Dear Men Still Wearing Baggy Cargo Shorts

Dear Men Still Wearing Baggy Cargo Shorts,

Another Labor Day is here and another summer has come and gone. And once again I've been unable to ignore the fact that most of my fellow chromosomally advantaged gender are still spending the warmest months of the year stomping around in knickerbockers inspired by a time when Kurt Cobain was yet but pondering the full horrific depths of his suicidal urges.

I wish I could tell you that I pulled this picture from some mid-90s J.C. Penny catalog, but I didn't. These shorts are for sale right now, and they're sold out.

Legend has it that Michael Jordan invented the long short in 1989, which may or may not be true, but at any rate he's long since retired and you need to do the same for your big, floppy "shorts." Shit has changed since then. The Bulls aren't good anymore and neither are the shorts they wore in 1996.

Sticking with the Jordan metaphor, sometimes things that were once awesome become sad, tired, and lame with age. Baggy shorts made sense back when JNCOs were cool. And the baggy jean craze certainly had its day in the sun. There was something carefree yet cozy about having all that jean with you every day. Of course, the style was not without its drawbacks. As is oft the case with fashion, wet weather was JNCOs' Achilles' heel. A couple steps on any moist surface and your jeans would wick that mud up past the knees.

But now it's time to ask yourself- are JNCOs still cool? Would I wear the following pair of jeans? If the answer is no, then why am I still wearing a pair of big, billowing garbage bags for shorts?

These JNCOs were the coolest back in '97, although in full disclosure, it was never cool to tuck your shirt in or to curl your pale, moist, little hand into a hesitant, unnatural half claw that makes everyone who sees it wince and feel uncomfortable.

Men have been swishing around in ample-fabriced thigh sheaths for so long now that it's almost hard to remember that our iron-jawed forefathers used to stride proudly upon the face of this earth in real, honest-to-god shorts. And not only that, but they looked ten times the man you'll ever be while doing it.

Jordan being a bad ass before he became ashamed of his thighs

It's hard to embrace a new aesthetic principle. I can appreciate that. I wasn't always on board with real shorts myself. It can be jarring when you realize that something you thought was cool isn't anymore.

I'll never forget that first day of the new school year in August, 2004, when high school Spanish teacher and local fashion authority, Mr. Descontento, came to class wearing a pair of skinny jeans and announced to the world that the era of boot cut was over. I almost shit the ass out of my Levi's 517s.

I was confused. I was angry. I didn't want to believe it. It couldn't be true. It just seemed so wrong. I knew my ankles would feel naked with that little material wrapped around them. It went against all my vestigial instincts from the JNCO days. And besides, boot cut jeans looked so awesome and I had just finished rounding out my wardrobe. I waited for Mr. Descontento after class and after the rest of the students had left I asked him if it was really true- if boot cut really had died during the summer of 2004. He threw a book into his leather side satchel, looked up at me and said, "Uhh... yeah, dude."

Then he threw down his skate board and coasted down the hall towards the auditorium. I guess he had study hall duty. Mr. Descontento was pretty cool.

I say all of that to say this- it may feel counter-intuitive at first, but you really don't need to bury your legs under a snugly pile of fabric before leaving the house. Your thighs are not penises. They aren't an erotic zone that no one is allowed to see in public, and your legs aren't Saudi women whose chastity needs to be protected by a quadriceps burqa. Your legs are just kind of... legs. Let them get some air when it's hot outside like the rest of your body.

James Bond proofreading a book he wrote called, "How to Be a Man"

But sensible shorts don't just live as memories in a bygone golden age of manliness. No. Some brave pioneers and thigh rediscoverers are showing us the path back to glory right now.

I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but the Pabst-drinking ball fondlers are on to something, and it's below the waist. 

We're there. Our thighs are partly bare. Get used to it.

I encourage you to be a part of this avant-garde, overthrowing a musty, old aesthetic dynasty based upon imitation and self-consciousness. And if you wait too long to join then you'll finally be picking up your fifth pair of real shorts in 2016 when Mr. Descontento rides in on his skateboard and announces that it's already time to switch over to our silver, futuristic unitards. You suck again.

Sebastian Braff


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