When Wearing Shorts Was Taboo

While it’s a known fact that there are cultures in other parts of the world that enforce severe dress codes, certain communities in our own nation impose strict clothing prohibitions. In fact, not too long ago lawmakers from Florida to Illinois passed regulations banning saggy pants. What many people may not remember is that there was a time when shorts were considered scandalous. In 1938, the city of Honesdale, Penn., banned the wearing of shorts, pointing out: “Honesdale is a modest town, not a bathing beach.” The city council of Monahans, Tex., passed an ordinance in 1944 that banned women in shorts from public streets, and in 1952 the city of Plattsburgh, NY., voted to ban the wearing of shorts by anyone over 16 years old on city streets. Violators were subject to a $25 fine or 25 days in jail. Colleges have also been battlegrounds, with Los Angeles City College issuing a mandate prohibiting Bermuda shorts. In the spring of 1959, the Fort Worth City Council received a letter from a concerned citizen who wrote, “When a person wears shorts, it’s an advertisement for adultery.” She went on to say that she resented having to look at the “ugly legs of men and women in shorts.” Exposed gams, she added, were a “disgrace to humanity.” Imagine what that woman would think of the way people dress today.