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Relaxing on lounge chairs in urban backyardChris Clinton/Getty Images

The question

How short should my summer shorts be?

The answer

At least above your knee. The fashionable will be wearing them even shorter – like sixties-tennis-player shorter. Don't be afraid of this. It's a trim, athletic look – and your legs are fine.

Whatever you choose, remember that the days of low-hanging multipocketed cargo skateboard shorts are over.

You must now cull your closet and remove any item of clothing festooned with pockets and toggles and zippers and drawstrings. Chuck any item that looks as if it were designed for mountain exploration or transporting quantities of pebbles. Destroy anything designed for desert warfare, forest warfare, paintball or laser tag. (While you're at it, throw out the shiny polyester basketball shorts, unless you actually play basketball, and the rubber flip-flops that go with them.)

Your shorts this summer will be plain and sleek and fairly narrow. They will have a flat front, no cuffs and slash (side) pockets. If you fear looking too festive – too much like a candy cone – avoid madras and other plaids and stick to solid colours.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail