This summer, it seems like there are Bermuda shorts for all – and all are for Bermuda shorts. Trotted out in khaki at The Row, in fuchsia at Valentino and in a soft lavender at Max Mara, this modest style is a great equalizer, wearing surprisingly well on soccer moms, dads with dad bods and their kids – not to mention hype-obsessed gen-Zers, who sport it along with their bucket hats and Balenciaga sneakers. These shorts, it seems, are an objectively democratic style fit for a world in which the traditional concepts of formality, age and gender seem increasingly irrelevant and outdated.
Though they feel particularly fresh these days, Bermuda shorts, like many enduring wardrobe staples such as the bomber jacket and cargo pants, actually started out around a century ago as military gear. As the story goes, British officers stationed in Bermuda during the First World War cut their pants into shorts to beat the heat. This hack caught on and was refined over the years into a style that has since been worn by everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Barack Obama.
“These shorts, it seems, are an objectively democratic style fit for a world in which the traditional concepts of formality, age and gender seem increasingly irrelevant and outdated.”
In its latest iteration, the functional favourite has finally gone high fashion. Sported by the trendsetting Hadids, Jenners and Kardashians, today’s styles rise above casual cotton, coming in luxe satins and leathers. Montreal-based fashion platform Ssense, for example, boasts a variety of Bermuda-style shorts, ranging from an accessible Levi’s 501 take to Givenchy’s $1,450 forest-green pair, which come embellished with a dainty gold chain. Brigitte Chartrand, vice-president of womenswear buying at Ssense, says she noticed knee-length denim cut-offs start to pick up in popular- ity on the site a couple of years ago, right around the time when Justin Bieber started donning the then hard-to-love style. “Now, we’re investing in more elevated approaches as well,” she says of haute versions by Bottega Veneta, Acne Studios and Nanushka. “Today, they strike a balance between casual and dressy elements.”
“Try different styles, and don’t hesitate to visit your tailor for tweaks.”
Designer Tanya Taylor is also embracing the silhouette, introducing cheerful bubble-gum-pink Bermuda shorts and a matching blazer this season. “I wanted to give women something they could wear to work but that would still be cool paired with sneakers for the weekends,” says Taylor. Worried that the shorts’ mid-thigh cut-off is hard to wear? “Like anything, it’s all about the fit, and not every length is going to work for everyone’s body,” says Taylor. So try different styles, and don’t hesitate to visit your tailor for tweaks.
But while Bermudas may be the go-to go-everywhere look for summer, it’s wise to err on the side of formality – unless your goal is to channel the functional outdoorsy-ness of the shorts Laura Dern wore in Jurassic Park. “Go for a more tailored and elevated look: Try pairing them with a pump or heeled sandal instead of a sneaker,” suggests Chartrand. No matter what vibe you’re after, one cue is clear: It’s time to embrace the long and the short of it.
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