There are a few staples in every man’s wardrobe, and a good suit is one of them. In a 2010 Esquire article, there were a few quality traits listed for purchasing a good suit, such as fabric, fineness, strength, and variety. Good fit is also always a must, and a good tailor to make sure the fit ends up impeccable is also key.
When it comes to tailoring the pants of a suit there are typically three options: full break, mid-break, and no break. However, a fourth option for suit bottoms has become shorts.
While the thought in itself was once unheard of and would make the traditional dapper dandy’s shutter in horror, for younger, fashionable men they are a gold standard for summer.
From the runways to street style and even the red carpet, the suit shorts look has gone from trend to permanent menswear staple. For the younger menswear blogger crowd, the inspiration to adopt this style started with certain style icons.
Diego León, best known as the blogger Dandy in the Bronx, was first inspired to give the look a try when he saw a photo of menswear icon Nick Wooster doing it.
When he began his blog around 2014, the look became one of his signature trademarks. Being a new trend, it did receive mixed reactions.
“In public people thought it was cool and different. On social media a majority liked it,” he said. “Some were very against it though and there were slurs used against me. A lot of men are not secure with masculinity, but I found it fashion forward and fun and a way to keep cool and keep my style.”
Known for always being in a suit, Léon has often rocked the looked at NYFW: Men’s every July.
The lead figure we have to thank for making this such a major trend among the younger menswear crowd and fashionistos is designer Thom Browne.
Browne, who began his business with a small appointment-only shop in 2001, has seen booming success over the past several years thanks to the streetwear phenomenon and the demand for his incredibly cropped suits.
The suit shorts look came into even further demand when musician Pharrell Williams began donning suit shorts ensembles for red carpet events like the Oscars and Grammys.
Leo Rivera, a New York City-based fashion journalist, is known for his eclectic, preppy look, particularly his signature blazers. While he was used to wearing slacks and chinos, he had no shame in approaching the suit shorts look either.
“It’s comfortable and versatile. Yes, it’s causal, but it also has a discreet touch of elegance, so it’s a nice balance,” he said. “It offers the best of both worlds. Maybe that’s why in recent years it has become even more popular than it already was.”
Rivera did have a bit of advice for those looking to pull off the look though. “I don’t think it’s the kind of look you pull off at night, unless you want to a pull a ‘Pharrell Williams on the red carpet’ look,” he added. “But, you can definitely embrace it during the day, especially in the spring and summer when it’s sunny and warm out. It’s very much a seasonal look, assuming you don’t otherwise live in a place that’s warm year-round.”
The look has been well adopted into semi-formal dress codes for events like outdoor cocktail house parties and polo matches. A variety of brands have begun offering the look in seersucker, cotton, and linen, as it’s more fitting with lighter fabrics being more of a spring/summer fit. Customers have even taken their selection of it down to an art form and specifications.
“I go for a 5.5’ inseam shorts,” Rivera says. “Fitting and length are key. I realize that might be too short or too tight for other gentlemen. Still, the short suit look is a unique form of self-expression, so why not make it your own? Take it a step further, get it tailored.”
Browne’s penchant for suit shorts is even favored by the globetrotting fashion crowd. Henry Ng, founder of lifestyle website Streetstyleposer.com, had seen suit shorts before, but it wasn’t until Browne sent them down the runway that he really fell for the trend.
“When I saw how Thom Browne executed them in terms of silhouette and fabric, as well as how they were styled on the runway and in editorials that I went from like to love,” he said. “While suiting itself has long been associated with corporate or the dandy for some modern guys, that can be stifling.
“There’s a huge shift in the workplace where there’s less emphasis on work wear, and suit shorts are a step forward for those who want to look casual but still hold some credibility in the way they dress. Menswear is general has seen a huge shift towards street and casual, and suit shorts are part of that progression.”
What appeared to once just be a fad has now become part of the DNA of the larger menswear umbrella. Gentleman, don’t be afraid to hike up your shorts with your blazer this summer.