Jean Shorts. No, this is not someone’s name. This is an article of clothing that has now become more than passe. This is an item of apparel that has passed from ubiquitous popularity into the sphere of the grotesque to anyone 21 or under if it is viewed being worn by someone 21 or older. If you are just 21, deciding which side of this fence you are on could be a defining moment on your path to adulthood.
A few years ago, my husband innocently ventured out to a Home Depot sporting jean shorts. They were not cut-offs nor were they in disrepair or flagrantly threadbare. Indeed, that may well have been the source of the problem. Technically, his would have been categorized as bermudas since they hit him above his knees and about 3/4 of the way down his thighs. Such modesty only served to fuel the dismay of his fashion critics.
He wore a T-shirt, tucked in, of course, so as not to appear slovenly, and his baseball cap was worn with the bill facing forward in order to shield his eyes from the sun. I’m guessing this is probably why someone thought to attach a bill to the front of a beanie in the first place.
And, if I remember correctly, Home Depot knows their target market so well, I think that they had a sign up that read, “Welcome jean shorts-wearers,” or something like that, and maybe they ran a circular in the local paper that week mentioning some kind of special discounts on Wednesdays accorded to those wearing jean shorts.
But none of this kept our children from publicly scoffing at the mere idea of anyone, especially those who qualify as adults, and of all adults, most especially their parents, wearing jean shorts. (For the record: no amount of plaintive cries or chest-heaving sighs has altered my husband’s wardrobe decisions one iota—ever.)
Our teenagers have been active members of the jean shorts police for several years now and they will go to any lengths, all puns intended, to hunt down and snicker at any adults they happen to observe wearing jean shorts. It started in a mildly innocuous way: “That look is just not working for Dad.” Then it blossomed into patent refusals to leave the house with an adult clad in jeans shorts.
I am somewhat taken aback by the fervor they exhibit on this matter since I am confident some cohorts of my generation invented the concept of wearing jean shorts, notably cut-offs, as some kind of rebellion against what was perceived as their parents’ stodgy attire.
Who knew that we would then give birth to a generation that enjoys 24/7 cable TV shows like What Not to Wear, which would subsequently inspire them to turn on their parents and lead a revolt against adults engaging in the practice of wearing jean shorts?
And, moreover, who guessed that jean shorts, the virtual uniform of baby boomers, was ever going to be deemed stodgy? And who could have imagined that the very folks lodging this complaint would do a 180 turn and declare that jean shorts with frayed edges are now the height of fashion—-BUT ONLY FOR THEM!
My advice to anyone reading this who is over 21: do not let yourself or other family members wear anything that even approximates jean shorts now or ever in a public place. And if you fess up to owning any, possibly some left in your closet from what was apparently the last gasp of the jean shorts heyday in the late 80’s, just throw them out or down on the ground because that’s evidently where they belong.
Since in some lifetimes, it appears you just can’t win for losing.