“I wore hot pants years ago, when they were called shorts.” -
Marlene Dietrich, 1967
First off, these babies weren’t pants! Nowhere close! The super-short shorts known as ‘hot pants’ first burned up the scene in the late 60’s as an alternative to the micro-miniskirt that threatened to expose it all. The hot pant offered an element of modesty in the face the flashing fashions of the miniskirt, and a brief modicum of comfort for girls unable to bend over to pick up a fallen book, buckle a loose platform strap, or even lean over to hold the hand of the Beatles as they sang up on stage.
Super-short shorts were nothing new, having had a place in history as underwear worn by cabaret stars of the 20’s and 30’s. Ladies slipped into the tiny ‘tap pant’ of the 20’s and flaunted their fabulous gams. The shocking style was best remembered on the venerable vixen Marlene Dietrich in her movie roles as The Blue Angel or The Blonde Venus. Dolled up in the sexy short, she enflamed men’s hearts and drove them to passion. So scandalous were her ways that they were seen only behind the closed doors of the cabaret. Although the length hadn’t changed, the 60’s hot pant marked the first time such daring styles made their way out to the sidewalk.
Teens embraced the skimpy style, pairing their velvet hot pants with go-go boots. Adults hoped the shorts would be a passing fad, but the only place the shorts were going was shorter! So shocking were these high-thigh skimmers that they were coined ‘hot pants’ in 1970 by Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion bible of Fifth Avenue.
As the decade gave way to the 70’s, hot pants melted the hearts of the opposition, and even the disapproving agreed legs never looked better. Hot pants were everywhere: in every fabric, every print, super tight or flirty and fluid, hot pants were out of control. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em, and hot pants definitely burned the house down when worn with super-sexy platform wedges.
The ‘hot pant’ designation disappeared as the 80’s began, but those sneaky short shorts were just going undercover. Dukes of Hazzard cousin Daisy Duke wore a pair of denim high-risers so memorable that by the time short shorts came back into vogue in the early 90’s, they were named after this sexy-legged character. When you’re hot, you’re hot.