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Hot Pants Are Trending—Are You Ready to Embrace the Statement-Making Shorts?

Experts weigh in on the intimidating micro hemline.

hot pants
Photo: Courtesy of Ali Cutler

In the inevitable sartorial pendulum swing, the breadth of which the pandemic has only further exacerbated, the next step after we shed our layers of loungewear seems to be to lean into a bit of sex appeal. Fashion is embracing something of a body-conscious, if you will, approach to getting dressed. One way to do so is to reveal a little skin—perhaps in the form of a micro hemline. While we've already discussed the allure of the miniskirt, the hot-pant trend is, pardon our pun, hot on her heels.

According to Wikipedia's highly technical definition, hot pants are simply “extremely short shorts." The silhouette often adheres to the wearer's shape versus creating its own, leaving little to the imagination. For fall '21, we have already seen hot pants on the runways of Tom Ford, Erdem, and Alix of Bohemia. Alix Pietrafesa, the brains behind her aforementioned eponymous brand, is a longtime fan of the controversial shorts. “They feel like a most confident garment," she tells Coveteur. “They pack a lot of attitude and allow the wearer freedom. It's liberating to show the curves of your body, to flash so much leg, without the limitations that a miniskirt presents."

hot pants

Photo: Courtesy of Alix of Bohemia

To our great pleasure, the shocking hemline has a corresponding saucy history. Supershort shorts first rose to popularity in the 1950s (typically reserved for the beach and pin-up ads), but the term “hot pants" was not technically coined until the '70s. Initially ushered in by designer Mary Quant, hot pants paralleled the women's liberation movement of the decade, embraced by stars from Elizabeth Taylor all the way to David Bowie. Pietrafesa referenced '70s icons such as Ali McGraw and Verushka for her modern interpretations. “There's something sporty and cool about them, and something decidedly louche and powerful in the mentality of the wearer."

Personally, this concept automatically directs my mind to memories of high school in suburbia. My fourteen-year-old brigade wholeheartedly embraced the polarizing dichotomy between long pants and hemlines that could barely be considered hemlines—and nothing in between. Of course, in those days, we paired our shorts with fashion-defunct peplum tops and skintight graphic tees.

hot pants

Photo: Courtesy of Ali Cutler

Today's iteration, along with its stylistic pairings, are no such sartorial treachery. While the shorts I'm referring to were relegated to denim or cotton (SOFFE shorts, anyone?), many of today's options cater to the work-from-home lifestyle and are rendered in various types of knitwear. Model Ali Cutler is a proponent and has repeatedly donned them on Instagram for her 200k+ follower base. “For hot pants—or booty shorts, as I still call them—I am usually one for wearing them in my home as loungewear. They are so comfy, especially in a stretchy or wooly fabric. They allow me to still feel dressed up and sassy even while working from home."

Though flashy and exciting, the leg-bearing silhouette is not without its logistical limitations. “For thicker girls like me, wearing them around town is a little more difficult," reveals Cutler. “I get thigh chafe if I'm wearing extremely short shorts, which makes it uncomfortable to be out and about or moving a lot in hot pants." This is a problem that may arise for many body types. “There are great thigh-chafe rubs for these situations, but I find hot pants better for less mobile situations like a road trip, a campout, or a work-from-home situation. For all of these, hot pants are a must!"

hot pants

Photo: Courtesy of Alix of Bohemia

If you're ready to embrace shorts beyond your home, Pietrafesa has created a tweed iteration from deadstock Italian wool. She describes them as “garments that walk the line between costume and clothing," and she also offers a matching suit jacket. We've seen similar dressed-up pairings on Instagram that prove the shorts are, in fact, wearable, with the correct styling. “I see them with a flat over-the-knee boot for the city—these aren't made to be kept inside."

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