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How do you style shorts?

maxalex

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It seems that you're taking specific instances where shorts are too casual (ie. dining establishments in the evening), and using those instances to support a general prohibition on shorts.

The boundary between what's presentable and what's practical is always subjective, and a happy medium now occupies a larger gray area than in past eras (even if you personally dislike it)-- unless one is out and about on a Saturday in July in NYC, when it's 90 degrees out, with 90% humidity, and it's literally 130 degrees on subway platforms. If that boundary lies outside of that happy medium, then it becomes quite safe to cross. I imagine dignified, self-respecting, well-dressed men who live in places like DC or Florida agree. Adhering to antiquated sartorial dogma is not worth the discomfort, and society at large no longer demands it.

A good example is how I believe large, bulky winter parkas like Canada Goose etc. are gaudy and frumpy -- but when it's 15 degrees out, I fault no one for wearing them, least of all myself.


Then I suppose "informal daytime activities" is the subjective aspect of this conversation.
I lived in New York City for 20 years, riding the Vomit Comet to work every day. In the summer. In a suit and tie. People are looking for style advice on this forum, and my personal advice will always be to not wear shorts in town, especially in the evening. That lots of people won't take my advice is a given. I respect that.
 

rjc149

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I lived in New York City for 20 years, riding the Vomit Comet to work every day. In the summer. In a suit and tie. People are looking for style advice on this forum, and my personal advice will always be to not wear shorts in town, especially in the evening. That lots of people won't take my advice is a given. I respect that.
I respect your opinion -- but the OP wasn't asking whether shorts are okay, he was asking for advice on how to style them appropriately. I feel it's a given that even serious adult men can incorporate shorts into their casual summer wardrobe, provided they fit properly and are worn when appropriate.

At a certain point, willfully enduring the discomfort of impractical attire for the sake of fashion, when it's not required, makes a man look less serious.
 

maxalex

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I respect your opinion -- but the OP wasn't asking whether shorts are okay, he was asking for advice on how to style them appropriately. I feel it's a given that even serious adult men can incorporate shorts into their casual summer wardrobe, provided they fit properly and are worn when appropriate.

At a certain point, willfully enduring the discomfort of impractical attire for the sake of fashion, when it's not required, makes a man look less serious.
I definitely agree there are good shorts and bad shorts! Derek showed a lot of good examples, as always.
 

Duke Santos

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Very casually. For the shorts, clean, flat front mid-thigh cotton in khaki, grey, navy or olive. For the styling: clean, minimalist sneakers (I'd maybe be comfortable with suede penny loafers, but that's it) with no-show socks, t-shirt, polo or linen shirt (no OCBD) untucked and, this might be controversial, but I hate the look of a belt with shorts. I just make sure and get the fit right, so that I don't need one.

I think the anti-belt stance is my reaction against the neo-prep look of the 80s, and belted shorts just smack me of frat guys at Big Ten schools trying to look like they Summer in Kennenbunkport.
 

johng70

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but I hate the look of a belt with shorts. I just make sure and get the fit right, so that I don't need one.

I think the anti-belt stance is my reaction against the neo-prep look of the 80s, and belted shorts just smack me of frat guys at Big Ten schools trying to look like they Summer in Kennenbunkport.
Really, with an un-tucked shirt, you can't really tell if someone is wearing a belt or not anyway. So, what difference whether they have one or not?
 

Panama

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Absolutely a bygone school of thought, and sadly so. But it’s not “dogma” in the sense of a belief adhered to uncritically (e.g. the Pope is infallible). Rather it is rooted in the quantifiable observation that men in shorts look unserious. It’s fine to look unserious at the beach, but don’t you want to look like you’re a man of significance in town?

The sad answer today is, maybe not. In recent years, many men have simply stopped giving a shit about their personal appearance, falling back on the deeply mistaken belief (dogma?) that “clothes don’t make the man” or “I am who I am.”

Memo to men: What you wear matters. And women notice.

Yes, men these days feel free to wear shorts everywhere, even here in Rome and even in churches. We can mourn this lack of self-respect, or take consolation in the fact that those of us who still insist on trousers will look all the better by comparison.
The wearing of shorts is ubiquitous where I live. But if you're shopping with 4 kids, what does it matter? I would like them to draw the line when they attend the theatre and potentially when dining out.
 

Phileas Fogg

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Hand-rolling cigarettes of cheap scrap tobacco from a plastic bag adorned with graphic images of mouth cancer would demonstrate that this man lacks a certain degree of dignity and self-respect that goes beyond his shorts.
thank you for pointing that out, as I couldn’t figure out what the graphic was on that bag, only that it was something gross.
 

maxalex

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thank you for pointing that out, as I couldn’t figure out what the graphic was on that bag, only that it was something gross.
Hahaha indeed. Hand-rolling cigs is pretty normal here; the tobacco is actually branded by the cigarette companies, it's not scrap (I think). All tobacco products here carry graphic cancer images. It doesn't stop anyone.
 

