June 17, 2015

Men in shorts — the not-quite-ready-to-shave edition.



From a NYT article titled "At London Men’s Fashion Week, Bigger is Not Necessarily Better." The photo is by Tom Jamieson for the NYT and the fashion is by Christopher Shannon for spring 2016.

I love this image because of how strongly it proves the point I've been pushing for 11 years, which is that shorts make a man look like a boy. Now, maybe that's what some men are looking for. They've got an inner child to let out of the awkward man-shell within which they find themselves trapped. They're trans-boys.

This model looks perfectly cute in his boyishness, and the stylists knew what the look was: boy. See that shaving cream on his chin and ears? He's just playing at shaving. Got into his dad's things. The shaving cream. The old Zippo lighter. Look out. Going to get in trouble. Here comes trouble.

ADDED: The NYT portrays what I'm calling shaving cream as "mousse":
[Christopher Shannon] models’ faces were bearded with snowy drifts of mousse, as though they had come direct from a frat-holiday foam party. But give the lads a shower and the collection came forward as crisp, sporty and salable....
Mousse, eh? That calls to mind the it's-not-mousse scene in "Something About Mary."

60 comments:

Meade said...

"Got into his dads things."

Trans-parent.

Brando said...

Why do shorts make men look like boys, other than due to tradition and culture? There's nothing inherently "boy" like about shorts or "man" like about pants.

LYNNDH said...

Ann, your weird. Nothing wrong with MEN wearing shorts. Its your War On Men.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The writer claims that the British pub is an institution "all but impervious to change."

All it took was a quick look at the beer list at The Lady Ottoline to confirm that the writer doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

Not a bad looking place, though.

Rae said...

You need manly, muscular, hairy legs to pull off wearing shorts without looking like a boy. Like i have.

Ann Althouse said...

"Last week, when the class first met, [the professor] had worn a plaid cotton shirt and pants -- nothing remarkable about that. The shirt had had long sleeves, and the pants had been long pants. But this morning he had on a short-sleeved shirt that showed too much of his skinny, hairy arms, and denim shorts that showed too much of this gnarly, hairy legs. He looked for all the world like a seven-year-old who at the touch of a wand had become old, tall, bald on top, and hairy everywhere else, an ossified seven-year-old, a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead -- unaccountably addressing thirty college students, at Dupont, no less."

Tom Wolfe, "I Am Charlotte Simmons,"

Ann Althouse said...

"Why Is Prince George Wearing Shorts Outside in November?"

"Boys wear short trousers until they are 8," Editor-in-Chief of Majesty magazine Ingrid Seward tells PEOPLE. "It is very English. It is considered very suburban for a little boy to be in long trousers when he is just a little boy."

CStanley said...

Shorts are casual clothing, for both men and women. That itself makes the wearer appear less "grown up", but when worn in the appropriate setting it's completely normal.

Bob Ellison said...

That guy doesn't shave yet. He waxes.

Mac McConnell said...

The dude has Obama's ears.

MayBee said...

Wow. He has great legs. Not little boyish at all.

Big Mike said...

Here comes trouble.

But you women like bad boys!

EDH said...

Fuck, I'm worried shorts make me look old!

Anterolateral leg alopecia is very common in middle-aged and elderly men but may also occur in women. A previous study estimates the prevalence of anterolateral leg alopecia among males as high as 35%. It often presents as symmetrical, sharply demarcated hair loss confined to the anterior and lateral aspects of both legs. This pattern of hair loss is extremely common yet hardly described in the medical literature.[1,2] Anterolateral leg alopecia is frequently referred to as peroneal alopecia as the hair loss occurs in the distribution of the superficial branch of the peroneal nerve.

Anterolateral leg alopecia was first described in the 1920s yet the cause of this hair loss pattern remains to be elucidated. Leg crossing, trouser rubbing and friction have all been suggested as contributing to this condition though a causal relationship has yet to be confirmed by any studies. Robertson suggested an association between anterolateral leg alopecia and male pattern hair loss. However, Hamilton subsequently demonstrated no statistically significance association between the two conditions. Peripheral vascular disease and thyroid dysfunction are also cited as potential causative factors.

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that this particular model looks great... though he might look even greater in something else.

But I see men every day (at least when it's above 50° here) who are wearing shorts who don't have anything like this man's proportions. He's much taller than most men, has well-formed legs, and has an almost freakishly long neck and head. His handsome face and big hair draw your attention.

