05 August 2008

Shorts Sighted

I continue to be fascinated, bewildered, and sometimes appalled by the disconnect between the clothes real men wear in their daily lives and what the fashion industry thinks men should be wearing.

My friend LT (who swears she is starting her own blog any minute now) asked me if I had seen an article in the Style section of the New York Times about men wearing shorts to the office. I thought, I wear shorts to work, what's the big deal? But I guess the point of the article was that these were professional men, who would otherwise be going to work in suits and ties.

But wait, there's a picture accompanying the article of a guy wearing a blue blazer, dress shirt and tie, and... khaki shorts, along with what look to be suede wing tips. Oh, and did you see that other picture, to the left? The guy wearing the matching jacket and shorts? What do you even call that? A shuit? (Shorts + suit.)

Excuse me for a moment... Sorry about that, I was just laughing my ass off. Holy gilded crap, could you imagine walking down Franklin Street in an outfit like this? Newbury, maybe. Maybe. But still, iffy.

I guess the reporter went out and found some guys on the street who were dressed this way (because if they were dressed and posed, that would be fabricating a story, right?), but I look at these pictures and can only think this must be some designer's fantasy of how men should dress on Planet Runway, because it sure doesn't look like my planet. Also, all the shorts these guys are wearing look like they have an inseam of about six or seven inches, which is fine for playing tennis, but too short for my liking.

I have a neighbor I know from the bus stop. He's around 30 and works in banking, a pretty conservative field as far as dress is concerned. His office has a summer dress code, which means no jackets or ties; short-sleeve collared shirts are okay, but he still has to wear business casual pants and shoes. I didn't think to ask him about this, but I can pretty much guess what his reaction would have been.

I also have a close friend who is an attorney. I solicited his opinion, and here's what he had to say: "The place where I work now would never tolerate this. We are a relatively conservative law firm (still expected to wear at least a shirt and tie most days, and suits for court, etc.) We do not have a set dress code, though open necked dress shirts appear relatively often on days when no clients are being seen by the wearer. You often see shorts on clients coming in for real estate closings or if they have just come from the golf course, but never on lawyers. Things are more relaxed on the weekend and shorts are seen then. I used to work at a much smaller firm with no dress code and while shorts afforded a comfort level, they tended to detract from the professional feel of things."

And the shoes? Loafers, driving shoes, sandals, sure. But lace-up dress shoes with shorts? It just doesn't make sense. You're either dressed up, or you aren't. To me, these outfits say, "I'm trying too hard." I can only conclude that this look is for guys who work in creative professions, or possibly the fashion industry, who are fashion-forward individuals to begin with and who expect their attire to be critiqued by their coworkers and business associates.

As for semi-professional office drones (like me), if your office, like mine, has a relaxed summer dress code that allows shorts, then why, if it's warm enough to warrant shorts, would you want to add a jacket and tie? The whole point is to be casual and comfortable. Right?

1 comment:

LT said...

I think the point is not to feel cool, but to look cool, and to show off your legs. That's why all the shorts pictured are a flattering shorter length, which elongates the leg. That's why socks are also out of the picture.
Adding a jacket on cooler days (or in Maine) makes sense to me - check out all all the female J. Crew models wearing chino shorts with cashmere sweaters and fall jackets. (This can't be trendy, since I've been wearing cashmere and jackets with shorts for years. If I wear it, it's old news.)
But I don't see the point of a tie, either, unless it's for irony. The message of a standard tie is: "Look, I can conform! Don't I look authoritative, too? Take me seriously." Shorts contradict that on every level. The best thing to do with the tie is wear it in lieu of a belt. That's the right attitude.
PS: Why do I need a blog when I can write on yours?!