Designer Kunal Rawal’s guide on what materials and styles to pick this summer.
American fashion guru Tom Ford famously said, “A man should never wear shorts in the city”. But then, the designer has never lived in India. Mumbai, especially, in all its hot and humid glory, is a tough city to brave without resorting to the comfort of shorts.
Besides, it’s summer, and that definitely means it’s time to relegate denims to the back of your wardrobe. Say hello to your best friends: shorts. They’ll have your back like a good friend, so long as you choose them with care. A material like jersey is a safe bet: just make sure they are thin. Avoid polyester blended fabric as it’s notorious for not letting the skin breathe.
Printed shorts make for a good casual look. But do keep your shirt, polo, tee or ganji muted, ideally pairing it with a solid colour.
For fans of a more formal and preppy look, chino shorts — pleated as well the non-pleated variety — will do the trick. Tuck your shirt in and add a thin belt and your look will be ‘on fleek’. In fact, even shorts teamed with summer blazers in lighter colours are in vogue right now. However, tread with caution. Leave shorts that go above the knee to the those who have legs like Milind Soman. Pleated shorts, though, can be slightly shorter than the knee to overcome the volume on the bottom and give a vintage or retro look.
And denim lovers, I understand your dilemma but knowing the city’s weather, I’d say give the denim shorts a skip. I cannot emphasise enough on the need to prioritise comfort over style and choose clothes that are breezy.
Unfortunately, as much as we all love shorts, they aren’t appropriate in all social settings. For such occasions, go for formal unlined or half-lined formal pants. If you don’t have the liberty to experiment, adding a thin, woven belt to your regular chinos will amp up your look by a notch or two. Here’s another reason to sport chinos: the crisp lines of a chino are visually flattering for most body types.
The athleisure or the sportsluxe trend is seriously cool right now. The lesser structured drop crotch silhouette can be mixed and matched with any kind of top (tees, tanks, shirts, polos) for a summer look.
If you ask me, I’m not a big fan of capris, and I think men are better off not investing in them. Replace them with baggy three-fourth length shorts instead. And while cargos (short and full-length) make for a good look, stay away from heavier fabrics like twill, canvas and thicker cotton. Pro tip: go for linen instead — you get the look and the comfort. And when wearing linen, it’s smarter to choose cotton-based, 100 per cent linen than its wrinkle-free variant, which is a polyester mix.
Apart from the summer staple converse, wear your shorts with moccasins, summer loafers and brogues, for a preppy look. Pick espadrilles or sneakers for a more casual approach. Even a pair of high tops paired with jersey shorts is worthy of a gentleman.
For the die-hard flip-flop fans, there is a whole range of leather versions out there for a premium look. My all-time personal favourite are Havaianas: high on style as well as comfort.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe.