Modern shorts need to be well made, narrow, and not-too-long to keep their wearers from looking like they are bound for sleepaway camp or about to throw the 'bee. If you haven't already made the plunge, then do so; if you have, then your next move should be to go for something slightly more adventurous. Patterned shorts are making a big comeback. One reason for their revival: They can be paired with the basic button-downs you wear come fall to create distinctly summer outfits.

Los Angeles-based Shades of Grey is one of the few menswear labels making classic basics with powerful injections of color. We like the sense of humor and everyday luxury in the line, such as designer Micah Cohen's terrific sweat separates, or a short-sleeve vacation shirt in a retro bandana print. Our pick of this season's cropped bottoms is the slim-fitting Floral Flat-Front Short in soft, lightweight cotton. The orange, green, and navy botanical pattern is off the beaten path for sure, an appealing graphic austerity that is the essence of summer fun. [$108; shadesofgreyclothing.com]