As summer nears, the weather isn’t the only thing heating up. So is menswear—or lack thereof. Yes, it’s official: the men’s short shorts renaissance is officially upon us. This revealing trend has been on the (literal) rise since last year but has quickly gained traction in recent months, with no signs of slowing down.
It all began, as these things do, with the right person in the right place at the right time. In this case, that was This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia, who left the gym in an itty-bitty pair of black shorts this past April. Some might argue the original trendsetters were Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who posted a gym pic in a grey set the day prior), Orlando Bloom (snapped by paparazzi in a sporty Neil Barrett pair last November), or Paul Mescal (papped in a white GAA set last summer). However, Ventimiglia’s appeared to break the Internet from having a different element at play: aesthetics.
Despite the post-workout circumstances, Ventimiglia’s shorts moment was more than just a sweaty top and a generous amount of thigh—it had style. The Superior Defense T-shirt (note the rolled-up sleeves), black high-top Converse, dark green face mask, and sunglasses gave the shorts a laid-back, slightly rebellious vibe, a major upgrade from simple workout gear. Please experience the viral photo below (in the very rare case that you haven’t already).
The Internet’s skin-baring obsession has continued this spring with more viral moments. Rafael Nadal’s co-designed pink Nike shorts, worn while competing at the Monte-Carlo Masters, set comments sections ablaze with peach emojis. Bad Bunny, in a simple black cropped sweatshirt, posted a bathroom mirror selfie that gained over 6 million likes. Ventimiglia went viral again, seen in dark grey camouflage shorts after an evening workout——and, to his credit, cheekily posted a flat-lay shot of the pair. And, most recently, Harry Styles was spotted on the set of My Policeman in some especially sharp blue trunks. It’s a given that men showing more legs, abs, and the like is the latest go-to look—but why?
The sheer weight of star power behind the trend is one indicator. Essentially, it’s science: when one celeb starts a viral sensation, others are sure to follow suit (Read: Bella Hadid’s shoulder bags, Nicole Richie’s Alexander McQueen scarves, Mary-Kate Olsen’s Balenciaga satchels). However, as quarantine has left most of the population craving human contact and intimacy, there’s another clear indicator behind the public embrace of short shorts: sex appeal.
The desire to flaunt what you’ve got and show off your physique is simply a human reaction. If one had, say, Bad Bunny’s abs or Ventimiglia’s thighs (or even if they don’t), they’d likely be inclined to wear cropped tops and short shorts year-round. There’s strong inner validation present from this, too—it takes a lot of confidence to wear clothing without much material and still make it look effortless. In this case, less warrants more (attention, favorable responses, fire emojis, etc.). After a year of most people being confined to their homes in sweatpants, showing more skin is an act of rebellion that’s also, to be blunt, hot. Just consider the fanfare from Bloom, Mescal, or Ventimiglia’s viral photos: 2021 is the time for thighs to shine.
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