How to Pull off a Short Suit this Summer

thom browne suits for men how to wear a short suit for men street style

Over the last few years, men’s short suits have become a staple of men’s summer fashion. Want to know how to wear a short suit this summer? Read our style guide. 

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The short suit is a clear example of the ever-evolving nature of men’s fashion. No longer are shorts reserved only for sport or casual wear. Although the short suit is a relatively new addition to men’s fashion, it is steeped in classic undertones, and is a must have for this summer season.

If you’re looking for summer suits, then the short suit provides an old school class with an innovative fresh style that is perfect for any summer occasion. Short suits are also a great stylish outfit for the warmer summer months when a full-body suit isn’t very appealing. So, with a little bit of know-how you will soon be styling the ultimate short and jacket combination.

Men’s Short Suits

The defining feature of the short suit is, of course, the shorts. It may seem rather alien to be wearing shorts with a suit, but it can create a really great summery look. When it comes to deciding the type of shorts to wear with your shorts suit, a lot of it comes down to the jacket. This is because the jacket or blazer will still ultimately be the principle component of your outfit you will want to base the rest of your suit around this.

As the short suit is almost definitely a summer outfit, you will want to be wearing light colours and light materials. A linen suit jacket is an obvious go to for this summer outfit. If you’ve got some cotton suits for summer then this is a good alternative to the heavier winter versions. Plus, what’s great about summer suits for men is that they often come in vibrant colours and patterns. Why not try wearing shorts with a blue pinstriped linen sports jacket instead of your usual grey or black.

Once you’ve got your jacket it’s important that you get a pair of shorts that complement the outfit as a whole. Despite what you may think, the shorts don’t have to be the same colour, material, or pattern as your jacket. In fact, your outfit may even benefit from a mixture of styles. Be careful if you are mixing styles though, as you need to make sure that the colour and pattern of the shorts doesn’t clash with your jacket or shirt.

tinie tempah white short suit london fashion week mens street style
Tinine Tempah white suit with shorts at London Fashion Week Mens
PHOTO CREDIT: I LIke It A Lot

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How to Wear Shorts with a Suit

When it comes to actually wearing shorts suits for men you must consider two important factors. Knowing your own body shape, and getting a good fit of the suit in general.

Unfortunately, the very nature of this outfit doesn’t suit every body type and can sometimes make you look, and feel, like a school boy. To avoid this, a particularly tall and slender build is going to fit a short suit the best. Sadly, a stockier man may find short suits a hard style to wear due to the combination of shorts and jacket. However, if you do have a bigger build and want to wear a short suit, make sure you buy a short suit that fits properly, as anything too baggy or tight will end up looking disproportionate.

If you’re struggling to find a matching jacket and shorts for your short suit, there are other alternatives. You could buy a pair of normal full length suit trousers and have them shortened by a tailor, this way you’ll have a pair of shorts that are a length you feel comfortable in. This can be rather time consuming and expensive, though. You should however see this as an opportunity to experiment with different combinations of shorts and jackets.

If you’re don’t want to be wearing dress shorts then try and find a pair of linen or light woolsack shorts to go with your short suit. These light and comfy materials will complement the formal nature of the outfit as well as contributing to its summery feel. A pair of cream or tanned coloured chino shorts are easy to get hold of. Why not try wearing a pair of these with a light blue linen sports jacket and an off white oxford shirt?

Dress Shorts for Men

As the name suggests, a short suit is a relatively formal outfit that can be worn for a variety of occasions. So wearing a pair of dress or business shorts is probably going to be the best for complementing your jacket and shirt.

Unfortunately a short suit probably isn’t going to be an appropriate outfit to wear to work. You should stick to your normal work outfit unless you have a very relaxed employer or you have been given specific permission. Instead, a short suit will work best for a smart casual occasion like a summer party or wedding. Also, a light coloured short suit with some complementary dress shorts would look great at a summer sporting event like Wimbledon.

white short sleeve shirt navy shorts mens street style
White short sleeve shirt with a pair of navy short and navy suit jacket men’s street style
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Dress shorts come in a large variety of colours and styles, making them quite an excitingly versatile item of clothing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with more exciting colours and patterns when choosing the specific shorts you want to go with your jacket and shirt. Although you need to make sure the outfit matches, and you haven’t got too many patterns cluttering it up, experimentation is certainly welcome. However, be careful not to go too wild. A short suit makes enough of a statement on its own.

