Thursday, 6 September 2012

How to Wear... Shorts

Shorts are kinda like Marmite (but leave a far less bitter taste in the mouth, IMHO at least!) - I categorically refused to wear them outside workout sessions/beach holidays until a few years ago, when my then-boyfriend persuaded me to let him choose a new outfit for me for my birthday (having become a little bored of my obsession with gypsy tops and white swingy skirts that summer I think)... after making my way through a pile of interesting options in the Jane Norman changing room, we decided on an outfit and a half – a black ‘60s style bandeau playsuit and a pair of black tailored hotpants – suddenly I was a convert!

It took another year or two, and some gentle encouragement from my BFF, before I embraced the idea of shorts for day and even more radically in winter (I actually refused to wear tights, which are pretty much essential to such a proposition, for several years after finishing school because I couldn’t rid myself of the associations with blue plaid midi kilts and Kickers shoes), but now a quarter of one of my five wardrobes is very much devoted to shorts in all their glorious forms (not counting my ever-increasing playsuit collection, which I’ll tackle tomorrow). Oh, and I do now have a drawer bulging with tights of every possible colour, pattern and denier too, incidentally – hypothermia is not cool, but leopard print legs are.

So, the moral of my rather lengthy introduction to this post is: Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Don't discount seemingly off-the-wall advice from people you’re close to (unless they wear crocs or something). Try shorts. You might just like them.

How I Wear
Transitioning into Autumn/Winter: Acquisitions and Mergers
Figure-Fixing Shorts


The Fringed Crop
High waisted denim shorts pair perfectly with cropped tops. The fringing on this one adds a boho air (which I’ve played on with the hair scarf – I couldn’t make up my mind whether to use it to tie up a simple side pony or knot it into a casual side-up-do, so I tried both!), as well as a touch more coverage for anyone who’s a little self conscious. Tan heels pick out the belt and raise the glam stakes – but wedges would also work well, especially if I was doing anything more strenuous than posing in this outfit!
Top: Primark (Past Season)
Shorts (including belt): Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: New Look (Past Season)
Hair Tie: New Look (SS12)

Birds of Paradise
For a cute fifties-style daytime look, a bralet (revealing just the merest hint of cleavage) and skyscraper wedges also work well with denim. The blue bird print tones in with the shorts for a sense of unity, whilst the neon pink of the shoes gives the look just a little jolt.
Top: Limited Collection at Marks & Spencer (SS12)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Wedges: Peacocks (Past Season)

Distressed Lace
I absolutely refuse to just throw on a vest top with a pair of denim shorts, so I wracked my brains as to how I could give these distressed stone washed ones a twist. I decided to aim for a romantic vintage vibe without going down the fifties route (particularly as they’re low rise, which I always find more of a challenge). I chose a diaphanous sheer chiffon blouse with lace shoulder sections echoing the lace patches on the shorts - the unstructured, covered-up outline balances out the yards of leg on show. The layered cream hairbands add a hint of the twenties and bring the light, bright tones of the look together, and the ribbon tie heeled brogues top (or bottom) off the quirky modern-vintage feel.
Top: Primark (Past Season)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Peacocks (Past Season)
Large Hairband: Accessorize (Past Season)
Pearl Hairband: Primark (SS12)

The Pin-Up Polka Dot

Hello, Sailor
These high-waisted, A-line polka dot shorts just scream pin-up to me – they even have little gold buttons, for crying out loud! I was powerless to resist... I stayed true to the navy-and-white colour scheme with a sweetheart-neckline bandeau and pearl-string hairband (my tie-up cropped tee would also look fab here – but unless you actually are competing in a seaside beauty pageant, I think a choice between cleavage or tummy is required with this look – somehow cleavage and legs seem to work though – I think it’s the "bathing beauty" feel of the shorts).

These shoes are a new buy – T-bar wedges – now this is the best idea since peep toe party wedges! They’re faux suede (remarkably rain resistant) with a snakeskin print heel – see, I told you M&S was the place to be these days! Anyway, they add a subtle pop of colour whilst fitting in with the vintage feel... and above all add glamour without crippling you – yes!
Top: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (AW12)
Hairband: Primark (SS12)

Layering for Victory
I stuck with the vintage pin-up feel for this look, experimenting with my foam roller to create my first DIY victory roll! It wasn’t really shorts weather at the time, so I took the opportunity to layer up a bit, turning my little lemon cardi into a cute retro-style sweater with statement collar. Keeping it demure above the waist and quirky with the wedges lets me get away with over-the-knee socks to warm my calves (and lower quadriceps).
Top: Marks & Spencer (SS12)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Cardigan: Primark (SS12)
Socks: River Island (Past Season)
Wedges: Primark (Past Season)

