24 June 2010

The Best Shorts Are Pants

In the old days, I was very anti-shorts. I could go on and on about how shorts were for children, and how the ubiquitous presence of them at all times was frequently inappropriate. And outside of the beach, or sometimes cycling, I never wore them. I seem to have had a change of heart in the last few years.


These days, I wear shorts with relative frequency if the weather is hot. I spend a lot of time with my children, so comfort is important to me, but I'll be damned if I'm leaving the house in exercise clothes and pyjamas. As a result, I've come around to the fact that a man can be well appointed in a pair of shorts. We recently discussed a new pair from L.L. Bean. Today we have an old pair in plaid madras:

I find it harder to get shorts with a good fit than pants. Length is key. For me, and 8 inch inseam is best, just above the knee. They're called shorts, so they should be, you know, short. And pockets are important, too, as in, not too many. Two in front and two in back should be plenty, just like pants. I really don't get the infatuation men seem to have with cargo pockets.If you're wearing shorts in the first place, you're probably doing something casual, in which case you probably don't need half the crap in your pockets, in which case you don't need all those pockets anyway, right?

Trickiest of all is the width of the opening. So many shorts are cut with giant openings so that they wear like drapes. I suppose they cut them this way in the name of comfort, but I've never been comfortable in clothes that fit like drapes. I like it better when they fit properly, that I find comfortable. I didn't measure this pair, but you can see they're rather trim. That's because these shorts are actually pants, or at least they were when I bought them. The madras they're made from is top notch, maybe not the bleeding kind, but good stuff from the eighties. They were, as pants, at least two inches short, but for $4.99, I saw potential. I dropped them of at the trusty tailor, who cut them down to an 8 inch inseam for an additional $5.00. It's a little trick worth knowing in the thrift world, especially since for a lot of guys plaid pants are a bit much, but plaid shorts are fine.
I requested to keep the excess cloth from the bottom. I just couldn't bear to waste that fine old madras. Maybe I'll have Ellie fashion a bow tie out of it for me...or something.

17 comments:

Main Line Sportsman said...

I never would have tagged you as a guy with so much ink ......
I heartily concur on the length of a pair of shorts and the fact that many pair are cut with too wide a leg...

Young Fogey said...

That's it exactly: I can wear plaid shorts, but I wouldn't be caught dead in plaid pants.

Go figure.

Great short pants, BTW.

Some Assembly Required said...

As someone who wears glasses and also needs prescription sunglasses, I can attest to the usefulness of an extra pocket or two on cargo shorts, but I avoid the ones with the fussy pleated pockets (which is not easy).

I think you should keep part of one of those pant legs to use as a pocket square.

Thornproof said...

Great idea! Not only do you get a nice pair of shorts, but you can get a spare bowtie or two out of the equation!

Cheers!

dhc6a said...

"If you're wearing shorts in the first place, you're probably doing something casual, in which case you probably don't need half the crap in your pockets, in which case you don't need all those pockets anyway, right?"

So extra pocket would be more at home in formal attire? Curious...

Perhaps the appeal of pockets in casual shorts is that the wearer probably isn't wearing a jacket and needs to make up the lost pocket space. I suspect the best argument against cargo pants is they destroy the silhouette and make you look dumpy.

Anonymous said...

Those would go nice with the new mocs too. Camp-vibe.

Bermuda Shorty said...

Pants are cut wider at the knee than shorts, so simply having them shortend isn't enough; they have to be narrowed as well--and a good alterations tailor will teel you that.

The same is true of long-sleeve shirts: They can't just be shortened to short-sleeve length; the seam has to be ripped all the way to the top and they have to be narrowed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for advocating shorts in a proper length. Far too many guys wear their shorts halfway down their shins, which is sloppy as all hell. They should just man up and identify them as the capri pants they really are.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

I love the contrast of tattoos, preppy clothing, and clean-cut/professional haircut. Just awesome.

The Cordial Churchman said...

Rumor has it Ellie is into sewing hand-rolled pocket squares again. You could get a square and a bow tie out of that fabric. Not to wear at the same time, of course...

TCC

Anonymous said...

Love the capri pants comment.

clg23 said...

YESSSSS!
you know its summer when you cut your pants!
and I love the opinion on shorts and pockets, I never thought of it that way

Pigtown-Design said...

i could whip you up a set of pennant flags with that extra fabric!

Young Fogey said...

Y'know, with the extra material, you could turn those shorts into a very stylin' pair of cargo shorts...

Just kidding! Style and cargo shorts are mutually-exclusive categories.

Christina, Esq. said...

people are often surprised to learn I have a little 'ink' as well (in an inconspicuous place no one could ever see by accident). Love the madras, a classic.

Michael said...

I've been wearing plaid shorts during the hottest 8 months of the year for about 3 years. However, they always appear too casual. I feel weird sporting them with a polo.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the multitude of tattoos I possess (late teenage years) and my manner of dress (like an adult) a friend said I do a good job of making everyone in the room feel welcome. I'll say the same for you good sir.