How Long Should Shorts Be?

When it comes to wearing a short suit in the most stylish way possible, it’s essential to get the length and width of your shorts correct. Leave the three-quarter lengths back in 2002. The hem of your shorts should sit just above your knee cap, and be no more than three inches above it. You’re not wearing hot pants.

On the other hand, your shorts shouldn’t be too long either. Anything lower than halfway down your knee cap is probably going to be too long, and will ultimately make your legs seem shorter.

As it goes, skinnier shorts are almost always going to look better in a short suit outfit, especially if you’re wearing a slim or skinny fit jacket. If you’re wearing a pair of loose fitting or casual shorts, not only will it take away the stylish balance of the suit, but will make your legs appear skinny. The best way to avoid getting chicken leg is to wear relatively skinny shorts. Also, depending on the short’s material, you may want to take stretching or shrinkage into account when choosing a size. Generally with most cotton dress shorts this shouldn’t be an issue, but some polyester heavy shorts may stretch.

Shoes to Wear with Shorts

The first and most important thing to remember when finding a pair of shoes to go with your short suits is say no to socks. Always. It should be more or less common knowledge by now that wearing high socks with shorts, even dress shorts, is a bad idea. Wearing socks will make your ankles appear wider and ruin the natural taper of your leg. You could wear ankle socks, however, this may wreck the formal nature of the outfit.

In terms of what shoes to wear with a short suit there are lots of different options. Possibly the most classic choice would be a pair or black or brown leather penny loafers. The uncomplicated and slick nature of the loafers look great without any socks and adds a stylishly formal touch.

pastel coloured suit with shorts mens street style
Pastel suit with shorts men’s street style
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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If you’re not a fan of slip-ons or want some laces, then a pair of low cut brogues are a great addition to a short suit. Avoid wearing Oxford shoes as these are likely to look too formal for the outfit and will disturb the perfect smart casual balance that the short suit brings.

If you’re going on holiday and want a more formal outfit that will still keep you cool, than why not combine your short suit with a good pair of brown leather boat shoes. If you’re looking for a shoe to wear with your short suit in lots of different situations the boat shoe is a perfect versatile choice. Whether you’re strolling along the beach or in the hotel bar, they will add to the overall aesthetic of the outfit.

Wear a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors (or any other classic trainer), flip flops or linen shoes such as Toms if you are in the right situation, although be careful as they may look silly in combination with a suit jacket. You should avoid strapped sandals at all cost unless you want to look like a boy Scout.

White Short Suits

Finally we come to the section that’s dedicated to those of you attending summer weddings this summer, be it the groom, groomsmen or just as a guest. If you’re looking for a short suit that screams summer than look no further than a white short suit. Be extremely careful if you are thinking about purchasing an entirely white short suit as it brings a very particular style that can be hard to pull off, and you may end up looking like a tennis player.

If you’re going to wear a white short suit it almost definitely needs to be a light linen material, anything thicker and you will look like you’ve walked straight out of the 70s. If you add some accessories such as a brown leather belt it can be a great way to break up the monochromatic nature of the white.

The good thing about a white suit is that it gives you a solid base of colour to work with. You are pretty much free to wear any colour shirt underneath. Why not try a dark navy polo shirt with some brown leather boat shoes?

How to Wear a Short Suit This Summer

  • Make sure the short suit fits well. Not too big or too tight, so think about your body shape.
  • Your shorts should sit just above your knee cap. No more than three inches above and no longer than half way down you knee.
  • Get a pair of shorts that complement your jacket. Either a pair that match or a pair of light material shorts that don’t clash.
  • Get a good pair of shoes to go with you short suit, loafers, brogues, trainers or boat shoes will work well.
  • Experiment – the whole point of a short suit is to wear something different and colourful. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations.
man in black shorts suit street style
Model wearing a black short suit
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

On That Note

Whether you’re Pharrell Williams on the red carpet, or just an average guy at a party, the short suit is fast becoming an essential summer outfit. Don’t waste your summer sweating away in a full suit. We never know how long the sun is going to last in the UK so go get some shorts on and enjoy it while it lasts.

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Over the last few years, men’s short suits have become a staple of men’s summer fashion. Want to know how to wear a short...
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