We are pretty sure that you already know what a short pant is, but here is a description just in case.  Hey, you may learn a little more.

Shorts are a garment worn by both men and women over their pelvic area, circling the waist and splitting to cover the upper part of the legs, sometimes extending down to the knees but not covering the entire length of the leg. They are called "shorts" because they are a shortened version of trousers, which cover the entire leg.   

There are a variety of shorts, ranging from knee-length short trousers that can in some situations be worn as formal clothes to beachwear and athletic shorts.

Shorts are typically worn in warm weather or in an environment where comfort and air flow are more important than the protection of the legs.

There are many different types of shorts worn by men, women, and children.  Some types of shorts are typically worn by women, such as culottes, which are a divided skirt resembling a pair of loose-cut shorts.

Shorts are typically worn in warm weather or in an environment where comfort and air flow are more important than the protection of the legs.

Shorts are worn for normal daily activities but also have specialized versions for athletics, swim, and underwear.  For example, compression shorts, boardshorts, boyshorts, and boxer shorts.

womens shorts styles

Difference between casual shorts and a more dressy or business like short:

In the United States, it is generally understood that the term short can be used to describe casual, athletic, and formal shorts.  However, on occasion we do try to break down the subject into finer classifications.  The terminology may differs by location.

In British English the term "short trousers" has been used, but only for shorts that are a short version of real trousers (pants), e.g. tailored shorts, often lined, as typically worn as part of school uniform for boys up to their early teens, and by servicemen and policemen in tropical climates.  

In American English the term "short pants" or “dress shorts" is the closely related to the British term short trousers.  Although it is debatable if shorts can ever be considered “formal" or “business attire", using the term dress shorts may be the closest equivalent in the United States.

A somewhat similar garment worn by men in Australia is called "stubbies".

The word "Shorts" is used unqualified is typically used in English to refer to sports shorts, athletic shorts, or casual shorts.

The term "boxer shorts" is an American coinage for a particular kind of men's underwear, and is now common in Britain and around the world.  However, boxer shorts are often referred to as "boxers" in the USA.

A bit of short pant history:

In much of Europe and the Americas during the 19th and early 20th centuries shorts were worn as outerwear only by young boys until they reached a certain height or maturity.  When boys got older, they would receive their first pair of long pants.  This produced the perception that shorts were only for young boys.  Because of this, men would often avoid shorts to avoid looking immature.

In the past (and some places currently) Women tended not to wear shorts in most cultures, due to social or religious issues.  Women were generally expected to wear dresses, or skirts and blouses.

In the 1890s, knee pants (an early type of short pants) became the standard wear for American boys.  Many urban school portraits from the 1890s show all but the oldest boys wearing knee pants.  North American boys normally wore knee pants with short stockings.  This began to change after the 1900s when North American boys began wearing knickerbockers, while short pants became more popular in Europe.  In the 1930s, shorts started to be worn for casual comfort (e.g. outdoor and athletic activities) by both men and women. However, it was still taboo to wear shorts outside certain activities.

Since about the time of World War II, when many soldiers served in tropical locations, adult men have worn shorts more often, especially in summer weather, but the perception of shorts as being only for young boys took several decades to change.

By the late 20th century it became common for men to wear shorts as casual wear in summer.

Adults are also commonly seen wearing shorts, however wearing shorts is less common among women in traditional eastern countries than in the West, although this varies widely by region - women more often wear shorts in large, cosmopolitan cities. In some countries adult women can be seen wearing loose-fitting shorts that end at or just below the knee, as these are seen as sufficiently modest.

Loose-fitting shorts which reach the knees has been associated with football kit (soccer) and similar sports since 1904, when the Football Association of England dropped its rule requiring players cover their knees.  Loose-fitting longer shorts rapidly replaced the former knickerbockers.  Until the 1960s, footballers referred to these garments as "knickers," but after the 1960s, the term "shorts" entered standard usage.

During the 1970s and 1980s, much shorter shorts became standard wear for footballers (soccer players), but following the adoption of longer shorts by Tottenham Hotspur F.C. for a match on 18 May 1991, despite initial mockery, the longer length became more widely worn again.   

