August 13, 2013

"Properly worn with knee-length wool socks, which somewhat cancel the cooling effect, Bermuda shorts...

"... take on formality as a jacket or tie is added, still look best in the country..." says LIFE magazine in August 1953 — 60 years ago. The article is "Men Try Shorts For Town."

That was found by a reader who emails:
Greetings Ms. Althouse: Long time reader, so I'm aware of your distaste for men in shorts. One of my retirement activities has been reading every issue of LIFE magazine from its start in 1936. I'm up to 1953 and came across an article that may document the genesis of the short pants for men phenomenon. Lots of pictures I know you'll love (loathe).

By the way, I live in South Carolina and regardless of how ridiculous I may appear, summers here dictate comfort as a priority over fashion sense.
There's always an exception if the weather is hot enough, at least 80°, and outside of the air conditioning. I'm up here in Wisconsin, where guys break out the shorts when it's in the 40s!

18 comments:

Tibore said...

I'm flabbergasted by anyone who wears shorts when it's only in the 40's; I myself don't even start considering them until it's over 80. Some of them Wisconsinites must have some polar bear in their blood or something. Ditto Minnesotans.

John Rambow said...

We should all spend more time looking at old Lifes. Come for the articles, stay for the amazing ads.

I love that the first page of the article has a shot of with a "thirsty cluster of patrons" at P. J. Clarke's, the bar immortalized in The Lost Weekend. And it still exists, in much-gentrified form.

MadisonMan said...

Love the argyle socks in that one picture. That they cost $13 in 1953, well, WOW! That was expensive.

MadisonMan said...

By the way, if you scroll down in that link, you'll see an article on French Indochina. From 1953, reading it now, it's gloomy. But there is a nice big picture of an array of army soldiers marching in ... shorts.

Bob Ellison said...

IIliLILILILILiiLLLLLillliIII

Just testing eyes and ells.

Jimmy said...

I always just ask my wife if it is OK to wear shorts, she wears the pants in our family.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

In the 40's, you betcha! That is hot weather come March.

edutcher said...

That was always the British way.

And they always looked good.

David said...

Hey I live in South Carolina and I don't wear shorts.

But of course I'm in Wisconsin now so it's 73 degrees at mid day.

South Carolina is indeed hot in the summer.

Thus Wisconsin.

Bob Ellison said...

The font here is bad. I'll say that it does not work. IilllIIllIll

Kevin said...

Like Madison Man, I was more drawn in about the Vietnam article. That was a hell of a thing for 1953, knowing that there would still be 20+ years to go, only to fall in the end anyway.

Crunchy Frog said...

Here in SoCal it gets up to 80 in January. Shorts year round!

James Wolf said...

You clearly did not see the new picture of Howie Carr....

Scott M said...

Only with a pith helmet and no fewer than 12 porters.

David said...

I've been reading the blog a long time and this is the first I've heard of the 80 degree exception. I must say that takes a lot of the sting out of it and makes it easy for me to claim 100% compliance. That sigh you heard was one of relief.

Nihimon said...

"if the weather is hot enough, at least 80°"

This made me laugh. It's often around 80 on Christmas Day down here. For most of the summer, the average *lows* are near 80.

surf-ed said...

In north Florida winter attire consists of Bermuda shorts, flip flops and a jacket over a polo shirt.

David said...

That's one of the other Davids that wears shorts, not this David. I stopped looking good in shorts some time ago. Of course I also stopped looking good in pants, but I still wear pants. Go figure.