Haute Historian: Shorts’ Rise to Fame

June 29, 2015 • Haute Historian, Magazine

Shorts, Short Shorts, hot Pants, History

Denim, seersucker, or trouser-style…cut-offs, bermudas, and cuffed. The short is a classic summer mainstay that is worn by almost everyone. But just as the miniskirt wasn’t always deemed “appropriate,” so shorts had a;so been marked taboo for quite some time.

A version of men’s shorts started cropping up in the late-14th century—much earlier than women’s shorts. Knee breeches were baggy and ended around the knee. During this time, men were still typically covered head-to-toe, but breeches still stood as a lighter version of the pant. They didn’t come back in favor till the 20th century, when British soldiers needed an alternative uniform in warmer, tropical climates. That’s when the more modern silhouette that we all know came to be.

Women’s shorts were slow to start, mostly because anything shorter than a floor-length skirt was deemed scandalous until the 20th century. Society took its time accepting pants, so shorts were even longer in coming. Women wore a longer, baggier version of shorts in the 1890s. At that time, cyclists began to wear them because they realized were (understandably) better active wear than skirts. But, they were more like bloomers in style. In 1932, Alice Marble, the tennis star of-the-moment, wore another version of the short during a tennis match. These were more of a statement. A-line and knee-length, they surprised and outraged society.

The 1940s and 50s brought pinup art and the playful, cheeky women were portrayed them—sometimes wearing short-shorts! Stars like Betty Grable lent them a sweet-yet-sexy edge. As the years went on, they became more accepted and worn in a variety of styles. Audrey Hepburn could pull off a pair of shorts with elegance and a touch of prep, yet they looked effortlessly seductive on Marilyn Monroe. However, while actresses and upper class women wore them, shorts were still banned at school and in some towns. In the 70s, short, tight hot pants were invented, and from that point on then shorts really took off and were acceptable.

1. 1890s woman on a bike in bloomers.

2. 1947: a model wearing short shorts and high heels, poses on a bicycle.

3. 1953 women in shorts

4. 1956: a woman at the beach in short-shorts

5. Brigitte Bardot in shorts with Pele. Paris, France, April 1971

6. Shorts In Vogue Italia, February 1999, Photo by Steven Meisel

7. Balmain Spring 2015 RTW

-Tanisha Wallis

Image Layout: Tequila Perrin

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