Different Types of Shorts:

Bermuda shorts are Short trousers that end three to four inches above the knee.  They are commonly worn by men in Bermuda (with knee-socks and a blazer and tie) for business attire and even at cocktail parties.  They are available in a wide range of colors, ranging from conservative grey and navy, to brighter hues such as orange, green and pink.  Despite their name, they are not of Bermudian origin, but were originally designed around 1900 for military wear by the British armed forces in tropical climates.  From the 1920s onwards these military uniform shorts began to be copied by Bermudian tailors and civilians, and were subsequently taken up by tourists who spread the style around the world.  The tourists who appropriated the style wore Bermuda shorts almost exclusively as casual wear.  In the early 1990s Bermuda shorts became accepted in France as a fashionable option for women, although since the 1930s they had been increasingly established as an option for American women's fashionable sportswear.  In America, despite widespread criticism, Bermuda shorts were taken up by male and female students on college campuses from the 1920s and 1930s onwards, and by the 1950s, were widely worn.  In early 21st century America, women's Bermuda shorts are known as "city shorts," and are usually knee-length, resembling a pencil skirt.

Bike shorts or Cycling shorts are skin-tight long shorts specifically designed for wear by cyclists to reduce chafing.  While often designed with an elastic waist, a popular alternative style with integral suspenders, is called bib shorts.  They are designed to fit the posture of a cyclist bent over in the racing position, cut longer in the back than in the front to guarantee full coverage.  Since the 1980s, such garments are increasingly designed to take into account the difference between male and female bodies, as women's shorts require a longer waist-to-crotch measurement.  Since the 1980s, 'bike shorts' have also been worn as fashion garments, although these versions often lack the internal padding and construction required by cyclists.  Biker shorts are often made in stretch materials such as spandex.

Boardshorts are a form of long, loose-fittng shorts specifically designed for beachwear and aquatic sports. They may also be described as "baggies" or "jams".  As "surf trunks" they first emerged in Hawaii in the 1950s, distinguished by their construction which included fly fastenings and secure pockets with sealable flaps.  These early surf trunks were made from cotton, although quick-drying synthetics such as nylon and neoprene quickly found favor with wearers.  They were made knee-length in order to protect the surfer's legs from sticking to the wax on their surfboard.  In 1970 the company Quiksilver offered a highly successful boardshort design that rapidly gained a reputation among surfers as the best to be had.  Understanding the importance of female surfers, Quiksilver would later pioneer a line of boardshorts specifically designed for the female wearer.  Other leading boardshort manufacturers include Billabong and Rip Curl have also been pioneers in regard to board shorts and other surf clothing.  By 2010, the boardshort was widely worn as a fashionable garment beyond the beach.  In the early 21st century, polyester is increasingly used, often blended with other textile fibers such as Lycra, elastane, or spandex, creating an ultrasuede effect.

Boxer Shorts:  Although originally created for boxing participants they are more known now as elastic waist soft fabric shorts usually worn as underwear.  In their current form "boxers" were introduced in 1925 by Jacob Golomb (founder of the sports equipment and clothing company Everlast) as an alternative to the leather-belted trunks that boxers typically wore. They subsequently became an alternative to long underwear as well.  Men's boxers as undergarments began to be presented in novelty prints and patterns from the late 1950s onwards.  During the 1980s and 1990s women began to wear boxer shorts paired with T-shirts as loungewear or sleepwear.

Boyshorts (or boy shorts) are a form of women's underwear that first emerged in the 1990s, closely resembling abbreviated hotpants They are cut with wide sides and a low rise, reducing the risk of visible panty line.  Boyshorts are increasingly being worn as outerwear in sporting contexts by female athletes and runners.

Bun huggers Bun-huggers is a popular name for very brief, tight athletic shorts, also known as "racing briefs."  They have been compared to bikini bottoms.   In 2008 it was noted that the International Volleyball Federation used to require that female volleyball players wear such garments while playing.  Although it is argued and claimed that bun-huggers enable wearers to move unhindered and enjoy a wide range of movement, wearers and observers have expressed discomfort with their increasing skimpiness.  A study made by the Women's Sports Foundation commented that making such garments compulsory for women athletes was "venturing into the arena of athlete exploitation".  Since the mid-2000s such garments are increasingly being replaced by boyshorts which offer increased coverage and security to their wearers.  In our opinion, the women athletes should be able to select their own garments as long as they don’t create an unfair athletic advantage that the other team does not have access to utilize.  However, we are not part of those decisions because Apparel Search is not an official athletic federation…

Cargo shorts Cargo shorts are an abbreviated version of cargo pants (no kidding), typically around knee-length, with multiple pockets that are typically stitched to the outside sides of the legs.  In 1980 cargo shorts were marketed as ideal for the sportsman or fisherman, with the pocket flaps ensuring that pocket contents were secure and unlikely to fall out.  In addition to being great shorts for sportsmen, they are also fantastic for holding mobile devices.  Having the extra pockets (usually with buttons) is good for securing a mobile device.  Cargos are made in various fabrics and colors and are often made in camo print.

Culottes were introduced in the mid-20th century as an abbreviated version of the late-nineteenth century divided skirt. Originally intended for horse back and bicycle riding.  Although called culotte skirts, they are basically full shorts constructed to hide their division.  Since the mid-20th century culottes have been increasingly offered as an alternative to skirts.

Cut-offs   Also called "cutoffs" or “cut off shorts".  A generic term for pants where the legs have been cut off mid-way.  A technique often used to create jean shorts.  The concept has been around since the 1930s when shorts began to be acceptable wear outside the sports field.  During the 1960s and 1970s the concept of deliberately cutting off the legs of jeans, allowing the raw edge to fray, along with other means of customizing them, took hold as part of Western youth culture.  Whilst cut-offs can be home-made from existing jeans, ready-made cut-offs are also commercially manufactured and retailed.  Extremely short denim cut-offs are known as "Daisy Dukes". 

Daisy Dukes are an extremely short version of denim cut-offs, popularized by actress Catherine Bach's character of that name Daisy Duke from the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard.  They are a type of hot pants or short shorts.

Denim shorts or Jorts are worn by both genders.  The term "jorts" is a portmanteau of the words "jeans" and "shorts".  The jorts term is arguably applied to knee-length baggy styles.  However, references as shorts at any length. 

Dolphin shorts A specific style of gym shorts very short, originally made from nylon with contrasting binding, side slits, and rounded corners, popular in the 1980s.  The name is altered possibly based on the Dolfin running short.  Dolfin is American company that first produced the original running shorts in the 1980s.  

Gym shorts A generic term for shorts specifically designed for sports wear or sports activities (learn more about fitness fashion).

Hotpants or Hot pants is a term that appeared around 1970 as a description for extremely short shorts for women, made in luxury fabrics such as velvet and silk.  The style and term emphasized their role as fashion garments rather than practical wear.  The term "hotpants" is used generically to describe short shorts, similar garments had been worn since the 1930s. Very short men's shorts may also be occasionally called hotpants.

Lederhosen are leather shorts, often worn with matching suspenders connected by a chest band, traditionally associated with Bavaria, Germany; and countries formerly part of the Tyrol region and Austria-Hungary. 

Running shorts A form of gym shorts designed specifically for running. They are typically lightweight, very short and split at the side (to enable freedom of leg movement), with an inbuilt briefs lining.  Nylon is a popular fabric for running shorts as it is lightweight, quick-drying and hard-wearing.  Nylon running shorts first appeared in the 1970s.  An even shorter version of the running short, typically worn by triathlon participants, is called a tri-short.  Dolphin shorts are a popular variation on running shorts.  Trail running shorts are typically made longer and in harder-wearing fabric that is less likely to catch and tear on protruding branches.

School shorts are short pants designed specifically to be worn as part of a school uniform. These are traditionally made in the same manner as fully tailored trousers, with belt loops, pockets, fly fastenings, and a lining, but cut to shorts length.  Originally, wool flannel was used, as in long trousers, but nowadays these short trousers are more usually made from synthetic blend fabrics.  The traditional grey flannel shorts associated with British school uniform had become well-established by the 1920s, when they were knee-length or just above knee-length.  Up until the 1950s school shorts were also described as 'knickers' in tailoring catalogues and jargon.  This term possibly originated as an abbreviation of knickerbockers, which began being worn by schoolboys for sports in the 1880s.  As the term 'knickers' had become synonymous with panties in the 20th century, it was rarely used colloquially for shorts

Skorts (a portmanteau of "skirt" and "shorts") are made with a flap of fabric in front that creates the illusion of their being a skirt from the front.  They are often worn for sport and active pursuits.  Are skorts skirts or shorts?  When the skort was first introduced in America in the late 1950s it described a pair of shorts with an attached pleated overskirt.

Zip-offs or Convertible Shorts are pants which zip off at the knee, allowing the wearer to vary the length of their trouser leg.  One day they can be wearing these as pants and at the next moment zip off the leg and turn them into shorts.  Zipping them back on returns the garment to become a long pant once again.  Often recommended for travel, hiking or walking, zip-offs have been around since the 1980s.  They are also suited to fishermen, as longer pants can easily be converted to wading-length shorts.  These are a versatile garment that is good for adventures so they are prepared for various conditions and activities.

As you can see from the various styles of shorts, the world has plenty of choices when it comes to short pants.  Consumers have the choice between many silhouettes, colors, shapes, and sizes.

Fashion Products Fashion Products S-Z Fashion Products S

Return to the Influence Fashion home page.

Copyright 1999-2018 Apparel Search Company. All Rights Reserved.

Popular Pages