Garmento is a fashion zine that focuses on a very simple question: what more can there be to clothes? To coincide with fashion week, we are launching “ask Garmento”: a new advice column about clothes, style and fashion, answered by its Editor-in Chief and Founder, Jeremy Lewis. Any reader can ask Garmento a question here. Today, our first reader’s question is “We see more and more men's suits with short pants... but is it really chic?”
Garmento: I must first say that "chic," that esoteric French concept of effortless allure via dress, cannot be had by simply wearing a single garment or style. It is the wearer's understanding of its appropriateness as well a strong sense of self that must activate it and render it "chic." That said, there was an article on Business Insider in June which highlighted how the "Short Suit" style is readily available from a number of affordable outlets, not just high-end designers. For better or for worse it's an accessible option for many style-conscious men.
The "Short Suit" is a curious style that can be hard to immediately digest because it playfully yet boldly breaks from the codified standard suit which, since the French Revolution, has become a symbol of power, authority and often the male gender itself. The "Short Suit" has all the lines and details, all the components needed to work as such a symbol and yet it seems, no pun intended, to fall short. Perhaps it is the revealing of bare flesh, the body made vulnerable, that disrupts the authoritative tone tailored lines tend to carry. It could also be a matter of proportion with the abbreviated length of pants being too contrary to the longer silhouette we are all used to, making us wonder, if only for a second, if the tailor ran out of fabric. You lose the automatic appeal of the suit and it nearly becomes a different creature altogether. The question however is whether this alternative is a handicap or liberator.
There are some longstanding arguments for this sartorial heresy. In the late 1920s and early '30s a British political organization called The Men's Dress Reform Party advocated the wearing of shorts as matter of health (it is better for circulation) as well as a means to challenge the political status quo citing dress as a mirror of society's ongoings. And so shorts become the look of the progressive modern man, striding towards the future with his knees, calves, and shins exposed. The Short Suit also lends a youthful air reminding one of school boys, perhaps English circa 1940 or the Japanese today. It communicates a sense of youthful folly inferring that the wearer does not take himself too seriously. But then of course the risk runs deep of reading not as an irreverent man dressed in a charming cropped pant but instead a comedic manchild in want of a pacifier to assuage his tailor tantrum.
What will essentially make a Short Suit chic is whether or not the wearer has the legs and the gumption to pull it off. Those with slight, spindly chicken legs are perhaps better off keeping them covered lest they display their true inadequacies beyond poor judgment in getting dressed. But if you have robust athletic limbs the Short Suit becomes that much more convincing. When it comes to projecting masculine facade there is perhaps no better substitute for stoic cloth than man muscle. Nerve is required because as with all alternative fashions the wearer's reluctance wears heavier than any garment and will spoil any appeal you or the clothes might have otherwise. If you need an example of how to wear the look I recommend referencing the designer Thom Browne who always looks exceptional in Short Suits of his own design. His version borrows from the late '50s and early '60s, sharpened with modernist accoutrements and bolstered by his own muscular yet stout physique. Also keep in mind that should you buy a Short Suit the length prescribed by the manufacturer may not suit you and you should consider shortening it (not too short) as to compliment your frame.
To answer the question, are Short Suits chic? Sure!