Outside of continental Europe, the gentleman's “short short” has stayed safely in fashion's badlands since the 1980s. For over three decades, men's shorts have grazed the knee, or extended beyond it, either in the name of decorum, or in the name of 90s grunge and surfer style. But now, something alarming is happening to the hemlines of the once demure men's short.
Across the catwalks of Paris, London, Milan and New York, men's shorts have been shrinking. From Gucci's “Daisy Dukes” for men, to Prada's daringly short schoolboy style shorts, there has been a whole lot of masculine thigh on show at SS15's biggest fashion events this summer.
The trend is not limited to high-end designers, the high street is embracing the look with open arms and courageous hearts too. Topman Design have been pioneering very small men's shorts in pastel prints which would send many a faint-hearted chap sprinting for the nearest rack of full length jeans.
Opinion on short shorts for men varies. For our continental neighbours, a smaller short has long been a suave way to enjoy the breeze in warm weather. Yet, west of Norfolk, the US and the UK have been cautious of leg-baring gents for many years.
In the British Isles our reservations are perhaps more understandable. With long, dark, cold winters broken up by a few brief glorious moments of unpredictable summer, the average British male will keep his pins well covered pretty much all year round. When the sun finally arrives, baring all doesn't just feel suddenly very exposing, it's also a pale and hairy quandary.
Should you get a tan before you don your shorts? Is fake tan ever a good idea? How hairy is too hairy? Should leg hair topiary be on the menu? There's a whole raft of leg conundrums for the average British bloke to confront before he feels comfortable strutting his stuff in small shorts.
This trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and done well, the style can work superlatively with both casual attire and a more formal, preppy look. If you're ready to embrace the trend, there are a few steps you can take to make the transition as painless and palatable as possible...
Trapped in jeans, well away from sunlight for much of the year, the typical British leg needs some TLC before it's ready for a public debut. To deal with any dry skin, regularly moisturising is a good habit to get into.
Embrace body hair
If you're furrier than your average but still want to get your short short style on, don't bother with shaving. Not only will your leg hair grow back thicker, but it's also a labour intensive process which looks weird as it grows out. Embrace your fur.
Many of this season's catwalk looks have erred on the risqué side of things. To ensure you're not the victim of a wardrobe malfunction, opt for a mid-length short which falls halfway up your thigh to enjoy the best of both worlds – on trend style and short-wearing peace of mind.
Would you dare to bare in this season's short shorts? Share your opinions with others in the Base London Facebook group.