divided skirt


"Hot Pants" redirects here. For the James Brown song see Hot Pants (song)

Shorts are a garment worn by both men and women over their pelvic area, circling the waist, and covering the upper part of the upper legs or more, sometimes extending as far as mid-calf, but not covering the entire length of the leg, either as outer or undergarment. They are called "shorts" because they are a shortened version of trousers which cover the entire leg.


Within the United States, historically, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, shorts were only worn by young boys until they reached a certain height or maturity. Here there were different assessments from family to family, influenced in part by social class. This is not entirely accurate, however, especially for the 1890s and 1900s. Actually knee pants (an early type of short pants) became in the 1890s the standard trousers worn by American boys. Many urban school portraits from the 1890s often show all but the oldest boys wearing knee pants ( We see boys of all ages wearing them. This can be confirmed by the sizes offered in period catalogs. , especially boys and teenagers in urban areas and still in school. We note older boys wearing knee pants in America than in Europe. American boys normally wore knee pants with long stockings. This is covered in great detail in the Historical Boys' Clothing website ( This began to change after the 1900s when American boys began wearing knickers while short pants became more popular in Europe.

When boys got older, they would receive their first pair of long trousers. This produced the perception that shorts were only for young boys. Because of this, men would not wear shorts to avoid looking immature. Since about World War II, when soldiers often served in tropical locations, adult men have worn shorts more often, but the perception of shorts only being for young boys took several decades to change and to some extent still exists.

Today, shorts are worn by either sex from birth through old age without any stigma attached. In many countries there are few formal settings where wearing shorts would be acceptable, as they are considered casual wear. In many business offices, where there is an official casual dress standard, shorts are often specifically forbidden. Since the 1990s, casual office dress has grown in many businesses to include dress shorts. Gym and jean shorts are often seen as too casual for office attire.

In Africa and the Middle East, the wearing of shorts by adults is less common. While it is common for boys to wear shorts, women and young girls almost universally do not. These customs are often due in part to moral and social taboos regarding the perceived sexually suggestive nature of exposing the female legs.


There are many styles of shorts:

