Out in short shorts shortly

Fashionista David Hill finds there's much more poetry and muscular beauty in rippling thighs than in blue-veined, scaly shins.

Let me evoke a scary image.

It's me as a high school teacher in the early 1970s.

I'm wearing cream shirt, green sports coat, tie. I'm also wearing mid-thigh-length brown walk-shorts, and knee-high beige walk-socks.

School Bad Taste Day? By no means. As I recall, my 1971 principal gave me an approving nod, though it could have been a muscular spasm.

I still have those walk-shorts.

Partly this is because men bond much more with their clothing than women do.

Those who claim Anglo-Saxon males aren't capable of deep emotional attachment have never seen a man trying to throw out a 12-year-old T-shirt.

And partly it's because after several summers of males in shin-length shorts, I still keep expecting that great fashionista in the sky to boom "Joke's over!"

About the only compensation of winter is that we don't see men in shorts with tibia-length hemlines.

Why males over the age of consent are willing to wear shorts of the length last seen on kids in 1916 silent movies, leaves me baffled.

The human shin must be one of Nature's least aesthetically successful designer concepts, especially when passing years turn it blue-veined and scaly.

Yet each summer, I see mature men wearing garments which emphasise that very bone.

Imagery as well as anatomy is to blame.

Compared to thighs, there's no poetry in the word "shin".

Can you imagine Samson smiting the Philistines "hip and shin"? The Song of Solomon declaring, "the joints of thy shins are like jewels, my beloved"?

Even the other term for shin-length shorts - three-quarter pants - acknowledges that they're only a . . . a fraction of the garment that true walk-shorts were.

As far as I'm concerned, the wages of shin is fashion death. The very name "shin-length shorts" is an oxymoron.

That's right, a stupid cow.

Their foolishness is encapsulated in those silly little toggles/cords/buckles that so many sport at the hem.

Maybe it's the outdoor image: we're meant to assume the owners use these toggles to tether their palomino.

The disaster that is shin-length shorts is particularly evident when they're worn by men whose legs are without equal - i.e., they have no parallel.

I acknowledge that there have been other . . . short-lived disasters.

In the 1980s, women's shorts became so minimal that the phrase "Don't be cheeky" became a rule of aesthetics as much as etiquette.

Then there were knee-length flared culottes, which remain a reason for ending this paragraph abruptly.

And of course in the United States, you still get retirees wearing patella-length Bermudas in plaid.

How can they expect to be taken seriously as a great power? I acknowledge also that there has been abuse in the name of walk-shorts.

I accept no responsibility for octogenarians with legs shaped like parentheses who still wear their 1970s summerwear (with polo shirts tucked into them) above ankle-height nylon socks and lace-up black shoes. As a fashion illiterate, I'm no doubt missing some point.

I'm still coming to terms with labels on the outside.

Why should anyone want to hear from your jumper? But the brevity of walk-shorts went easy on the planet's resources.

Plus they drew attention to that far more satisfying region, the thigh.

Have you ever heard even Desperate Housewives lusting over a young chap's golden rippling shins? So I fully intend to be caught short when fashion's great virtual wheel comes lurching round again next summer. - David Hill

David Hill is a Taranaki writer.


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