Fashion is a stubbornly one-way street. Despite the efforts of Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier to get them into skirts, men just won’t wear women’s clothes. Yet many women wear nothing but items of dress from the male wardrobe.
It’s hard to believe that only 50 years ago, such things were for only the boldest and most exotic females. Is there a fashionable woman anywhere who doesn’t have at least one pair of jeans?
Surprisingly, however, shorts are a different story. No doubt because they are normally worn by men only in casual circumstances – city suits with shorts have totally failed to catch on, despite the hopes of menswear designers – they are still sometimes considered by top hotels to be a little too relaxed to be acceptable in quite the same way as skirts or trousers.
This is as sad as it is absurd. Every summer, the world’s designers have demonstrated that shorts can be casual and glamorous –– demure and sexy and fabulously flattering. Or, depending on the cut, just the opposite. They can be short or long, and they can come in every fabric or colour – from plain to florals and checks. And since Kate Moss and Alexa Chung popularised the tiniest of denim shorts in the last year or two, they have become ubiquitous – and not just for summer.
(First published March 2006)

Picture. Joanna Lumley wearing Jean Muir clothes, 1975