Shifting Fashions - The History of Shorts

Historical fashion photos can create a mixed reaction depending on the individual. For those who are in the photos, they may feel a slight tinge of embarrassment if they were subjected to a trend that later became a major fashion faux-pas.

However, for those who weren't even born when the offending photos were taken, images of shoulder pads, flared dungarees with flowery shirts or any number of other fashion frights can cause many people to burst into fits of laughter. Of course, that is the nature of fashion. What is acceptable one day can quickly become yesterday's news, leaving wardrobes of unworn clothes the length and breadth of the country.

It can be very interesting to look back at how certain items of clothing have changed over the years. This is especially true in terms of how they were worn, who wore them and the wider cultural implications of anyone inadvertently 'getting it wrong'.

Shorts provide a good example of how fashion attitudes can change significantly over a relatively short period of time. Historically speaking, in the late 19th and early 20th century, shorts were almost exclusively worn by young boys until they were deemed old enough to wear trousers. And because of this, many men would refuse to wear shorts, even when it was more practical to do so, in case they were perceived to be immature for their age.

With soldiers being sent to tropical regions during the Second World War, shorts became a more popular item of clothing for reasons of necessity. Although it did take a number of decades for them to be fully accepted within wider society, shorts are now worn by people from all backgrounds and every conceivable demographic within the western world.

Over the years, every style imaginable has been in fashion at some point. For example, baggies were worn by soccer players around the early to mid 20th century. Then there was board shorts, which are usually worn by beach-goers and surfers, though they are sufficiently fashionable to be worn almost anywhere in society.

Smart shorts too are extremely popular among various social groups. Bermuda shorts, in particular, have become popular in the British Overseas Territory Bermuda, where they are widely worn as part of a business suit with full shirt, tie and blazer. However, dress shorts are also worn in many other societies too, as smart or casual attire in warm weather.

Shorts are a great example of how clothing and fashion attitudes can change significantly over time. What was once reserved entirely for one small group of society, is now worn by people of almost every demographic imaginable.


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