Monday, April 27th, 2009

Can I wear shorts?

I spent the weekend on my apartment floor suffering from a series of small panic attacks. The reasons are not surprising-my deteriorating financial condition, swine flu, the fucking Celtics-but in any event, I only wandered out briefly, during which time a bird shit on my head (this is absolutely true, and it was a not inconsequential amount of shit) and I was made well aware that I am not at all prepared for summer. More specifically, I faced the recurring dilemma the horns of which I find myself impaled upon each time the season turns more temperate: Should I wear shorts?

See, I'm an old-school, square-jawed kind of fella. I believe a man drinks bourbon neat, smokes nothing lighter than Marlboro Reds, and, most importantly, does not wear short pants. But it seems like attitudes have changed recently. Everywhere I look, gentleman well past grade school age are walking about in half slacks, dude capris, and hotpants. I want to uphold the tradition of machismo passed down by generations of decent, trousers-clad Balk men, but it does get kind of hot out there. Also, I am completely covered in hair, so technically I am pretty much always layering when I get dressed. I put it to you, Awl readers: shorts on a guy. Acceptable or another terrible symbol of the blurred lines between man and woman, child and adult? Set me free! But make no suggestions regarding denim shorts; even I know how tacky those are.

75 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

Dude capris? Dude. Capris? No.

mathnet (#27)

Full disclosure: I don't like it when women wear them either.

KarenUhOh (#19)

When I began to wear them on my head, people stopped criticizing my fashion sense.

katiebakes (#32)

Ann Althouse and Jessica Pressler say no:

I preemptively miss the pleather jacket.

belltolls (#184)

You should dare to eat a peach and wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach.

Alex Balk (#4)

Does flannel breathe?

mathnet (#27)

Linen pants. Please wear linen pants.

Seersucker. Please.

Paige (#21)

Do it. Just don't ride the subway before me. Male thigh sweat … ugh.

The birds say wear a hat. I say wear the plum smugglers if you wish and fashion be damned.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Balk, angel, this is where I would grab the sides of your face, look you square in the eye (basically, do what I do when my dog is disobedient) and in my sternest voice say, "NO! No, Balk! Bad, Balk! No!"

Ask yourself, am I an eight-year old boy at Little League practice? If the answer is in the negative, then NO SHORTS.

Man the fuck up and just put up with the heat. Christ.

Cajun Boy (#132)

I wore shorts this past weekend. Of course, when you've got legs like mine, it's almost a crime NOT to wear them.

Rod T (#33)

Well played.

wiilliiaamm (#225)

While I am ambivilant about the pants/shorts debate…I am fiercely in favor of a steady availability of Gold Bond no matter the season or the pant.

sakade (#52)

As long as you're not wearing the cargo shorts with the 5 million pockets, you're pretty much good to go.

BronxWASP (#415)

Just don't wear shorts with Tevas. Yuck!!

ljnd (#86)

Or flip-flops. Ugh.

Agi (#426)

I'm 28 and I wear shorts. Also, I live in Southern California where this is completely normal.

Just don't go all George Will on us and tell us that denim is evil.

fek (#93)

Do you have a Members Only jacket/cankles to go with it?

NinetyNine (#98)

Unless engaged in athletic activity, no. And even then, questionable.

mathnet (#27)

If you accessorize with mozzarella sticks, the main outfit actually will not matter.

Tuce (#427)

I faced the same quandary over this past weekend. I think it's an identity issue: Are you a shorts guy or not? If you are okay with being a shorts guy, then by all means, don the short pants. But it sounds to me like it would violate your sense of self, what with all the old school rules. I say, hold on to the vestiges of propriety and masculinity. Live by categories and some rules, even in New York.

Shorts are fine, accept these:


-Capris (the worst, simply unacceptable)

-Camoflauge shorts, while not as bad as the two varieties above, they really should not be done. One caveat, they are of the "Tiger Stripe" variety and you can grow a moustache comparale to Tom Selleck.

See I'm not a stickler, and we all make spelling mistakes, but at first I read this and thought, "Is this person really telling us to accept JORTS?"