Texasmade

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Given that I live in Houston and it’s hot and humid as shit right now, you better believe I’m wearing shorts whenever I can. Typically they’re mid thigh 7 inch inseam with a SS linen shirt or polo shirt. Never tuck in the shirts. I might wear a solid color v neck t shirt with shorts depending on the color of the shorts.
 

rjc149

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Hahaha indeed. Hand-rolling cigs is pretty normal here; the tobacco is actually branded by the cigarette companies, it's not scrap (I think). All tobacco products here carry graphic cancer images. It doesn't stop anyone.
I’m not familiar with the Old Holborn brand. It’s been well over a decade since I was a smoker. Back in college it was also common for broke students to buy rolling tobacco, as it was far more economical. Drum was the preferred brand, but Top, $1.50 per pouch (back then) came in a yellow bag similar to the one in your photo and was nasty scrap tobacco, half stems and bark, and actually smelled like machine oil. Almost as if (and likely) they simply brushed the refuse out of the shredding machines and packaged it. Nasty stuff.
 

breakaway01

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I don't know what kind of women you hang out with, but the ones around me seem fine with shorts. But I don't presume to speak for all women all over the globe.

That said, as long as I'm not wearing something offensive, I don't dress for other people. I dress for my own enjoyment. I respect myself just fine. My self-respect comes from my values, education, behavior, achievements, etc. They don't come from how much fabric I have below my knees. I also don't base my view of my own maturity around whether I'm wearing pants or shorts. My maturity is based on how I treat other people.

If these things are important to you, then I think that's fine. You do you. I've never judged a person's maturity based on something as silly as leg coverings.
I know you're referring here more to casual/non-professional settings, but I think there is at least some evidence that people judge others by the formality of their dress, though it may not be conscious. Not a psychologist but there are a number of studies that suggest that a significant number of people perceive professionals (doctors, dentists, laywers, etc) to be more 'competent' (to compress many different dimensions into a single convenient term for the sake of this conversation) if they are wearing more formal attire. However, and not surprisingly, there is a lot of variation probably dependent on context (e.g. you probably don't care as much what your emergency room physician is wearing), locale, age of the respondant, etc.


I thought this quote from the second paper (a systematic review from actually some very respected investigators) to be interesting regarding unconscious biases
"For example, while many patients did not report an attire preference when directly surveyed, several of our included studies found that images of patients dressed in white coats or formal suits were more often associated with perceptions of trust and confidence even if patients also expressed no specific preferences regarding attire"

And of course, how one behaves and one's actual competence are far more important than attire. But if my attire gives me a little nudge towards being trustable, why not?
 
Last edited:

rjc149

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I know you're referring here more to casual/non-professional settings, but I think there is at least some evidence that people judge others by the formality of their dress, though it may not be conscious. Not a psychologist but there are a number of studies that suggest that a significant number of people perceive professionals (doctors, dentists, laywers, etc) to be more 'competent' (to compress many different dimensions into a single convenient term for the sake of this conversation) if they are wearing more formal attire. However, and not surprisingly, there is a lot of variation probably dependent on context (e.g. you probably don't care as much what your emergency room physician is wearing), locale, age of the respondant, etc.


I thought this quote from the second paper (a systematic review from actually some very respected investigators) to be interesting regarding unconscious biases
"For example, while many patients did not report an attire preference when directly surveyed, several of our included studies found that images of patients dressed in white coats or formal suits were more often associated with perceptions of trust and confidence even if patients also expressed no specific preferences regarding attire"

And of course, how one behaves and one's actual competence are far more important than attire. But if my attire gives me a little nudge towards being trustable, why not?
Yes I’ve perceived that I am treated with more deference and respect when wearing a suit and tie. People single me out on the street to ask for directions, I intimidate young charity solicitors who almost always pick another target behind me, I seem to have priority with waitstaff and bartenders, and I don’t think it entirely coincidental that most of my 1st date lays happened when I showed up after work, wearing a suit.

Whether to wear shorts in casual settings (meaning, among friends and loved ones at informal events) is a matter of comfort in hot weather, not outward appearances. I would wholly agree that if presenting a sharp outward appearance is called for, say, for business, for evening events, or social events that require making good first impressions or showing respect, long pants are better. But well-fitted shorts do not become prohibited past an arbitrary age milestone.

There’s another thread discussing a 39 year old man wearing Nike sneakers casually. The sneaker in question looks more appropriate at the gym than on a man pushing 40 out around town. It doesn’t mean men his age cannot wear sneakers, provided they better reflect the dignity and maturity of a man his age. Some would say casual sneakers period are proscribed once a man has hair on his nutsack. Most reasonable opinions would suggest more sophisticated alternatives, which is why style forums exist.
 

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