Brief encounter: Shorts are not just for holidays

Shorts have come out of the holiday drawer and into the limelight, appearing everywhere from the red carpet to the Glastonbury stage, says Susannah Frankel

Say what you will about shorts, but they’re not the determinedly casual and at times even unseemly garments they used to be.

True, Tom Ford recently banished them to Fashion Siberia. Or at least to the beach, which some might argue is often the same. But he was talking about shorts worn by men. “A man should never wear shorts in the city,” this master of modern manners said in the current issue of AnOther Man magazine. On women, though, shorts have moved out of the holiday drawer – that place where strange summer staples including jersey maxi dresses with spaghetti straps, say, or cheap sarongs hide – and into the spotlight.

That, relatively speaking, is the good news, as, of course, is the demise of the pair of ill-fitting, crumpled khaki shorts, as worn by any number of overheated women the minute the sun deigns to shine. This, for the record, is taking inspiration from the masculine wardrobe one step too far. It’s more Dad’s Army than Savile Row, which has a certain nostalgic charm, admittedly, but little of the elegance it might be better to strive for. It may come as something of a blow to discover that the shorts currently decreed the most fashionable to be seen in are so tiny they might not unreasonably be described as knickers – big knickers, but still.

Think, in the first instance, not Bridget Jones but Beyoncé Knowles at Glastonbury, a woman who, unlike the rest of us mortals, need worry not about anything so banal as leaving the house in such a rush she forgets to put her skirt on. Think hot pants, Daisy Duke jumping through her car window, and the 1970s revival currently in full flow.

Or how about Eva Herzigova, the Wonderbra model who recently appeared on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in a Dolce & Gabbana Le Smoking jacket worn not with anything as sober as tailored trousers but with shorts cut so high they were barely decent. As well as her most well-known assets, Herzigova has legs that are the envy of the celebrity circuit. It’s small wonder, then, that she gets them out at any given opportunity. And why not? Kate Moss, meanwhile, has long been a cut-off-denims-and-wellington-boot-wearing kind of a girl during the festival season. Alexa Chung is her heiress apparent where that is concerned.

In terms of the catwalk, and for all its brevity, the look is more dressed-up than anything likely to be found in a muddy field. View this as something of a suitably stylish underwear-as-outerwear revival. And if that rules out at least half the population in one fell swoop, that doesn’t mean we can’t gaze in wonderment at the beauty of a perfectly formed leg, preferably one so well groomed that tights are not needed, and with a musculature to rival a racehorse’s.

Contrary to popular mythology, age is not an issue here – just look at fashionplate Anna Dello Russo, who has the fairest legs of them all. Sadly, thick ankles, cellulite and baggy knees are.

Know, meanwhile, that you can tell an awful lot about a label from the type of underwear-as-outerwear they design. Acne’s shorts in white, dove grey or poppy red stretch jersey and with vintage foundation garment-style seaming whisper of the 1940s, if in a suitably purist and modishly Scandinavian way – Betty Grable meets Ingmar Bergman, perhaps. Dolce & Gabbana’s shorts look like they might actually be worn as foundation garments, harking back to the superstars of Neo-Realist cinema in the 1950s, who have long informed their work.

Also very fetching, though clearly aimed at the unusually courageous, are white, lace-trimmed bloomers from the same stable. Loewe’s ultra-luxe shorts are in softest suede and embellished with butterflies. Louis Vuitton’s much-fêted and ultra-kitsch summer collection features shorts crafted in fine black lace with a gold brocade trim – these are the ultimate cocktail shorts, if you will.

Perhaps the finest example of shorts that are clearly designed with statement dressing as opposed to anything more relaxed in mind are Chanel’s. This season they form the bottom half of the iconic bouclé wool suit. What would that house’s namesake think, one can only imagine, of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest incarnation of this time-honoured classic, which features a loosely cut cardigan jacket teamed with matching micro-shorts with a metallic gold or silver trim.

In fact, Mademoiselle would have approved, more than likely. The style in question, while steeped in the bourgeois tradition, is also still sporty and suited to the type of active lifestyle that, in her heyday, she loved to dress. It is also as glamorous as any woman could wish for.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    KS1 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

    KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

    £140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

    Year 1/2 Teacher

    £130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

    Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

    £140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam