A “Fashion Trend” That Should Die Before It Comes To Life

Short Suit

Hayley Peterson at Business Insider tells us — or is that warns us? —- about the dawn of a new fashion trend:

Retailers are starting to push a new trend in menswear: the short suit.

The ensemble looks like a regular suit from the waist up, with a sport coat over a button-down shirt and sometimes a tie or bowtie. Instead of trousers, however, the suit’s bottoms are cropped at the knee.

J. CrewTopman, Asos, and Barneys are among the retailers selling the short suit this season. They may be taking cues from fashion icon Pharrell Williams, who donned tuxedo shorts to the Academy Awards earlier this year.

“It’s definitely having a moment, particularly with younger guys,” Jon Patrick, the creative director at menswear company J.Hilburn, told Businessweek.

J. Crew is offering four different kinds of short suits that cost about $400.

“We have wanted to make a suit short for a long time but knew it had to be just right for it to look good,” reads the product description for one of the suits. “We would like to finally introduce you to the Ludlow short. It has an old-school country club vibe (more ‘Gatsby,’ less ‘Caddyshack’) and is almost guaranteed to win the battle for best-dressed at nearly every summer occasion.”

Two of the J. Crew offerings can be seen above, but perhaps the strangest of all is this $850 ensemble (marked down from $1,425) available at Barney’s

Short Suit Two

Jonathan Capehart comments:

I’m worried about the abuse this fashion trend will suffer. I’m talking about those needlessly adventurous souls who will slap any old pair of shorts with any old blazer to make folks think they’re along for the ride. Heaven help us when said souls put on shorts that are cut so high you’d swear they were from the hand towels section of Bed Bath and Beyond. And you just know someone is going to throw on some flip-flops with it, which would compound the horror and send me off the deep end.

Unless your boss is Anna Wintour or fashion-forward Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), don’t even think of showing up at the office in one of those short suits. To slap on a short suit is to join what @shortcomment called on my Twitter feed “a new menswear category” he dubbed “Business Casualty.” We finally got men to move away from the atrocity that was “casual Fridays.” Let’s not backslide, fellas.

I believe I can speak for all of us, regardless of race, religion, gender, political ideology, or choice of favorite beverage in stating that this trend must be destroyed before it actually becomes a thing.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Religion,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    Because nothing—absolutely NOTHING–says “I am a power-player” like showing up for a board meeting dressed like a six-year-old boy.

  2. Woody says:

    I predict these “suits” will prove as durably popular as the Chicago White Sox Shorts Uniforms in 1976.

    Veeck. As in Wreck.

  3. beth says:

    I once worked with a guy who wore kilts to work. He was a really big man who claimed he couldnt find pants that were comfortable. We all got used to it but I have to believe I’d just giggle at anyone who showed up in short pants.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    Although I am a blond haired blue eyed Swede I have owned and worn kilts for years. They are very comfortable.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Bermuda did it first.

    But, yes, this looks rather odd.

  6. @James Joyner:

    That reminds me of an attorney here in Northern Virginia who tried to lobby the Courts to allow male attorneys to wear suits with Bermuda Shorts in the summer, which apparently the customer in courts there.

    He didn’t get very far.

  7. Tim says:

    If the fashionistas wanted to do something to make business people more comfortable, why not do something about the tyranny of the coat and tie!!! The tie is an evil invention and the “coats” that go with them are usually uncomfortable and useless. Here’s an idea for comfortable summer office wear — khaki shorts and a a very good short-sleeved polo or button-up shirt that can be worn tucked in or tail out.

    Oh, and I’ve worn kilts as well while dressed up — with Scout uniforms while in Europe. They were comfortable but drafty.

  8. @CSK:

    Because nothing—absolutely NOTHING–says “I am a power-player” like showing up for a board meeting dressed like a six-year-old boy.

    Depends on whether it comes across as “I’m too clueless to know this is inappropriate” or “I’m so powerful you’re not gonna say a word about this because you’re afraid I’ll destroy you if you do”.

  9. Mikey says:

    I went to high school with a guy who had a short-sleeved suit. Long pants, but the jacket had short sleeves and he’d wear short-sleeved shirts. It looked every bit as odd as the short pants ones in this post.

    Fortunately his, er, “fashion-forward” concept didn’t catch on…

  10. gVOR08 says:

    The only excuse for this is TV talking heads. Saw a photo of Paul Krugman after a remote studio appearance behind a desk. Beard and hair nicely trimmed, tasteful tie over an expensive shirt, good suit coat, sandals, and the rattiest pair of shorts you’ve ever seen.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    If we all just agree to beat hell out of the first guy we see in one of these. . .

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    Clothes are uniforms. Just a few short years ago when I went into my bank I was met by men in gray pinstripe suits now it’s men and women with bright tee shirts with the bank logo. Uniforms change with cultural changes. It’s actually rare to see anyone wearing a suit anywhere these days . I do agree that shorts with a sport coat is absurd but as I said above I have been wearing kilts for years. That’s probably why you see buy one suit and get two free deals recently.

  13. ernieyeball says:
  14. ernieyeball says:

    @michael reynolds: If we all just agree to beat hell out of the first guy we see in one of these. . .

    No need for excessive force. Just give them a wedgie!

  15. bill says:

    wow, that’s worse than the guys wearing those jeans with the buttoned back pockets.

  16. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The latter kind of guy is probably more likely to show up in jeans and a t-shirt with the logo of a grunge band on it. Sort of like Steve Jobs and his trademark black turtleneck and worn-out jeans.

  17. julie gunn says:

    Short suit so are what little boys wore until they became men and were given their first pair of long pants. Do grown men want to look like little boys?

