Apparently many fashion designers weren't paying attentionwhen President Obama met with executives from the banking industry a few monthsago and informed them that "excess is out of fashion." A recent "ThursdayStyles" section of the New York Times (May 21, 2009) featured a front page article on designer shorts formen. Aside from a model wearing a shirt, tie and suit coat with shorts, therewas nothing particularly startling about the shorts pictured in the article –except for the price tags. Top American designer Michael Kors' offering seems downrightmodest at $275 for a pair of knee-length jammers. Michael Bastian presents atwo-shorts-in-one option with a boxer lining sewn into his $540 khaki shorts. Themore recognizable Giorgio Armani label has a $775 option for high-end shorts.But if you want to get the man in your life shorts from GQ's 2008 Designer ofthe Year, Thom Browne, be prepared to shell out $1,495.

In the New York Times article, the owner of a trendy shopmade the case for expensive shorts, but also gave his grudging approval tothose of us who choose to wear "dumpy" shorts from "those mass-brand places."With all due respect to these designers and the trend-setting shop owner,"dumpy" shorts should be the fashion this summer.

Perhaps, while busy introducing their spring collections,these purveyors of style missed that the country has the highest rates ofunemployment in the past 25 years. Presumably none of them has had to make endsmeet on unemployment benefits for if they had, especially in the case ofdesigner Thom Browne, they might have realized that the cost of a single pairof shorts exceeds the monthly average for unemployment benefits for most people.(The average unemployed Minnesotan collects $350 a week in unemploymentbenefits – slightly less each month than the cost of Browne's shorts.)

This summer, I'm pulling out the $5 shorts I bought at anend of season close-out sale a few years ago. Should the need arise fordressier shorts I'll wear my only pair of designer shorts ($29.95 from theKenneth Cole outlet store in Albertville).In this economy, dumpy – not extravagant – is fashionable.