Should Adults Wear Shorts?

Years ago, I read an interview with the costume designer for the TV show LOST in which the question was posed, “Why don’t any of the actors wear shorts?” After all, the characters are all on a tropical island and away from the normal trappings of civilization. Perfect shorts weather and conditions. No one is going to an office for work. Wouldn’t they be more comfortable if every day is Casual Friday?

The costume designer’s response: “The actors look stupid in shorts.”

I’d never thought about it that way before. I live in California. Most days out of the year, I can wear shorts comfortably. But should I? The new answer: not unless I want to look like a dork.

What got me thinking about this recently was this article from Forbes Magazine, Why Adults Should Ditch the Shorts, Wear Suits in which the writer equates wearing shorts with dressing like an 8-year-old. Here’s an excerpt:

The kid-who-stayed-40-years-too-long-on-the-playground look doesn’t inspire trust. If dressing up as a third grader is your idea of how to treat yourself, what’s your idea of how to treat me?

And what’s the rest of the world’s idea of how to treat you? When I was growing up, I was told, “The way you dress is the way you’re regarded.” See Dennis the Menace in the funny pages of your local newspaper to discover how you’re regarded.

Another maxim from my youth was, “Don’t dress for the job you have; dress for the job you’d like to get.” Checked the ad listings lately for WANTED: GRADE-SCHOOL-RECESS BULLY?

The author goes on to advocate suits over shorts, arguing that they hang better on the body of a middle-aged man than the t-shirt and shorts ensemble that tends to reveal far more than anyone wants to see. That’s a little extreme for me, but the point is valid.

Have you seen the The Descendants (great movie, but see it edited)? George Clooney plays a lawyer, but since he lives in Hawaii he and every other male he knows wears a sandals-and-shorts ensemble. Now, George Clooney is a very good-looking man, but not so much in this movie. His wardrobe is terrible. It hangs on him like a wet sack someone cut a hole out of. Honestly, I felt a lot better about myself after watching him traipse around the islands with his knees hanging out.

Usually, I’m not too hung up on things like wardrobe and the outer appearance. Long as you’re clean and don’t smell funny, I don’t really care how you choose to present yourself to the world. But, a year ago, I made a decision to not wear shorts anymore except for around the house and doing yard work and to wear sandals sparingly.* Funny how I feel more like an adult now.

What do you think? Are shorts on adult males verboten? Are women exempt? 

*Sorry, I know sandals are considered ridiculous apparel in many parts of the country, but it gets frakkin’ hot here and nothing heats you up more than covered feet.


11 thoughts on “Should Adults Wear Shorts?

  1. Jeff Carter says:

    I don’t have a problem with shorts — shorts are great, and when you can only wear them for three months out of the year, you really learn to love them. That being said, sandals should never be worn by anyone. Ever.


  2. kasie24 says:

    I love my husband in shorts. I think he looks really good. But he also has the same body now as he had in high school. So we should probably all just hate him.


  3. Karen says:

    I’m gonna have to say ditto to kasie24. Tyler looks hot in shorts. And pants, too, if we are honest.

    But that being said, I never noticed the lack of shorts in LOST. I kind of think it was a really good call. I don’t know if I would have taken the show as seriously if everyone had been traipsing around in shorts. Having the actors wear pants really did convey a more serious tone.

    I will never give up flip flops.


    • Heidi says:

      Nor should you, Karen. Nor should you.

      I bet you anything pants also cover “imperfections” – no cellulite, no stubble, no spider veins, no scars, no blinding white skin or bad spray on tans. Maybe another reason to avoid them on TV? Also, by covering up the skin on the legs, the only skin showing is the face and maybe arms. I bet shorts would pull focus and detract from that. There’d be too many places to look. (I know I was always taught to wear long sleeved shirts to any on-camera audition to force focus to my face)


  4. Heidi says:

    Flip flops are a part of the California dress code. Maybe not in the office, though. But definitely for weekend BBQs. You want to feel ostracized? Wear real shoes to a weekend get together in L.A. No one will understand what is happening below your ankles.

    Considering the heat in Central California, I’m all for shorts. I don’t feel all that comfortable in them, though and prefer to wear skirts/dresses when I visit the homeland any time from May to September. They are rather informal, but on weekends at home or running errands, they are perfectly acceptable. Telling people in Central California not to wear shorts because of fashion is like telling people in New England not to ever wear snow boots because they look dumb. Sometimes, keeping your toes or not losing consciousness from heat stroke is more important than fashion.


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