There’s an unspoken code amongst Aussie blokes: Thou shalt drink beer, thou shalt watch footy, thou shalt not covet another man’s wife, and thou shalt always wear shorts somewhere around the knees.
I wonder, then, what Aussie blokes will make of the latest trend to hit the runway: Mid-thigh shorts. Not even just above knee-length, which has been testing the waters recently, but high on the thigh: positively quadriceps-baring.
That’s not in the code, I hear you gasp. No, it’s well above agreed-code-length for shorts. Mid-thigh feels rather '70s, a bit like your dad used to embarrassingly wear. For those truly set in their ways, it might even feel as short as Warwick Capper’s old footy shorts.
Just how short are we talking? The Wall Street Journal is reporting men’s shorts have slowly risen from a 15-inch (38-centimetre) inseam, to a knee-length 11-inch, then above-the-knee nine inch to a thigh-baring seven inch. Some designers have even dared to go for five inches. If men’s shorts were a hairstyle, the new shorts are akin to Jennifer Lawrence’s pixie-cut.
And while the raising of hemlines is nothing in the world of women’s fashion, where skirts go up and down every season, men aren’t used to these sorts of dramatic heights. There hasn’t been a change in men’s short length for more than two decades!
Of course, it must be said that Australian men are hardly likely to pay attention to catwalk trends. But anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada will know the scene where a high-fashion magazine editrix, Miranda Priestly, goes through the reasons behind a simple blue sweater. Trends, she explains, start on the catwalk, then are filtered down through celebrity, magazines, the high street and eventually mass market stores until they end up on your hanger. At Lowes. Where you unknowingly buy them.
The new short short is not like the old '70s short, all loose, floppy and likely to be a little dangerous if one chose to wear them sans underwear. The new short is tailored, slimfit and worn with a belt. Some designers have even paired it with a blazer for a rather smashing work look. Do we in the fashion world like it? We certainly agree with it, because business suits in the height of summer are unfairly hot. It makes sense to pair a tailored short with a shirt and belt, and let men get a little air on their legs. Something women have been lucky enough to experience for years.
Will it catch on outside of those industries you know will embrace it – advertising, for example? Or will it be considered too hipster for its own good, relegated to that newly-bearded, low-waisted-pant loving crew who like their jeans real skinny and are partial to a green smoothie every now and then?
Rama McCabe, Design Director at The Critical Slide Society who specialise in shorts and surfwear, says: ''There is a lot of resort wear with elasticated waists that sits on the thigh. For surfing, that’s the more conventional style of short. Now, there’s a lot of crossover between great tailored shorts and good surf shorts. The kind of thing you can wear off the beach and go to a cafe or meet a girl in.''
But what if you don’t surf (or want to look like a surfer)? How will the regular Australian male feel about this new thigh-baring length?
''The more urban beachgoer is quite accepting of the shorter length,'' McCabe says. ''But the further you are away from major cities or surfing destinations and you might cop a little bit of flak. On Manly or Bondi Beach it’s totally acceptable. It’s definitely getting more popular.''
The buyers at David Jones agree that the trend has moved away from the beaches and into the cities.
''We have seen a return to sharper tailoring for spring-summer and with this we have seen the rise of men's shorts,'' says Deborah Foreman, the general manager of menswear. ''From an Australian designer point of view, brands like Calibre and Jack London are key. For a more casual approach, Zanerobe and Industrie are also great examples.''
Right then, boys, looks like it’s time to get your legs out.