Gentlemen, It's Time to Embrace Shorter Shorts


The Snowpocalypse is behind us. Temperatures are rising. It is time for bare legs. Not just for women. For men. It’s time. For. Shorts.

Shorts for men are “in” right now. You know if there were shorts at the ding dang Oscars that it must be true. (Thanks, Pharrell.) To be clear: We’re not talking about jorts. Jorts, aka jean shorts, are an entirely different animal, one hideous and untamed and left unworn. Please do not with the jorts. In addition, this is not about plus fours which can be fun in the right context, nor is it about capris. Just shorts.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, David Colman reports that shorts are — finally, after years of knee-covering awkwardness — getting shorter: (Check out the image accompanying the piece for a visual guide.)

In the past few years, the low-water-mark length of a 15-inch-or-so inseam receded to knee-length (11 inches), then a knee-baring 9 inches, then to a quadriceps-exposing 7 inches and on to the newly fashionable thigh-flaunting 5 inches. If men’s shorts were a glacier in Greenland, scientists would be freaking out.

Since the turn of the century — the late ’90s, early aughts — we have been plagued by unsightly shorts. It’s unclear who is to blame. Hip hop? Rave? Surfers? Skateboarders? It doesn’t matter, really. The hideous trend slithered onto men nationwide, curling its tentacles around the legs of innocent dudes and sheathing them in the most terrible way. And it’s held on for so long.

Left to right: Kevin Federline in 2005; Fred Durst in 2002; Lil Wayne in 2010.

As you may know, it wasn’t always like this.

Bermuda shorts were popular around and after World War II. The ’50s and ’60s gave us beach blanket bingos and lots of leg.

The 1970s and 1980s were really the thighlights for quad-baring shorts. In the ’80s, especially, with the rise of Preppy style and gym culture, short shorts were the norm. The leg was free and unencumbered, able to kick, jump, pose and flex. (The ’80s were ’50s-obsessed, after all.) Men (and women!) were encouraged to expose flesh, and dudes were not afraid to show off a nice, meaty Vastus lateralis. (The Summer 1986 International Male catalog has some excellent iterations.)

And somehow, we took a terrible turn and ended up with this:

Shudder. (That’s Treach from Naughty by Nature in 2005.)

Anyway, shorts are back, and they’re shorter, slimmer, and better than they have been in years. And they look nice. It should be noted that we’re talking about flat-front shorts. No pleats. Well-tailored. Not cut-offs. NOT denim. At a length that flatters the leg.

Some acceptable examples:

J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren.

But frankly, I think dudes can go even shorter. Bring up that hemline! For instance: The Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2014 collection:

Or, if you like, use Bob Benson from Mad Men as a guide:

In conclusion: Show us your legs.

Photos via Getty, Pacific Coast News, AP, AMC, daniyerselfclean.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin