Politics & Policy

Who Wears Short Shorts?

Nobody, we hope.

So “short suits” are a thing now. Because Pharrell Williams hasn’t caused enough pain in pop culture with his Smokey the Bear hat that Arby’s bought for $44,000 and his hit song “Happy” that has made it way into my nightmares, the babyfaced “Blurred Lines” backup singer sported a short tuxedo that cut off at the knees to the Academy Awards this year.

Now some top U.S. and British retailers, including J. Crew, Barneys, and Asos, are selling trendier versions of an outfit that once was considered proper attire for boys whose voices had not yet broken but has, for many happy years, not been considered proper attire for anybody. The short suits look normal enough until you look a little lower. A sports jacket is matched with cotton-linen shorts of the same pattern to achieve the Pharrell effect.

The ensemble looks as if it were made for a boy, and the marketing for the suit seems to follow . . . suit. (Pause for booing.) An online advertisement for the new outfit on JCrew.com boasts, “Remember those old cartoons where a bunch of cool robots would come together to form one really cool robot?” J. Crew wants you to wear cloth Transformers, fellas.

Despite selling the outfit for $366 ($268 for the jacket and $98 for the shorts), its ridiculousness does not seem to be lost on J.Crew. The retailer depicts the getup separately, cutting the model off at the knees to show off the jacket and only showing the waist down for the pants. Allow me to take the “cool robots” metaphor and offer up a new metaphor. The first time I tried bacon-flavored-vodka, I thought, “How can this not taste good? Bacon is a good thing and vodka is a good thing, so together they must make a great thing.” Wrong. Bacon and vodka are better consumed separately.


These two articles of clothing are fashionable separately. But together, they have an aesthetic artificialness similar to the gustatory artificialness of  bacon-flavored-vodka. No matter how many chemicals you pour into vodka, it just won’t give you the smoky taste of bacon. The short suit is the bacon-flavored-vodka of clothing.

Although the retailers of this atrocity have declared the outfit perfect for “that rooftop cocktail party,” I can’t think of any company that would find this ensemble suitable (more groans from the audience) for its office or even its summer parties, no matter what the temperature is. Jon Patrick, the creative director at the menswear company J. Hilburn, has said the short suit is “definitely having a moment, particularly with younger guys.” I really hope that his statement is just fashion PR because if “younger guys” are taking this look seriously, then my girlfriends’ chances of finding a husband are going to take a nosedive. When I showed the pictures of the short suit to my boyfriend, he said, “What would you think if I bought this? It would probably look pretty good on me,” gesturing towards the toned legs that he developed running track in high school and college. Hopefully, this article will be a sufficient response to his question.

Ladies, let us bow our heads in remembrance of the dying breed of men, who owned exactly one pair of jeans, five t-shirts, and one (normal) suit, and who would look at the short suit and crack up at the idea of any man wearing such a thing. This new flock of “men” who actually use the word “fashionable” in a non-sarcastic way, are what we are reduced to dating.

Take your pick, girls: either the man in the short suit, or Pajama Boy

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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