Test your shorts savvy!

July 17, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

No matter how hard designers try to convince us that suited "city shorts" can be worn in the fall and winter, nobody seems to buy it.

But summer is another story. Summer is shorts season. Those of us lucky enough to work in offices without a dress code wear the spiffier styles to work. Others race home at the end of the day to pull off panty hose and restrictive skirts and slip into something more comfortable, namely shorts. Does anybody wear anything else on weekends?

Also, summer's sartorial freedom means makeup is lighter, clothes are breezier, moods are mellower.

We're all for it. However, we have noticed that certain shorts look better on certain types of bodies and some shorts look pretty bad on almost everyone.

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first: All shorts -- as well as just about everything else -- look best on thin women with long, lean legs.

So what? In real life, as opposed to runway life, those women comprise about 1 1/2 percent of the female population. Ignore them and maybe they'll go away.

The rest of us who regularly try to hide flaws such as too-skinny legs, overly abundant hips, protruding tummies and ample, meaty thighs still want to wear shorts.

Let's test your shorts knowledge. Match the shorts listed here with the figure types they flatter. The correct answers, and some shorts-savvy advice, are at printed at right.

We've left some styles off the list entirely. That's because we firmly believe running shorts should be worn for running or working out only. And crotch-high hot pants shouldn't be worn in public by any female who no longer plays with Barbie dolls.

Types of shorts:

BERMUDAS (knee-length and usually made from a stiff fabric such as cotton or linen).

2. WALKING SHORTS (similar to Bermudas but not as long).

3. CITY SHORTS (knee-length or slightly shorter, often made from a drapey fabric such as silk or rayon).

4. SPLIT SKIRTS (cut very full so they resemble a skirt).

5. CUTOFF JEANS

6. STRETCH STYLES (patterned after bicycle shorts.)

Body types:

A. Hefty upper thighs, well-muscled lower thighs and calves.

B. Heavy hips and legs.

C. Flabby upper thighs, rest of legs in fairly good shape.

D. Athletic shape, no fat.

E. Matchstick legs with minimal muscle definition.

F. Well-shaped derriere, legs not skinny, but far from fat.

Answers:

1. -- E. Bermudas may be the most common of all shorts. For many women, however, they are the least flattering. They make wide hips wider, draw attention to dimply knees, and make short legs look dumpy.

2. -- A. Walking shorts are a better choice for most Bermuda-wearing women. They draw attention to that attractive muscle in the lower thigh, without cutting you off at the knee.

3. -- C. City shorts are basically walking shorts with more drape. A good choice if you work in an office without a formal dress code.

4. -- B. Split skirts are your best bet if your legs are your least flattering feature. Often full enough to pass as a skirt, they can be worn for many occasions, from a casual cocktail party.

5. -- F. Cutoffs and denim shorts in general are best left for after-hours unless you manage a playground. Most women have a favorite pair or two they can't give up, but cutoffs are most flattering on Goldilocks types: not-too-thin and not-too-heavy, but just right.

6. -- D. Unless you are a serious athlete (with the legs to prove it), biking-style shorts won't be particularly flattering. However, as a cropped version of leggings, they are among the most

comfortable.

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