Plaid Madras Shorts: A Colorful Essential

Shorts. They’re perhaps the most simple item in your wardrobe—often a monochromatic, singular piece of fabric that’s designed for maximum freedom and minimal utility. So it’s difficult to imagine them as a fashion statement, a way to break out of the mold and call a little attention to your sartorial good sense.

Difficult to imagine, that is, until you meet patch madras shorts.

These lively, original patterns have a distinctive, preppy appearance to them without ever looking disheveled. In essence, they’re a perfect way to spice up your spring/summer wardrobe—and since you can pair them with a good polo shirt, button down, and more, they’re also surprisingly versatile.

Convinced you should add a pair to your wardrobe? Good. Now let’s explore all of the options you have for creating both dressy and casual outfits.

Texture and Color: A Quick Guide

The first thing you notice when you pick up a pair of patch madras shorts is, of course, the pattern. The colors. And that’s plural “colors.” Because these designs are not shy about packing as many colors into their limited space—in fact, they’re something of a mishmash of colors that, when zoomed away, give an overall impression.

Take this Patch Madras Short Pleated. You’ll find plenty of colors there, from white and navy to green and reddish pink to a pale shade of yellow. Yet this short essentially functions as a blue and white pattern despite all of the colors present, because the blue and white dominate the color scheme. You can then wear this short as a blue or a white short, matching it with most items that would pair well with blue or white—and that’s a surprising amount of clothes. In summer, you can wear an oxford cloth button down white shirt with these shorts and never look out of place.

And what about the texture? 100% cotton. It’s nothing you haven’t handled before: it’s light, breathable, and capable of handling the heat of a summer day or even the coolness of those first few days of spring. These shorts may look nothing like the other shorts in your wardrobe, but they’ll be plenty capable of handling just about anything you have to throw at them—including more formal occasions.

Dressing Up Madras Shorts

If you find yourself at a backyard barbecue or similar dressy-casual atmosphere, the Madras shorts more than hold their own. Their “preppy” style is to blame for that, sure, but let’s look at the other details that the fashion-forward will want to consider:

These shorts, as available at Berle, are double pleated. Pleats, you’ll recall from our other guides, tend to “dress up” a pair of slacks or shorts. They’re a step above casual, which gives you free reign to wear these shorts even on dressier occasions. But since the pleats—and indeed, the pockets—are somewhat camouflaged by the bold patterns here, you can get away with wearing these shorts in casual situations, even around the house.

These may not look versatile on first glance, but as you come to know Madras shorts, you’ll see that they can be one of the wisest investments you will make to your wardrobe all year.