Shorts for next summer
Bermuda shorts made a big splash at Milan Menswear Week, with designers showcasing a variety of above-the-knee styles and often teaming them with blazers for an elegantly casual look. Photo: AFP
As my mother tells it, when I was growing up it was a nightmare to get me to wear pants. She says I would have lived in gumboots and undies all year round, given the opportunity. As an adult, I can't say much has changed.
Any chance I get, I'm ditching the jeans or pants in favour of a pair of shorts. Sky's out means thighs out. However, working in an office can be problematic when I try to implement my sartorial philosophy, as professional decorum suggests that exposing one's legs is unseemly. If you're a man, that is. Cough, double standard, cough, splutter.
But are traditional views on corporate wear changing?
Does it work for work?
They seem to be, in Britain and the US at least. In London's just-finished summer during which they endured a so-called heat-wave (although it probably barely reached 20 degrees most days), London retailers booked record sales for shorts. The men of London were teaming their blazers and shirts with a crisp pair of shorts in lieu of traditional suits as a way of combating the heat while retaining a sense of formality for the office. In the US, fashion designer Thom Browne released a collection of cropped shorts-suits to accommodate the warmer months. Other major brands that have taken up the theme include Oliver Spencer, Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren.
Deborah Foreman, general manager of menswear at retailer David Jones, says the trend will inevitably make its way to Australia. “The shorts suit is a huge trend this season and can not be ignored, and has been embraced by many of our brands including Calibre, MJ Bale and Jack London,” she says.
“A pair of smart shoes or boat shoes will complete this look and have you summer ready. It's a great look for the weekends, casuals office settings and informal events.”
But are the men of Australia ready to bare their legs in the name of comfort and style?
Maybe. But then again, maybe not. When it comes to the crunch, Australian men are inherently conservative when it comes office style, even in industries that celebrate a more relaxed environment and dress code.
Steve Scott is the creative director of Another Colour, a creative agency based in Surry Hills that deals with a broad mix of clients ranging from luxury travel to corporate. While he is happy to flash a bit of knee at work on warmer days, he does have reservations about doing so when the job requires face-to-face time with clients.
“I am guilty of wearing the most comfortable, colourful boardshorts possible to the studio,” Scott says. “Baggy, elasticated waist with a draw string, cut above the knee. But when I do wear these I pack a back-up pair of chinos in case we have a surprise client meeting."
It may yet be some time before the upper echelons of the Australian corporate world embrace the benefits of a decent pair of Bermudas, although we're bound for the next three years to regularly behold the sight of the Prime Ministerial pins, clad in trademark budgie smugglers or figure-hugging Lycra. Maybe that's a mandate Tony Abbott can run with – to change the way we Aussie think of the humble, ubiquitous pair of shorts.
Do shorts have a place in the office? What do you think of shorts-suits?