Is wearing a blazer with shorts finally in fashion?

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The most striking outfits from Prada’s Spring 2022 menswear show paired what have long been considered incompatible objects: a broad-shouldered blazer and perforated shorts. Even more striking, the look was not unique, but rather a recurring motif sent to the runway on several models. If putting on a blazer with shorts remains one of the last third rails of contemporary menswear, then the dream team of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons didn’t seem to care.

A blazer with shorts (very short) at the Prada SS22 show.

Courtesy of Prada.

But a closer look reveals that the combo hasn’t been a no-fly zone in years – it’s been around for a long time in the more sophisticated (and high-end) corners of menswear. The quirky couture of Comme des Garçons has long included gusseted shorts, some with flowing chunky legs and others with blouse-like ruffles. The shortsuit is designer Thom Browne’s most iconic personal outfit, and it appears in his eponymous label’s collections season after season. There are even a few big-name fans in Pharrell Williams and A $ AP Rocky, two avant-garde dressers that have donned the look on more than one occasion.

A $ AP Rocky letting his legs breathe in Milan, 2019.

Jacopo Raule

But lately the blazer-and-shorts couple are starting to expand and even feel a little doable for the non-Pharrells among us. It’s found, somewhat unexpectedly, in offerings from streetwear mainstay Stüssy and Los Angeles newcomer Second / Layer. You may not know Stüssy for his costume – for decades he has built his iconic status on the basis of well-designed graphic t-shirts, hoodies and hats – but his collections usually include a costume. Stüssy-fied. The brand’s latest collection, for example, features a yarn-dyed striped seersucker suit. There’s a semi-unstructured sports coat, drawstring pants, and casual shorts, depending on your mood. Likewise, Second / Layer offers a single-breasted Italian wool jacket in ivory and black. And like the Stüssy, you can pair the blazer with matching high waisted pants. But the brand also sells dress shorts with a crisp single pleat and the same luxurious fabric. If it’s gonna be hot, well, why can’t you? For a blazer and shorts combo that stays a bit closer to a classic fit, we can turn to the latest season of Todd Synder, which offers several “short suits” in a variety of fabrics.

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Seeing the look go from Comme des Garçons and Thom Browne to Stüssy, Second / Layer and Snyder is significant. Seven years ago, the “short suit” was primarily seen as a misstep, with a major flashpoint being Pharrell’s controversial short at the 2014 Oscars. That same year, J. Crew, riding the wave of his best-selling costume “Ludlow”, launched a collection of costumes with shorts under that umbrella. The concept was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews from die-hard menswear enthusiasts and preppy brethren. It also generated a slew of headlines around the world, including The Washington Post’s “Cut That Knee-Length“ Short Suit ”Trend. It was as clear as a dress swing and a dud you can find.

Slowly, the shortsuit normalized. (It certainly helped that the shorts were cooler too.) During the 2018 NBA Finals, Lebron James waltzed through a stadium tunnel wearing Thom Browne shorts, generating more praise than uproar, then some of his teammates, softer dressers, all, that King James, did the same. The lesson: You don’t have to be a basketball god to wear shorts with your jacket. Pharrell continues to wear the look on the red carpet and ends up on the best dressed lists left and right. A $ AP Rocky modernized the style and made it their own, including pairing a wide-shouldered Raf Simons blazer with dressy punk shorts. The difference between yesterday and today is that the concept comes from the streets, rather than dictated by the top fashion houses.

Rhude designer Rhuigi Villaseñor bows out after the show in shorts.

Frazer harrison

It can mean whatever you want. With the loose fit of Second / Layer, accented with a tank top and chain necklace, the costume is a little more menacing. Rocky’s riff on style works so well because he goes for a plain tee and sturdy shiny shoes instead of a sultry brogue and more typical dress shoes. The further you move away from convention, the more beautiful a blazer and shorts look. Leave the tie and cufflinks behind. Adopt more eccentric textures and tones. Ludlow’s mistake was to try and make the look a substitute for a traditional costume, which clearly is not the case. A blazer and shorts are their own animal in their own right – and when done right, the atypical pairing can be a heck of a style slip.

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