It’s that time of year – well, it’s been that time of year for me since about always – where most folks’ fear of sweating through full-blown pants overcomes their fear of revealing some kneeskin. Yep, it’s almost shorts season. And for the truly discriminating ‘Merican male, there are really only two choices in short pants: mesh or plaid. (Thankfully, the Nadalian capri pants never really caught on – though the Nantucket Reds I bought just in case can easily be converted to plaid with a stencil and some scissors.)
For the last several decades at least, it’s been commonly accepted that plaid shorts and mesh shorts exist on the opposite ends of the shorts’ spectrum. Casual expression of post-ironic personal style vs. extreme ease of use/elastic? Looking like your name is probably Douche Magoo vs. causing nervous parents to distribute fliers when you accidentally walk by a playground at recess? Should choosing comfortable casual attire be such a major fork in the road of life? Not necessarily, if you possess the intestinal fortitude and balance to survive in completely different environments.
Sure, I can walk the line – but it’s likely that few people have the ample free time and emotional reserve required to commit to both types of shorts. So to help those who will have to choose a path, I offer the following comparison to help the cause.
Fashion Face-Off: Mesh Shorts vs. Plaid Shorts
Mesh: Essentially thicker, better ventilated boxer shorts meant for external wear; despite being speciously marketed as athletic apparel, vigorous activity not recommended without additional supporting garments
Plaid: Only as comfortable as the fabric and fit combination allows; there is much more variance in these categories with plaid shorts than the omnicomfort afforded by mesh shorts
Mesh: Maintain integrity and identity with only infrequent washing, no buttons or zippers to contend with, go well with almost any tee shirt, dark colors can absorb almost any type of spill or stain
Plaid: Presence of multiple colors also allows for great versatility in tee shirt pairing, patterns can help hide resultant stainage from any errant hot sauce or burrito innards, presence of zippers, buttons and drawstrings (sometimes all in the same pair of shorts) can make for more complicated donning/doffing
What You Think Your Shorts Say About You
Mesh: “I may, or may not, be headed to play some hoops – just need to run a couple of quick errands first, might as well be comfortable”
Plaid: “These shorts reflect my fondness for outdoor leisure activities, hanging with my bros and drinking a couple of brews…the fact that they look awesome with popped collars and sunglasses is pure bonus”
What Your Shorts Actually Say About You
Mesh: “I may, or may not, have recently urinated on myself a little – but you’ll never know”
Plaid: “I am probably a f*ckhead, talk to me to confirm”
Mesh: Have the potential to remove a lot of the mystery around what an outline of your genitalia looks like; people tend to jump to the conclusion you don’t have a lot going on when they see you sporting mesh shorts in public
Plaid: In certain seated situations, rigid fabrics can cause the “pants tent” illusion (a la Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Mesh: Like $7
Plaid: Not as much as you’d think, I got like ten sweet pairs at Old Navy for i think a total of $16 – but that might have been due to the standard “you get 30% off since it’s Monday, and another 43% off if you’ve ever used the internet, and…” discounting policy offered by ON.
Mesh: Serial killer, laid-off video store employee, unsuccessful blogger
Plaid: Cell phone kiosk employee at the mall, guy who works at the pro shop during the summers just for a little spending money and discount greens fees
Conclusion: Plaid wins by a nose. Mesh shorts are strong on value, comfort and convenience – the pillars of the unemployed community – but those benefits are offset by an overwhelming air of failure – they are kind of the sweatpants of summer. Plaid shorts, on the other hand, will immediately get you off on the wrong foot with strangers, but mostly because they evoke memories of unlikable, similarly-attired people from their past – but they are less frowned-upon in upscale locations such as Red Lobster. For those that can straddle the two worlds, I suggest trying to limit the mesh experience to your house or trips to a drive-through. For everywhere else, let it rain plaid. If you have some white bucks, all the better.