I'm almost surely correct in saying to anyone here: You cannot match his looks. (You cannot lighter his looks.)

The effect Tom Wolfe describes in the quote (above) is probably close to what you will get, especially if your shorts are big and you shirt is loose and boxy, and I bet it is! When you wear shorts, are they as small as this model's? I bet they aren't. I'll bet you are wearing oversized togs that dwarf your body and de-sexualize you.

madAsHell said...

I looked at the picture, and my gaydar went off. I'm pretty sure that's the demographic for which they are aiming.

Light my fire....anyone??

Jim Howard said...

With all due respect to our Professor, nobody who lives in Madison Wisconsin has any business telling Texans we should not wear shorts.

Heck, one big reason I became a software developer is precisely because I can wear shorts to work on hot days. I'm all shorts all the time from June 1 through at least Labor Day.

I'm the same age as the Professor. What do I can if they make me look younger?

Madison has a hot day what, every 10 years? What do they know about hot up there in the frozen north?

Bob Boyd said...

I identify as attractive in shorts.

traditionalguy said...

The class system is alive and well in wealthy areas that have the real need for an identifier of the leisure class from the working class.

Grown men dressing as boys at play is the traditional answer. A part of that is college athletics fans still reliving their days of leisure as college boys free to play on campus.

Bob Boyd said...

I'm trans-sexy.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

They call those proportions "heroic," IIRC.

Has something to do with classical sculpture and the opposite of neoteny, whatever that is.

Evolutionary psychology and some sort of testable hypothesis on heritable standards of beauty.

It's hard to keep it all straight.

Roughcoat said...

Heh. My dad, born in 1922, told me that he and all boys of his generation wore knickers until reaching a certain age.

Not shorts. Not long pants. Knickers.

When they reached that certain age they started wearing pants. After that you only wore knickers when you were golfing.

I don't know if they wore shorts back then. I suspect the fashion of men wearing shorts really got going in World War II. In the Pacific Theater men were issued shorts as part of their tropical uniforms. Army, navy, Marine Corps--all issued uniform shorts. Plus they commonly went about in the skivvies (boxer undershorts) when swimming on some tropical isle or hanging out in their rear area encampments. I have lots of photos of dad, who served in the Pacific Theater (navy officer), wearing shorts. When I was growing up in the 1950s he along with all the other dads in his generation wore shorts all summer long.

Althouse, these guys, our dads, were the tough guys who fought in World War II. And they wore shorts. They didn't look like boys. They looked like our dads, tough guys, wearing shorts. And we wanted to be like them: tough guys wearing shorts. So, we wore shorts too.

Ann Althouse said...

"When I was growing up in the 1950s he along with all the other dads in his generation wore shorts all summer long."

I grew up in the 50s, and I didn't see that. My father didn't wear shorts. And we lived in Delaware.

Ann Althouse said...

"With all due respect to our Professor, nobody who lives in Madison Wisconsin has any business telling Texans we should not wear shorts."

From "41: A Portrait of My Father," by George W. Bush:

"IN THE SUMMER of 1948, George H.W. Bush had two immediate tasks: start his job, and find a place for Mother and me to live. While he scouted for housing in Odessa, Texas, we stayed with my great-grandfather G.H. Walker at his summer house in Kennebunkport, Maine. Life was a lot more comfortable on Walker’s Point than in West Texas. In those days, Odessa was a town of under thirty thousand people located twenty miles from its sister city of Midland and more than three hundred fifty miles from the nearest major airport in Dallas...

"[My father] didn’t know a single person when he arrived. People he met were more like the folks in the Navy than those he knew back home. Odessa was a blue-collar town, home to oil field laborers: mechanics who fixed the equipment and roughnecks who worked on the rigs. One of my father’s coworkers once asked him whether he’d gone to college. As a matter of fact, Dad replied, he had just graduated from Yale. The fellow thought for a second and said, “Never heard of it.” The fashion in West Texas was different too. Dad once walked out of the house wearing Bermuda shorts. After several truck drivers honked at him, he went back home and packed away the Bermuda shorts for good."

Roughcoat said...

I grew up in the 50s, and I didn't see that. My father didn't wear shorts. And we lived in Delaware.

I grew up in Illinois. To repeat: In the Midwest in the 1950s young men of my father's generation wore shorts all summer long--when they weren't at work, of course. That was my experience. That's the way it was. I don't how it was in Delaware. You didn't t know how it was in the Midwest. Now you do.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roughcoat said...

