We’ve all got a pair of shorts or two. Like a lot of women, I get mine out once a year, when I’m heading off to somewhere blistering hot, where I will wear said shorts (denim cut-offs, white cotton) every single day.
They are the backbone of my holiday wardrobe. When I put them on again this month, I expect a bit of sand to sift out of the pockets. (I do wash my clothes, but you know how sand is.)
And that’s it on the shorts front. I would be lying if I said they feature in my day-to-day wardrobe.
My attitude to non-holiday shorts is: not in public.
Obviously, if you are Jennifer Aniston (who was recently photographed for Harper’s Bazaar in leather shorts, no less), you can do what you like. Otherwise, try a cropped trouser, a clamdigger or a pedal-pusher.
But we know the first rule of fashion: must keep an open mind. Never say never, because the moment you do, fashion will throw you a curveball and make the very thing you swore you would on no account touch the must-wear of the season.
And that’s what’s happened with shorts. If they’re not a must-wear, they are certainly everywhere, and intended to be worn with a boyfriend shirt, or a T-shirt and a blazer, or a party top, exactly as you might wear a knee‑length skirt or trousers.
The idea is that the right shorts are actually easier to wear than a skirt: leg-baring, summery, light, but practical, and a lot better on a bicycle.
The style that’s way ahead in the popularity stakes is the longer-line Bermuda, those ones that finish an inch or two above the knee.
But we are not, whatever happens, talking about shorts shorter than mid-thigh, which is the crucial detail that makes them wearable.
Bermudas are also tailored and tidy (another bonus) and either pleat-fronted or lean cut: never tight. (There are ‘cycling Bermuda legging’ styles, but let’s just say no. Unless you have the physique of Princess Diana, in which case wear nothing else.)
The right length Bermuda is something you have to play around with, but it’s worth noting that there is safety in shorts, so, if you have the legs for it, you can afford to go a bit shorter than you would with a skirt. There’s no riding up factor with shorts and no gust-of-wind issues. They’re basically leg-baring but with added confidence and dignity.
Among the best Bermudas on the High Street are the palm leaf-print linen shorts from Massimo Dutti (£59.95, massimodutti.com), which you can wear belted with a cotton shirt for day or a flouncy silk top for night.
Also in the mid-thigh range, Zara has a mesh-print black and white pleated-front pair (£19.99, zara.com) — the summer equivalent of a little black skirt.
Meanwhile, Mango does olive green pinstripe shorts that would look smart with a tucked-in cream top or tonal blazer (£35.99, mango.com).
Alternatively, more casual, but crisply tailored with a turn-up, are NYDJ’s striped linen-blend Bermuda shorts (£79.95, johnlewis.com).
Turn-ups and high waists with belts are what make Bermudas smart.
It’s always tempting to go for navy, but you can end up looking like a harbourmaster, so try olive or even white (£69.95, massimodutti.com). White is always chic (wear with anything but white or, again, you run the risk of looking like the crew of a superyacht).
I wouldn’t wear a skimpy leopard skirt, but, for evening on holiday, I’d like to think I can still — just — get away with Ganni’s leopard-print silk shorts (£170, ganni.com).
Talking of holidaywear, if you think your old denim shorts are in need of an upgrade, then a linen-blend denim pair — 20 per cent smarter, but still perfect for the beach — might just be the answer (£119, meandem.com).