Not sure anyone got around to mentioning it but it was hot in Melbourne recently.
Of all the trends which emerged – #heatwave, northern hemisphere tennis players complaining in the papers – one was particularly striking for its revolutionary zeal.
I refer of course to the business short.
Gents all around town took the plunge and freed themselves from their bifurcated leg irons in a daring act of sartorial defiance. Things were kept business up top – shirts stayed collared, neutral and tucked in – but below the belt there was a change in the stifling summer air.
Maybe in the heat of the moment the normal rules ceased to apply, because what was as striking as the sudden appearance of bare calves in meeting rooms and CBD coffee queues was the apparent acceptance of a more casual dress code.
I for one was alarmed. As a firm subscriber to the view that a man should dress for the job he wants, not the job he has, it was startling to see how many of my fellow desk jockeys had decided to aspire to becoming a lifeguard at their local pool.
I admit I also had to succumb to the heat and make difficult dress decisions – so for three days straight I left the house in the morning sans a suit jacket.
My more couture curious friends accused me of being short-sighted. They argued I should just embrace it and choose comfort over conformity. I said that to dress like that was unprofessional, impolite and not befitting of anyone trying to be taken seriously. It became quite heated.
Before going much further, a short history.
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon, historically speaking, that us blokes have covered our knees on the job. Empires have risen and fallen at the hands of men in togas, the Scots nearly crushed a King of England in kilts and the great thinkers of the Renaissance pondered the world in knee breeches and pantaloons.
Shorts as we know them today were probably born in the early 1800s, after enterprising British naval officers stationed in Bermuda lopped off their uniform pants to get some relief from the tropical heat. Ergo the Bermuda short.
From here on in wearing shorts was generally the domain of young boys; and gentlemen, even blokes engaged in active pursuits (take note tennis players) would not have been seen dead with exposed knees until well into the 20th century.