And they wore shorts in the military. I guess they figured if they could wear shorts in a war zone where they were battling the Japanese they could wear shorts on weekends and holidays and hot summer evenings in the Midwest and still be considered manly.

MayBee said...

I'm almost surely correct in saying to anyone here: You cannot match his looks.

That's almost always true of female models, too.

I'm not against men in shorts, but I do think people of both genders need to ask themselves, "do I look good in these shorts?"

Roughcoat said...

You wouldn't have wanted to go up to my dad and his pals and make fun of them for wearing shorts and you wouldn't have wanted to tell them they looked like boys not men. Trust me on this.

Matt said...

The model is wearing shorts, running shoes and a long-sleeve t-shirt - the traditional attire for long-distance running. When he's done running, he should take a shower and put on some pants.

Ann Althouse said...

ME: When you were growing up, did men wear shorts?

MEADE (who grew up in Indiana): Nooooo!

He then amended that to say that they sometimes wore "Bermudas" to a "picnic" or "at the beach," but not to work or to the store.

Titus said...

Althouse, you know my hubby or I never wear shorts, except around our lofts, right?

I think men wearing shorts is the most hideous thing too-especially when they are chubbers.

Ann Althouse said...

Am I microaggressing?

Brando said...

"And they wore shorts in the military. I guess they figured if they could wear shorts in a war zone where they were battling the Japanese they could wear shorts on weekends and holidays and hot summer evenings in the Midwest and still be considered manly."

Was that true of American forces? I was under the impression they always wore pants and long sleeves, even in the jungle, to protect from bugs and scratches. The British and Germans wore shorts in the desert though, and this hasn't really been the practice since WWII.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ok, ok, but please, PLEASE can we have a post on young women wearing rompers now? Full on rompers, Professor, I have seen it in Atlanta already this year. Not fitted, tailored one-pieces, mind you, but shapless too-small rompers in bright patterns reminiscent of a late 80's bedspread.
I think one can argue that shorts, at least, are appropriate on adults (men and women both) in certain situations, so the argument is over which situations those might be. Rompers, though, were until recently (as far as I know!) made only for young children. That's got to be worth a post, no?

Mac McConnell said...

I've seen photos of WWII aircraft maintenance and artillery personnel wearing shorts while island hopping in the Pacific. Also, officers after hours in make shift officers clubs wearing shorts. These were obviously shortened uniform pants or UDT shorts.

Post WWII for a couple of decades the USAF had Bermuda shorts as part of a tropical uniform.

Trashhauler said...

Military PT clothing, including shorts, are the go-to clothing in deployed locations when off duty. Particularly downrange in the sandbox. T-shirts and loose, rather large, shorts are comfortable. This makes up for spending so much time sweating in ABUs with full battle rattle or in a flight suit.

Flight suits are hot and steamy in the summer and freezing cold in winter or at altitude. The normal cycle goes like this: Get up, shower, put on flight suit, thick socks, and boots. Sweat completely through flight suit and socks during preflight. Get in the cockpit and sweat some more as the sun beats through the canopy. Take off, climb to altitude and begin to shiver as the sweat super-cools. Turn up the heat and fly until the sweat dries. Complete the mission, RTB, and land. Sweat through your flight suit again. Go shower.

Shorts feel good.

tim in vermont said...

I can't remember a man wearing shorts when I grew up. Not a single man. They wore work pants mostly, green or blue. Not blue jeans. Only kids wore blue jeans, kids and cowboys. Even fishing in the river, which involved lots of wading around, my dad wore long pants. He must have worn shorts once, because he told us how he got a scar on his thigh from a hunting accident as a young boy out hunting up rabbits for dinner. But he had to explain the scar to us, and I think that was the first and last time I saw it.

Nobody wore a shirt without a tee shirt either, IIRC. There were still a lot of beat up old cars with huge fins. Milk came in glass bottles delivered to a little ice box on your back porch.

In the story The Snows of Kilimajaro, the protagonist dies because he wore shorts hunting and a scratch on his leg got infected. So I think we can say that Hemingway was four square against shorts.

Airplanes were so much better to when heavily regulated and flying was very expensive. It kept the wrong sort out of airports and one's fashion sense was not regularly assaulted.


Those were the days... when men didn't wear shorts.

tim in vermont said...

Only little boys were allowed to wear shorts to church. Maybe that is the source of this fixation?

