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Dolphin Shorts

Updated on December 21, 2014

Remember Dolphin Shorts?

This lens takes a look at the emerging trend of Dolphin Shorts, or for those of you who remember California fashion in the 1970s and 1980s and the emergence of Richard Simmons, you're looking at the re-emergence of this fashion trend. These very short shorts come in a wide variety of colors and designs and are designed to give major freedom of movement, especially during running, jogging, or other forms of working out. Vintage dolphin shorts were generally simple in design and also sometimes referred to as jogging shorts or running shorts. They were especially remembered from workout and aerobics videos. While Richard Simmons is one of the giant names that comes to mind, many others used these shorts and they were especially popular with many of the ladies who worked out or did aerobics in the seventies and eighties.

Modern Dolphin Shorts

Soffe Juniors Mesh Teeny Tiny Short, Black, Small
Soffe Juniors Mesh Teeny Tiny Short, Black, Small

Here are some of the most popular modern versions of Dolphin shorts currently available on Amazon.


The Original Marketing Campaign for Dolphin Shorts

There's an interesting history behind Dolphin Shorts

For some people Dolphin Shorts are a blast from the past while for others they seem to be a new thing. These athletic shorts are definitely on the retro side of things as they first became extremely popular in 1979 and 1980. Aside from gym shorts they were also very popular for aerobics, outdoor exercises, and even became very popular as track uniforms at the high school and college level. There were dolphin shorts for women as well as men because they allowed for major freedom of motion.

These exercise shorts first showed up in the late seventies, became wildly popular, and then faded out in the late 1980s. However starting especially around 2006-2007 they came back in force. There is plenty of interesting information about Dolphin Shorts, and while women may have liked the freedom of leg movement, men probably didn't mind the company's marketing campaign of: "Show every inch of leg."

1970s: Precursor to the Dolphin shorts design put out by the Dolfin Company, which marketed them first as track or running shorts for women.

1979-1980: The first officially recognized design of Dolphin shorts was released in California and caught on rapidly, soon appearing as a normal staple of high school and college sports. This was especially true of track teams, starting with women but also catching on eventually with male track stars as well.

1982: Many knock offs flooded the market, going away from the simple design of regular Dolphin shorts. This is when a wide variety of multi-colored or patterned designs appeared.

1985: Most high schools felt Dolphin Shorts were too revealing and passed dress codes against them. Since so many sales were tied to sports uniforms, this signaled the beginning of the end for this trend.

Present Day: The shorts made a comeback in limited gym circles and have since re-exploded in popularity yet again.

Cute Blue Dolphin Style Running Shorts

YogaColors Infinity Interlock Running Short Shorts 7301 (Small, Teal/White)
YogaColors Infinity Interlock Running Short Shorts 7301 (Small, Teal/White)

Plain but pretty style that is comfortable and allows plenty of freedom of motion!

1970s original dolphin shorts
1970s original dolphin shorts

Dolphin Short Pic

Dolphin Shorts Facts

Retro workout shorts galore

Whether you like them as workout shorts or as a sexy show-off style, here are a few quick facts about the new Dolphin shorts that you might find interesting:

#1: No one knows completely for sure why they're called Dolphin shorts. Two main stories exist: one says because the style was encouraged by the Dolfin Company and their swimwear, the other because the tapered sides created sort of a "dolphin fishtail" appearance.

#2: Richard Simmons was one of the major reasons these shorts originally caught on and became very popular.

#3: Dolphin shorts are made for men and women and caught on big time as athletic shorts.

#4: The original designs were almost all made from 100% cotton.

#5: One of the most currently iconic short shorts that are similar to Dolphin Shorts are the hot pants worn by Hooters waitresses

#6:None of the original companies that produced Dolphin Shorts in the 1970s still produce them today.

Dolphin Shorts Poll

What does everyone think about these retro to back in style running and exercise shorts?

So what do you think about Dolphin shorts?

See results

Important Links All About Dolphin Shorts

These pages all give a little bit more information on this very special type of clothing.

So Are Dolphin Shorts Sexist?

Empowering, sexist, or non-issue?

There have been some arguments over whether or not Dolphin Shorts are sexist. While the majority of current wearers are women, it seems to be a non-issue to most people. Revealing clothing is much more common nowadays and there are plenty of people who see the ability to wear what they want as being a personal choice and freedom, nothing sexist. Whether it's empowering, sexist, or none of the above - it's hard to argue with the current popularity of these athletic shorts.

So What Do You Think of Dolphin Shorts?

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    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      Love these! Although you have to be a bit careful when you wear them because they can be just a little revealing lol!