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.