Editorial

Shorts in the City

It’s finally starting to feel like spring. After one of the bitchiest winters in recent memory, signs suggest that summer is actually coming. With temperatures flirting with 70°, men in the city are already starting to show some leg.

I don’t wear shorts in the city. In the midst of our culture’s relentless quest to recapture the ultra casual comforts of a onesie or a softball practice outfit in adulthood, I won’t do it. The inner child seems to be flourishing. It’s the inner adult I’m worried about.

I’m all for flashing a little leg in the right place, at the right time and on the right guy. As someone with reasonably good sticks himself (so I’m told) and an appreciation for breezy style modes in hot weather, I love a short pant. But in the city – a world capital in fashion, design, finance, media and entertainment, a city that asks for a certain grown-upness, a city to which many other cities aspire – I draw the line.

Don’t get me wrong. I most certainly wear shorts, but I only wear them in specific instances.

When I participate in something athletic, I wear shorts. By participating, I mean actual participation, not spectatorship or non-participatory enthusiasm. When I go for a bike ride on a hot day or if, god forbid, someone asks me to play third base in a softball game, shorts it is.

In warm weather, I also love wearing shorts when I’m water-adjacent. This includes beaches and pools. I’ll even sport shorts or swim trunks at a plush rooftop pool right here in Gotham, but I’ll wear pants in transit and change when I get there.

When I’m away from the city in the summer, visiting someone’s summer weekend escape, it’s shorts time. And when I vacation in warmer latitudes in any season, like visiting my sister or mother in Florida, my long pants get a vacation, too.

On all other occasions, I wear pants – the big boy kind – in light cotton, linen or a blend thereof.

In a recent article in The New York Times Style section, the appropriateness of men baring calf in shorts was called into question. The story cited Pharrell Williams at the Oscars in a tuxedo with shorts, a look that seemed more appropriate for the nightclub vibe that is the Grammy Awards. There was also mention of “shorts suits” or blazers/jackets with shorts, which is a great look… right up until your eleventh birthday. Perhaps the only exception to this would be Nick Wooster, whose entire iconic look and public image is largely built around the jacket-with-shorts thing. He’s owned that look for years. (And Nick’s got those killer gams.) Everyone else just kinda looks like a Wooster Wannabe, or the young Patrick Dennis in Auntie Mame.

Pharrell Williams; Nick Wooster; Jan Handzlik and Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958).
Pharrell Williams; Nick Wooster; Jan Handzlik and Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958).

For myself, I wouldn’t try it. It would be exactly that: trying (too hard). The big city just strikes me as a pants kind of venue. With the exception of the bike ride thing (or other legitimate athletics), I can’t bring myself to leave my apartment and step out into the New York City public in shorts. That’s just me.

FEATURED IMAGE ABOVE (from left): Dsquared, J.Crew, Todd Snyder, J.Crew, Richard James. Photos from Style.com

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3 Comments

  1. I understand your position entirely. With that said, the world is heating up. Every summer is hotter than the one before it. I am a professional photographer, and as of today, I’m starting my 21st year in the business full-time. I’ve always worn pants at work, and much of the work is outside on-location. Last summer, the heat just wouldn’t let up, and I buckled. I transitioned to very nice shorts with a dress shirt, nice belt and appropriate looking shoes (usually colored suede bucks or Italian woven leather wing tips with rubber soles) Which I wore with no show socks. Damn, that was all it took to give me my energy back in the hottest part of the year. It was getting so dreadful to work outside and I fear it’s only going to get worse in my next 21 years or working in the heat. I know I’m a creative professional and not a doctor or stock trader, but it was still personally hard to make the transition. I totally get where you are coming from, but I think I found a compromise that works for my own particular circumstances. Keep up the good work, George. 🙂

  2. I have to agree with your post George, not that it should come as a surprise. What I was surprised by however was a recent article in GQ’s Style Bible (but don’t quote me on the issue if I’m mistake, I’ve been reading in mass trying to catch up, but I digress) stating that shorts are now acceptable in the city and should no longer be reserved for the casual or athletic events. Understandably GQ tends to go with the pop culture trends and men my age, 31, no longer feel that there should be a dress code. As the youngest man in my office, I am currently the only one not in shorts or wearing a logo t shirt. I can not deny the comfort and cool temperature of shorts and t-shirt, however at what point do you sacrifice a slight amount of comfort for professionalism? Is that the trend generations will follow? George, it is a heavy burden to carry, but I feel like its on your shoulders to guide them to a proper fashionable choice.

    Thank you for all your hard work and I look forward to your next post.

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