Women’s shorts guide for 2013

"womens fashion"Until recently, it was a summer dress that symbolized what you wanted out of your summer. A floral 1950s frock was Brigitte Bardot in the south of France, black and tight was 4am in Ibiza. But 2013’s signifier s have changed. This summer’s style semaphore? Shorts.

Shorts used to be just what politicians wore on holiday when it got really hot or what uncharitable schools made boys wear as summer uniform. No longer. They’ve been adopted by fashion to become less something to dust off when the temperature rises, and more something to hang your whole outfit on. With a mix-and-match Tumblr-influenced aesthetic dominating, separates currently trump the put-together option of dresses. Think of shorts as the new skirts.

Enter Olivia Palermo. A lot of shorts’ new popularity has to do with the endlessly blogged-about giraffe-limbed socialite. Almost single-handedly – or bipedally, at least – she’s made shorts a look. They’re a key part of her much-imitated offbeat preppy style.

Palermo’s shorts often come in a posh fabric – brocade, lace – and she wears them with blazers. These designs have been dubbed the city short – and their dressed-up, slightly princessy look are more urban street than sun lounger. Similar styles have sold out at matchesfashion.com’s website (with Isabel Marant and Carven particularly popular) and Asos says sales are up 135%.

There isn’t just one fashion- approved notion of the shorts in 2013, though – current wisdom dictates more than one pair. Here’s our guide to shorts styles you need now. Listen up – the rest of your summer will thank you for it.

Palermo’s favourite strode that catwalk this season – everywhere from Chloe to JW Anderson. The key characteristics come from the fact they look expensive. That could mean anything from crisp white linen to Palermo-approved brocades, and Anderson’s thigh-skimming ruffles. You want something more at home on the red carpet than walking from the beach to your car. This is not about a sun-kissed, off-duty look – it’s shorts going black tie.