Here at the Free Press’s Department of Etiquette and Common Decency, we have been receiving a great deal of inquiries with respect to the propriety of male musicians performing onstage while wearing shorts. It is not entirely clear as to whether these queries are being propounded by the genuinely confused, anticipatory contrarians, or outraged audience members seeking something definitive in writing. Regardless, it is apparent that the wearing of shorts on stage is becoming increasingly frequent, and that the issue needs to be conclusively addressed.

  As a general matter, the answer is that shorts (or cut-offs, umbros, jams, jorts, hot pants, bermudas, footer-bags etc.) should not be worn by any performer who is or might be in view of an audience and is not AC/DC’s Angus Young. Most sources agree on an exception for certain members of thrash metal bands, and there appears to be some support in instances of life-threatening heat (although this is far from universal acceptance). Beyond these carefully circumscribed exceptions, however, there is uniform consensus that wearing shorts on stage makes you look like a fucking idiot.

  Fortunately, there are simple and effective strategies for dealing with the wearing of shorts once the problem is identified. These include favoring pants over shorts in initial dressing sessions or, failing this, the removal of shorts immediately followed by replacement with pants. Similar to municipal elections, however, the complained-of problems seem to be premised more in identification than in lack of remedy. In light of this, we have taken it upon ourselves to offer a helpful chart, as well as photographic representations of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. We hope that all concerned will find it useful.

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