May 022011

(asked by Ismael from California)


Here in America, it is very rare for men to wear capris. The only men I have seen wearing them are gay men and some rock-climber type men and even those are few. My cousin worked at Eddie Bauer in the same outlet that I work at and the French men were always asking about the capris. The funny thing is that they only had capris for women and she had to explain that every time someone asked about it. Why are capris so popular in France? What is it about them that appeals to many French men? Is it a comfort thing or a fashion thing? Or something else?


men caprisI also have a question for you: What’s wrong with American straight men and them not wearing capris?

The issue is pretty simple? When it’s hot outside, how can a man stay stylish and still not being too hot?

The answer: men capris!

Men capris are relatively new in French fashion for men, I’d say 10 years give or take a few years, but they changed France in the summer.

Back in the days, when hot weather was here, men had two options: wear pants and be super hot or wear shorts and look stupid.

They had to find a way to still look stylish and not be too hot. Jean-Paul Gaultier tried to launch the man’s skirt, but it didn’t take. I mean, French men like to be stylish, but there are limits.

So the logical thing to do was to take a pair of pants and make it shorter, but not so short that it becomes stupid looking (i.e. not above the knee). Tadah! The men capris were born!

I’m not sure what else to say about them, except that they’re super cool, comfortable and stylish, and I really don’t understand what American straight men won’t wear them. But we all know where American straight men’s fashion sense here. Well, actually, no we don’t as it’s nowhere to be found.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I own several pairs, including one that really looks like the one in the picture. My favorite one is also quite wide (almost like skater shorts, except that they’re not skater shorts) and they kinda look like Hobbit pants. How awesome is that?


More Questions Answered:

  22 Responses to “Why are men capris so popular in France?”

  1. I think they are hot! , nice example u are using with that pic. I would think u would see them more @ resort and beach/coastal areas in the USA. However, u are so correct. American men dress poorly. They take no time in grooming either. Frenchman, how to feel about men getting manicures and pedicures?

    • Well, we need to draw a limit somewhere. Caring about how you dress, yes. Manicures and pedicures, that’s going a little too far for a man in my opinion.

  2. I’ve been living in France for the last 20 years or so and I have never seen (or noticed) any man wearing capris (I did not even know the name). Maybe because I’m more interested in what females wear ; )

    • Where do you live in France? I’m sure you don’t see many in Brittany or Picardie.

      Pay close attention this coming summer, and tell me what you see.

      • Are you kidding? I live in Brittany, and they are everywhere. They have been ever since I moved here 9 years ago. The French call them “pantacourts”. Along with the man-purses, it seems as though they are just looking for reasons to be made fun of.

  3. in the US, they call them manpris

    capris are for women

    • I love how some people in the US feel the need to add “man” to items usually associated with females.
      For such a macho culture, you’d expect them to be more comfortable with their masculinity.

      Or is it because they’re not that confident that they’re that macho?

      • I think it’s because they’re not confident. It’s stupid that they think that dressing nicely and looking good isn’t manly. And guys can get called “gay” just for giving a regular hug to a friend, so they have this weird half hug thing that they do. It’s really stupid.

  4. It is definitely safe to say that Americans are the worst dressers. I cannot believe that some people have the audacity to leave the house dressed in flannel pajama bottoms, oversized t-shirts that do not match the bottoms, and either Uggs, worn sneakers, or dirty flip-flops.
    Some Americans (including myself) actually do care how they look. It’s just far and few between.

    Another popular term here is “mandals”, which is used to describe flip-flops or sandals for men. You also have “man purse” or my personal favorite, “chickmobile” (used to describe cars that look “feminine”, particularly VW bugs).

    If you don’t mind me asking, I am curious; I have noticed the French tend to wear mainly neutral colors. Why is that?

    • Worn sneakers are cool, much cooler than brand new sneakers actually.

      Why neutral colors? Well, “dressing well” is rarely compatible with “looking like a clown”

  5. They’re a lot better than God-awful skinny jeans. They look more like rolled up cargo pants; not what I’d imagine capris that women usually wear. As for the comment above, yes, we (Americans) are a bit lax with our dress sense - very casual if you will. I’ve been one of the pajama offenders when I was an undergrad. From what I’ve seen, though, it’s really the younger folks that wear PJs outside. I remember my dad smacking me upside the head once when I attempted to wear them to a grocery store.

    All that aside, I find the “rivalry” between Germans and the French to be hilarious. A German roommate of mine always bashes the French sense of style, especially the tube socks with sandals.

    • Your roommate is a sneaky one, trying to deflect stereotypes about his/her own country to another country.
      But apart from your roommate, sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t much a “rivalry” between France and Germany nowadays.

  6. Ah, well. It was pretty funny to see German and French exchangw students bicker amongst themselves about fashion sense.

  7. My French teacher tried to explain this to us, that men in France wear capris. The general consensus in the class was “Just wear shorts. They’re cooler, and seriously, how much difference in fashion does 16 or 17 centimeters of fabric make?”

    When my dad lived in Germany, he embraced the capri thing. I still don’t get why guys should have such hangups about showing their knees, but everyone to their own I guess.

    • No. Shorts are not cooler, shorts are ugly on men (and very few look good on women).
      And not “everyone to their own” either, some cultures have a fashion sense, and some don’t.

      • That’s pretty much what the French teacher said (she’s from Paris).

        But…why haven’t they caught on here in the U.S.? I’ve noticed that most Americans loooove anything French (even if they don’t like it. for example: if someone says your perfume smells nasty, and you retort “It’s French”, the other person usually won’t say a thing about it again. After all, it’s French.) And when people find out you speak French, at least in a certain groups of people, you are now a part of dinner-party entertainment: “Ooh, will you say something in French? It’s sooo pretty.” “Pourquoi, Dieu, pourquoi?!?!”
        “Oooooh how pretty.” and then you become translator of all things: “Pass the butter, please. Ooooh how do you say ‘butter’ in French?”

        No one ever asks my German-speaking dad to do this. It’s not “Oooooh pretty!” Seldom am I called upon to translate things into Spanish in that setting. Just French.

        Sorry for the rant.

  8. Capris are quite common in Quebec too - makes us easy to recognize while on vacation on the US East coast or in the Caribeans…

  9. The shorts of today are too hot anyway, I get heat blisters on my thighs, so I just wear long pants year-round, in Florida! In the movie ’10′ with Dudley Moore, you see his friend wearing capris, while explaining that he believes his ‘partner’ is using him for his wealth. Hence, I believe, if gays want to get married, there should be mandatory pre-nubs, just to protect themselves from would-be hustlers, like what happened to Rock Hudson. Back to long pants - you need less mosquito repellant!

  10. Back in 2010 I went on a hiking trip in the Picos, Spain with my wife. Many of the local hikers male and female wore capris and they looked stylish, comfortable, practical, etc. Soon after my return to the States I was shopping in a sporting goods store in Boulder Colorado which is arguably the liberal center of the west. Anything goes. Goth, hippie, fashionista, Halloween costumes, preppie, chic, etc.. I asked the clerk if they stocked hiking capris for men.
    Shocked and with the US version of the Gallic shrug he exclaimed “you will not find that in Boulder!”.

  11. I can tell when someone is European in the US. They’re the ones wearing capris, or what I like to call Europants.

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