Fit Clinic: Summer Edition

Rogues Gallery SS09

Gentlemen, a word with you, if I may.

We've had our fireside chats in the past wherein I covered the hotly debated topic of baggy trou, and if you need a refresher course you can re-educate yourself here. But the gist is that most of you are wearing clothing that's far too big for your svelte, manly frame. It's true. Don't bother denying it. If you cast a quick glance to that button-up you're wearing and the shoulder seam hits anywhere below the crest of your shoulder, you're going to have to hold thy tongue and trust me on this one.

The biz casual look is one thing. But what's a guy to do in the summer months when the weather is fine and you got women, you got women on your mind? I hate to break it to you, but those massive shorts and those industrial-strength rugged sandal hybrids just aren't going to cut it. You want to cut a smooth silhouette, not resemble a windsock caught in a gale, gents.

Here's the long and short of it: Shorts don't need to be saggy, baggy, or otherwise balloon-like. They don't need pockets so deep they rival airplane seat back pouches. You need shorts with a the bare essentials: a pocket for your hand (the free hand will be quaffing a belgian white, natch), and a pocket or two for your wallet (slim, preferably J-Fold, and most definitely a nicely worn leather), your keys, your iPhone. If you insist upon a utility-sized pouch swinging from your hips, you'd better be prepared to be carrying a flask full of Maker's, and you'd better be prepared to share.

Cargo shorts are reserved for backpackers and this guy:

Who me? I'm just lounging here, admiring the view of the rockies. Oh, pardon. those are my abs.

And I know that in the target-marketed grand scheme of things, if you're reading this blog, you're probably not that guy.

But lest ye go screaming to the hills at the thought of donning a male version of Daisy Dukes, let me qualify that I'm not suggesting that a pair of fitted shorts must fit a certain category. There's no set length - though if the hem of your shorts are crazing your calves, fellas, I hate to break it to you, but you're not wearing shorts. You're wearing longs. Man-pri's, if you will. Call it what you want, but you're one gingham shirt short of a clambake and unless you regularly summer in the Catskills, there's no reason you should be swishing through town in a calf-grazing glorified skirt.

Maybe that's harsh. Maybe you're indignantly glaring at your screen at this very moment and cursing my sartorial input. But I'm certainly not implying that every dude needs to look exactly the same. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and mid-thigh-grazing chinos aren't for everyone. But I am suggesting that you can trim the excess here and there. Slimmer on top. Well-cut on the bottom. A smart pair of slip ons or bucks, guys, and if you're wearing jeans or khakis, for heaven's sake - let those ankles breathe. Cuff those puppies, roll them to a few inches above the ankle, invest in a killer pair of shades, and you're set. It doesn't have to be complicated, but like the perfect pairing (beer and burgers, wine and anything, gin & tonic), it does require some thought.

So here are a few ideas to get you started.

Above: Michael Bastian, Spring Summer 2009

Above, from L to R: Banana Republic, Gap, and Band of Outsiders

First up, length: knee-grazing to mid-thigh is usually best, and Michael Bastian is a great example of how to pull off both looks. Just make sure the pants hit at your hip, not below your ass. low-rise works, but only if the rest of the leg sits closer to the body.

Next item: Pants, chinos, and khakis. These are hard to pull off if you're not obsessed with fit. But cuffed with a basic Havaianas or a pair of Vans and a slim-fitting button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow and you've got a winner.

Left, Rogues Gallery. Right, photo by Kevin O'Brien

L to R: J.Crew, image by Kevin O'Brien, J.Crew

Another thing to consider this summer is your choice of swimwear. I know I'm betraying the very hand that feeds me (and pays my bills), but guys, you've gotta take the hem up on those kilt-like boardies a good five inches. Boardshorts and swimwear should hit above the knee and for heaven's sake: NO elastic waistband!

Left: shorts by Speedo. Right: Michael Bastian, SS09

Lastly, let's not forget that it's summer. Everything's lighter, brighter, freer. The sun stays out longer. The weather is warmer. Those epic summer twilights are fringed with the kinds of blues and greens we just don't see in the wintertime. So why not add a punch of color to a few basic neutrals? A brightly colored jean, cord, or short looks really smart when paired with a basic shirt or blazer.

L to R: Yigal Azrouƫl, Shipley & Halmos, Neil Barrett. All SS09.

The point is that you don't have to spend a ton of money or time obsessing over your wardrobe, but you can invest a little bit of time and effort to keep things current. We're not still spending every free moment chugging beer bongs with our closest bro-friends, so why should your wardrobe still look like it is?


Brett M said...

So if they're so unseemly, how do you explain the prevalence of cargo shorts over at Top Man these days?

Jonathan said...

two things.

1. i like my daisy dukes!
2. nice artical. glad to see you are trying to get everyone where my clothes!jk

Jen said...

hahaha i see brett is still battling you on this one and even whipped out the topman link!

i agree with you laurel. i wish more men would dress this way. i mean hell, alex won't even wear shorts. sheesh! if i got him to wear shorts i'd totally want him to sport the band of outsiders look with the cardi and tie but i swear that'll just NEVER happen. sigh....

LD said...

Jonathan, you know I've always loved your sartorial choices. :)


A worthy volley with that Topman link, but I have a couple of rebuttals. The first is that you were pointing out the offerings in the "casual" shorts section. The "smart" shorts offer options that are way more streamlined and fitted. Secondly, though Topman seems to be really forward-thinking to guys in the states, let's not forget that it's a chain store in the UK. Which means it's actually very mainstream over there, so of course they're going to appeal in many ways to a more mainstream way of thought. They're corporate and they're selling en masse to the masses, so like anything, you have to be discerning, even at Topman (or similarly ASOS, H&M, etc).

HOWEVER, if you look through the lookbook that is on that website, you'll find that they've used their best pieces and styled them in such a way that fits with their brand image.

So to that I'd reiterate: you don't have to spend a ton of money or time obsessing, but a but of effort and forethought goes a long way.

LD said...

but a bit* that is. a bit. not a but.

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