MayBee said...

I remember men not wearing shorts (except for athletic endeavors. Then they were really short shorts!) when I was growing up.

But then, girls couldn't wear pants to school, either.
So I'm not sure that's a great era to compare proper clothing rules.

Rick Caird said...

Everyone has a pet peeve and most are pretty nonsensical. So it is with anti short meme. But, Althouse has a venue to indulge her pet peeve. I doubt if she could get a letter to the editor printed if the topic was shorts. She might even find herself the object of a twit storm.

Julie C said...

I grew up in the 60s in Pennsylvania and later California. My dad never wore shorts. Short-sleeve shirts was about as far as he would go. My mother never wore shorts either. I don't recall seeing men wearing shorts at that time at all, except for a sport.

When I watch men's golf on tv, I am always struck by how childlike the caddies look in their shorts.

My husband and I make it a point to never wear casual clothing when traveling by plane. Get dressed up (within reason), wear long pants and look nice. You will get better treatment. Check into your hotel (even someplace hot) wearing nice dress pants.

tim in vermont said...

I don't like to see pro golfers in shorts either. There is an ad somewhere where one of them does. I agree too that when caddies wear shorts, they take away from the dignity of the occasion. I am not sure though what wearing those white janitor outfits, like they do at The Masters, adds to the proceedings, though.

I guess the real argument is where they are appropriate, and "nowhere outside your own home" is a bit too restrictive for me. I did buy some long golf pants though, to play at a friend's private club, and I would recommend them if you are required to wear long pants someplace when it is hot. Blue jeans can be unbearable (I exaggerate a little) playing golf, for example. Maybe the real problem is the way that blue jeans are the main other casual option for the masses? If you wear a suit to work, then you can dress casually while off, and still be pretty well dressed. If you are a cubicle worker bee and wear khakis at work, what do you wear during your time off? What if you are a plumber?

This whole men in shorts thing is an exercise in class shaming, a micro aggression against the yeomen and proles who make our country work.

Carol said...

I grew up in southern California and I don't recall men wearing shorts much there either, in the 50s and 60s. I thought the only men who wore bermuda shorts were lame easterners on vacation in Miami or somewhere. Even more recently it was only the eastern tourists who wore shorts when passing through Montana. It seemed like a New Yawk thing.

It was the basketball players that changed everything in the early 90s. They wore baggies to cover their compression shorts and then all the kids had to emulate of course. One of our football thugs at UM showed up for an arraignment in giant silky red shorts down to mid calf...saw it on local news and I thought, what a fucking clown..

Roughcoat said...


So I think we can say that Hemingway was four square against shorts.

Plenty of pics show Hemingway wearing shorts, fishing in Cuba and off the Key, and hanging out in Idaho.

As for what Meade said: of course men didn't wear shorts to work. Read again what I wrote: they wore them on weekends and holidays and hot summer evenings in the Midwest, which encompasses "Burmadas to picnics." Except where I'm from we didn't wear Bermudas, they were considered effeminate.

And yes, in World War, in the Pacific Theater, servicemen wore Government Issue shorts. Do the research dammit all. OF COURSE THEY DIDN'T WEAR THEM IN COMBAT. Except sometimes they did. I wrote a book on the 2nd Mar Div in the war and I have pics of Marines in the unit I wrote about returning from patrol on Guadalcanal wearing shorts with boondockers and World War I helmets, and carrying the awful Reising submachine guns. They were raggedy-ass Marines and proud of it. Although they ditched the Reising as soon as they could get their hands on (i.e. steal) Thompsons and M1s from the 1st Mar Div guys and the army dogfaces who got all the good stuff.

Any-hoo ...

My dad and his generation did NOT wear bluejeans. I don't think dad even owned a pair of jeans. But in the late 60s when I went to school in Colorado I found that west of the Mississippi it was normal for men, even old men, to wear bluejeans. So I started wearing them too. Now I wear bluejeans a lot. Bluejeans look great. I recall one French fashion expert saying that they were the best designed garment in history.

You guys who wear those old man pants--you look like old men. And not in a good way.

lemondog said...

Men in shorts or THIS!!!

I see it all the time.

Beach Brutus said...

Professor at 11:17 a.m. queried: "Am I microaggressing?"

No - you've stated an opinion that has spurred a lively debate.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jacksonjay said...

The Shemale with the reality show is courageous. The courageous part is keeping his (her) peepee so he can pork women that look like him (her)!

