To Short, or Too Short?

It’s easy to forget we were all teenagers once. There’s a photograph doing the rounds of Jeremy Clarkson in the eighties, wearing short-shorts on holiday. It must surely be a moment the least-fashion conscious man on TV would sooner forget. But he actually looks very cool, very… SS21.

The thing about thighs is that they’re rarely flattering. Mine are more ‘bicep’ than my actual bicep, fleshy hoofs of jamon Iberico removed from behind a Spanish bar and attached to my waist. If I could, I’d wear trousers all year around. But it’s summer now, and that’s just not sensible anymore. There’s also something fun about the short-short; that retro holiday appeal, which makes me want them.

You don’t have to be tall like Clarkson. If you are, you might be able to shop for a normal pair and roll the bottoms up. Otherwise, always select shorts with the legs longer than the groin. Anywhere up to two-thirds above the knee does the job, without entering hot-pant territory. Think about how you get your tailored Setter swim-shorts by Orlebar Brown – that photograph of Connery on a boat in Jamaica. That’s as short as you should go. Not all of us took third-place at Mr Universe 1953, after all.

As a football/soccer fan, I’m getting in on the more active side of the trend, with the sporty short-shorts of Baresi and Ginola. I bought a pair in synthetic fabric from Tracksmith, which is inspired by classic running wear instead of football. As well as tennis cuts, by the likes of Fila, these are a more versatile choice. But as Rowing Blazers’ Umbro collaboration, or the rise of Mundial, implies, retro football-inspired gear is surprisingly hip this summer. With a crisp white tee-shirt and espadrilles, this look bleeds out from those eighties holiday snaps in Italy or France – a cold beer at a beachside bar, a side of calamari, and the wind brushing against your newly-tanned thighs.

Of course, few of us have the Adonis-like frame of Ginola, or Clarkson’s towering height. But that should not put you off the short-short trend. Whether you go smart or casual, just remember: Cargo pants, bad. Hot pants, a crime. Somewhere in the middle: very, very good.

Originally posted as part of the Gents Cafe Newsletter, a bite-sized read about men’s lifestyle to enjoy over a coffee or a nice cocktail. Join now!