  • Baggies: Loose fitting shorts which reach the knees. These were the standard shorts worn by English football teams before World War II. West Bromwich Albion FC are nicknamed the Baggies because their team used to wear particularly baggy shorts. During the late 1990s this type of shorts had a short revival in popularity among some Premier league teams in England.
  • Bermuda shorts (also known as walking shorts or dress shorts): Knee-length shorts commonly worn in Bermuda as business attire, or largely any style less than formal or black-tie The style has also been adopted exclusively as a casual style in other locales. Usually has pockets and waist loops for an optional belt.
  • Board shorts: A combination of shorts and a bathing suit, typically worn by men, which have recently gained in popularity. Board shorts are manufactured by such companies as Billabong, Quiksilver, and Old Navy. The shorts are made of a bathing suit–like material, targeting a beach-going demographic. The "board" refers to surfboards although many others also wear them. In the 1980s, board shorts were called "jams".
  • Boxer shorts: Mainly used as male underwear. Some years ago, this term also related to a basic style male short.
  • Boyshorts: Similar to boxer briefs, but for females.
  • Bun huggers: Short, tight, athletic shorts also known as "racing briefs", commonly made from spandex and/or nylon. These shorts are compulsory for girls and women in some schools and for some adult athletic events such as volleyball. It is claimed that their tight fit and the fact that they barely go down past the buttocks give wearers an unhindered range of motion that is necessary in sports such as volleyball. However, the figure-hugging nature of these shorts makes some wearers feel uncomfortable, and making them compulsory for women has been described as "venturing into the arena of athlete exploitation". Bun huggers for men also exist. These resemble boxer briefs.
  • Cargo shorts: Typically khaki shorts with cargo pockets. Similar to cargo pants, but around knee-length.
  • Culottes: A divided skirt resembling a pair of loose-cut shorts, originally popularized as a practical horse and bicycle-riding garment by dress reform feminists at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Cut-offs: Home-made by cutting the legs off trousers, typically jeans, above the knee. These were particularly popular in the early 1970s. The cut is not finished or hemmed and the fabric is left to fray. They became so popular that they were sold in stores as such. Originally a practical use for trousers with worn-through knees, they are now a type of shorts in their own right. The ultra-short version of jean cut-offs are also known as Daisy Dukes, in reference to Catherine Bach's character of that name from the American television show The Dukes of Hazzard. The character Tobias Fünke from the television series Arrested Development is also known for wearing cut-off jeans.
  • Cycling shorts: Skin-tight shorts originally worn by cyclists to reduce chafing while cycling, but which have since been adopted as street wear and active wear by girls and younger women. Also commonly known as "bike shorts".
  • Dolphin shorts: An athletic style of shorts, notable for visible binding of an often contrasting color. The name may refer to a side-view of the binding of each leg's lower hem, resembling the shape of a dolphin tail. Like gym shorts, they often feature a cord to be tied around the waist at the front. These were a popular trend in the 1980s gym scene.
  • Gym shorts: Cotton, spandex, polyester(which can be divided into even more subsections such as dazzle [a ribbed shiny effect], shimmer [like dazzle but not ribbed], or other things), or other synthetic fiber. Usually has a cord sewn in that can be tied at the front, can be tied on the inside or outside, depending on the short. Gym shorts are often worn in gym class or for participation in sports, hence the name, but they are worn as casual wear almost as much, especially in adolescents. They are usually not form fitting when worn by men or female athletes, but are often form fitting when worn by women as casual dress. Length is usually from just above the knee to just below the knee. In the 1970s and 1980s in the US gym shorts were often form fitting and only slightly longer than boxer shorts.
  • Hot pants: While categorized as "short shorts" they commonly have an inseam length of two inches or less. These are short, tight shorts, usually made of cotton, nylon, or some other common material. They are meant to emphasize the buttocks and the legs. Hot pants are sometimes worn with dark tights and knee-length boots to create an edgy, sexy look. Hot pants were very popular in the early 1970s, especially with baseball's Philadelphia Phillies, who created a unit of usherettes called the Hot Pants Patrol, but the shorts declined in popularity during the late 1970s. This fashion revived in the 1990s.
  • Jorts: Jean shorts. In the mid 1980s, before the term "jorts" had entered widespread usage, some fashion gurus had already begun to insult jorts wearers in an attempt to minimize the impact of jorts upon the fashion world. These transparent attempts to defame jorts and other such garments were later dubbed "sharts."
  • Lederhosen: Traditional German leather shorts.
  • Plaid shorts: fabricated woven of differently colored yarns in a crossbarred pattern. Popularized by "skater" stores, but now becoming more "preppy"
  • Running shorts: Reach only the upper thigh; intended to provide maximum freedom of movement in sports activities. These are often made from Nylon, which has the advantage of being very hardwearing. After Adidas sponsored the 1980 Olympic Games , Adidas nylon track shorts were a fashion item for some years.
  • Skorts: Have a piece of fabric in front, creating the illusion of being a skirt from the front. The term is a portmanteau of "skirt" and "shorts".
  • Short shorts: By the mid-1950s, post-WWII Americans were beginning to relax and enjoy both their new economic and baby booms as their offspring which were just entering their teens. Television and rock'n'roll captured taste and fashion, including the new "short shorts" fad, since Bermuda shorts were considered old, dull, and "fuddy-duddy" although, as History of Costume (ISBN 0882251376) author and FIT Professor Rachel Kemper noted, "Short shorts left a girl's ass hanging out." The Royal Teens wrote and sang the song "Short Shorts" (1957) (in which "short shorts" is mentioned 18 times). That song was itself referred to in Sheb Wooley's song "Purple People Eater" song (1958). Short shorts also refers to the older style of tight basketball shorts which went upper-thigh worn by players until the 1990s, when looser shorts that went down to the knee became preferred by players. Many clothing vendors refer to 'short shorts' as having an inseam of four inches or less.
  • Slackettes: A term coined in the late 20th century by the fashion cognescenti of the New York City neighborhood of Nolita (Northern Little Italy) as an alternative to the more frequently used term "shorts", referring to clothing worn around the waist and having two legs extending no further than mid-knee. This term quickly spread to the fashionista residents of New York's Chelsea gallery neighborhood and, by the early years of the 21st century, had worked its way into the everyday parlance of the community of fashion-savvy Manhattan residents.
  • Three quarter pants: A name used to refer to other types of shorts such as Shants or Shankles.
  • Zip-off shorts: A pair of long pants that zip off at the knee, allowing the wearer to change from pants to shorts as the weather changes.


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