Chic Shorts

Sartorially speaking, shorts don't get much respect. Pleat-front, fanny-pack-bedecked, cargo-embellished, and high-waisted mum shorts may be sneered at and the category as a whole might be considered a put-down (at least when discussed by Bart Simpson), but forget all that because today we are showcasing some seriously chic and spruced up styles. While denim cut-offs have enjoyed prominence for some time now, the looks we're talking about are more along the lines of the directional runway pieces seen on the S/S 09 runways of Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. When Domenico, Stefano, and Miuccia are all on the bandwagon, it's clear the garment has transcended its German-tourist-at-Disneyland reputation. More daring than a tapered-trouser and less overtly sexy than a body-con mini, today we are highlighting the next generation in abbreviated bottoms. Just take some styling direction from today's subjects and in no time at all, you'll be ready to take a spin in this summer's chic shorts!

Thankfully, our well-dressed subjects provided us with myriad variations on the style, but there are a couple of fundamentals that should always be adhered to. Specifically, though you can play with different lengths, the most appropriate proportion for this incarnation of formal shorts is slightly voluminous (perhaps a stowaway from fall's harem trend?). Another suggestion: take a pair of pants you have relegated to the back of your closet, and have them altered to mid-thigh height. You may end up with a satin diaper, but you may also end up with an incredibly desirable D-I-Y design on your hands! Although all of our trendsetters opted for tucked in blouses (graphically-print tops, lacy blousons, and simple or sheer black are all lovely compliments!), be sure to spruce up the look with a great heel, a statement piece of jewellery, and, of course, plenty of leg (try the lightweight and hydrating Naked Body Butter Lite ($29) from Bliss to keep your gams looking glam!)

Proportion and pairing options aside, we've noticed that many members of the fashionable crowd are partial to dressy shorts that come in interesting prints and rich materials. While attending Bulgari's "Between Eternity and History" dinner party, Margherita Missoni (the de-facto poster girl for her family's luxury line) picked a wonderfully patterned short-and-top combo from-you guessed it-Missoni's S/S09 collection. Historically known for their kaleidoscopic knits, we think her Mammola Jumpsuit ($2496, 212.517.9339) is a modern marvel; try See by Chloe's High-Waisted Shortsicon ($206) with a concentrically circled chemise to achieve Missoni's tasteful take. Meanwhile, Elle's newest staffer, Olivia Palermo, provided another example of how to wear a dressier short in a more subtle pattern at the launch festivities for Matthew Williamson's for H&M earlier this summer. The City-star's Stone Embellished Boucle Dion Shorts ($40), from the Swedish purveyors of fast-fashion looked quite snazzy with her Chanel clutch and Topshop necklace (try their Fabric Wrapped Chain Necklace ($40) for an equally high-impact and high-street piece!). Though Palermo's pick won't be available until late August, we can recommend Silence & Noise's High-Waisted Shorts ($38), which are available now to help you achieve her assemblage.

Another way to up the chic ante when it comes to shorts is to choose a pair in unexpected material, like leather, as jewellery designer Genevieve Jones did at a private screening of The Brother's Bloom. We've spotted other sartorially savvy ladies like Gwyneth Paltrow and Lauren Santo Domingo in Proenza Schouler's High Waist Leather Shorticon ($1150), but we like Ms. Jones' interpretation the best. Leather shorts work well for breezy al fresco evening events, and will look smart with opaque tights well into fall. Be sure to snag the Proenza pair, or check out Brigid Catiis' Bubble Shorts ($154) for a look-a-like alternative.

Of course, some of today's subjects opted to wear simpler styles. Kate Moss, fashion icon par excellence, picked flared shorts with pleating detail to run errands in London with boyfriend Jamie Hince. Though it helps to have never-ending stems, anyone can look Moss-marvellous in Forever 21's Marina Shorts ($20). Another interesting hem-choice comes to us vis-à-vis industry-darling, Diane Kruger, who opted to dabble in the season's key khakis while attending some shows during Mercedes Benz' Berlin F/W 2010 fashion week. Her ensemble was both casual and chic, and we love how her delicate lacy blouse creates a nice contrast with her more utilitarian cuffed bottoms; J. Crew's Poplin Shorts ($40) mimic Kruger's pocketed pair and would look great with your favourite Victorian top. Finally, we have LA Candy author, Lauren Conrad who looked quite polished in Alex Lane's Pleated Silk Shorts ($169). Her rolled-hemmed version is perfectly understated and elegant, but we think Topshop's Silk Shorts ($60) would look just as posh with a tucked-in top for a book signing or just a night on the town.

Photos of Kate Moss, Genevieve Jones, Lauren Conrad, from Splash; Photos of Diane Kruger and Marherita Missoni, from Getty Images.