oliver Spencer shorts would look great with a collarless white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up, like this one. I always find Oliver Spencer is great for people that prefer a little less structure and can fill out the floppiness of the larger built guys who with substantial shoulders and chunky legs.

A client of mine has the navy Drakes one in the picture and although they're not cheap, he says it worth it to get some that are comfortable. He's been wearing his with a Battenwear camp collar shirt which looks very summery but still a little on the tailored side which he prefers. If your legs are also on the shorter side, I would wear a belt in a similar colour to the shorts which will make your legs look longer, rather than the contrast one shown here.

Striped grey shorts - Oliver Spencer £119

Navy shorts - Drakes £195

Club Monaco - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal stylist for men

Orlebar Brown - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal shopper for men

Skinny legs

So if you have skinny legs - what should you look for? Well firstly make sure the shorts are fitted with slim cut legs to avoid your legs resembling matchsticks! Orlebar Brown is always great for more tailored styles like these bright pink ones which would look great with one of his towelling polo shirts which will also add a little bulk to your top half if you're skinny all over. if you're not keen on the open collar of that one, I also found this one by Tommy Hilfiger at Asos for a client earlier. 

The other thing which will distract from skinny legs is a pattern like the blue floral ones above. If you are very slim all over, keep the size of the pattern smaller so it's in scale with your proportions and avoid a very large print which will take you over. The great thing about a pattern like this is it's pretty versatile in terms of what you can wear it with too - you could wear grey, navy, white or even pale pink as they've styled it with at Mr Porter.

You could also try wear horizontal stripes to give your legs a bit of added width.

Floral shorts - Club Monaco at Mr Porter  £100

Bright pink shorts - Orlebar Brown £145

Paul Smith - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal stylist for men

Altea - a guide to choosing summer shorts - styling advice for men

Plus size

If you are large all over, here's what I suggest you look for: There's no need to go completely plain, though you may prefer a darker colour which tends to be more flattering - I love these fun dark camouflage shorts by Paul Smith. If you can - go for shorts with a slightly higher waist - not only will this help to make your legs look longer if they're short, it will also visually minimise your stomach, with yet another added benefit, that if you wear your shirt or t-shirt untucked you're less likely to be revealing your big tummy to everyone when you reach for anything.

It's well known that vertical stripes are flattering, but you may not have considered it for shorts. These ones are subtly striped, and for the ultimate elegant look with these, I'd choose a navy shirt like this Hartford linen one, which creates very little contrast and therefore the eye glides up and down the body with no distraction creating a tall and slim illusion. What's not to like? You have the interest of the stripes on the shorts so it doesn't look boring and you could add a little more detail in with the shoes you wear...something like these powder blue and white espadrilles would look very chic.

Black camouflage shorts - Paul Smith £125

Striped blue shorts - Altea at Matches £140


J Crew - a guide to choosing summer shorts - personal style advisor for men

Ted Baker - a guide to choosing summer shorts - wardrobe advisor for men


The most important thing is to make sure your shorts are not too short, otherwise they could look a little school boyish. Luckily J Crew does different length inseams with these striped ones coming in at 10.5cm. The horizontal stripes will break up the length of your body if you're very tall, and I suggest you go for a contrast in the colour of your top and belt to add even more visual breaks. 

Ted Baker also helpfully has a range called T for Tall - modelled by champion swimmer Mark Foster who's 6'6". Annoyingly it doesn't give any inseam lengths in the details for these shorts, but as they're coming pretty close to his knees in the images I'm guessing they're quite a generous length.

Striped white shorts - J Crew £51

Aqua shorts - Ted Baker  - £85