Style and Styling

Looking Good… in Shorts!

Good day, lovely reader!

What is it with shorts? I know both women and men who will never wear them under any circumstances, and I know men and women who wear them in the depths of winter (even if ours aren’t very deep…). I don’t understand. There is a time and place for most clothing items, so why not shorts?

First, a little history about shorts. For generations, shorts were a clothing item reserved only for children, male children in particular. Girls wore dresses or skirts (good air circulation!) and boys wore shorts. They weren’t called shorts, but short pants, because, well, that’s what they are. Short pants, or short trousers. When you grew up enough, you grew into trousers. I have raised three sons, and see the wisdom in not wasting fabric to cover the knees when all they do is wear holes in them in nanoseconds. (I don’t think the timer has yet been invented that can accurately measure the speed with which my sons could ruin a pair of pants!) Long trousers or pants, as they are called on this side of the pond, were a sign of maturity.

For adults, shorts arrived on the scene as sporting gear, particularly for track and field events where free movement of the legs was especially important. (And yes, shorts were also swimwear, but since most people don’t go grocery shopping or to work in their swimwear, we’ll stick with the non-swimmy version.)

Shorts present style challenges for many of us, especially if not blessed with colt-like legs. If you only wear shorts when camping, doing yard work, or reno work on the house, you may not care what you look like in shorts. But for those who live a very casual lifestyle, or in a very hot climate, there are ways to make shorts more flattering. Read on!

Keep Them Narrow

One reason shorts often create a short and stumpy silhouette is that the legs are too wide. This is especially true with long shorts. Long and wide is not a good combination, but is an easy fix! Tapering shorts so that they skim the leg toward the knee makes a world of difference. Another common problem is that shorts often create an unflattering horizontal line across somewhere we are widest. To combat this, choose (or hem your) shorts so that they do not end at the widest spots on the leg. Often a flattering hem length is just at or above the knee. If you want your shorts shorter, play around with the length until you find the best spot for you!

Proportion and Color

Proportion is another reason shorts can create the short and stumpy effect. Using the old column of color trick to create a longer line is one way to finesse this. In other words, match the color of your top to your bottom. This is one of the reasons a shorts suit looks more lean than the same shorts with just a tee! The jacket and shorts create an outer column of color. If a jacket and shorts seems silly to you, and you don’t want to wear all one color, keep the colors of the same value intensity. (Avoid light and dark combinations!) Light with light, medium with medium, dark with dark will create a visual column, too. Avoid cutting your column. Don’t belt in the middle.

Watch Your Thirds

Speaking of proportion, look at your thirds! If you are going to wear disparate colors or values, keeping them in a 1/3, 2/3 or reverse combination will look better than an outfit that is 1/2 and 1/2. Often shorts and tees (tucked or untucked) end up being about a 50/50 proportion, which makes those of us less than long and lean look even less long and lean. Playing with shirt lengths, tucking and untucking, and rolling and unrolling shorts can make all the difference.

For my body, short(ish) shorts look better with a long tunic type top. The shorts hanging out of the bottom of the tunic are my 1/3, and the top creates my 2/3. If I wear mid-thigh length shorts and tuck in my shirt, then I end up with an incredibly unflattering 1/2 and 1/2.

Choosing a short in a color similar to your skin tone (like a khaki if you are warm complexioned.) is another way to create a longer line, taking the color all the way down to your feet.

Are you a shorts lover or loather? Do you feel confident in them, or are they a last resort? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

Many thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

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