August 22 2014

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Yea, Nay, Or Eh: Diaper Shorts? Depends


One of the most welcome things, for me, about the Michelle Obama-mania seizing the fashion industry is the fact that for the first time that I can remember, the woman that designers would kill to dress is an actual grown-up, lady-type person. As opposed, I mean, to a sloppy, underpants-optional starlet, or one of those famous-for-nothing girls who live on reality television. Maybe, I thought, when it was announced that the CFDA would be handing out a special award to MObama, we were ushering in an era of sophisticated dressing. Then I spent the weekend wandering around Brooklyn and saw girls everywhere in…diaper shorts. Sometimes called bubble shorts or bloomer shorts, or in longer versions, harem shorts, these are shorts that pouf out around the hips, crotch, and behind and taper into bands around each leg, or an elasticized hem. A good number of brands introduced versions this summer, so many that it doesn’t bear citing examples. I will note that Lauren Conrad wore a pair by Elizabeth and James to an event last week, but really, the diaper short is an under-sung trend, inasmuch as it’s swept every kind of retail: high-end, low-end, mainstream, left-of-center. To be frank, I find the style unattractive—just fundamentally unflattering on anyone—and I didn’t expect it to have any traction on the street. I was wrong. Anyway, there I was in Brooklyn, puzzling over why it was these bubble/bloomer/harem shorts bothered me so much, when I landed at my friend’s place for some hang time with her 18-month-old. That’s when it hit me—bubble/bloomer/harem shorts look exactly like the kind of shorts you put on over a baby’s diaper. They are literally infantilizing. So, for that matter, are rompers and bobby socks and a bunch of other fads sweeping summer ’09, but depending on the execution, at least that stuff has some wit. Diaper shorts, I think, cross the line. What do you think? Just for a change, couldn’t we fetishize the elderly? Granny glasses, chintz prints, orthopedic footwear…? Comments, please.

Photo: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images



  1. aslola says:

    I think you’re being hasty in the last statement. Although I do agree that the shorts are infatilizing, I wholeheartedly disagree that we have not fetishized the elderly. Take a look at the vintage oxfords on the leggy regulars of or do an e-bay search for granny boots. This trend, I suspect, will become even more ubiquitous in the fall as their contemporary imitations are already popping in in Steve Madden and David Z stores everywhere. Or consider the artfully ironic glasses that used to dominate the faces of overzealous hipsters everywhere. As a person who needs prescriptive eyewear, I’m glad that trend is over.

  2. NotMod says:

    Bring in the chintz! Katinka Matson prints, perhaps?

  3. tr_ro says:

    You should marry Michell Obama if you like her so much!! You guys seam to be obsessed with her… ughhh her style is not that impressive… I dont get what is so especial about her! and her husband is doing nothing for this country! Ok he closed guantanamo bay! what else? Anyway, whats your problem with Lauren Conrad? she looks great in that picture! I like her style… she looks good on those bloomers!

  4. Jacquline says:

    I think they look adorable on her…. I just picked up the same pair by Elizabeth & James.

  5. asma1390 says:

    They make fanny-less people think otherwise.

  6. Aletheia says:

    I think you are conflating bubble/bloomer shorts and harem pants. They are not the same species. Bloomer shorts are quite flattering and are far preferable to the ubitqitous trashy tight cut off jean shorts, whereas harem or any pants of the dropped-crotch variety are indefensible. Bloomer shorts still show off the length of the legs and do not bring your crotch to your knees. Harem pants, on the other hand, automatically make its wearer look like a pengiun.

  7. Valerio says:

    Your totally right it’s an unattractive style. And I have to agree with you these socalled shorts crossed a line. My fashion line, just as other trends/styles do these days. Maybe we are to old fashioned, who knows but this isn’t a style not even a trend. It will last for a couple of weeks and then will be forgotten forever (I hope). Arriverderci

  8. Evangelista24 says:

    Lauren Conrad looks great in those shorts. She tends to dress pretty classy even if she is one of those ‘reality tv’ girls. Michelle Obama looks like she is wearing a diaper most of the time she sports trousers.

  9. baby_goddess says:

    i think the pair on LC looks fabulous, although the “diaper shorts”, like any other trend is something that should be worn in moderated form – some of the exaggerated versions are rather ugly.

  10. Simulya says:

    On my opinion,Michell Obama has an ordinary style,there is nothing special, they think that she is distinguished woman just because she is a first lady of the USA…but she looks like a typical housewife

  11. turnOUT says:

    Bubble shorts also remind me of grannies…but what I adore about them is that I have large hips and somehow the silhouette that this type of shorts creates, makes me look more proportioned…

  12. glostar says:

    since when do ordinary housewives wear thakoon and make jason wu and issy toledo household names? let’s not downplay facts here when it comes to mobama, she is our generation’s jackie kennedy and if you can’t see that you are just hating. as for the diaper shorts, as with any trend it works well for certain people and not so much for others. hopefully we still have the freewill to make our own sartorial choices and not have them made for us.

  13. kellystyle29 says:

    Love the bubble pleated shorts they are so much fun to dress up or down

  14. Ndau says:

    it’s great on Lauren..:)

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