Vintage Style #32: She Wears Short Shorts

Men's shorts in the seventies definitely lived up to their name - they were shooooort.  Ever watch a basketball game on ESPN Classic? I don't know how these guys managed to keep their package from "making an appearance" on network TV.  Ever see that episode of The Beverly Hillbillies where Jethro and Mr. Drysdale take up jogging in their little white shorts?  I feel like I know these two gentlemen intimately.  At least in a Speedo things are contained - there's never a danger of a sudden and unexpected penis rearing its ugly head. (pun intended)

But, it was a small price to pay, because women also wore short shorts.... and Sha-a-zam! did they get short.  Hot pants or Daisy Dukes, it didn't matter - no self respecting girl in the 1970s was going to get caught dead in a dowdy pair of long length shorts.

Was it worth it? Was it a fair exchange to endure the threat of man junk popping out unannounced and in return have women parade around in ultra short shorts? You tell me....


Naturally, there's a lot of folks that happily enjoyed the male short shorts.  I say more power to you.  I encourage my fellow retro bloggers out there to post on the subject - it would be both humorous and interesting.  Here, however, we're stickin' with the female fashion trend only.

Readers will note that this is a style that is making a swift comeback in the U.S.  But we won't dwell on the here and now - this is, after all, Retrospace.  Let's linger instead on a butt load of short shorts from the past, shall we? I've got so many I'll have to divide this content into two separate posts. So, be on the lookout for Part Two. Enjoy.

Image #4


6 (click images to enlarge)














26 (Note: some of these photographs are from the early eighties. But who's counting?)
27 (from a yearbook)















  1. I don't know if I should tell this story...

    Oh what the heck. When I was in driver's ed, it was during the summer (1981?) and the classroom time was on the 3rd floor of the junior high that was built in the 1930s, with those steep marble staircases. The girls wore those short terrycloth shorts. We'd wait outside till they started going to class and we'd follow them up the stairs. You always got to see some cheek that way.

    I wasn't too fond of the longer shorts when they came into style.

  2. #18 - that's a pretty fine looking lot lizard.

  3. #40... Holy shit. "Girls and bikes" would make a nice post.

    #43: a finnish album cover?! Where do you find all your odd stuff?

  4. #34 is the immortal lovely Susan Anton from her 1979 film Goldengirl, Ms Anton started her glamor girl career as a Muriel Cigar girl.


  5. #2: WTF. The button layout looks like a phone, but the rest of it looks like a calculator.

    Short men's shorts need to come back not just because shorts to/past your knees look stupid, but because they're hotter, which defeats the purpose of wearing shorts, the fucking morons. And who ever had problems with their junk falling out or them? Ever hear of underwear?

    1. At first glance, I thought they were carrying commlocks from "Space: 1999". Then I remembered that hot nerd girls were a recent innovation.

    2. They're pedometers. You can punch in say, the length of your desired run/walk, and it will beep when you're done. Or you can use 'em to calculate how far you've gone.

  6. Just do a Google image search for "English footballers of the 70s and 80s" to see male short shorts in all their glory.

  7. Short shorts on chicks? No complaints!

    Short shorts on dudes? To each their own, but it's not for me, man. Sound like a good idea? Well, watch the music video of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and you'll be immunized from short shorts on men for the rest of your fecking life.

    1. Instead of watching something completely fruity, go search for something like "1970 knicks" on YouTube. Those shorts are the correct length and don't look at all weird or too short.

  8. Wouldn't male sports players be wearing some sort of support device under their short shorts?

    I disagree about shorter shorts, Armpit. The thing is, back then only the women (and men) who had the body for short shorts wore them. Now adays unless we're talking about Hooters (and the girls wear thick support hose under their shorts so there's no bare skin anyway) the only people who wear short shorts are those without the body for them. Just stroll over to the site PeopleOfWalmart.com sometime to see for yourself.

    Except me. I have pity for humanity and make sure my ugly legs are always in long pants no matter what the weather.

    1. I was just at a county fair (outskirts of Twin Cities) this weekend and saw plenty of wonderful, thin-bodied young girls wearing short shorts. Strange WalMart creatures are not the *only* people wearing them.

  9. 4th picture, Pancakes after tennis?

  10. I don't think it's true that just those with the body for it wore short shorts back in the day. Perhaps among women it was, but men across the board wore them. Even fat old grandfathers wore them and nobody thought a thing of it. It was simply an accepted thing. It's amazing how something once so commonplace now horrifies people. Short shorts for men prevailed from the mid/late 60s through the 80s. It was around late 80s that sports figures like Michael Jordan started wearing longer shorts and young American men followed suit. Another trend along with short shorts was the "half shirt", a t shirt with the lower half cut off, exposing the midriff. There wasn't as big a deal about men showing off their bodies then as there is now. It seems exclusively the territory of women now. Its like we've gone back to the 50s after the glorious 70s. The long, baggy shorts past the knee of today shouldn't even be called shorts. Even bathing suits now are practically long pants.

    1. I mentioned this (OK, ranted) in the "Is Fashion Dead?" post.Knee length capris and long baggie shorts for men seem to be a would-be uniform for a peasant class, made for standing in line for Soylent Green. Where's the cutoffs-and halter-tops of my (imaginary) youth?

    2. A favorite line on 'The Venture Brothers': "Are those giant shorts or tiny pants?"
      I feel like making a statement and hitting the beach in one of those old-timey turn-of-the-(previous)-century striped onesie suits with sleeves. Got to get a handlebar moustache going though.

  11. Look at how slender and shapely the women are. Yeah, right...High Fructose Corn Syrup doesn't make you fat. And I'm the Queen of England.

  12. Hey, you forgot the original Daisy Duke in your photo montage.

  13. Hooray for the "Road Music" lot-lizard! I have that one (under the name "20 Golden Trucker Hits") on vinyl! Some boyhood memories with that one!

  14. Hot pants had a mainstream vogue of almost exactly one year, 1972. To my great good fortune, I was 16 that year...

  15. :) Great topic here. I grew-up in the 70's and 80's (born in early to mid 70's) and remember going roller skating seeing so many beautiful girls with great legs in short-shorts and silky Pantyhose. Then my older sister would have her friends over who were many times wearing such.
    Here are a few hundred short-shorts photos I would like to share:
    -Eric C. H.