The Queer Guy’s Guide To Wearing Shorts

The Queer Guy’s Guide To Wearing Shorts

..And when is it appropriate

The queer man’s relationship with shorts is a lot like his relationship with gluten-free bread. It’s all in control till you spot them on sale (reduced to 60 percent off), and them suddenly you are buying the same pair in multiple tints of the Pantone shade card. They are the quintessential gay man’s guilty pleasure, empty calories excluded.

Does that make shorts gay? Are they born this way? Is it a recessive gene (or jean, for the humour-challenged)? Is it nature or nurture?

Considering the fact that boys were the first to wear shorts at all, your idea of ‘appropriate’ (read: toxic) masculinity needs to be discarded like last decade’s ugly cargo shorts. Hemlines might have risen over the past few decades, but so have people’s opinions about shorts as street couture – ‘it makes you look like children’, scream fashion critics and street-side fashionistas alike, in their prissy prints and oversized pleats.

I’ve never been one to dole out fashion advice (since I have the sartorial sense of a baboon), but here goes nothing. I’ll agree that shorts have always been problematic, especially for the (woke) single queer man of 2018. How many pairs are too many pairs? What kind of pair is your pair?  Is it wide enough? Is it big enough? It is small enough? Is it comfortable enough? Is there a thing as ‘too much skin show’? (No). Is there a thing as ‘too tight to be true’? (Yes).

Indian weather is extremely volatile. Like the B-plot of a daytime drama or a cat that’s just waking up from castration, you never really know which way it’s going to go. On a crisp, breezy morning, should you risk slipping into a pair of shorts in the hope that the skies will clear up soon after? Or do you play safe and switch to your trusted pair of jeans, your legs (and your crotch) gasping for fresh air and freedom by lunchtime?

That’s the thing. Even if you are an all-year-round shorts-wearer – the kind who wears the same pair of frayed khakis to brunch three Sundays in a row – there are the ‘aesthetics’ to think about. Splotchy, tanned legs and hairy toes are celebrated as aphrodisiacs in precisely zero cultures around the world.

Copious amounts of sunscreen and weekly pedicures aside, it’s all about wearing the right kind of shorts. You can’t wear beach shorts (the size of banana hammocks) to brunch, the same way you can’t wear fedoras to a funeral – and no, not even if it is really sunny.

So where can one wear shorts? The beach – obviously. The supermarket – why not? Your morning run – it can’t go any other way. In fact, you can wear your shorts whenever (and wherever) you want to – even on a date.

It all depends on where you are going and when. If you are meeting during daylight hours and temperature allows, then go for it - unless you are sharing lobster ravioli at a fancy restaurant or think you’ll be out really late. Bare knees and goosebumps in an open auto rickshaw ride might seem Disney-level romantic, but its just misery with some Moschinos on. If it’s in the evening, go for a collared shirt with your shorts – in fact, a polo shirt would do, too. A t-shirt is fine if it’s plain and pretty fitting, but probably left best for daytime dates. The trick is to find something that fits your waist, and your personality.

A lot of people might think a date is the best place for them to experiment with their ‘unique sense of style’ (a thought shared by at least two dozen other men at the pub), but unless you are a few weeks down the line, it probably isn’t. Go too over-the-top, and your actual personality will be struggling to compete with the one you just dragged out of the closet.

Shorts might have always played havoc with this idea of playing it down because, despite our best efforts to integrate wearing shorts into society, it is still rather unusual (and unseemly) for men to be seen bare-legged.  But bare-chested?

Not so much.

Sure, it’s important for your shorts to be fairly low-key, flattering and most importantly, fit you – after all, no great love story ever started with the words, ‘I knew when I saw him in his baggy, oversized shorts…’

It’s time to rock that three-inch inseam without a trace of feminine body shame.

I promise you that you’ll have the short(s) end of it.

— Illustration courtesy Amrai Dua

Aniruddha Mahale