How to wear… smart shorts

According to just about every fashion magazine, cycling shorts are set to be this summer’s must-have piece. The trend has been bubbling on the street style set for the past couple of years, and due in large part to its popularity among the Kardashian-Jenners, it has finally broken through to the mainstream, with pairs available for less than a tenner all over the high street.

In the real world, however, most women aren’t all that eager to squeeze themselves into the unforgivingly tight shorts, which tend to be thinner and more revealing than their athletic counterparts.

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To make matters worse, the styling veers unappetisingly between Princess Diana cosplay or Kim K at her try-hard worst. However you dress it up or down, it looks like the domain of the Instagram influencer, making it almost impossible to pull off in day-to-day life.

For a more grown-up option, abandon the biker style for a smart tailored design. Thankfully, you aren’t limited to hot pants and Daisy Dukes: at Prada, shorts hovered just above the knee, rendered in duchesse satin in shades of navy, rust and chocolate brown. They were styled with turtleneck tops and plunging bodysuits, with pointed kitten heels and chunky lace-up shoes.

Emilia Wickstead departed from her usual duchess-appropriate fare with roomy, knee-grazing shorts in crisp black and red, the latter comprising a sharp-shouldered suit, and topped off with a hair-bow and top-handle bag for a feminine touch.

At Chloé, flowy shorts were worn with boho blouses, prairie prints and rope belts, while emerging designer Rejina Pyo presented slouchy green and yellow pairs perfect for a summer’s day. For Alberta Ferretti, Kendall Jenner modelled a beige utility style with a delicate lace-trimmed camisole, one of this season’s trophy pieces.

The smart short has become a celebrity favourite too, from the wintery leather pairs worn by Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie to the shorts suit, which has been seen in recent months on Jessica Chastain and Diane Kruger.

It offers a warm-weather update to the power suit, a fashion phenomenon that continues to reign on the red carpet, the catwalk and the high street. With temperatures heating up, look to Kruger for a stylish spin on partywear: the shorts diminish the formality somewhat, helping to carry those flashy disco elements without looking totally OTT.

For the office, tailored shorts can be your summertime substitute for slacks, as evidenced by Jennifer Garner in a sleek navy pair. The mid-length boosts the modesty factor, while the muted shade will work well with a white shirt or sleeveless knit, as seen on Garner. M&S and COS have suitably understated pairs, or try Massimo Dutti and Topshop for a neutral-toned option.

There is room to play with colour too. Shailene Woodley counteracts the boldness of this season’s marigold yellow with a pair of pastel shorts. River Island has a similarly minty style, with a belt to cinch the waist and legs that flare out for a flattering finish.

If a black-shorts suit feels too heavy for summer, try Reiss’s sunny yellow or M&S’s soft lilac versions, which are available with matching blazers.

There are numerous printed styles on offer, although smaller prints are more wearable for all but the tallest of frames. Tara Jarmon’s midnight blue jacquard shorts will work beautifully with a graphic T-shirt and trainers or, for evening, throw on the matching cropped jacket with heeled sandals for a fresh and unexpected twist on the shorts suit.

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