Our Brokelyn editorials are few and far between; we reserve them for very special issues that demand a hero, a voice for the common brokester. We’ve recently found ourselves in this position again, as there are dark forces amassing, trying to attack one of the very things we as an organization, as people, as damned hard-working Americans hold dear: Summer. Specifically, fellow dudes, your right to wear as few clothes as possible, which is basically as much the point of summer as enjoying deep communion with the ocean in Rockaway or chugging Brooklyn Summer Ale until on your roof until you kill the part of your brain where the word “snow” is stored. Menacing clouds have been gathering out there for several years, made up of (we can safely deduce) khaki-slathered, tie-choked bros in temperature-controlled board rooms, the same people who maliciously decide to start back to school sales in the middle of July: They want to tell you that men should not wear shorts, ever, calling it some affront to good taste and vague notions about what men are “supposed” to do.
Do not listen to these shameful summer traitors: wear your trunks, your board shorts, your jorts and, yes, even your cargo shorts (if you must) proudly. You didn’t fight your way into being an adult to let some stuffy apocryphal notion of masculinity and decorum impugn your rights to enjoy the shit out of summer while we can.
The arguments against shorts are built on a scaffolding of croissant crust. They have largely of late come from The Awl, a Brooklyn based website best known for clever roll-over link text, which is usually on the side of good sense and good humor. But on this issue they’ve foolishly put their swords in with the forces of wintry evil, muddled fashion ideals and anachronistic notions of what constitutes civil society, as if the bare male knee were some sort of corpulent breast and they were a heartless Instagram censor.
The Awl’s disparaging of shorts culture somehow makes even less sense than its campaign against the moon, and reads like this: “they are fine for little boys but comical and embarrassing on grown men” (Alex Balk, 2013); “Shorts On Men Lead To All Kinds Of Awful Things” (Balk, May 6, 2015); “the shorts you’re probably wearing, well… get the lighter fluid!” (Choire Sicha, 2011). The Awl is hardly alone in this argument (you can see a bazillion links to such shorts-disparagement in this recent Jezebel post).
Today will be near 90 degrees outside, and as you read this in your office or whatever other pants-enforced dungeon, you’ll probably start to get a little itchy, dreaming of the time you can go home and cast off the extra legwear and slip easily into a pair of shorts. So why do these pantsplainers insist on forcing their business-centric worldview on you?
The anti-shorts crowd relies on specious arguments of “good taste” and “style,” which are things you worry about if you’ve checked off literally everything else on our life to-do list and are furiously bored. As Sicha wrote:
Civilized society’s aversion to shorts is in part an opposition to the hideous epidemic of every dude’s current weekend uniform of the baggy cargo shorts. You guys wear these all the time and you look like garbage in a garbage sack in a sea of other identical sacks of garbage. Lazy is as lazy wears. Even if you’re really hot, we’re looking at you then looking down at that sea of brown swimmy gross sackcloth around your business area and we’re writing you off.
So in lieu of a sea of cargo shorts, he’s arguing for what? A sea of firmly pressed khakis slogging up the dunes of productivity until capitalism finally wears away the material like it did your once-artistic soul? A preponderance of slacks leering out at all their other legs with their cruel, stern creases? DAD JEANS everywhere?? This is better than shorts?
The blog PutThisOn (side note: don’t tell me what to do) wrote in 2010:
First of all, you’re right in thinking that shorts will always look less elegant than pants. The fact of the matter is that shins and knees are weird-looking, especially on guys. That’s just reality. When I lived in a climate that accommodated it, I didn’t own any shorts. It’s very easy to look lousy in shorts.
Similarly, The Telegraph wrote last year:
The current warm weather is seeing far too many men airing out their lower legs. This is bad and wrong. The male leg is almost never an attractive appendage.
All of these sound like quotes from a ridiculous NY Times Style section story. And oh look here’s a quote from a ridiculous Times story:
Shorts are for sports and vacation, not for the city.
Vox even made a dumb flowchart about it.
So basically, men, these arguments say you should be ashamed of your body and hide it at all costs, even to the extent of great personal discomfort. It’s what the fashion industry and standards of beauty unfairly do to women; we should be fighting to have fewer of these body images issues in the world, not more. If appearances were enough to justify this argument, we suggest these elitist fashion bros put their efforts into more worthy causes, like banning tucked-in shirts (you look like a Wall Street goon and/or a dad) or wearing socks with sandals at the beach (you have vastly misunderstood the purpose of sandals).
It is not hard to picture the people making these arguments, as you’ve surely met some in your life. They are the people who decline your invitations to the beach because “ugh it’s so hot;” they are the ones who stay at home when everyone picnics in the park in July because they’re really into season 5 of Friends on Netflix; and they are most certainly the ones who, when a slip n slide appears on a hot summer day, worry about getting grass stains on their arms instead of throwing themselves headfirst down a magical plastic slide, facefucking a sunbeam because they’re giddy that we made it to another beautiful summer season. Simply put, they are the ones who tweet how much they like the winter.
We take this personally because throughout all time, summer is the brokesters’ best friend: each year we burst out from winter cocoons into the wide-open city again to gobble up all the glorious free events, to escape the subway by biking everywhere there’s a paved surface (and a few where there isn’t), by throwing ourselves into mosh pits at capacity crowd Bushwick shows with fuzzed out guitars. No summer wardrobe is complete without a few pairs of jorts, the simplest, cheapest form of summer wear: get yourself to a thrift store, find some jeans your size, and cut those legs off, and you’ve got a steady outfit for the season.
And, hold on to your noses, fashion bros, but part of the allure of this is that everyone is sweaty, everyone smells terrible, because there’s no escaping this. You want us to make this even worse by adding pants to the equation?
Just say no to pantsplaining, guys. Summer is here and your legs deserve to enjoy it. Odds are you don’t hang out in the same places as shorts-haters anyway. So stand proud and salute your shorts.
Follow Tim for live tweets of jorts making in action all summer: @timdonnelly.