How to Dress Like a Grown With Shane Watson: The Secret to Shorts Over 50
If it was a normal July, I probably wouldn’t write about shorts. I’m just not a fan of shorts – unless you’re on vacation and they’re denim cut – but even then.
Once you’re over 50, shorts take home the top prize for the fashion item that can easily make you look like a golfer, scout mistress, or just a bigger, older ass than you look. really are. Yet even I have to admit that with a summer melting onto the tarmac and sizzling before us, we need choices.
My aversion to shorts dates back to the mid-1980s. I worked outside a Fifth Avenue ‘dressmaker’ during a sweltering summer and every day was forced to wear one of two tailored short suits. – a navy blue with a white collar and a pale blue with pearly buttons.
At the time, I felt like Little Lord Fauntleroy. But on second thought, I was still cool, even on the subway, and now that I think about it, the shorts themselves weren’t the issue.
Shane Watson says high-waisted shorts with wide or flared legs look more stylish. Pictured: Vogue Williams
They skimmed the body, A-line, not cargo-y; they had no cuffs or patch pockets (the downfall of many shorts); and they ended up over the knee (tailored shorts revealing the knee don’t flatter me).
Worn with a half-tucked, puffy cotton shirt (instead of a cropped butt-freezing jacket) and chunky strappy sandals (instead of nude ballet flats), they would look airy, fresh and stylish, which is what we are all discovery is not easy to achieve in Saharan temperatures.
There is also, undeniably, something far more appropriate for summer in the city in well-cut shorts than a skirt.
In hot weather, the loose shorts allow air to circulate around your legs and protect you from the rising heat of sidewalks and the sticky gravel of traffic.
The proportions of these work/everyday shorts are super important, of course.
High-waisted cuts with wide or slightly flared legs look more stylish, not to mention better in the heat. And, when it comes to length, short shorts are only suitable for women with long, slender legs and rarely for anyone old enough to have danced to My Coo Ca Choo in hot pants.
If you fancy showing off your legs, I suggest heading straight to Mango and picking up a pair of their cream suit-style shorts (£17.99, shop.mango.com). I also love the navy shorts from M&S Collection with gold buttons on the side pockets (£29.50, marksandspencer.com).
But I am realistic. A few inches above the knee or above the knee is about right for most of us.
For shorts that are reminiscent of my New York smarties, try Joseph. They have a sky blue pair on sale (£110, joseph-fashion.com) that cover the knees, have an A-line cut and make you feel cooler just looking at them. Benetton does something similar wide-legged and linen with an elasticated back and permanent cuffs (different from turn-ups) in every color, including black.
She says well-cut shorts can be appropriate for summer in the city. Pictured: A model wears long shorts at the Tom Ford ready-to-wear show
Boden also makes a good pair of navy linen shorts, a few inches above the knee with a wide two-button waistband (£60, boden.co.uk).
Linen is on the more expensive end of the scale and synthetic fabrics are perfectly manageable in hot weather as long as they don’t stick together.
If you like something a little narrower, Marks & Spencer have a pair that falls just above the knee, with pleats to the front, in bright fuchsia (£29.50) that has a matching jacket that could be useful when the temperature calms down.
This year, brands are insisting on calling these styles bermuda shorts. I think of Bermuda shorts as a straight, almost fitted arrow on the leg, while they’re looser and more forgiving, but either way, there’s a lot of these wider straight shorts out there.
La Redoute makes a nice long black pair (£15.40, laredoute.co.uk). Side pockets and a mid to high rise waist, both of which they have, give the shorts a loose, boyish and airy look, which is what we’ve been looking for.
H&M has a pair of knee highs in white (£17.99, hm.com), but be careful with white shorts – they look best on the beach or on the tennis court and never pair them with white on the on it or you’ll look like a yacht crew.
By the way, Loro Piana makes very expensive linen shorts (£740.13, net-a-porter.com) that look desirable, largely because of the striped grosgrain ribbon waistband, which would be too easy to copy – just Google vvrouleaux.com. Stay calm.
SHORTS: THE NEW RULES
Opt for a high waist.
The knee-grazing seems the smartest.
Choose a wider leg.
Wear a loose shirt.