Meaning Business
Sticking to a monochrome colour palette, classic tailored shapes and a chic up-do makes this look smart enough for business matters (or, indeed, Sainsbury's, which is where I debuted it). I'll add opaques for cooler temperatures and/or more restrained environments! The peplum adds a dash of vintage flair and keeps the bodycon silhouette from looking trashy.
Top: Primark (SS12)
Shorts: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Jacket: Forever 21 (Past Season)
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)
Hairband: Part of Umberto Giannini Vintage Hair Kit

Lace & Leather
Leather shorts are actually strangely versatile (especially high-waisted ones.. OK OK, I’ll stop with the belly-button hugging mania). Brown is a great shade to take you through the year – I like to stick to neutral tones and pair with a pretty lacy top for summer, then tuck in a polo or jumper for winter. Black is fab for a tougher rock-chick winter look (and also looks great juxtaposed against floaty white for a more adventurous summer look, as demonstrated by one of my favourite bloggers).
Top: Primark (Past Season)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Boots: Marks & Spencer (Past Season)

The Luxe Paperbag
Yes! I found yet another use for my sheer embellished crop top! These paperbag waist shorts have a luxurious silky, draping quality, so are great for dressing up a simple vest or tee, but also lend themselves to a more overtly glamorous look. Keeping to tones of beige and tan throughout the outfit, and holding back on accessories, keep it from looking gaudy.
Top: Primark (SS12)
Shorts: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Shoes: New Look (Past Season)

Gwen works a more wintry version of the sheer embellished look with classic black tailored hotpants and opaque tights.

The Trans-Seasonal Floral
Tonal colour blocking in shades of plum, from lips to toe, carries what might at first glance appear to be quite a summery pair of shorts into autumn. Clashing the floral motif against floral-patterned lace tights adds a bit of wow factor to the otherwise fairly “grown-up” feel conveyed by the colours, blouse and court shoes.
Blouse: Primark (Past Season)
Shorts: Primark (Past Season)
Tights: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (SS12)

The DIY Playsuit
Just for fun! If, like me, you’ve ended up amassing so many clothes that you (completely unintentionally) have separates and accessories to match everything else you own (I refrained from adding my dogtooth backpack), you too can try this! I’m quite tickled by the fact that it actually looks like a real playsuit with a pink belt (actually the waistband of the shorts).. teehee.
Top: Next (Past Season)
Shorts: River Island (SS12)
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)

Transitioning Into Autumn/Winter: Acquisitions and Mergers
Shorts look great with long-sleeved blouses, snuggly knits and tights for AW, gradually moving through patterned sheer and lace into ultra-cosy 100+ denier! It also becomes completely acceptable to sport sequinned hotpants for day with black opaques and chunky sweaters once the temperature dips below 10C, trust me. I’ll be digging out my sequinned pairs, along with my lovely Victoriana-inspired high-waisted velvet and rock goddess black leather versions.

There will be a lot of knicker cut, baroque and metallic shorts around this season – my advice? Embrace them, why not? Just don’t forget your trusty tights! They’ll look fab with tough ankle boots and chunky jumpers for day, and peplum tops or high-necked bodies for night time.

Figure-Fixing Shorts for...

Pear Shapes: Stick to A-line shorts to slim hips and thighs, or, if you do want to embrace the knicker, try statement shoulders to balance out your hips, or a peplum to skim over the widest area.

Skinny Minnies: You can get away with virtually any style, but if you want to maximise your curves, try a pair with added volume in the hip area (like a mini-knickerbocker style, or high-waisted A-line), or team bodycon shorts with a peplum top.

Curvy Girls: If you want to conceal your tum try... (my catch-all wonder solution) ... (wait for it)... teaming the shorts of your choice with a peplum top! And if you don’t want to wear a peplum (and why, might I ask? Hmm...?)? Probably best to stick with a looser, floatier top half. Sorted.

Tomorrow: How to Wear Playsuits and Jumpsuits

See more recent posts featuring shorts here

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  1. wow! great effort in this post!
    i love this post!
    so great!
    i actually love your blog as well, you have such great taste ahhh! gorgeous :)
    would you mind checking mine out please? would be an honour!
    It's fashion Damnit
    Thanks so much xxxx

    1. Ah thanks honey!
      Loving your style too ;) xx

  2. so many great outfits :) you have an amazing fashionsense and you're truly a beaut *_*
    and in btw you have a really nice blog, dear. keep up the amazing work and feel free to check out the latest post on my fashionblog as well, if you like. :))


    1. Thank you so much, so sweet :)
      Have taken a look at your blog, it's gorgeous, will be keeping an eye on you ;) xx

  3. Go girl. You are very stylish!