During WW1 Britain strategically set up its North Atlantic head quarters in Bermuda. Native Bermudian Nathanial Coxon owned one of the only teashops in Bermuda and his little teashop quickly saw an influx of navel officers. Business boomed for Coxon but his busy tearoom quickly turned into sauna with all the steaming pots of tea. His employees complained about the heat as their uniforms consisted of a smart navy blue blazer and khaki pants. Coxon was a creative businessman and did not want to spend money on a new wardrobe for his employees, so he took all the khaki pants from his staff and cut them just above the knee to create the very first pair of Bermuda Shorts.
Rear Admiral Mason Berridge took his tea in Coxon’s and thought their new uniform was “a bit of old Oxford and a bit of the Khyber Pass.” He decided to adopt the style for his fellow officers and coined the attire ‘Bermuda Shorts.’ Berridge later went on to credit Coxon for his creative solution and Coxon was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire).
But what about the socks?
The pairing of the shorts with the socks came about during WW2 when there was a shortage of clothing in Bermuda. Legend has it that the managers of the two banks in Bermuda arranged for a local tailor to make two pairs of shorts for each of their male employees modeled on the shorts from the British Military that Coxon and Berridge had made famous. The employees were also supplied with long socks to wear with the shorts. The look was a success and local departments stores started selling the shorts in a range of bright hues and the rest of the world quickly caught on.
Too much leg?
However, many gentleman thought the shortness of Bermuda Shorts inappropriate. So a law was passed to ensure propriety and policemen, armed with a tape measure and warning tickets, scoured the island for men showing more the 6 inches of leg. Officially Bermuda Shorts should not be worn more then 6 inches above the knee, but 2-3 inches is preferable.
Today, Bermuda Shorts are the island's national dress and you will see businessmen wearing Bermuda Shorts with long socks and a blazer all year long.