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History of Shorts
History of Shorts
First, a definition. Shorts are a bifurcated garment worn by men and women and boys and girls that begin at the waist and end at or above the knee. Wait a moment! Bifurcated? That sounds almost obscene.
Here is a more simple definition. Shorts are a shortened version of long pants. That’s it. So who invented them? Well, first we have to look at who invented clothing.
Long ago and far away in the Land of Eden, Adam and Eve were chatting in the Garden. Adam said, ‘Eve, you look mahvelous. What is that you’re wearing?’
Eve replied, ‘This old thing? I’ve had this fig leaf forever. I have to find something new to wear.’ So she collected a bunch of reeds and fashioned a skirt which later became very popular in Hawaii. Eve looked so fetching that may have been when all that begetting began. You know, Cain, Abel, etc., etc.
Although I prefer that explanation, there is an alternative version of when clothing evolved. Let’s look at our ancestors after the Ice Age about 170,000 years ago. In the beginning they ran around wearing nothing but lots of coarse, shaggy hair.
Then Grogg – remember him from the ‘World’s Oldest Interviewer’ and ‘Speech Writer’ – discovered that the furry skin of the mammoth made a warm, comfortable covering. In time, these greasy, smelly skins evolved into more practical clothing like shirts and pants and shorts.
How do I know it was about 170,000 years ago? Thank you for asking. A new study, published in the Molecular Biology and Evolution journal, explains that the evidence comes from parasites – lice, to be exact.
Scientists, using DNA sequencing, tracked when head lice evolved into clothing/body lice and that occurred around 170,000 years ago. So lice have been with us since clothing was invented.
FYI: Fully developed lice are grayish white, have 6 legs, and are the size of a sesame seed.
What has this got to do with the history of shorts? Let me explain:
Back in the days of the1890s,
It all started with short knee pants.
Young boys in America wore these shorts
Purchased by mamas and papas and aunts.
Then later during the 1900s,
Knickerbockers was what we called boys’ shorts.
They covered the knee worn with long stockings,
Most boys wore them for school and for sports.
Soon Americans shortened that name,
And promptly called them knickers.
Guess how British folks responded to this?
With derision, laughs, snorts and snickers.
FYI: Knickers are the British equivalent of women’s underpants.
Even today some grown men endorse
The wearing of knickers on the golf course.
Let’s fast forward to the 1930s
When women displayed their proclivity,
To wear shorts like their children did
For casual and athletic activity.
Shorts were worn by our brave service men
In tropical climes during World War Two.
It then became commonplace for those shorts
To be worn everywhere by men … and women, too.
FYI: “Before the first World War women were arrested for smoking cigarettes in public, for using profanity, for appearing on beaches without stockings, for driving automobiles without a man beside them, and for wearing outlandish attire – for example, shorts.” – Geoffrey Perrett
How many types of shorts are there? Let me count the ways.
Loose-fitting, baggy shorts that reach the knees
Were once standard for English soccer guys.
From ‘70 to ‘90 shorts were short
But now baggies worldwide are on the rise.
FYI:The West Bromwich Albion FC soccer team is nicknamed the Baggies because their team used to wear very baggy shorts.
Bermuda shorts with blazer and tie
Are popular with men in Bermuda.
This style works well for men who are fit
But not so much for guys built like Buddha.
Board shorts are beachwear for surfboard dudes,
They are swim trunks reaching below the knee.
The board name comes from surfers’ surfboards,
Since the ‘80s we call them ‘jams,’ you see.
Boxer shorts are male underwear,
Short versions are called boxer briefs.
The very tight-fit spandex type
Are ‘bun huggers,’ Oh my, good grief!
Want to create your own Cut-offs?
Cut the legs off your worn jeans today.
They are popular since the ‘70s
Although not hemmed and allowed to fray.
Daisy Dukes are very short cut-offs
From the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ TV show.
Catherine Bach wore them on television,
Jessica Simpson, on film not long ago.
FYI: The cut-offs known as 'Daisy Dukes' refer to that character in the TV show, ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ played by actress, Catherine Bach(1979-1985). Actress Jessica Simpson played Daisy Dukes in the film, 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (2005).
The Royal Teens singing 'Short Shorts' (1957)
Long bike shorts of spandex or nylon
Are created to be super skin tight.
They are supposed to relieve chafing
But with that fit, chafing they might incite.
For myself, I think I would choose
Bike shorts that are a little more loose.
Hot pants are also known as 'short shorts'
With inseam length of two inches or less.
Mary Quant designed them in the ‘60s,
And launched them in London to great success.
Lederhosen are well-known German shorts
Worn with high socks in any weather.
What are they made of you might ask?
I thought you knew. They’re made of leather.
Cargo shorts have more than 4 pockets
Stitched to the outside with turn-down flaps.
With all that extra room to stow your stuff,
You can carry your baseball caps,
several maps, assorted traps,
and all your apps.
Long shorts that look much like short trousers,
Are sometimes also called Flood pants.
They may be called ‘shankles’ (shorts plus ankles)
Or known as shorts plus pants – that’s ‘shants.’
School shorts are tailored and sometimes flannel,
Worn in the country with the English Channel.
Gym shorts are usually worn for gym
By she or he or her or him.
Convertible shorts! A great invention.
They are long pants that zip off at the knee.
When you find you need more formal attire
Just zip the bottom back on – one, two, three.
Culottes for girls are a divided skirt,
Loose-cut shorts is what they resemble.
Skorts are shorts with fabric in the front.
It looks like a skirt. Not coincidental.
So there you have it,
The history of shorts.
Worn for many occasions
But most of all for sports.
For running, for hiking,
For sunning, for biking.
Just one caveat though,
Something you ought to know ...
I call it a word to the wise:
Don't wear shorts if you look like these guys!
The word, shorts , also refers to short films so this hub is dedicated to my favorite short film hero, Mickey Mouse. Who also happens to wear bright red shorts!
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© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2012. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."