Can men wear shorts in the office now?

Considering the heatwave that is currently sweeping the United States; the fact that most of us have been stuck at home for 16 months; the reality that many offices no longer require a suit and tie dress code; the influence of technological culture, where shorts, T-shirts and Tevas are acceptable work clothes; and the fact that the rise in genre fluidity is finally eroding many of our most enduring fashion prejudices, is a wholly understandable desire.

(Phew! That’s a long list of why.)

Yet it’s also true that for most of the history of male dress codes, the idea of ​​wearing shorts to work was pretty much a heresy – at least in a white-collar office environment, even after the rise of relaxed Fridays. And whether this is an outdated prejudice is – still – the subject of heated debate.

I mean, it’s one thing the Town of Honesdale, Penn., Banned men from wearing shorts in their town in 1938. It’s another to realize the PGA still requires male competitors to wear. long pants during tournaments. And they play sports! In the fire! (Women, on the other hand, are allowed to wear shorts.)

This state of mind may stem in part from the origin of the garment itself. “Short” is… well, short, for “short pants,” which is what little boys traditionally wore to indicate their youthful status. On the other hand, the expression that someone “wears the pants” is meant to refer to the person’s powerful aura, similar to that of a boss. In an office environment, the message you want to convey to your colleagues and clients is probably not: “Hey! I’m still a kid. The message you want to send is more likely: “Have faith in my decision-making juju”.

It’s also true that not all shorts are created equal. Designer Thom Browne has built a mini-empire based on the short suit, with himself as his best model, most often appearing in a uniform consisting of perfectly fitted shorts to the knee, a crisp white shirt, a jacket, tie and dress shoes. .

“I haven’t worn long pants for over a decade,” Mr. Browne said. “If you feel comfortable, confident and true to yourself in shorts, then you should wear your shorts – with a big smile on your face. I also wear them in winter, with high socks.

Given that in 2018 Zegna bought a controlling stake in Thom Browne that valued the brand at $ 500 million, it would appear that Mr. Browne knows what he’s talking about. Much like the fact that when LeBron James was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he asked the whole team to wear Mr. Browne’s shorts for their entry walk.

When I asked Guy Trebay, our menswear critic, what he thought about it, he was in Italy where, he says, “in the current Saharan heatwave, the locals are almost uniformly dressed as you describe. .

“So give it a try. And if someone looks at you sideways, just tell them you’re Florentine.

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a fashion reader’s question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail or Twitter. The questions are edited and condensed.

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