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Help Me Dress Myself: How to Show Some Leg

Advice from a squat world-record holder, a lifeguard and others who know a thing or two about flashing them gams

Are you one of those guys who wants to look stylish but finds it doesn’t come all that naturally? Sick of condescending fashion articles telling you why you need to buy $200 T-shirts? Just want to know how to look, well, good? We feel you. Welcome to “Help Me Dress Myself,” an advice column for men who just want some practical advice for not looking like crap.

The Question

I hate wearing shorts — I have pale pencil legs and generally look like an overgrown 12-year-old when I bare my knees. But this summer is going to be hot as balls, and I don’t want to spend the whole summer pouring talc down the back of my jeans. Help?

The Expert Advice

Pump It Up. If you spent the winter skipping leg day, toning your legs is priority number one. “Training your legs twice per week — say, one heavy session on Monday and one light session on Friday or Saturday — will have them ready for summer,” says Russian powerlifter Andrey Malanichev, who holds the world record for the heaviest unequipped squat (1,069 pounds). On heavy days, Malanichev recommends performing three sets of each exercise — squats, lunges, Russian leg curls and deadlifts (each set should consist of four or five reps). On lighter days, simply lower the weight, and perform four sets of each exercise (this time, each set should consist of 15 reps).

If that sounds like a bit much, Malanichev also says you can hop on the stationary bike. “Cycling is a great way to make your legs look good and to burn some extra calories,” he explains. “Do it every day for about 40 minutes at 90 RPM. It’ll be hard, but it’s worth it.”

Find Your Fit (and Wear the Right Socks). Now that you’re ready to show off those muscular legs, the next step is finding shorts that fit them. “We wear shorts that sit an inch or two above the knee,” says Bernard J. Fisher II, director of health and safety at the American Lifeguard Association. “We feel that looks more professional.” More generally speaking, shorts should fit close to your body and with a slight taper — too baggy and you’ll look like a toddler, too tight and you’ll end up showing off way more of yourself than the rest of the world bargained for.

Picking the right socks is equally important if you don’t want to look like this guy. “Many lifeguards wear sneakers without socks while wearing shorts,” Fisher says. “That’s opposed to high socks and bulky tennis shoes.” If you’re not comfortable going sock-free, no-show socks are without a doubt your safest bet when wearing shorts — although, there are a few other options for the more adventurous short-wearer.

Of course, having tan legs (like a lifeguard) might add to your bare-legged look. But then again, there’s no safe way to tan, so don’t worry too much about that.

Keep It Simple. With muscular thighs and a proper understanding of fit, there’s only one thing left to do: Put an outfit together. “Anything too bright or tropical will lead people to think you’re wearing a bathing suit,” says stylist Rayne Parvis — she recommends sticking to solid colors and avoiding overly busy patterns. If you’re going for a more sophisticated look than shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers (and a hoodie if it’s chilly outside), Parvis recommends a tucked in button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled-up, a slim brown belt and white slip-on sneakers with low-cut (or no-show) socks.

Above all, though, don’t let the negative attitude toward shorts convince you to hide your thighs. And remember that no matter how many haters shame your bare legs, there will always be someone out there who fucking loves a man in shorts.