  18. stonetools says:

    Its an abomination, but it’s a response to a real problem-the business suit is just not practical for summer wear over most of theUnited States. A long-sleeved shirt, tie and suit to be worn around in a humid 90 degree DC summer-seriously? Its nonsense-no matter how ” powerful” and “elegant” it looks.
    This isn’t the solution-but people should keep looking.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    Is the idea that this is for summer, or what?

    First of all, I predict that any guy who wears one of these in your standard over-air-conditioned workplace is going to freeze his ass off.

    Second, yeah, it’s short pants, which are what kids wear. “Master Charles wears short pants. Then he grows up and gets his first pair of long pants.” They’re trying to go against the entire idea of the suit, ever since Beau Brummel came up with it.

    Second, this is just bad engineering. If you have the correct weight fabric, it’s quite possible to run around in black wool even in summer and still remain comfortable (I know–I have a black wool pantsuit from when I was in Japan. Extremely fine wool, and just as cool as cotton.)

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: The opposite side of this is what seems to happen in Vermont during the winter. My roommate says you can always tell the out-of-staters because they dress “appropriately” for court. The locals dress for the weather and nobody says boo.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    This pops up every ten years or so. And goes precisely nowhere. Thank god.

  22. Tillman says:

    Just wear a seersucker suit.

  23. Rafer Janders says:

    On the one hand, I’m against this.

    On the other hand, I was quite jealous of a friend of mine who cut off his tuxedo trousers into shorts and wore them to a black-tie Harvard spring ball. The rest of us were sweltering in our wool trousers in the 90 degree heat, while he was cool as could be. Though you’ve got to have nerve to pull this off….

  24. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    If the fear is being called a “boy,” don’t men already live in mortal terror of this? Clothes do not seem to mask it, given the visceral reaction to this extension of an already absurd uniform.

  25. Grewgills says:

    Suits and ties are an abomination regardless of the sleeve or pant length. I am thankful every work day that I teach where shorts and an aloha shirt are acceptable work attire.

  26. James Pearce says:

    Surely I can’t be the only one who sees this look and thinks:


  27. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    The big problem with this “idea” is that dresswear shorts are specific fabrics and specific colors. Go anywhere in the world where shorts suits are worn and show me someone dressed in a navy blue worsted one. Not gonna happen. In white linen, it’s a good look; ecru khaki, same thing. These are just silly looking.

    As is wearing dress shoes with no socks. Eeeewwww!

  28. mike shupp says:

    Short sleeves and knee-length pants make great sense if Global Warming makes traditional clothing style uncomfortable. Conservatives, however, know that AGW is a myth and the world is actually in danger of becoming much cooler any moment now; they should be encouraged — or maybe legally required — to wear thick wool suits everyday, particularly in places lacking heating and air conditioning.

  29. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce: Came here for this. Leaving satisfied …

  30. MarkedMan says:

    Here’s an article about the same ‘breaking trend’ in 2008.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Oh, and the other “breaking trend” that comes out every ten years or so: Men’s suits with skirts. For a real life variation on this, see the Fijian Police garb. I saw these many years ago and it looks like they still wear them. And these guys are tough!

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    I don’t quite get the hate for suits. I wear them all the time, myself (and in the summer, I switch to seersucker, linen/cotton blends, cotton, or four-season wool). One advantage is pockets — I have anywhere from ten to eleven when I wear a suit, so I don’t have to carry a bag. Another is multi-use: I can wear the same suit to work in the morning, to dinner, to a play, to cocktails afterwards, to a club after that, and always be dressed for the occasion. A man in a suit can go pretty much anywhere in the city and look fine.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Rafer Janders: Are you by any chance a surgeon? Because when I started working with Surgeons six years ago, I was astounded to discover they are close to the last gainfully employed people in the US (so I’m excluding bankers) who regularly wear suits. Which means I have to also. I put on my suit, drive to the hospital, go into the locker room, take off my suit, put on scrubs, spend the day in the operating room, at the hospital cafeteria, in a surgeons office, etc, all the while wearing scrubs. Then I go back to the locker room and change back into my suit. Most ridiculous thing in the world. I’ve been to conferences that had half day sessions on Saturday morning and the surgeons are still in the lecture halls with their suits on. What’s up with that?

  34. Rafer Janders says:


    Are you by any chance a surgeon?

    No, a dandy.

  35. Rafer Janders says:


    Because when I started working with Surgeons six years ago, I was astounded to discover they are close to the last gainfully employed people in the US (so I’m excluding bankers) who regularly wear suits.

    Not in New York. In my fields (finance / law) most people still wear suits.

  36. bill says:

    @James Pearce: yeah, need more plaid though!

  37. Fausta says:

    @gVOR08: He wears that around town, too

  38. Boyd says:

    While this is a style that I believe should die on the vine, I must point out that my employer here in Austin puts virtually no limits on work wear. In the summer, and even in the winter to some extent, you can reliably find people dressed in T-shirts, shorts and flip flops. On days where the dress code goes to “business casual,” it means we have to dress up.

    Well, not for me, but for many of our employees. Sadly, this means that many of our younger female employees are dressed as though they came straight to work from the club.

  39. Brainster says:

    I’ve always got a suit on the back of my office door if I need it, but otherwise I dress for comfort, which means shorts and a golf shirt in the summer. One of the definite advantages of working with email and phone most of the time.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    When I was in Japan we had something called “han-sode” (half-sleeve) allowed in the summer–provided, of course, that there were no business meetings outside the firm. Gotta keep the image up!

    I detest summer because I need to dress for 90+ degrees outside, then come into a supposedly 70 degree office and freeze to death. (70 degrees my eye. More like 65 or even 60.)