In men's fashion, hemlines are rising

Joseph V. Amodio / Newsday /


Published Sep 26, 2012 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Look out ladies, you'll be seeing a lot more of men's legs come spring.

“It seems everyone got tired of those baggy cargo shorts at the same time,” said designer Michael Bastian.

Yep, men's shorts will get shorter and leaner next season, according to a variety of men's runway shows held during New York Fashion Week earlier this month. And that's big news in an industry that — unlike womenswear — adopts new trends rather slowly.

“In menswear, how often do things change?” asked designer John Bartlett. “Never.”

The look — a lean, dressy short, sometimes cuffed or rolled, reaching halfway down the thigh — is already being sported by fashion-forward types on the streets of New York, but designers think the look can cross over to the mainstream.

Bastian and Bartlett, plus other popular labels such as Tommy Hilfiger, Billy Reid and Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown, all showed shorter shorts paired with tees, button-downs, even blazers.

Hilfiger honed his collegiate “Prep Club” look, featuring seersucker blazers (with horizontal stripes), V-neck varsity sweaters (worn without tees) and clever, button-down shirts with a print placket down front looking like a skinny tie.

Hoping to reinvigorate the brand, Perry Ellis brought on as creative directors Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, the edgy, British designers of Duckie Brown, and their premiere collection featured Perry classics (dot prints, lots of tan) and Duckie brazenness (drop-crotch pants).

Gilded Age designer Stefan Miljanic was inspired by the 1983 film “Rumblefish,” which starred Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke as street thugs and is all about “the rebellious, restless spirit of youth,” he said. That translates to slim jeans, graphic tees, vintage-y check and plaid shirts and leather moto jackets.

Bastian showed suiting — from classic windowpane to camo prints — in his eponymous line, and tweaked these ideas in the sportier Gant by Michael Bastian, offering camo jeans, an olive madras blazer (worn atop a button-down oxford with sheared-off collar), and an Explorer Blazer with mesh elbow patches.

Bartlett, dedicated to cruelty-free eco-fashion, dressed his “plant-based man” in a sustainable, all-linen collection of Western blazers, plus (harder-to-sell) tunics and djellabas.

And Alabama-based Billy Reid did up his Southern prep gents in slightly more relaxed, fuller-cut jackets and pants in oatmeal tweeds. His shorts? High, low and in between, including a tailored, trousery cargo short, which means you don't have to give up your cargos cold turkey.

Whether they choose the shorter short, of course, remains to be seen.

“All it takes is for one person to say, 'Wow, that looks great on you' — and then they wear it for the next 10 years,” said Bastian. “That's the great thing about guys. They just need that little bit of encouragement.”

3 trends

We cornered author and style forecaster Tom Julian, of Manhattan's Tom Julian Group, for three trends that regular guys can comfortably slip into this spring:

Prints: An “explosion of prints” hits everything from shorts, jeans and tees to footwear.

Colorful pants: Whether bright or muted, trousers no longer go unnoticed. Look for sea blue (Gant by Michael Bastian), parrot green (Nautica) or a faded apricot chino (Gilded Age).

Lightweight jackets: Unlined, unstructured blazers are as light and comfy as shirts. Check out supple versions at Brooks Brothers, or Nautica's superlight wool ripstop suit.