KarenUhOh (#19)

My question is this: if you've been impaled by this dilemma so many times, how many legs do you need in your shorts?

propertius (#361)

If you've got pair of hairy, gnarly legs, don't sweat it. People won't be looking at your shorts. Or your shoes, for that matter.

Seersucker golf pants are great for summer. The louder the pattern, the better.

David (#192)

For those of you "men" that are just too much of a pussy to wear shorts (at least during the day), suggest you buy yourself some nice pants from this site before they sell out:

After that, by all means, support any organization that works to prevent women from jumping rope, riding a horse, or using a bicycle. You will find fellow friends, I am sure.

MParcells (#375)

Shorts are for athletes and poor people. Only.

Liana (#161)

Long pants are the best defense against the horns of the dilemma. Also: avoid red.

brent_cox (#40)

If "Should I wear shorts?" crosses your mind, you should not.

It does not cross my mind, but I am one of those refuse-to-act-his-age assholes.

Please don't wear shorts. If you are hot, I am happy to pitch in to help you buy a nice pair of linen pants.

I promise not to think any less of you. Unless you wear them to dinner. In which case I will.

Something like this or like this is perfectly acceptable,* whereas something like this? Well, that's just for comedic effect, really.

*-looking! I mean acceptable-looking, people! If any of you actually spends $200 on shorts I'm sure Balk's got a great box wine to recommend to you. And also some choice words.

What does Choire say?

If you kill a man in battle, you are allowed to wear his shorts as a trophy. Other than that, the answer is no.

libmas (#231)

Look, Hemingway was pretty concerned with the whole "upholding the manly man image," too, and he still wore shorts:

And he drank a lot and suffered from crippling depression! Case closed.

belltolls (#184)

He also blew his head off with a shotgun. Shorts: the silent killer.

Rod T (#33)

Honest opinion?
A real man wouldn't ask. Or put it up for public discussion. He'd just do whatever the fuck he pleases.

Rod's right. And don't forget these men ( beat Hitler.

so sorry wrong link click previous

Slackferno (#197)

I look forward to seeing you Balker Stalked in Daisy Dukes. Or a UTILIKILT!!!

Well, here's how I figure it.

I think short pants are only appropriate when:

1. working in the garden/cutting the grass
2. canoeing or some other such activity.
3. moving your friend in/out of their apartment/house
4. during sports activities.

Any other time – lay off the shorts. My opinion, of course, but I hate seeing a good-looking man in short pants. It's lame.

sigerson (#179)

Most men under 50 that I see out and about are wearing knee-length shorts, either cargo shorts or seersucker. This is a generational thing. My dad is nearly 70 and I don't think I have ever seen his legs in my entire life.

Then again, there's this:

Quinacridone (#81)

I love the POTUS seal on the socks.

mcaldecutt (#430)

The only concession you should be making to the hot weather is wearing a sleeveless shirt underneath your dress shirt. Save the shorts for your weekend at the beach.

Lisanti (#13)

Let's face it: You'd just wind up wearing loose-fitting khaki shorts and loafers. (Without socks; you're not an animal.) Probably with a long-sleeved Oxford shirt.

Buy some lightweight pants and put this shorts silliness behind you before you wind up looking like the angry drunk at the Mamaroneck Yacht Club.

Alex Balk (#4)

Topsiders, actually, but other than that it's kind of scary how accurate this assessment is.

Lisanti (#13)

Topsiders was actually the shoe I was reaching for. "Loafers" just kind of happened.

the teeth (#380)

Shorts are fine if you shave your legs. (I say this as a man who wears shorts & shaves his legs.) Otherwise, No. And it's not a matter for discussion.

Quite wrong. The best thing to be said about shorts is that they show off male leg hair. Step away from the razor, dude.

Of course you can wear shorts, and sandals with them. You've just suffered through months of cold and ice, your body interred under layers of synthetic miracle fibers. Live! Breathe!

and it makes a spontaneous jump in a lake, fountain, river or sea that much easier.

Free yourself from trouser tyranny, baby.

I'm voting for Balk in a kilt.

