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Shorting The Shorts

Sitting here in my Bermuda shorts, long socks and slip-on leather shoes, I was sad - but not entirely surprised - to come across this article in the LA Times (courtesy of Pondblog) documenting the decline of the Island's signature fashion.

While I can understand local businessmen not wearing Bermuda shorts for meetings in London or New York, I was truly surprised to read that some locals view the look as a symbol of colonialism.

The article gives the impression that Bermuda shorts were forced upon an unwilling populace down the barrel of a gun by "British military occupiers". But Bermuda was occupied by the British when there was nothing here but pigs. Although Bermuda shorts were created by the British military in London at the start of the 20th century, Bermudian tailors began copying them for civilian use in the 1920s. Originally in khaki, Bermudians subsequently adapted the design, adding the turn downs to the top of the socks, different colours, the tie and the jacket. The result: a national dress that is uniquely Bermudian.

That Bermudians are now eschewing it seems sad. As Christian Dunleavy suggests, perhaps it's a result of unpleasant flashbacks to their school days. But this foreigner thinks it would be a shame if the shorts-wearing tradition was allowed to die out. There are many ways in which I wish Bermuda was more like the rest of the world. This is not one of them.


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Additional Comments (8)

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I think that it would be pretty darn sad that if this fashion goes the way of the dinosaur. I wear Bermuda shorts to work about once a week in the summer time, and am damn proud to do so! I recently attended my Brother-in-law's wedding in Canada. The dress for the groomsmen.....Bermuda Shorts, blazer and a tie. The Canadians ate it up. At teh reception we were asked to do a runway walk. Not to mention that each of the single groomsmen picked up that night. The women were checkng us all out in our attire. My wife openly comments on my legs, etc, when I wear them as well. If this isn't a reason to keep wearing them I don't know what is. Trust me guys, the girls love them too!

I've heard comments from some of the foreigners against the Bermuda national dress and I can't help but think of some of the more "interesting" (read eyebrow raising) national dresses of other foreign lands.

I'm damn proud of my Bermuda Shorts and I will happily wear them anywhere without batting an eyelash.

I've always been very proud to wear my Bermuda shorts when abroad. At all my semi-formals in college they were a great ice-breaker (people always want to ask about the guy in the red shorts); when I wore them to meet the Queen they matched her dress.

When in Bermuda, though, I never feel the desire to pull the shorts out of the closet. Maybe it's because my office has a very casual dress code, and Bermuda shorts just feel too formal. And maybe it's because our office is air-conditioned to near freezing, and it's more comfortable to wear long pants.

For me, Bermuda shorts are like Dark and Stormies - when abroad, a patriotic fervour compels me towards them, but at home, they're just not my cup of tea.

Many guys don't wear them because the newer office buildings have the aircon set low. Chilly knees, bye.

I want to see Alex Scott wear Bermuda shorts ;)

My wife's dad wore his shorts to my wife's graduation in the US. Same story: the Americans lapped them up.

Bermuda shorts have probably done more to raise awareness of Bermuda among foreigners than anything except possibly the Bermuda Triangle. ;-)

Contrary to popular belief, Bermuda shorts did not originate in the 1920s. I have loads of Bermuda photos of that era and have yet to see one of a Bermudian male wearing shorts. If someone can show me a picture from the 20s and 30s with an adult Bermuda male wearing shorts I will be really surprised. Bermuda shorts began in the 2nd WW. This is a story that Jack Lightbourne told me and you may want to check it with him.

In the 2nd WW there was a shortage of all goods particularly clothing. At that time the tellers in the banks were all males and the Chief General Managers of both banks were worried that their staff would not be able to live up to their expected sartorial splendor. Jack Tucker and Harry Butterfield evidently got together and set up a tailor in the back of town and arranged for him to make 2 pairs of shorts in grey flannel for each of their tellers. They also purchased heavy grey wool knee socks. The design of the shorts was based on British military shorts. I understand that they were hot, heavy and god-awful but the tellers had to wear them. That was the beginning of Bermuda shorts where they became acceptable business garb.

can anyone confirm this story?

Bermuda shorts make sense because with the stifling heat they are comfortable,if they become fashionable so be it.

There will always those who will continue to wear shorts.

I notice many wearing them when travelling not just Bermudians.

Its not uncommon for shorts being worn with a tuxedo at weddings.

Its nice to have something fairly unique and practicable too.

I question the wisdom of wearing conventional suits in mid summer with long pants.

In my opinion we should combine a shirt jacket such as the Cubans wear and come up with our own Bermudian design.

Many dont wear shorts because they have legs like a retired racehorse !!

I love wearing shorts. It's one of the nicest things about living here.

And after 40 + years of "bald knees" hidden from the sunshine, they have become hairy again!

Now - if we could reproduce that effect on my bald head...that would be great.

I have yet to wear them back in the UK...maybe I am a coward at heart?

I love my Bermuda shorts, I wouldn't wear anything else in the summer.

My office has a casual dress policy, but give me a lemon yellow shorts and navy socks combo over khakis any day!

I wore the very same combination to a wedding overseas recently, and as others have said here, they went down a treat...everybody loved them, and wanted to know all about them.

Limey may have been half joking, but he's actually right on...most people I know in the UK know just two things about Bermuda, the shorts and the triangle. Losing one half of that would be very sad indeed.

Maybe all us Limey-ites should make a stand and wear them to work for the rest of the summer!?

SOS...Save Our Shorts!

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