During the summer months, you will often see people rocking a jacket with shorts, but you may be wondering if this is a look you can pull off. It’s become more popular in recent years to pair jackets with a relaxed bottom half. Just because you are opting to wear shorts to keep cool, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a little effort on your top half. However, you may be wondering if a jacket is going too far when paired with shorts, so today we will answer the question: can you wear a jacket with shorts?
A jacket and shorts work well together, but only when worn at the right time and place. This is not an appropriate combination for offices or formal occasions but is ideal for a cocktail party or beach wedding.
On the other hand, shorts and a jacket can be a very odd combination when not styled correctly. Very few pairs of shorts look great paired with a jacket, so you need to be very careful with how you match your outfit. Keep reading to learn more about when it is and isn’t appropriate to wear a jacket with shorts.
Where could you wear a jacket with shorts?
If you’ve never tried this daring combination before, you may be wondering when it would be appropriate to pull this outfit off. The first rule of pairing a jacket with shorts is to never try and wear this outfit in a formal setting. That’s just asking for a disaster to happen and will often break the established dress codes of workplaces or events. While you might like getting your legs out, not everyone at the office is going to appreciate seeing them, even during the middle of summer.
A jacket and shorts would be a great combination for a cocktail party, a rooftop bar, or an informal lunch with friends or family. In the summer, you can sometimes resent wearing pants all day long, so you’ll enjoy feeling the cool air on your legs. If you are dining or drinking outside, it’s the perfect combination, especially when paired with a light jacket on top. For this outfit to work, you need to select the right jacket. As it’s an informal ensemble, you’ll need to pick something reasonably casual, as opposed to your suit jacket. This will help to match the shorts and leave you feeling comfortable.
What type of shorts and jacket should I wear?
As we’ve established, this pairing is a more casual outfit, so both elements need to reflect this. You’ll want to choose a smarter pair of shorts than usual and a more casual jacket to find a perfect middle ground. Make sure both items fit perfectly, as there’s nothing worse than lousy tailoring when trying to pull off a unique look. This is especially true on your top half, as a baggy or ill-fitting jacket will make it look like you’ve made no effort with your appearance.
For your jacket, opt for a slim cut that fits nicely to your body. Your material choices are endless, and if you are looking for something more relaxed, you could opt for a denim blazer. However, cotton is usually the most popular option, and these jackets come in a wide variety of colors and designs. Try to pick a lighter color, and stay away from black jackets or anything too formal.
For your shorts, opt for a smart pair of cotton or linen shorts that fall down to just above the knee. This is certainly not a combination to try with extremely short shorts, as your jacket will make it look like you have nothing on! Pair your shorts to match your jacket, and avoid clashing colors. Navy and white are good options to match with many jackets.
What material should my jacket be made from?
Jackets come in a wide variety of material options, so when styling them with shorts, you’ll want to think long and hard about the look and feel of the material. If you are wearing this combination in the middle of summer, you’ll also want to find a breathable material, so you don’t overheat. While wool is a popular fabric for classic suit jackets, it may look too formal with your shorts, so it is best avoided.
For a casual jacket to pair with shorts, opt for a cotton jacket. It’s a lightweight and breathable material that’s ideal for the summer months. Cotton jackets also come in different weights, so opt for a lighter one for this outfit combination. However, you don’t want it to be too light, or you risk it having no shape.
Linen is one of the best options for the summer and is the lightest jacket material. It’s ideal for a casual setting but does have the disadvantage of being easy to crease and crinkle. A light linen jacket will give you a casual look, but darker options are available too. As far as materials to avoid, silk and velvet are best left for evening wear as they will look over the top paired with shorts.
How to style your Jacket and Shorts
On top of the style and color of your jacket and shorts, you’ll want to think about how you complete the outfit. Be very careful with patterns on anything you wear underneath the jacket. Too many patterns and colors will clash, and the outfit will soon start to look very odd. Try to keep accessories to a minimum, including ties and pocket squares. While these look great with a full suit, they can look a little ridiculous with shorts!
When it comes to accessories, keep things very simple. Don’t add a decorated belt to your shorts, and if you need to wear one, keep it as a single neutral color. As far as footwear, the first rule is to avoid socks. Unless you have hidden invisible ones, they can make the whole outfit look a little silly and take away from what could otherwise be a fantastic look. For a smart-casual outfit, pair clean white sneakers with shorts, which won’t attract too much attention. Alternatively, add loafers for a relaxed vibe and appearance. Whatever you do, avoid Oxford shoes or flip-flops. Neither of these will be a good addition to your outfit and will look either too formal or too relaxed.
What else could I pair with my shorts?
If you are looking to wear shorts for everyday wear or smart-casual occasions, they can be paired with a whole host of tops. One of the best options for a smart-casual occasion is to pair your shorts with a smart, summery shirt. This is a great combination for a beach wedding or lunch date and still makes it look like you made an effort. Once again, for shoes, we’d always recommend sneakers or loafers for a complete outfit.
For special occasions where you are planning to wear shorts, some men opt for a shirt and vest instead of a jacket. Many wedding guests use this combination in the summer months, and it can look great when styled well! If you are looking to keep warm on top for a lunch or family gathering, a light pullover can also look great. Most clothes you wear with pants can work well with shorts, but they usually need to be dressed down a little.
For the most casual occasions, relax your top half by wearing a t-shirt or vest top. You can still find some smarter t-shirts that will go with nice linen shorts, so it’s all about trying out different combinations to find what works best for you. Finding a length of shorts that suits your body is also very important. While some people can pull off mid-thigh length shorts, you are better off trying to find ones that land just above your knees.
The Bottom Line
Wearing a jacket with shorts is a great option for the summertime but needs to be approached with caution. You’ll want to think carefully about the material of both your shorts and jacket to create a stylish smart-casual outfit. Don’t go too casual with either element of the outfit, or you’ll be left with a very mismatched look. Pairing the jacket and shorts with the right pair of shoes is also critical, and white sneakers or loafers are your best bet.
This outfit combination is best reserved for more casual occasions and should be avoided completely at work or in formal settings. If no one else is wearing shorts to a wedding or party, it may leave you feeling very foolish! If you are going out for the night, check out the dress code for any bars or clubs you are visiting, as shorts are sometimes prohibited.
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