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.