Bermuda shorts: They’re not just for elderly English gents anymore.

Whether you love or hate the slightly-above-the-knee national costume of what the Spanish called "The Island of Devils," you’ll be seeing them everywhere soon.

We know this by the sheer relentlessness of those Old Navy commercials, and by the fact that the store carries at least 14 versions. Old Navy – with its low prices and smart marketing – is an arbiter of youth dress, so under-25s who ordinarily wouldn’t embrace shorts based on turn-of-the-century British military uniforms, are.

Ditto for (in increasing price order) American Eagle, the Gap, Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch. (Abercrombie sells a brown pair of Karen Easy Plaid Shorts for $49.50; they’re attractive, but no other store could stock them with a straight face.)

And the public is ready.

"I love that Bermuda shorts have come back on the scene," said Angela DeBruhl, 41. "They hide the not-so-attractive ... and they can be worn to lots of different summer social events. The name does make you wonder, though ... It makes me think of the Bermuda Triangle."

Lea Russo, 29, is more conflicted: "I love them on other people. But I look hideous in them."

Some shoppers harbor visceral dislike for the long, tapered shorts. Somehow, Bermudas inspire bigger-than-usual fashion emotions.

"HATE them!" said Wendy Griffin. "But probably only because I’m vertically challenged and they make my legs even more nonexistent than they are."

"The patterns are too busy," said Emily Anderson, 29. "They went out of style how many years ago now? I feel about them the way I do about Hawaiian shirts – too much for the eye to handle. And I can’t say that I’ve ever been hit on while wearing either."


All we can say is, this is the place for common sense. Bermudas cut your lower half in half, so the stumpiness factor can go sky-high if you’re not Gwyneth Paltrow or a pink flamingo. So choose wisely.

This isn’t the time for super-flat shoes or flip-flops, or for a very conservative top. If you have anything bright/billowy/just-plain-cute, break it out for some attractive fashion irony.


*Canvas sneakers, flat leather sandals or loafers – try athletic shoes for a super-casual look. No pumps or strappy sandals.

*Rich brown loafers will dress up the shorts – or black ones if your top is black.

*Navy, white or ivory sneakers

*Wear short socks if you wear socks at all.


© 2005, The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.