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Hey Guys: Legs Matter

As summer approaches, some men might be inclined to show off half their calves with those "7/8ths" Capri pants. Don't. Just Don't. And If you want to wear shorts, please follow these simple rules.

Fashion faux-pas (Zabowski)
Fashion faux-pas (Zabowski)
Philipp Tingler

BERLIN - Yes men, you need to worry about hem length too. That is a brutal truth the summer months force us to face. And it was brought home to me again recently by a snapshot I took on the streets of my hometown Berlin, showing one guy wearing pants cropped to the knee, and another guy wearing Capri pants, manpris.

Berlin will always (hopefully) be different from the rest of Germany -- big, rough, noisy, arty, its famous Fashion Week something of a contradiction in terms. But: that's no excuse for 7/8th Capri pants. Contemplating the photo, I realized several things. First of all: male legs are important. I know that it's very difficult to get an attractive leg shape (and particularly hard to achieve good-looking calves) by working out at the gym -- but that's no reason not give it the old try. Come on guys, I know for a fact you don't want to look like Larry the Lobster from SpongeBob Squarepants.

Secondly: Capri pants. I've said this time and again, but since I'm still seeing them all over the place, I'll say it again: the only people allowed to sport them are women under 35, of the Audrey Hepburn type. Did you get that? Women with an Audrey Hepburn figure. Seven-eighths pants do not work for anybody else.

On a man --and I don't care what age he is or what kind of body he has-- trousers cropped that length are the equivalent of a burqa. They make the wearer instantly and utterly unsexy. Some of my friends don't agree that the cropped pants in the snapshot are 7/8th, I'm hearing 3/5th: I don't care. You catch my drift. The only thing deadlier than 7/8th (or 3/5th) pants is 7/8th worn with sandals and ankle socks.

Hot Pants: only if you are Cristiano Ronaldo

On to shorts: The length issue is crucial here too, the perfect length being just above the knee. Tight shorts can be a little shorter, assuming the wearer has the body – and again, guys, legs – to pull them off. This might also be a good opportunity to mention the social context for wearing shorts. Shorts are by nature casual. Which means that on no formal occasions should other people be allowed to see your knees, and I don't care how attractive the latter are. So no shorts at theater premieres, baptisms/weddings/funerals, testifying in court – you get the point. And no shorts *ever* on the job. It doesn't matter where you work, a trendy PR agency, a funeral home: shorts at the workplace are an absolute taboo unless you're a parcel delivery-person or a pool attendant.

There's a myth about so-called City Shorts. Some men actually believe that they can wear their navy blue cotton Neil Barrett Bermudas in town as long as they wear a striped seersucker regatta blazer with them. My recommendation is: unless you're Ewan McGregor, just forget about it. And never make the mistake of thinking that you can compensate for the missing fabric and formality by wearing shorts of a dark color. At best, putting on a shirt and tie with black shorts makes you look like you're on your way to a stripper's funeral.

Now about age: per se, 50 is not too old for Bermudas. You can pretty much wear short pants at any age. There's a photo by Jonathan Becker of famous American writer Dominick Dunne standing in front of the Hôtel du Cap in Antibes on the French Riviera during the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Dunne was 81 at the time, and he was wearing cuff-less khaki shorts with a single-breasted yachting blazer, a formal shirt from Turnbull & Asser, and embroidered velvet Albert Slippers. Without socks, it goes without saying. Daring? I admit it all depends on the wearer. "You've got to have swagger," as Margot Light, my International Relations professor at the London School of Economics, liked to say --laid-back self-confidence, natural dominance and charisma.

That attitude unfortunately does not protect the wearer of shorts from mistakes and wardrobe blunders. One must keep in mind that faux-pas involving shorts often have to do with ...size. Do you remember when soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo's Hot Pants unleashed crowds of would-be imitators, men wearing too-tight, too-short shorts? One general rule could be distilled from that unfortunate situation: even if this is the time of year when Mother Nature pours her bounty forth unreservedly, that doesn't automatically mean that you have to --or at least not as long as you have two legs and a prostate.

Read the article in German in Tages Anzeiger.

Photo - Zabowski

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Houseboats on the Nile in Zamalek, Cairo

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