Shorts and sandals: One intrepid adventurer explores San Francisco’s summer fashion taboos

sandalsOriginally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 2005

FROM HIGH SCHOOL shop classes to construction sites, fashion critics wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots have long cast a disdainful eye on shorts and sandals. And sadly, San Francisco, in many ways an open-minded city, perpetuates that distaste. Wearing white after Labor Day seems as dashing as sporting an Armani suit when compared to wearing flip-flops in the foggy city. Not only do most San Franciscans choose not to wear shorts, but my experience has been that they patently disapprove of those who do: an aberration in the city’s live-and-let-live attitude.

To experience the city’s scorn firsthand, I put on my gold mesh shorts, manufactured from the same material as the liners of swimming trunks, and revealed my pale, hairy legs and knobby knees. I had carefully selected a pair of boxers that would look good through all the evenly spaced mesh holes in the fabric. My snaggletoothed toenails hung over the edge of my Baywatch-brand flip-flops, a toe-flossing pair decorated with an earth-tone, faux Indian motif. On my T-shirt in puffy-paint bas-relief was an image of a red deck chair on a strip of shoreline, with, beside it, an enormous nautilus shell that, disobeying all logical proportion, dwarfs the seagull flying above it. Could I be the flint to ignite the stored potential energy of charcoal gray power suits into the kinetic colors of summer-fun beachwear?

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