Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guest Post: The Sisyphean Struggle Against Bro Shorts

Last week at a science fair party my dear friend Henry started telling me about his long and tragic quest to find a non-douchey pair of shorts. I stopped him mid-sentence and said, "Henry, who knows how many men are facing the same challenges in silence and isolation? You need to blog about this." He was about to embark on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, so he agreed to file a guest post from the road, Jack Kerouac-style. This is his story.

Readers of Daddy Likey may not know it, but millions of men every year are burdened with the task of properly ventilating their legs. Sure, toughing it out and wearing pants during the summer months is an option, but when the raging inferno of an out-of-control barbecue backdrafts into an already sweltering August heat, the practicality of pants goes up in smoke. Which leaves us with the unenviable task of picking out shorts - and if you’re a man of discerning taste, that means shorts that don’t make you look like a bro.

Bros, for the unfamiliar, are so common you probably don’t even realize what a distinct group they are. But it is their numbers that have forced clothing manufacturers to cater to the poor tastes of every Chad, Kyle and Tre in the ultimate frisbee league. Though their interests may range from Jagermeister to hemp, and hackey sack to Playstation, their commitment to baggy, canvas shorts with non-standard pocket configurations is their common banner. So in a stand against this tyranny of the majority, I attempted to find shorts that broke free of the bro mold. The following three trials were taken on a road trip through the Southwest with my future in-laws and rated on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being maximum bro-ness.

Exhibit A


A descriptor: A pair of cargo shorts from REI, except they weren’t real cargo shorts. Yeah they had the pockets on the sides, and zippers in places that weren’t my crotch, but they were made out of a blend of nylon, polyester and some other fibrous abomination devised by man, rather than a just and all-knowing God. They do, however, appear to be spill resistant. Regular fit. Knee length. Are they bro-ish? Well sure, but more the kind of bros that drink wheatgrass cleansing smoothies and are really into parkour.

Performance: These held up surprisingly well. Granted, I didn’t put them through the rigors that millions of dollars worth of textile science at REI-HQ designed them for, but they did repel crumbs from most of the salted-snacks consumed. And the toothpaste I accidentally smeared into the pocket will come right out in the wash. Extra points given for their innovative material, which on long car trips went a long way toward mitigating ass-sweat.

Bro-factor: 8.1

Exhibit B


A descriptor: Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of loose-fitting, khaki knee-length shorts if you’re a semi-professional man between the ages of 25-30? Because I sure as hell didn’t. I am in the uncanny valley of casual men’s summer wear. I’m not quite ready to take the plunge into pleated, cuffed old man shorts, but I also want to differentiate myself from the neighbor kids who keep me up at night with their goddamn skateboarding. Out of options at the big box retail operations, I made a defeated trek to the Vans store in the Lloyd Center Mall in search of some tan Dickies. Result was plain khaki Red Hat (some Dickies equivalent) shorts that sit right below the kneecap. No extra pockets. No awful screen printed designs.

Performance: These get an “incomplete” for the trip. Yeah they fit really well when I tried them on in the store, but after three days of driving for 8 hours per day and eating In-n-Out burger, not so much. Canvas work shorts just don’t have the ‘give’ that an indulgent life on the road requires. Not what I would expect from a company tasked with outfitting countless Warped Tour performers lo these many years.

Bro-factor: 8.9

Exhibit C


A descriptor: Fuck it. These are used, camo-print, button-fly cargo shorts purchased from Buffalo Exchange for $12. Their pockets can hold 6 cans of Milwaukee’s Best Ice (“Beast”). We’re through the looking glass, people.

Performance: Wow these are comfortable! When combined with a pair of flip-flop sandals and a baseball shirt, these may, in fact, be the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn. I can keep everything in these pockets too. Digital camera, wallet, keys, phone, other shorts, whatever. There’s also psychological comfort in just giving in and embracing the bro shorts. I now have a new appreciation for people in muumuus or the crazy guy on my way to work who wears a down comforter as a cape (I call him The King). They’re doing what feels good, society be damned.

Bro-factor: vast and immeasurable

20 comments:

Nick said...

hahaha best thing on the internet! Thanks Henry!

A-Dubs said...

'A thoughtful and hilariously useful post. I'm sending the link to my partner post haste.

Also, I suspect you may have been through the looking glass prior to your shorts quest. I suspect this because you're on a road trip with your in-laws.

Edana said...

As a female who has donned the occasional pair of bro-shorts, I have to agree. They look ridiculous (especially since I'm female) but they're so comfortable that I have a difficult time caring.

lisa said...

LOL wow! Your friend did a great job with this guest post. I've forwarded it to Lawrence and one of my guy friends.

