LeBron James is the king… of the shorts suit (basically, suit pants cut in half to give men the opportunity to show a little extra skin while suited in the summer). Wearing a version designed by famed English designer Thom Browne (the original purveyor of the shorts suit) and coupling them with basketball socks and leather boots, James has — to some eyes — made the shorts suit an appealing summer alternative to the classic suit.
But are they really appropriate for a man who’s neither LeBron James, nor a runway model? According to personal stylist Rayne Parvis, it all depends on a person’s personal style. “If you’re flamboyant and gregarious, you can always experiment a bit more,” says Parvis.
Here’s the thing, though: Because you’re not LeBron James, greatest athlete on the planet with the physique to match (incidentally, if you’re reading this and you are LeBron James, do me a favor and tweet this story? Please?), there are some things you should keep in mind if you’re daring enough to be a pseudo Boy Scout.
“Avoid socks,” says Parvis, who claims that for the average man, wearing socks with a shorts suit is as bad of a faux pas as wearing socks during sex. Additionally, she recommends pairing the look with a more casual shoe. “Try it with a loafer or a boat shoe,” she recommends: Yes, James wore the outfit with socks and boots, but again, LeBron James is LeBron James, and you are, well, you. “He’s a basketball player,” Parvis points out. “If you’re not a basketball player, please don’t copy this look. Especially if you’re shorter, wearing boots and socks cuts off your streamline even more than the suit shorts already do. If you’re taller and thinner you can get away with more fashion statements.”
But since it’s summer and therefore wedding season — the time of year more men decide to let their inner peacock fly — are shorts suits an acceptable alternative to slacks at your own wedding? “I’d be fine with that,” says Natalie Sofer, a wedding planner in L.A. Although she admits to never having had a client who’s opted to wear shorts at a wedding, she hasn’t ruled out the possibility.
And what of the other occasion many of us end up in a suit: Job interviews? Can a shorts suit possibly be an acceptable business-casual alternative in this most awkwardly formal of scenarios? “It depends on the job,” says Arezoo S., an executive recruiter in L.A. “Nine times out of 10, I’d say it’s inappropriate to wear shorts to a job interview. The point of wearing a suit to a job interview is to draw as little attention as possible to what you’re wearing, so the focus can be on your qualifications and your personality.”
Let’s say, though, shorts suits are your personality, can you wear them then? “Do a bit of manscaping,” recommends Parvis. “But if you have really hairy legs, just wear pants.”
There you have it: If you’re not LeBron James, you’re not getting married and you’re not dolphin-smooth in all the right places, you’re better off wearing your big boy pants.