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Farewell G-String, Hello Wawrinka Shorts

Fashion tides are always changing, and as the weather warms, comfort is in for both ladies and gentlemen.

The loud and lucky Wawrinka shorts
The loud and lucky Wawrinka shorts
Marie-Claude Martin

GENEVA — Since 2005, we've heard over and over that the G-string is dead. To the delight of women everywhere, it finally seems to be true. Meanwhile, the Wawrinka short — regarded as an inappropriate oddity at the beginning of the French Open — has since graduated to cult status.

First, speaking for the ladies: Away with you, loop of floss. We now prefer the booty short, shapewear, thicker thongs that offer more coverage, granny panties in organic cotton (perfect for running errands by bike), or even the kinds of girdles seen on Mad Men or on burlesque dancer Dita von Teese. The agony of the G-string was long. Fashionistas have been predicting its demise every year since 2005.

But this time there's proof: Sales are plummeting, lingerie shops are ridiculing them, and women's magazines no longer want to use them in their photos. Sophie Marceau, the French actress known for her repeated red-carpet wardrobe malfunctions, wasn't wearing one when we last saw (too much of) her at Cannes.

Cécile Guérin, who organizes the International Salon of Lingerie each year in Paris, confirms the fashion diagnosis. "The G-string is still seen as a sexy item, appreciated by a slight majority of men, but it is neither practical nor comfortable. Worse, it is no longer in fashion."

Born in the 1970s and broadly adopted in the "90s, the G-string managed to thrive for 40 years. Perhaps it will take just as long before it comes back to our wardrobes — when our shame is displaced by wistful memory and we catch the bug again.

Coverage for men

The intense scrutiny of women's fashion isn't so different from the judgment that initially targeted Stanislas Wawrinka for his "3-in-1" shorts at the French Open. How could he wear such a thing in the storied Roland Garros stadium? Twitter lit up, apparently even more scandalized by the shorts than by his single-pawed backhand. The fashion police deemed them hideous. But that was short-lived.

The winds began to blow in Wawrinka's favor after his semi-final win against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Mockery was replaced by a kind of fascination. What if these unsightly shorts were blessed with some supernatural power? What if their busy watermelon-checkered print was creating a hallucinatory effect? A joke began to circulate on Twitter that the shorts were designed by an African shaman and were sure to drive one's enemies mad.

It seems Wawrinka followed the maxim of Jean Cocteau to the letter — "That for which you are reproached, cultivate it. It is you." Not only did he defend his wardrobe choice, saying that he "quite liked them," but he also helped elevate them to fetish status by placing them inside the trophy at one point. Then in a press conference, he credited the shorts as aiding his victory.

The manufacturers couldn't have asked for more. Almost overnight, the critics who had labeled Wawrinka a dork and a bumpkin became the dorks themselves. Wawrinka seemed to understand all too well the conformity of the human spirit: When an object is ugly, make it famous. It will become pretty.

The shorts are now all the rage, with Twitter, er, atwitter with commentary about the now-sacred artifact. Would the print become the new Swiss flag? Others, recalling the viral Dressgate phenomenon, began joking that the shorts were actually black.

Now that the tournament is over, it's clear that these pajama-boxers-shorts are adorable. The fabric is cool and hides stains, and they have a childish charm. From the beginning, the public was mistaken: It wasn't the shorts that were the problem. It was the accompanying shirt.

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Photo of refugees at the back of a truck arriving from Nagorno-Karabakh to Kornidzor, Armenia on Sept. 26

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