Mens Shorts: This Summer’s Key Trends

Guys: SHORT of inspiration? Harry McCarthy’s here to help.

beach fashion men Shorts Summer

With the first few days of sun comes the inevitable question for all of us blokes: is it still too early for shorts?


Given that April is only just upon us and frosty mornings are still not a thing of the past, I would argue ‘yes’; however if my recent trips onto campus are anything to go by, the majority of the male student population of Exeter would disagree.


For men, donning the first pair of shorts of the year is a momentous occasion, and is regarded by many as the official beginning of summer. A bit like lighting the barbecue for the first time, we just can’t start enjoying the sun until we’ve got our legs out.


Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and dare to bare, the next and most difficult step is finding a pair that suits and, more importantly, fits you. While these may seem like obvious criteria, the number of men parading around campus in the last week alone wearing ill-fitting shorts that even the 80s would have sent back would suggest that they are very often not met. So how does one ensure looking like a Spartan as opposed to a rent boy?

Luckily for all of you, I’m on hand to dish out some friendly (and brutally honest) advice and guide you through the key trends this summer.


Save your Bermudas, block colours and, if you really must, floral patterns, for your surfing exploits; 2012 is the year of the return to classicism. Sharp tailoring, faded and pastel hues, and distressed leather belts are our mots du jour, and about time too.


Take note: no self-respecting fashionista will be seen dead in anything that comes below the knee this season; shorts are getting shorter, and we need to embrace it. Unless, of course, you want to look like a middle-aged Dad holidaying on the Isle of Wight.

In the name of journalistic integrity I recently had a peruse of this season’s high street collections and selected seven of my favourites (and no, none of them are from Jack Wills), so without further ado, here they are:

1. Pink Raquette River Shorts – Abercrombie & Fitch – £64
It’s become a well-known fact that real men wear pink, and rightly so. These pink shorts from Abercrombie may not be the pasteliest of pastel shades, but remain pale enough to avoid any Brüno comparisons and pink enough to re-assert your masculinity. The vintage twisted belt is a welcome addition, giving the shorts a markedly American ‘preppy’ feel.

2. Paint Splashed Ripped Bermudas – Zara – £29.99
For those who wish to shy away from the dominant yuppie trend, Zara’s edgy paint splashed offering is the perfect solution. The ripped detailing screams ‘surfer dude’ – perfect for the beach. Team them with an open checked shirt, or, indeed, absolutely nothing. It is summer, after all!

3. Yellow Ponto Beach Shorts – Hollister – £32
Nothing says ‘summer’ quite like pastel yellow, and if it’s vintage washed then all the better. These classic-fitting shorts from Hollister provide a much-needed splash of colour, allowing the rest of your outfit to take a backseat while they do all the talking. The ideal pair for lazy days by the pool.

4. Light Blue Shorts – River Island – £28
The more retiring wallflower types among us will be pleased to hear that it’s not all about making a statement, as River Island’s effort proves. These sharply cut turn-ups are sure to smarten up your look, making them the ideal choice for summer dates. The muted hue also gives you the perfect opportunity to crack out the bright printed tees that you’ve just been DYING to wear.

5. Dark Burgundy Stretch Cotton Shirts – H&M – £19.99
It sometimes feels as though burgundy’s reign over the trouser world will never end, but why should it? The shade is both versatile and sophisticated, meaning that H&M’s stretch cotton offering will look great dressed up or down. A darker shade lends itself well to long summer nights, while the slightly longer length is ideal for those wishing to avoid too much thigh exposure.

6. Check Green Cotton Shorts – Ben Sherman – £60
Block shades aren’t for everyone, and while garish patterns may be a thing of the past, it is still possible to step outside of the box and retain one’s style. Checks are set to be big this summer, and those wishing to buy into the trend couldn’t do much better than these shorts from Ben Sherman. Roll them up, stick on a white tee and a straw trilby (yep, they’re still around) and boom, you’re on an indie album cover.

7. Blue Block Stripe Shorts – Topman – £30
The other big trend which, thankfully, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast, is nauticalia. It’ll be a good while before blue and white stripes disappear off the fashion radar, so why not invest in Topman’s vertical version of the pattern? The faded print and rolled hems perfectly encapsulate the coveted vintage look, making these shorts one of the season’s must-haves. Just remember who told you.