April 08, 2010

Short Temper

It was anomalously 90 degrees yesterday. My approach to such unseasonal temperatures is simply to slow down, but I see that this is not to everyone’s taste. The frenetic pace comes at a price, however, and I’m afraid that the desire to move at winter speeds in sweltering heat is too dearly bought. There are two things that should hardly ever be seen on a man, except when he is engaged in some form of athletic activity, or some form of manual labour: sweat and shorts. I shall consider you, dear readers, as men about town. As such, I exhort you not to sweat, and not to wear shorts. To my rural readers, of course, one must make exceptions. Honest toil makes for honest perspiration, but how many really know about that anymore? Still, there’s probably no good reason for shorts, even in the country. To my lady readers, I am sure you will join me in this prescription. Although you will have no first-hand knowledge of either sweating or shorts, I am sure you have seen them both on men, and I am sure that, with me, you object.

Um, no.

Here’s the basic problem. Shorts are ugly. Moreover, male legs leave a lot to be desired. Shorts tend to do nothing for the masculine pins, being ill cut, ill-conceived, and often ill coloured. Men demonstrate far more sartorial bravery in shorts than at any other time, and they should not be surprised if I label it what it really is: foolishness. Few men can pull it off. In large part it has to do with the choice of footwear that is paired with shorts. I occasionally see a man looking enviously good in well-tailored shorts, with expensive boat shoes, and then I think to myself: those shoes are going to be ruined by his sweaty feet, and he will smell. Of course, had he been wearing socks I would have thought he was sadly misguided. Trainers are for training. Sandals are for hippies, geography teachers, and those men generally lacking in taste. Flip flops? Please. Canvas deck shoes I can nearly picture, but the sweating! There’s no escaping those leaky feet. It’s just a no-win situation.

Unfortunately, I shall be in Italy in late May and it will be so hot that my betrousered legs may slow to a stop. In that case I shall be forced to make a difficult decision. I shall not make it lightly, but only after due apologies to the gods of good taste. If, in the meantime, anybody can suggest some plausible way to look good in shorts and shoes without the aforementioned problems, I shall be much obliged.


  1. I agree with your diagnosis of the man-short problem for city wear. As with any rule, of course, exceptions can be made. But certainly no middle-aged man-shorts with mobile phones connected to the belt -- one of the most unfortunate looks to plague the North American continent. And not to leave women entirely off the hook either: after a certain age, by which I mean perhaps late 20s, not only late 60s, shorts in the city should be worn only with a great deal of taste and care.

  2. I would recommend instead some light, linen trousers. The coarse fibres allow the air to circulate and with tan accessories, a matching shirt (sleeves rolled up) and a panama hat, you can look a gentleman while remaining fresh in those Mediterranean climes.

    -Jay Maxwell

  3. Would it be too preposterous to consider the appropriate business attire for a gentleman in Bermuda, i.e. , short trousers, stockings, a dress shirt, tie, and blazer? I have fond memories of the summer spent there as a teenager. Are you by chance aware of a publication called "The Chap" and the website of the same name?


  4. Doctor,

    I cannot find anything to account for your odd interest in men's feet, sweat and leaks included. Clearly, shorts are boyish and most men are best advised to stay away - and shame will keep them away from being ridiculous more surely than anything else.

    But, alas, you are fighting against comfort, so shame may not be enough. The appearance of virtue that manly deportment offers is necessary also - and I am sure you will regale us with such stories from Italy...

    Those silly models have just about done it for me, and I now wish to see a comedy where the littleness of current men and their oddities are shown by their wearing shorts. I can imagine a world where that happens and I hope I won't be forced to live in it.

  5. Shorts are ugly. Why don't we just wear kilts? Kilts are handsome.

  6. Apologies for the delay in moderating comments. I spent the day on a bus (again). I'm glad there is such sympathy with my post.

    Dr. Idle, your point about ladies is well made. Your point about mobile telephones ought to be widely broadcast.

    I can only account for my 'interest' in such things, my dear Kravien, by explaining the frequency with which I am confronted by them, without solicitation on my part, you understand. I wish I did not have to dwell on them.

    Jay, I'm dusting off my panama this weekend.

    Hilton, yes, I've heard of the Chap. In fact, many moons ago I used to sell it. And at least Bermuda is somewhat isolated.

    Kilts? Only if you're Scottish. Othewise there's a tartan problem.

  7. I am going to Italy for ten days in late June where I am planning on mostly wearing light weight khakis or poplin trousers during the day. The only shorts I am considering are my bathing trunks, which I will only wear to the pool at the villa where I am staying. I plan on being one of the few Americans there when out and about that actually dresses like an adult...

  8. The person in the left-hand photo looks like a little boy who's about to wet his pants. The shorts only exacerbate his image problem.

    Shorts outside the gym? Hard to do well. Men's legs are, in fact, generally unattractive, so it's hard to pull off. Best to leave shorts to the wilderness, where few will be exposed to them, and at least there's lots of natural beauty to offset them.

    But woe is the man on a budget! Linen pants and other accoutrements of the season can be so dear!

  9. You said it Reggie, dressing like an adult. Not many of us know about that anymore.

    Mr. Tyrant, I thank you for your sympathetic comment. Of course, the manly man has a keen eye for a bargain. Thrift is a virtue. I just found some Calvin Klein cotton slacks for $20, that will save me from shorting monstrosities this summer.

  10. The only way to look good will be to take pictures only from the waist up.

  11. Better yet, I shall never turn the camera on myself.

  12. This is indeed a fairly difficult situation... I spent a month in Rio de Janeiro, wearing only trousers. Everyone was staring at me. It's not so much the shorts I dislike (I should probably find a suit with shorts amusing, if nothing else). It's the difficulty to find appropriate footwear - & the socks?

    Very good post!


  13. Examine closely what the Italian (urban) men are wearing. Usually, Italians are known for there good taste in style...

  14. Thank you Davidikus - I'm going to explore your site some more. There's a luminous quality to the images that I really like, and of course, you are capturing my native land and that spikes an interest in me.

    Anon., I shall examine, but not too closely. I plan to be laid back and relaxed. I shall do as the Italian who just sold me some blue loafers for the trip insisted: do not look like a tourist!

  15. Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. Photography is, literally about writing with light - so this is one of the greatest compliments! I try my best.

    Are you from London?

    PS. Italians look laid back & relaxed, so do Brazilians.

  16. I'm not from London, but when in my native England, that's where I end up.
    Here's a challenge: laid back and relaxed, and unmistakeably English. I might test that out and write up the experience.

  17. shorts just have to be used with discretion and match the outfit. From right to left, the first picture are shorts that should certainly not be worn; the second, shorts that would look okay if not for that jacket; the third, shorts that are a bit too short but otherwise fine. The third picture, however, could and should be used in an article cautioning against man-purses.


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