You never know what you’ll find in the men’s department or in the back of your own closet.

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Yep. It’s really me. All photography by Margaret Fox.

Nothing in my closet made sense any more. Since March, there’s been no need for silk blouses and beige gabardine trousers and linen blazers, my spring and summer-in-the-city working wardrobe. Besides, what was I doing, besides working at my computer all day, at home? House cleaning, gardening, weekly grocery shopping, a little yoga practice, a little percussion practice. Zoom meetings, for which The New York Times recommends a crisp white shirt. I have several of those. Soon, the weather was too warm for jeans, even yoga pants. And forget sweatpants. I hate sweatpants.

When it got really, really hot, I started looking for shorts. Shorts I could throw on in the morning with a T-shirt and then add the proverbial white shirt when required. I didn’t like anything I saw. Most women’s shorts were way too short. Too ragged. Or if longer, too fussy and tailored, with belt loops and cuffs. The few ‘Bermuda,’ i.e., not-too-short-shorts l found online looked like they would need dry cleaning, or at least ironing. Remembering a pair I loved years ago, I started googling “madras shorts.” The ones I wore until they fell apart were lightweight, cool, kind of fun, and went with everything. But what I found this time were men’s. Men’s madras shorts, at places like Brooks Brothers (alas, now-bankrupt Brooks Brothers). They were tailored and kind of expensive, and I knew I couldn’t chance buying a pair without trying them on to see what size, if any, would fit. At the time, early July, I was not going anywhere. …


Ellen M. Shapiro

My career is designing and writing about design. Here, I can write about lots of things. My short fiction attempts to capture and evoke past moments in time.

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