Short shorts? Get a leg up on what’s chic now

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      Judging by what’s hanging from retailer racks and the derrií¨res of gamines, hottish pants and short shorts will hold sway once again on the beach and on the streets this season.

      This summer, however, in the gated manse that is fashion, there will also be more room for women who like more room.

      Don’t worry, baggy-cut Bermudas aren’t back in. Instead, look for a diversity of chic and tailored cuts to suit a broader range of body types. Phew.

      Allison Smith, the designer behind the local label Allison Wonderland, says, “I think the short gets a really bad rep, and for a good reason, too. They can be so unflattering, and they can be really casual and look sloppy.”¦We know they can ride up on the inseam, and that is so hideous.”

      In her one-woman war on the ugly, Smith has created Cutie shorts. To be worn by day or at night with heels, Cuties are textured, with tone-on-tone stripes made with herring-bone, twill, and a plain weave. They hit just above mid-thigh and have small front pocket pleats that add interest without bulk.

      To look great in a pair, Smith thinks, women have to see shorts as part of an overall outfit. One can’t just throw it together. The right top and shoes to finish the silhouette are essential.

      “Really make sure that the proportions are right for you when it comes to the length of the short and how kind of full they are,” she says. “If you wear the wrong shoe, it will definitely make your legs look a little bit stumpy.”¦And it’s nice to err on the dressier side when it comes to wearing shorts.”

      Another rule of thumb this season is that “when your waistline goes up, it gives you more freedom for the hemline to come up as well.” That’s according to Nadine Spidla, who, with Megan Dengerink, runs the Vancouver label Imaginary Friend. Spidla adds that there’s a wide range of choices for summer 2008: “I think what’s great about shorts this season, it’s [wearing] what suits you. You’re not stuck to style and the trends.”

      Chatting with the Straight at the Gastown boutique One of a Few, they pointed out their interpretation of the cropped pant, the Yoke.

      Dengerink describes it as “a really nice knee-length short with a wide-yoke waistband. It’s a pretty high waist with a tuck detail—a really great short for different body types”¦and makes for a flattering silhouette.”

      Not all shorts are so forgiving. To pull off tiny, tight shorts, one has to go all the way. As proof, Dengerink pulls from the rack a pair of very tight short shorts (not by Imaginary Friend): “I would call this a tap pant. There’s almost no inseam”¦but you’ve got to look great to wear those shorts.”

      “The woman who wears that is daring,” Spidla adds. “She would wear it with a flat during the day, and at night she wants to get noticed and she might put on a bit of a heel. She’s a take-a-look-at-me kind of woman.”

      If you can’t decide what kind of woman you are, visit jeans purveyor Off the Wall. There, you can find everything from jailbait cropped denims to narrow-legged Bermudas from in-house label Shank.

      Then there’s the dressier bib-front sailor shorts, Lupine, by Fenchurch.

      For under $60, you can test-drive several pairs, and you can invest in the superior fit and finish of a local label. Think of it as a Canada Day present, an act of short-pants patriotism.