Tyler, the Creator does it all. The 30-year-old multi-hyphenate sells out arenas, and his records go platinum. His creative universe has expanded beyond music to include a razor-sharp fashion label, in Golf Wang, and a next-level sneaker partnership (with Converse). One constant through all of it: his deeply specific personal style. And one sometimes overlooked—but deeply crucial—element of that style is his ability to wear a pair of shorts with the best of them.
Keep in mind that, for many years, shorts only hovered on the outskirts of the world of cool-dude fashion. Yes, people wear shorts every summer, but the fashion dude—the type who references Rick Owens and Raf Simons by their first names—avoided them like they were boot-cut jeans. (It was only three years ago that GQ ran this headline about menswear’s embrace of showing some leg: The Daring New Trend in Pants Is…Shorts.) Before the Great Rise of Shorts, you’d see the lion’s share of fashion heads in trousers during hot summers, sweating bullets outside Pitti Uomo or dashing around the sweltering streets of Soho. Simply put: pants looked more stylish than shorts. But it turns out that all you need to make shorts cool is an eye for detail and some ingenuity—or just to be Tyler, the Creator. Because he can make any pair of shorts look just as stylish as the highest-wattage pants you can find—and, luckily, we can all learn a thing or two from him.
Case in point: He showed up to a gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in shorts. (For reference, both Jon Hamm and John Legend attended the same event in tuxedos, bow ties, and yes…dress pants.) Tyler wore a tan pair that hit a few inches above the knee, with high white socks and Dr. Martens Mary Janes. An unexpected style swerve on top? A bucket hat that matches the shorts. He can dress things down slightly, too, like this outfit of pleated shorts with a fuzzy pink sweater vest and brown shoes. Even when Tyler goes simple, he still manages to nail a look that is anything but boring. He paired black shorts with a black cardigan and a crisp white tee—and then threw in perhaps one of the most covetable shoes in recent memory: the totally blinged out and aptly titled “Chain Loafer” from British label JW Anderson.
The true expert-level style maneuver here is Tyler’s eagle-eyed attention to detail. It’s in the tailored hems, frayed edges, tonal colors, the accessories—these finishing touches change from look to look, but they help the shorts feel like the foundation of each outfit, rather than the point. Tyler also sprinkles in a touch of prep, which helps elevate the style factor: a striped rugby or polo shirt, a sweater vest, or a carefully buttoned cardigan. He will switch up his footwear, too. One day it might be simple Converse sneakers, the next day dress loafers (or the aforementioned gold-chain clogs). He’s clearly found a look that he digs—shorts paired with prep-inclined staples and fantastic shoes—but makes an effort to keep things feeling fresh.
There are so many great pants to wear these days. (And broadly speaking, pants tend to look dressier and sharper than shorts. Please consider wearing those after dark.) But donning a pair of shorts can be equally stylish. You just have to know what you’re doing and pay attention to the little things. So, maybe give your plain old nylon shorts the day off and take a page from Tyler, the Creator. Go get a bucket hat in the same shade as your favorite canvas shorts. Acquire a pair with a pleat, or maybe made in the waviest corduroy you can find. Take a simple black pair and hack or hem them to whatever length suits you. This summer, when it comes to throwing on some shorts, just ask yourself: What would Tyler, the Creator do?