I’ve noticed that retailers frequently use short shorts and high heeled footwear to amp up the cool-factor and fashionability-quotient of outfits these days. And sometimes the model’s outfit combines both short shorts and high heels. Incorporating them is the retailers shortcut to an increased style quotient. 

Although I don’t personally wear shorts that length and two inch heels are my “everyday” limit, I’m all for short shorts and high heeled footwear on others. These items can absolutely elevate the integrity of an outfit by making it look more fashionable, proportionately flattering, spunky, modern and stylish.

For those of us who don’t wear short shorts and high heels, it is up to us to visualize the look with bottoms and footwear that we would actually wear. That takes more effort and creativity on our part. And is the cool-factor and style-quotient of the ensemble reduced significantly when the short shorts and heels are substituted for other items?

Sometimes, I do believe that’s the case and I stay away from those types of outfits. For example, short shorts can add a level of “desirable youthful cheeky” to an outfit, especially when they are extra baggy and slouchy. Increase the length of the shorts and you’ve lost that cheeky integrity. Extra wide leg patterned trousers look better with high heels to my eye. Wear them with low heels or flats and and you’ll probably feel stumpy.

At other times, I believe that an ensemble can look just as fab with longer shorts and low heels. For example, see a great shirt or blouse matched with denim shorts shorts (I’m looking at you J.Crew) – substitute the shorts with your desired length. Knee length pencil skirts look as good with low heels and flats to my eye. 

And sometimes I believe that an outfit would look better with longer shorts or flat footwear. For example, tight shorts look better to me when they’re longer because I’m just not fond of anything overly tight and short. Choose one or the other. Think tapered Bermuda shorts that end above or on the knee. And flat footwear is the ideal way to dress down an outfit, add a bit of unexpected edge when everyone else is wearing high heels, and take the “sexy” out of a form fitting mini dress or skirt. 

When you’re uncomfortable wearing the items that are considered cool and fashionable in a given retail season, it’s up to you to create your own cool and fashionable version of the look. Although it would be helpful to see outfits styled with an assortment of heel heights and shorts lengths at retail, that just isn’t practical. And the silver lining is that the lack of a worked example forces us to be more creative, perhaps with results that are more unique. 

Personal style can be an expression of individuality. Instead of re-creating looks we see in stores, catalogues, online and on the street from head to toe, we can absorb the inspiration and make the look our own. That’s what a true sense of style is all about.