ChgoNo (#433)

Normally, I would say yes, but I'm a little concerned due to the descriptions I've heard about your "fur." If you are overly hairy, I think you need to go the pants route, unless gardening or on the beach.

SuperBien (#121)

Shorts for just walking around in are fine as long as . . .

1. The inseam's at least 9".
2. They are made of some form of cotton.
4. They are not pleated in front.
3. You wear them with acceptable footwear: sandles, good pair of non-high top running sneaks (any color but all-black lest you look like mailman), or Converse low tops (Chuck Taylors, Jack Purcells).

Shirkimer (#423)

Shorts are okay, if and only if, you are:

1. underwater or about to be underwater
2. playing a sport or about to be playing a sport
3. a child or about to molest a child

True story: a few months ago I was at Laguardia, to board a flight to Ft. Lauderdale. The guy in front of me turns to his wife and says "Oh shit, I just realized i forgot to pack my dress shorts," to which she replies "Who cares? It's not a fancy cruise anyway."


SuperBien (#121)

Or you can go with something like this, which would be spectacular . . .

BoHan (#29)

Sartorial issues aside, shorts just sound illogical to this non-New Yorker. When in Manhattan, I spend all my free time after a day out just cleaning the grit from under my fingernails. I don't need to add toenails and hairy kneecaps to the list. Of course the plus side to all that dirt is that the more time you spend grooming, the less time you'll have for panic attacks.

Cliff Spab (#84)

All mens' style questions should be referred to the gays. Ask Choire. For the record, I bet he wears cargo shorts. Like, all the fucking time.

Pete (#434)

As it's been said already, If you have to ask, you already know the answer. My feeling is that unless you're hiding something grotesque, go ahead and wear those shorts. A caveat, athletic shorts are for athletic events, and jorts are never acceptable.

BlinkyMcChuck (#202)

No pants! Just like when you wrote about smoking on the fire escape. I think your real ambivalence here is that you want to be pants-free, so, I say, go for it.

dweeb (#437)

I am clearly the wrong one to ask. I won't even leave the office during the day without my suit jacket.

cupcakes (#439)

In the words of my grandmother, or someone on TV, if you have to ask, you know the answer is –

StetAtkins (#279)

As long as you don't mind dealing with swamp ass and sweaty balls in a 110 degree subway station, I'd stick with pants.

Ok, now that the sun has gone down, don't forget to put your pants back on before you go out drinking tonight.

FeyBoohoozer (#410)

Just get a nice pair of tan chinos Balk and go commando. Not only will it make you look super hawt, but it'll keep your dangly parts cool too! …um, spoken from a geigh's viewpoint, of course, on the shorts thing. heh

copyranter (#440)

Agreed. NO shorts. Lightweight pants. Commando.

chloe (#382)

I say go for it. Just no socks with sandals.
Or short sleeved dress shirts.

slinkimalinki (#182)

no shorts. you'll lose your mystique. (which i guess must be located slightly above the kneecaps).

joshc (#442)

only in very extreme situations like 200 degree music festivals. and then, only maybe.

Smack (#95)

This is what linen pants were invented for.

In order to make an informed decision, I'll need to see your calves.

illinB (#107)

This is what Bob Marley was singing about when he said, release yourself from inner slavery (sorry Rastafari)… Shorts is good, dude.

Feel the breeze up your thigh when the F train rolls by (Bob Marley didn't say that, but sing it to yourself in Marley-voice and you'll be cool-calving it from here to the Essex Market).

Shorts is real good — unless you are a committed rock-a-billy'er. They don't make shorts that look good with 3 inch rolled denim cuffs.

Patrick M (#404)

For what it's worth, I think we have a definitive answer here.

Carina (#4,319)

My husband wears shorts; it's grounds for divorce.

Sean Peters (#6,014)

You people are nuts. You can have my shorts when you pry them from my cold, dead, hairy legs. And you'll have to take my Teva's off first. Have you looked at the temperature lately? It's like 9000 degrees out there!

But no, I wouldn't wear them to work (unless they changed the dress code).

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