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Get shorty


Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

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Shorts at work? Click for more photos

Shorts in the city

Will the CBD ever be ready for the invasion of shorts? Photo: Getty Images

How do you feel about an office short?

A commonplace sight at the beach and backyard barbeque, shorts are up there alongside thongs, Bonds singlets and VB stubby holders when it comes to defining the origins of Australian style. But, more and more, this wardrobe staple is making its way from our sandy shores and suburban streets to the gum-stained, cigarette-strewn pavements of the CBD.

I’m not talking about the people who have stopped by the city to do a spot of shopping on the way home from Bondi, but those dapper gents who are matching their tailored jackets and leather shoes with a workday short.

Yet to take the corporate world by storm, these leggy guys are usually working in creative industries and considered early adopters who, while often the butt of jokes, dictate what the rest of us may very well be wearing two or three years from now.

But could the traditional wingtip-brushing suit pant ever be replaced with an office-appropriate short? The designers at the recent menswear shows in Milan certainly seemed to think so.

While shorts actually make a lot of sense in our temperate and often stiflingly humid climate, designers including Emporio Armani, Versace, Jil Sander and Dolce & Gabbana had their male models strutting their stuff in thigh-high shorts at Milan Fashion Week last month.

Wearing otherwise standard dress shirts and jackets, they predict that shorts will transcend their casual beginnings and start to infiltrate the corporate and formal worlds. The display of hairy pins was followed up with a similar showing at Paris Fashion Week, and experts say the trend will soon pick up pace in Australia.

"Australian men are definitely becoming more fashion conscious,” says Topman buyer Kevin Luong, whose stores are opening in Sydney and Melbourne come October. “We are finding tailored shorts are increasingly popular."

But others aren’t quite so convinced. Luxury industry consultant Jean-Jacques Picart says that while they can be a good look for some, it’s best kept to the under-30s.

"There's no question this is a trend," he told AFP. "One way of wearing them is a bit like an English student in a bermuda suit, with a white shirt and smart town shoes, which says to the world: 'I am showing my legs but I'm still well dressed.’ But for anyone over 30 that looks a bit strange.”

He laughs outright at the suggestion that corporate shorts will ever be anything more than a fashion industry fantasy. Requiring coltish, masculine legs and a mere smattering of hair, Picart adds that even some of the models struggled to pull them off at the European shows and they’re nothing more than something to tempt apathetic insiders.

“A brand is largely appealing to blasé buyers and journalists, looking for new ways to get them excited,” he said. “This kind of thing is there to spice things up for the industry-insiders."

But don’t let that deter you. If you’re looking to flash a bit of skin once the weather warms up, here are some tips on how to wear them right:

  • The male version of a mini-skirt, length is something to keep in mind. While you don’t want to be swimming in them, you also don’t want to them so high and tight you end up with fly’s eyes – aka, the unsightly cousin of camel toe. The best height is a couple of inches above the knee.
  • Related to the advice above, steer clear of tight shorts. Not only can they can give the impression that you’re running around on chunky little ham hocks, your colleagues don’t need to know exactly how much junk is in your front truck.
  • Keep it simple. Go for a block colour and perhaps start off with a blander palate if you’re feeling nervous to begin with. You can then go from tan to bright red if you so desire.
  • If you’re in an office you must tuck it in and belt it. This is when the whole “not too tight or short” idea really takes hold. And unless you want to look like one of the more peculiar Year 8 science teachers out there steer clear of matching this with anything other than sockettes.

What about you, would you ever rock an office short?

61 comments so far

  • Just no

    Date and time
    July 20, 2012, 11:14AM
    • I would absolutely -love- to be able to wear shorts in the office. Even if just on a casual Friday.

      I hate in summer how we men have to suffer in silence wearing slacks and shirts while our women colleagues wear short skirts and often the skimpiest cut off shirts with no sleeves.

      still, having said that... not one of the pictured shorts in this article looks even remotely appealing to me.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2012, 10:29AM
  • Not that I have any particular problem with this, but this ain't going to take off (at least in Australia) for a loooooooooooooooooooooong time.

    Date and time
    July 20, 2012, 12:20PM
    • When I worked in the Top End of Darwin, this was the norm. When I first started work there in an office, I went in shorts and thought my fellow workers were "strange" that they wore shorts. After a week, and oppressive heat, I was a convert. There are definitely office shorts; we are not talking about those sports or workmen type. I don't think the office culture here in the South allows us to also do the same.

      Date and time
      July 23, 2012, 10:25AM
  • I have enough trouble accepting corporate shorts on ladies.

    On men? Not a chance.

    Date and time
    July 20, 2012, 12:20PM
    • As a bloke that travels on public transport I reserve the right to go to work in woollen trousers on 40 degree days - no one is going to prevent my inalienable right to poach my plums for a good part of the year

      Date and time
      July 20, 2012, 12:58PM
      • Should not, will not happen. The ironic thing is that while the article mentions that wearing shorts are best for under 30s, under 30s are also the least likely to be able to afford designer shorts, or at least get away with it (if they are in entry level roles, or juniors) in a conservative office environment. Having said that, people of all ages and positions can and do get away with atrocious stuff at work, so who knows. I guess it takes a combination of the right things or factors to happen, working at the right time.

        Black Palm
        Date and time
        July 20, 2012, 2:01PM
        • Two photos is a bold new trend? Of the other pics, three are of models wearing shorts with a t-shirt and/or jumper, and the last one actually appears to be wearing either swimmers or undies!

          Date and time
          July 20, 2012, 3:05PM
          • Where are all of these men wearing jackets with shorts?? I think we are talking about a mythical being like...a unicorn, rather than any reality...

            "There's no question this is a trend"....Really??...No, REALLY????!?!?!?

            Chris Steel
            Date and time
            July 20, 2012, 3:19PM
            • no

              Date and time
              July 20, 2012, 3:34PM

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