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GAA chic: The new rules for men's shorts (blame Paul Mescal)


Paul Mescal as Connell (BBC/Element/Enda Bowe/PA)

Paul Mescal as Connell (BBC/Element/Enda Bowe/PA)

Paul Mescal as Connell (BBC/Element/Enda Bowe/PA)

"No better item to be photographed in than a pair of Maynooth GAA shorts!"

So said Paul Mescal, star of hit TV series Normal People when asked by Marty Morrissey about the fervour surrounding paparazzi pictures of him wearing a pair of O'Neills shorts.

According to Google Trends, searches for 'O'Neills shorts' spiked on May 27, the day Mescal was pictured wearing them with a colourful tracksuit top, Stan Smiths and two cans of pink Gordon's gin and tonic.

Men's shorts have made their way back into wardrobes and catwalk collections, with particularly slight versions playing a starring role in the spring-summer shows from Versace, Fendi and Etro. In some cases, designers riffed on the 80s short-shorts iconised by Tom Selleck and Bjorn Borg, while others nodded to the mid-century-inspired pastel and printed versions worn by Jude Law's Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr Ripley. With nowhere to go but the park, you may be considering a pair. So how should you style yours this summer?

Go short or go home

They are called 'shorts' for a reason. You may not dare go as high as Mescal, but below-the-knee or three-quarter styles not only miss the point, they make your legs look shorter and end up becoming impractical too.

"There's a lot of raised eyebrows when they go past the knee," says Andy Collins, owner of Dublin menswear boutique Indigo & Cloth. "We would always recommend a short that comes just above the knee - it means when you're actually moving, the fabric isn't going to sag and isn't going to be uncomfortable."

Put down the jorts

Jean shorts, aka jorts, are one of the most divisive items in menswear. Even a young David Beckham couldn't convincingly pull them off. "The thing with denim is they're not comfortable," says Alexander Fitzgerald, Editor of Menswear in Ireland. "By and large, denim is a bit unforgiving and a bit sweaty. If I'm sitting in the park, there's no way I'd be putting on denim shorts." On hot days, more lightweight natural fabrics will be breathable as well as flattering: try cotton, linen or a mix of the two for a more breezy alternative.

Pay attention to fit

All those floaty boxer-style shorts look fantastic on models with legs cut like a Michelangelo, but if you're feeling self-conscious, take comfort in structure. The above-knee length will help to define your legs and even out proportions, and good tailoring can create a streamlined silhouette. "You can get them anywhere - H&M, Zara, Dunnes, M&S. I've got great ones from Uniqlo which have a lovely stretch in them and a pleat, which makes it look a little bit more considered," says Fitzgerald.

For more structure, he suggests accessorising with a braided leather, canvas or slim suede belt: "If your shorts have loops, the addition of a belt can just crank it up a notch. It looks more elegant, like you haven't just thrown it on."

Keep it simple

Back away from the cargo shorts. More often than not, they look sloppy and immature, and all those extra pockets only add unwanted bulk. The basic chino short is a favourite for many thanks to its uncomplicated two-pocket design, or try a minimal tailored pair in a block colour.

Fitzgerald recommends muted shades such as grey, navy, beige and cream, or softer tones such as baby blue, powder pink or a seersucker. "Unless you're university age, anything too Hawaiian-style with floral prints and pineapples is a little bit too Love Island," he advises.

But don't shy away from colour

While patterns can be tricky, a vibrant colour can work well with an otherwise unfussy outfit. "Because a lot of men's wardrobes are focused around navies, blues, blacks and greys, we tend to buy shorts in brighter colours or something that's a little bit different, in contrast to what you'd be wearing on top and then socks and shoes," says Collins. Indigo & Cloth's popular styles vary from light mint to forest green to vivid orange.

Think about footwear

"One thing which can really determine the hit or miss of a pair of shorts is the footwear you wear it with," says Fitzgerald. Leave lace-up styles or anything you could wear to the office well alone, and stick to casual shoes such as trainers, moccasins, driving shoes or loafers.

Collins adds that sandals, particularly Birkenstocks, are increasingly popular, but if you're wearing closed-toe shoes, don't forget your socks. "I think it's better to go with an ankle sock when you're wearing a high short, but with the amount of different socks you can pair with certain outfits, we wouldn't be against wearing [taller] socks with it either," he says.

Don't be afraid to go retro

The rolled-down O'Neills may be best left to the professionals, but if you prefer a streetwear look, keep it clean and lean. "If you want something a bit more stylised, Adidas Originals have their old-school shorts, and they are blatantly fashion, athletes don't wear those for playing sport," says Fitzgerald. "They can look really good, or even Kappa or Ellesse - something a bit retro can look good."