A Crime of Fashion

Vivian McInerny
4 min readNov 13, 2023

The long and short of wearing shorts on planes

Image generated by author using NightCafe

I am not a particularly formal person.

My grammar is lax. My hair probably needs brushing. My housekeeping is casual at best. No kitchen floor is swept before it sounds crunchy.

And if you seat me at a table with more than one fork, I will hesitate before picking up, what may or may not be, the “correct” utensil.

Being lackadaisical on stuffy rules of etiquette is the modern way. And I am totally onboard. I’m part of the culture. Just look at me writing in my sweats and T-shirt!

If it isn’t already obvious, I am trying hard to present myself as a reasonable and rational human being. It is my hope that when I confess my sinfully inconsequential complaint, the reader won’t immediately dismiss me as yet another trifling whiner. Hear me out.

Shorts on planes; they are my petty pet peeve.

And by shorts, I don’t mean those ten-minute darlings of international film festivals.

I’m talking shorts as in the naked lower-leg-calf-baring-half-trouser kind.

Look, I am a reasonable human. Do I expect to see shorts on the beach? Of course. Shorts, for sure!

In a restaurant?

Well, I’m no empath but I can imagine that maybe a person grew urgently hungry while hiking and didn’t have time to run home and change clothes before ordering a bite to eat from a laminated menu with pictures of pancakes and french fries and calorie counts.

That is understandable.

I am not here to fashion shame the wearer of shorts in any situation that might be construed as an emergency.

Say a person was playing a friendly game of pickup when they got an urgent call and had to immediately head to the nearest airport where they and their hairy knees were squeezed into the middle seat of row 21 between two cranky passengers. They have my sympathy.

As do their seat mates.

But say you booked in advance. Maybe after a grinding year of work, you felt more than a little eager to hit vacation mode. In your mind’s eye, you are already drinking tropical drinks with paper umbrellas by the…

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Vivian McInerny

Career journalist, essayist, fiction writer, and life-long spirit-quester.