The Three Rules of Summertime Shorts

The word “summer” might mean “vacation” for some, but there are no vacations from style. True: in summer, most guys can get away with donning a pair of shorts, a polo, a nice pair of shoes, and call it a day. We can cut our hair short to stay cool, put on the occasional hat, and rest easy knowing that we look about as good as we feel.

The problem? You don’t want to be most guys.

In fact, most guys’ summer style isn’t quite where they think it is, all things considered. If everyone is wearing shorts, for example, that means you need to up your game to stand out from the crowd. While many think that a pair of shorts is enough to look reasonably well-dressed, the truth is that pulling off shorts isn’t as simple as picking out a pair from your closet and calling it an outfit.

If you don’t want to look like a tourist in your home city this summer, it will help to follow the three rules of summertime shorts so you can up your style game and look a little better than “most guys.”

Rule #1: Ditch the ankle socks

For the most part, it’s impossible to pull of shorts-and-socks these days unless you’ve got some serious sartorial cred. Wearing socks with shorts has become synonymous with soccer dads and tourists who don’t have a clue as to how to dress on their vacation. We want you to do a little better than that. So ditch the ankle socks and procure yourself some no-show socks or, better yet, ditch the socks entirely.

It can admittedly be a strange sensation when you start putting on shoes without socks for the first time, but that’s what stepping—quite literally—outside of your comfort zone is all about.

Rule #2: Make sure your shoes and top complement your shorts

Whether you opt for a basic Khaki short or something a little more colorful, you should think of your shorts as the color-anchor of your outfit. You don’t need to match specific colors to your shorts, but you should select shoes and a top that complement them. If you’re confused about how to accomplish this feat, you can opt for the eternally-versatile Khaki and rest easy knowing that just about any color complements khaki. Or you could try for a little more contrast.

Whatever you choose, try to escape the mistakes most guys make. Instead, assume that the shorts are the base of your outfit and work from there. Simply taking a few minutes to evaluate what’s in your wardrobe will put you ahead of 90% of guys.

Rule #3: Know Your Pleats and Flat Fronts

What’s the difference between a pleated short and a short in flat front? The pleats, of course. Those little lines tend to up the “dress” factor on your shorts, so make sure that you pick flat fronts for casual occasions and pleated shorts for occasions that require a little more decorum.

Whatever you do, stop pairing sneakers with shorts, high ankle socks with shorts, and graphic tees with shorts. Avoiding these mistakes and following our rules will up your style game and have you looking good all summer long.