There was a time when not having to wear shorts was the first sign of manhood, an omen that very soon the world would take us seriously. It was the harbinger of pleasant winds, one that conveyed that very soon our opinion would matter, a perspective that could stand equally valid beside those of others in the family, be it deciding the next family car or the restaurant we would be going to for dinner that evening. People in pants command that presence, shorts are considered the uniform for those with no rights, a.k.a. the non-contributing excess baggage.
I went to this school with the quasi-military sadistic idea that wearing shorts makes a man out of boys, and hence they kept us in knickers till the ripe and blossoming age of 15. 15! If going through puberty wasn’t harsh enough, trying to understand just why you were freezing your nuts off in the harsh winter while being ridiculed by every kid you crossed on the way to the bus stop only added to the scarring.
It was thus with much pride that I put on my first pair of trousers. I felt them grip me ever so gently, felt their sway as I walked, a gentle reminder of their existence, hugging my legs so effortlessly, keeping them warm, keeping them safe, keeping their scrawny form out of sight. And thus began a very loving relationship between me and my pair of pants.
Fast forward a decade, and I am back in shorts. What happened? Too early for mid-life crises, too late to be a professional footballer, and yet I don’t mind being in shorts through the day, even allowing myself work meetings in them. But I am not the only one. World over, shorts are taking over, commanding a presence unprecedented, and being allowed entry where no grown man would have gone in shorts before.
Obviously, the world doesn’t run on my set timeline. In an attempt to beat the trend, I have done my research and here then are the shorts dos and don’ts.
Cargo shorts: It used to be that unless you are into hiking or a wildlife photographer, cargos would have seemed out of place. Today you can wear them just about anywhere. Cargos mean you are in relax mode. They go best with slippers and a relaxed un-fitted tee.
Formal shorts: They are fairly tapered, worn with shirts or polo-tees, and shouldn’t cover your knees (flash those caps I say). They look great teamed up with car or boat shoes, or pennyloafers, anything as long as you can wear them without socks. Socks and shorts are only for the military or the comics.
Regular shorts: These tend to run mid-thigh and are only advisable for sporty indulgences and the likes. Do not be seen in them unless it’s prowl night, and you are bait.
Capris: The 3/4th pedal-pusher style of shorts have lately been relegated to the feminine side of the wardrobe, but they are a great compromise between full length trousers and shorts. It’s how most men start of, cajoled into believing that these are mostly trousers and next thing they know, they are strutting about bare-kneed et al. Nothing wrong with it, don’t get all shy. Sports shoes or urban sneakers work best here.
As regards to belts, the formal types require one whereas the others may not, especially since many have drawstrings. Always good to wear brown belts, the tan kind, with shorts. Or else opt for something colourful. Black belts are not really needed here, even if you are in black slip-ons. You can do something colourful or experiment with grey. The idea is to show conformity and yet a certain breakaway élan.
Given our extended summers, shorts do make sense. If anything, they have incited me to run a little extra just so that I can flash some solid calf instead of two unsightly spindly sticks that prop me upright.