Rosie Unknown said...

This post is amazing! Does he have his own blog? Cause I really want to read more of his writing!


I have an incredibly stylish, incredibly good lucking male friend who doesn't wear shorts because he can't find any that look good.

The Bird said...

I just went through a similar experience with my boyfriend. Old Navy is surely the worst offender. We were drawn in by the promises of $15 shorts, but every pair was either voluminous with cargo pockets or slim but so long they could feasibly be categorized as man capris. We left without trying anything on and continued to Kohls where--behold--we found linen cargo shorts. Lightweight, grown-up, and not a pleat to be found. Sure, they had cargo pocket, but of a reasonable and proportionate size. And at 50% off, they were the same price as the Old Navy abominations. My boyfriend put on post haste when we got home, an soon confirmed that they had improved his life by 8%. Just be aware, they do wrinkle. Small price to pay.

Kelsi said...

Great post! Well-written. I ust not be hanging with the right crowd, because most guys I know not only hate to write, but suck at it, too.

My fiancé had a pair of khaki cargo shorts that he wore every day one summer. Seriously. I could not keep him out of them long enough to put them through the wash. Who-knows-what was stained on there. I finally stole them off the bathroom floor and tried to treat one of the stains in the wash, only to have it come out looking spotless in the two-inch treated area and dingy as hell everywhere else. Into the trash they went. (PS - He used to work at Old Navy. I think I'm marrying a Bro!)

Prêt à Porter P said...

lol!

WendyB said...

"Zippers in places that aren't my crotch" ... something about that seems very deep. The fact that I'm drinking a beer might be adding to that effect.

Anonymous said...

While I do not care about the quality of "bro-ness" particularly, I do care what a pair of shorts does for me W/in a specific task. when I am paddling my canoe or kayak I do not want rear pockets at all and as few seams as possible. After you have been paddling for a while even a flat seam begins to feels like an elephant. For walking or scrambling, shorts with a diamond gusset in the crotch are amazing for the non-binding quality they impart. I do not care what the material is, if the conditions are right you will be a sweat hog in cotton or nylon, the only virtue being the nylon ones will dry in seconds to minutes. I will say that I would swallow hard before I was caught wearing British style "Tommy" shorts. Definitely the epitome of Bro/Mate shorts.

IHGP

~Alissa said...

True, well-written and funny. I was,however, disappointed to reach the end of the post without learning about any great men's shorts options with a bro rating below 3 or 4. This is a serious problem, and your reqaders need serious answers!!!!

Ciambella said...

I am constantly on the hunt for the flattering bro-shorts equivalent for females. I want proper pockets that don't make my hips and thighs look wider than they are, is that too much to ask for?! Why does "slimming" and "flattering" mean "you can't put anything in here fatter than a credit card or a tube of lipstick if you're lucky" for women? Is it really physically impossible? Lady legwear is shockingly bereft of proper pocket acrage, but I yearn to have my hands free, even at the risk of waltzing about with laden shorts hanging by their fingertips from the precipice of my hips. I'll risk it all, just for Real Pockets. Any suggestions, Winona?

Lovers, Saints & Sailors said...

This right here: "every Chad, Kyle and Tre in the ultimate frisbee league" made me laugh at my desk. But being that we work in an open plan environment that laugh was somewhat of a loud breathing out with a tightening of the ab muscles.

Bravo.

Sal said...

Bro shorts are a plague. It's amazing that there are absolutely no plain, classic options for guys in the 20-30 range ...

Catherine said...

It's an amazing coincidence, but I saw Chad, Kyle, and Tre driving up 9th Avenue on their way back to Westchester County in Dad's borrowed Mercedes. I did not notice what short they were wearing. I was too mesmerized by their douchey-ness. Good luck on your continued quest for excellent short!

Kim said...

I encourage my husband to wear bro shorts. That way he can carry the camera, custodian-sized key ring and half our other belongings while I skip along, footloose and fancy-free.

becca said...

Despite your camo bro shorts, I am proud to be your future wife. Why? Because you are just so damn clever.

my name is lauren. said...

this is pretty much the greatest thing i've ever read. thanks for the education on the category of men known as "bros" :). ha!

Vanessa said...

My boyfriend has a pair of bro-shorts, but he ONLY wears them to the beach or when we're off to sit on the green at school. He isn't allowed to wear them otherwise. If he breaks the rule, I'll never do anything with him in public again.

Ellie said...

Wait, so it's basically impossible to find a pair of shorts that aren't bro-shorts? This is terrible news! I hate hate hate bro-shorts. And none scored lower than an 8!

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