The very wise Tom Ford once said, “A man should never wear shorts in the city. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.” Well, Mr. Ford, meet your worst enemy. I have always loved wearing shorts in the summertime—and yes, even in the city. Every year around this time, I look forward to ditching my dress pants and allowing my leg hairs to feel the cool, gentle breeze of the wind. (Sorry for that visual.) The problem is, men baring their legs in a professional setting has become a total taboo. Wearing shorts to the office? Forget it: Human Resources would personally escort me out of the building. But now, I am free.
I have spent many summers in New York City covering up my dirty little secret, setting aside my beloved shorts in favor of long, corporate-friendly dress pants. I do not miss the sensation of burning up while going to and from work on a hot, humid day, while most of my chic coworkers get to saunter in wearing breezy, lightweight summer dresses. I, too, deserve to keep cool, I'd think to myself, coming in a sweaty mess. However, now that we’re entering another socially distanced summer, my 9-to-5 wardrobe has drastically loosened up, and shorts are slowly creeping their way back into my daily fits. And I welcome them with glee.
Working from home for the foreseeable future means I finally get to wear my shorts without judgment—and it so happens to be the prime season to do so. Elevated men’s shorts were all over the recent spring 2021 runways. Think more trendy, less touristy. Designers hopped on board with my shorts M.O., designing luxe styles that made the polarizing piece feel grown-up, not childish. At Dior Men, cargo shorts got a luxe leather treatment. Amiri showed silky, bandana-print shorts, while Valentino did sprightly florals. Casablanca, meanwhile, did minimalist right with white, high-waisted shorts in cream. Where shorts have gotten a bad rap for being infantile, the new crop of styles are decidedly grown up, and even, dare I say, dressy.
I have been wearing Cotton Citizen’s tie-dye shorts nonstop and am currently eyeing more muted, everyday styles in black or gray, but the trend also got me thinking if other men are feeling ready to bust out their shorts. Putting my investigative hat on, I polled around the Vogue office (virtually) to test the current climate. Durrant Santeng, Vogue’s senior designer, has already gotten on board with the look to WFH in. “I’ve been in shorts 24/7 since the start of quarantine,” he says. “I live, workout, and sleep in them. My favorite are my A24 shorts, they’re light and comfy with the perfect length.” Fernando Dias De Souza, Vogue’s innovation director, has also been enjoying wearing his shorts at home, especially now that the temperatures have risen. “I come from Brazil and have spent a lot of time at the beach or in a hot climate, so it makes sense to me,” he says of the look. “I like denim shorts, and short, ’70s styles—but not tight. I have these Acne denim shorts that I really like. I'm a tennis player and I also like how the vintage tennis shorts look.”
Not everyone is feeling ready to rock them just yet, however. Vogue’s designer David Vo loves the idea of wearing shorts, but he still feels “terrified to wear them” after a particularly scarring incident where he was shamed for it. “Once, I wore a Thom Browne shorts suit and I got denied into a restaurant for wearing shorts,” he tells me. “Never wore it again.” But therein lies the beauty of revisiting shorts now: with social distancing in place, summer fashion has more leeway than ever. It’s the summer where dudes can finally free the knee—and yes, even during the work day. On Zoom, nobody can tell what you’re wearing on your bottom half. Though, shh, you know damn well what I'll be wearing.
Below, 20 stylish men’s shorts to shop now.