By Gabrielle Johnson
Several months before her 38th birthday, Gwyneth Paltrow took a pair for a spin on the red carpet. Forty-four-year-old Jennifer Aniston practically lives in them. And at 53, Sharon Stone was snapped wearing hers with a slouchy sweater and knee-high boots. As fashion statements go, shorts aren’t new: Sexy, sporty hot pants will forever be associated with the 1970s, while countless girls who came of age in the ’80s emulated Baby’s Dirty Dancing denim cut-offs. In the ’90s, shorts teamed with tights were a seasonless staple—a look that has since become an off-duty model classic.
On the ready-to-wear runways, shorts are also a familiar sight. Miuccia Prada opened her Spring 2000 show with a body-hugging pair, and has been experimenting with variations on the theme ever since. Marni designer Consuelo Castiglioni has been peppering her collections with them for years, in every length, fabric and pattern imaginable. This spring, tailored shorts have taken the spotlight. Chloé, Prabal Gurung and Fendi showed them in lush leathers; Carolina Herrera and Cacharel favoured light, shiny fabrics; Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès and Chalayan experimented with trippy prints; and Emporio Armani femme’d them up with sweet ruffles. Clearly, fashion’s cyclicality is what makes this trend so right, right now.
“Everything old is new again,” says Barbara Atkin, vice-president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew. “Designers keep bringing back shorts, over and over again, in different ways. It’s the right time. We’ve had so many short miniskirts—it was time to evolve from that.”
Canadian designer Arthur Mendonça, whose Spring 2013 collection included sequin-effect black tuxedo shorts and a raspberry-hued silk sheen version, agrees. “I’ve always liked [them] as a skirt substitute,” he says. “I like the whole sporty look of a tailored short, especially for spring and summer. It looks modern. The shorts we did were all high-waisted; they almost look like A-line skirts.”
At Cacharel, designers Ling Liu and Dawei Sun consider tailored shorts to be the new trousers. “They’ve become a basic, whether in winter or in summer,” says Sun. “They’re modern and easy to mix. Different lengths and materials allow you to create really diverse outfits.” Considering that spring’s new crop of longer shorts were trotted out on the runways paired with blazers, button-downs and (relatively) sensible heels, it seems these onetime vacation-wear must-haves have morphed into perfectly acceptable office attire. Depending on your office, that is. “What we in the fashion world see as office-appropriate is really much more of a fashion take on your office wardrobe,” says Atkin. “If you’re working for a traditional law firm on [Toronto’s] Bay Street, shorts of any kind are a no-no. It would be frowned upon, and you’d probably be asked to leave.”
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