Here’s an idea. What piece of women’s clothing, native to the Western world, has undergone revolutionary change in our lifetime? Shorts. Yes, shorts. Of course, they are trumped, globally, by the veil and the burkha. And, of course, all clothing plays a secondary role to various forms of bindings and pokings of holes, in oppressing or liberating the female gender. But I’d like to suggest that shorts, yes, short, simple shorts, serve neatly as signs of change.
How do I know?
I’m old. And I remember. We didn’t use to wear shorts anywhere but in the great out of doors. Or on college campuses. Grown women didn’t wear shorts to go to the grocery store, or to parties, and certainly not out and about in a city. Certainly not.
The only time I ever wore shorts in a city I got kicked in the back of the knee for my foolishness. It was 1979. An acquaintance from college invited me out to Long Island for 4th of July. It was probably the Hamptons, now that I think about it, but I knew nothing of all that. I donned khaki Bermudas, a pink and white striped camp shirt, and some tan fisherman’s sandals. Hopped onto the subway. Somewhere between 104th and the train station a group of teenagers began to taunt me, and, as I exited the train in a hurry, full of relief, a girl kicked me lightly from behind.
This weekend I bought new shorts. After a solid decade of service, my old Banana Republic 3-inch khakis were on their last legs, so to speak. I considered, come the revolution, what are the right shorts for a woman over 50?
I looked online. My how shorts have changed.
In 2011 we apparently can wear suede shorts out to dinner. We also can spend lots and lots of money.
But I don’t plan to wear shorts at night. Doesn’t seem necessary, given that the revolution hasn’t done away with dresses. So what are the options for day shorts? Continue in the lengths of my 40s?
I remember my neighbor, Anabelle. She wore very short shorts to mow her front lawn. At 70. I watched her, all righteous in the full flush of my 30s, and I was a little shocked. “Does she need to do that?” I thought. It was 1987. Looking back, I realize a) she was proud of her slender shape b) her husband thought she was a babe c) it was her own damn front yard and none of my business.
In that vein, these J. Crew shorts looked about right. Apt to be well-made, classic with a little twist. My recent L.L. Bean purchases have lacked quality, the Target shorts online were too trendy, the Banana Republic version sported tabs at the thigh. Why on earth would we want tabs at the thigh, we wonder? Off I went to J. Crew, only to find out that lavender (the only color in stock) sailor shorts are less than successful on me. Today. Just because one can, doesn’t mean one wants to. Khaki Bermudas, on the other hand, fit the bill. Summer weight, 98% cotton, 2% spandex.
Just remember that with khaki Bermudas, since one’s legs are no longer contributing many feminine cues, one must add a little frou-frou to the top. Go without sleeves. Praise the Shake-Weight.
I am not expecting to be kicked this summer. All hail the revolution. Some of us will arrive in Bermudas.