Ever since I have been old enough to dress myself, I have had an instinctive and unwavering aversion to wearing shorts. Perhaps it was because I hated staring at my chubby thighs as I sat in the car on the way to school as a child; it certainly didn’t help that I became self-conscious when my legs got hairy before anyone else’s my age. My father of course loves wearing shorts, which therefore was the final ringing endorsement for me to detest them and avoid them at all costs – but psychoanalysis aside, I genuinely hate them anyway. Each summer, during the occasional hot spells that descend upon England, one naive person asks me “why don’t you wear shorts? You must be boiling!” To which I unfailingly reply “I don’t wear shorts.” Much in the same way that a diva might declare “I don’t do stairs”, this cuts the line of inquiry dead and conversation proceeds to (usually) less offensive topics.

There are two minor exceptions to my rule: 1) for exercise. Even though I prefer my jogging bottoms, if they are unavailable (i.e. in the wash) then I will wear shorts to the gym. And I prefer to swim in little shorts, than in Speedos or board shorts. 2) in the privacy of my own home / garden where nobody will see. But the last time that I was comfortable enough to allow even this to happen, I was still living with my parents in Bristol and I estimate it was about 5 years ago. My stubbornness knows no bounds. I actually quite like my legs – my thighs are acceptable, and my calves are unusually muscled when compared to the rest of my body (one day I swear this will change!). But, and this is very important, I like the way my legs look in clothes – jeans, trousers, whatever. I just prefer my legs to be enveloped in fabric.

I thus also avoid the socks/sandals/trainers minefield, because it has never applied to me (although I believe shorts + trainers + socks, or shorts + any other kind of footwear + no socks. Simples.) – and yet, on the way home from Kings Cross station tonight, a man got on the tube with a nice pair of denim shorts.  Now, during the fashion experiments of my youth, I had an old pair of jeans that I decided to turn into cut-off shorts. They were comfortable, and I wore them once or twice (mainly to exercise in), but I could never go out in public in them because they looked a bit ridiculous and go-go-ish. In contrast, the shorts that this man was wearing were fitted-ish, and went down to just above the knee. They looked comfortable and yet stylish, and it made me reflect on whether I could allow myself to wear a pair of shorts like that. I would like to, but I don’t know if my legs suit shorts – I’ve always felt uncomfortable with allowing my legs to be visible in public, because I just don’t think they look good in shorts! So with the help of ASOS, I have collected a few examples of shorts – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Bog-standard denim shorts by ASOS, these are acceptable while being unremarkable, and I don’t really see the point of wearing these when one could wear full-length jeans that look a lot better. But at least they are far from criminal.

These faded shorts by Religion are a bit too baggy for my taste, especially considering that they touch the knee. They’re a bit faded and thus also risk making thighs any bigger than twigs look elephantine. Avoid.

On first glance, these “Boom Shorts” (I don’t know why they are called that) by PA:NUU aren’t too bad, though they’re a bit skater-ish for me.  But on closer inspection, they seem to have an extra horizontal strip of denim between the waistband and the pockets, which creates a really baggy crotch. Unless your penis actually hangs down to your knees, this is unnecessary.

Aha! The first veritable fashion crime in this post, these denim shorts by Penguin epitomise everything I detest and fear about shorts: the oddly bulging crotch, the dorky turned up hems, the unflattering bulk added to the thighs. Add in some odd pleating and creasing (these shorts do not really look like they are made of real denim), and I am shuddering. But it gets far, far worse…

ASOS strikes again, taking their basic denim shorts and plumbing new depths of depravity by combining them with the latest inexplicable trend for aztec prints on everything. I am puzzled, my head hurts, my eyes bleed. The matching belt is the icing on a poisonous cake.

I have no words. But if I did, I would say that the shorts on the left (by ASOS) are bang on the ill-advised trend of printed animals on grossly-fitting garments. Why would I want a school of tiny fish on my thighs? Is this an allusion to men having lots of swimmers? Meanwhile, the most disturbing thing about the polka-dot shorts by The Village Green is that it appears to be part of a polka-dot male playsuit. Criminal.

Now these, I like! And more importantly, I would actually try them on and possibly wear them! G-Star get it spot-on with shorts that actually go below the knee (which is different to what I would normally advise) but make it work – mainly due to the cut actually flattering the thigh and tapering as the leg approaches the knee. The detailing and flat pockets on the denim adds a tasteful yet interesting twist.

Last but not least, Solid grabs the silver medal with their tapered-leg shorts. I like the contrast between the white fading on the thighs, and the deep indigo colour of the untouched parts of the denim. Obviously, the braces need to be detached, and the denim doesn’t look quite as sturdy or fitted as the G-Star shorts, but it’s a decent effort and while I probably wouldn’t be able to wear these myself, I find them a solid (ho ho!) attempt.

Here concludes my guide to the dos and don’ts of wearing shorts. Because while I write my fashion blog inevitably from my viewpoint, I also accept that my way is not the only way. So while I will stick with “I don’t wear shorts”, I will agree that they’re not all bad – part of the problem is the way I feel about my own legs. If you choose to wear them, I hope my article has helped you, I hope you enjoy the summer and get a nice tan, and good luck!


About alan

singer / songwriter / fashionista / aspiring novelist


  1. Pingback: London 2012 Olympics – the fashion of the Opening Ceremony. « HOMME FATAL

  2. Pingback: denim. « HOMME FATAL

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