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The question: Why are the hipster guys walking around with the legs of their shorts rolled up?

The answer: It does seem strangely girly, doesn't it? As if the principal idea is to show off more of your long, lean legs. Perhaps the idea is to show a rumpled outdoorsy spirit, as though you have just been wading in very deep water or would be willing to do so at any minute.

Honestly, I think it's a new variation on the trouser cuff, which originated in the turning up of hems for stepping into a racehorse's paddock. It was, in fact, Queen Victoria's son Albert, an inveterate racing fan, who inspired everyday gentlemen to wear permanent "turn-ups" on their trouser legs. But it's paradoxical that, just as cuffs start disappearing on long trousers, they appear in modified form on shorts.

This can be explained by the fact that fashionable summer shorts have got a little shorter over the past couple of years. The over-the-knee cargo short with its strings and toggles is now relegated to those who get around on skateboards and/or live in frat houses. Perhaps the furled leg is an attempt to make older shorts a little more modern.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail