America in crisis: Menswear designers rolling out ... the "short suit"

Reminds me of a question I had after seeing “Her” — namely, how might the fashions in that movie, set in America in the near future, plausibly evolve? How would we/could we get from guys wearing baseball caps and jeans to Joaquin Phoenix sporting a mustache and slacks pulled up to his nipples circa 2030?

This is how. This is how it begins.

From all perspectives, the short-suit is an odd pairing. Sartorially, the look is equal parts business and schoolboy. Functionally, it’s both breezy and stifling, and socks are a no-no, unless they go up to one’s knees. The list of people who can pull it off doesn’t stretch much beyond professionals in Bermuda and street-style icons such as Nick Wooster and Pharrell.

[F]or most guys it’s a gutsy decision. For retailers, however, it’s not very risky at all. Most high-volume brands focus on staples, which is a great way to capture the everyman en masse. But staples generally don’t go out of style and thus don’t need replacing that often. The short-suit is something different. It may go the way of square-toed dress shoes next week…

“It’s an easy and affordable way to kind of be in step with what’s going on,” Patrick says. “It’s also a merchandising play, because guys will come in and buy ties and shirts and a bunch of other stuff.”

Business Insider has an extensive photo gallery. We can all agree, I hope, that the shorts with chiffon paneling are … bold.


Their problem here, I think, is that they’re trying to push this directly into the cultural mainstream without the obligatory detour through a subculture first, where it can acquire the necessary patina of cool to make it a target for cooption by the rest of us. J. Crew is selling it, for cripes sake. If they’re serious about trying to make this lame bird fly, they should offer Jay-Z a few million bucks to wear it for a few months and see what happens. If they don’t, this is going to end up as quasi-ironic “bro wear” for semi-formal occasions this summer, and everyone will hate it because everyone hates bros. Maybe the designers can convince, say, Matthew McConaughey to wear it to the Oscars next year; he’s the sort of guy, I sense, who might see the humor in it, and he won’t get beat up too badly by critics because, for the moment at least, tastemakers have decided he can do no wrong. Red-carpet photo caption: “All right, all right, all right.”

Realistically, there’s only one man who can pull off this look. Exit question: Why a long-sleeved jacket and short pants instead of long pants and a short-sleeved jacket? If you’re going to take this much of a risk in alienating women, you might as well hedge your bet by showing off the guns.