The Bronzed White Chick with the dysfunctional family is to be taken seriously.

Men in Shorts look like little boys because Daddy and the Mad Men didn't wear shorts in the '50s. OK?

The Buffoonish Dandy Author thinks men look like boys in shorts. OK?

Aye Dios Mio!

tim in vermont said...

Authors in Shorts

Ha ha ha! Nabakov and Vonnegut make Althouse's case, I think. Though Hunter S. Thompson would probably pass muster.

Paul Ciotti said...

And shorts make a woman look like a girl.

Paul Ciotti said...

Tim: Shorts on golfers "take away from the dignity of the occasion."

A lot of us have never thought there was anything dignified about golf to begin with.

jr565 said...

If you wear shorts they have to come down close to the knee. And you can't have too hairy legs.

Trashhauler said...

"I agree too that when caddies wear shorts, they take away from the dignity of the occasion."

Caddies wear shorts because they are performing heavy labor, usually under a hot sun. Anyone who doubts that never carried a pro bag for 18 holes.

This whole "shorts look stupid and childish" thing is merely another offshoot of Professor Althouse's fascination with fashion qua fashion. One must use another measuring stick when clothing is a functional part of the job.

People who must wear specific clothing for their jobs don't give a rip about how they look, once they become accustomed to the clothing. Do it long enough and the distinctive clothing feels right on their bodies, while other clothing somehow doesn't. That's why a military person often looks uncomfortable and sometimes goofy in civilian attire. It's why businessmen often have trouble "dressing down" when a suit isn't required.

Fashion qua fashion is more important to those who have no other means to separate themselves from the crowd.

John Scott said...

I'm 57. Awhile back I sent Ann a picture of myself wearing pink shorts, daring her to "look me in the eye" and tell me that I don't look manly enough in them. Alas, she never responded.

mishu said...

Am I microaggressing?

No, you're just obsessing. My dad fought in World War II. This grateful nation offered him a G.I. scholarship which he used to earn an MBA. He was an executive for most of his career and, yes, during the summer, during off hours, he wore shorts. I grew up in Illinois.

Give it a rest professor.

RichardJohnson said...

The fashion in West Texas was different too. Dad once walked out of the house wearing Bermuda shorts. After several truck drivers honked at him, he went back home and packed away the Bermuda shorts for good."

That was then. Nowadays in Texas, at least in Central and East Texas, men wear shorts all the time. I do. When I walk my dogs of a summer evening, I see many more men wearing shorts than pants. And there are no Althousian fashion prudes in my neighborhood to cast aspersions on men who wear shorts. If Professor Althouse disapproves of my wearing shorts during the 3-4 months of 90 degree weather here in TX, then I suggest that she put her money where her mouth is and pay my air conditioning bills.

Regarding the truck drivers honking at Daddy Bush wearing Bermudas, I am reminded of my experience at a Spanish language school in Mexico in the 1960s. We wore pants out on the street, but in the afternoon at home, we wore shorts . Sometimes the door to the street was open, and passersby could see us gringos lounging in the patio wearing shorts. "Que piernas." [What legs] I also recall long-haired males getting harassed in the Mexican streets then. Dislike of shorts and of long hair- I saw them as examples of small-minded bigotry. Similarly, Professor Althouse's ranting against shorts is an example of small-minded bigotry.

When my father died in the 1980s, I inherited his clothing, including a number of pairs of shorts. He didn't wear shorts to work, but during the summer he wore them often enough, for as long as I can remember.

Anonymous said...

BOOM!!

Althouse again hits her "Men should not wear shorts" drum.

BOOM!! BOOM!!

Heard it before, thought it was silly. Still do.

p kerit said...

Come down to Texas where its HOT and say we look silly in shorts

Unknown said...

Yes, shorts do make a man look like a child. Not as much as a backwards baseball cap but they do.

This comment is full of blowback from hostile ignorant people but that's just what hostile ignorant people do.

And by the way, when it's 90 degrees, I wear shorts. You can't be pure about everything in every case.

Allan Pratt said...

I can personally attest that in 1957 at Ft Bragg NC, shorts (commonly called Bermuda shorts) were authorized for wear. The official position was that they were permitted, but nobody dared wear them until one day when the Commanding General showed up wearing them. After that, they were OK, and cosiderably more comfortable that the long pants. Of course this was summer uniform only. In the fall, back to regular pants.