03 Dec 2021

Fashion Fix: Far from frumpy, it’s the time to embrace Bermudas

Tips, trends and advice from a host of industry experts

Fashion Fix: Far from frumpy, it’s the time to embrace Bermudas

Model from the TOGA spring/summer show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Katie Collins/PA Photos

Bermuda shorts have emerged as the unlikely star of spring/summer dressing.

It’s hard not to shudder at the thought of baggy shorts which fall just above the knee. They have a somewhat matronly reputation, but after decades out in the fashion cold, they’re back in the spotlight.

Major fashion houses from Chloe and Tod’s, to Givenchy and The Row, all experimented with their own version of the retro style. These came in all colours of the rainbow – as we saw at Max Mara in Milan – or in different materials – like the painfully cool leather versions at Bottega Veneta.

The key to the 2020 interpretation of Bermuda shorts is all about tailoring. Yes, they’re are looser than denim shorts, but they’re not too baggy. Tailoring has become an overwhelming trend in the fashion industry, and it’s about time shorts got the same treatment.

Bermudas are a welcome change to the same styles we’ve seen dominate fashion. Over the last decade, very little has moved on from the ever-present short shorts. Shopping for a holiday basically means wading through hundreds of different styles of booty shorts, or even worse: bike shorts. At best, you’ve got a nice fitting pair of ‘mom shorts’ in your closet, but they still bare a fair bit of leg.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing off your pins, sometimes it is nice to have a bit of variety. And even though they’re a new trend, thanks to the spring/summer runway shows, let’s not forget the storied history of the style.

It’s not a misnomer, the shorts do apparently come from Bermuda – which makes sense, considering the sunny weather of the archipelago. According to The Authentic Bermuda Shorts company, the style was born during WWI when a tearoom owner cut his staff’s khaki trousers short, because the room was too hot. The tearoom was frequented by navy officers stationed in Bermuda, who soon copied the style.

However, it was a while before the trend made its way into womenswear, as according to Bermuda’s official travel site, women were only able to wear this knee-baring style in the 1950s.

Bermuda shorts have remained mainly in the world of menswear, though. Just think of men on holiday, or Pharrell making it high fashion on the red carpet. But finally, the style has been given the fashionable treatment for women.

How to wear them…

While a classic pair of denim cut-offs will never go out of style, they’re hardly appropriate for the office. Bermuda shorts are the perfect answer to work summer dressing: they’re breezy, still provide enough coverage to be modest, and the tailoring lends an air of formality. This season, it’s clear the coolest way to wear them is with a matching blazer.

If you don’t want to splash out on a jacket as well as a new pair of shorts, colour blocking will help you be bang on trend. It’s simple – all you have to do is match your shorts with a jumper or T-shirt in a similar hue.

Luckily, this is a look which can also be dressed down with a plain tee and trainers. The key is to keep things simple – Bermuda shorts are all about relaxed cool.

In terms of colour, SS20 designers tended to fall into two categories. On one side, you had the likes of Max Mara who played with pastel colours: think lemons, peaches and baby blues. If bright colour feels a bit too bold, the other option is to embrace neutrals. Pick shorts in beige, stone or similar, which will give a feeling of desert chic. For patterns, keep things simple, with soft checks or faint lines.

Many people worry Bermuda shorts aren’t particularly flattering – but this isn’t the case. Even when loose, tailoring means most styles have a cinched-in waist. Our top tip to avoid potential frumpiness? Stick to flat shoes, because heels are more likely to throw your proportions out of whack. Loafers or brogues will help your look feel powerful, and trainers are perfect for those off-duty days.

Even if you’re still firmly in the stage of not wearing anything that isn’t pyjamas or gym gear, it’s still worth taking note of this trend. Lockdown won’t last forever, and at least you’ll be able to return to the office with a fresh new look.

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