Monday, 31 March 2014

A Visit to the School Outfitters

 “Please, mum… Please may I have some long trousers for my fifteenth birthday? Please, mum, it’s nearly my birthday... all the boys in my class wear long trousers to school… I know I’m not fifteen yet, but I am in the fourth form and all the boys in my class have been wearing longs for ages… since the beginning of the third form. Please may I have some long trousers when I’m fifteen, mum?” 

“Please, mum… please may I be allowed some longs for my birthday. Hardly any of the boys at school wear short trousers now… even in the first form and there are only two boys in the second year who wear short trousers. Oh, please, mum…” 

“Please, mum… I won’t wear them unless you give me special permission, but please may I have some long trousers so that I can tell the other boys that I have got some longs…” 

“Please, mum… Please may I have some long trousers? Lots of first form boys are already wearing long trousers to school and I’m three years older than they are… Please, mum…” 

How mum put up with my incessant whining about having to wear short trousers to school when all my classmates (and most of the rest of the school!) wore long trousers, I don’t know. But the fact remained that as my fifteenth birthday approached I was still dressed in short trousers at all times, never mind for school. 

Short trousers in those days were exceptionally short and all of mine were cut so high as to leave my upper thighs quite bare. Even in my mid-teens my legs remained perfectly smooth and hairless; indeed I am ashamed to say that my lack of body hair was almost complete, save for a light dusting of feathery fluff that had just recently started to sprout at the base of my penis. I need hardly say that my few pathetic straggly boy-hairs made me feel extremely self-conscious during obligatory school showers following P.E. and Games lessons, particularly since when wet they took on a translucence such that they might not have been there at all. The other boys thought this extremely funny. 

It will therefore come as no surprise that, quite apart from the fact that at school I was the oldest boy by at least two years still in short trousers, I desperately wanted to cover up my humiliating, stubbornly smooth legs. I wonder if you can imagine what it felt like for me to put on my extraordinarily short school trousers every morning and to feel the fabric brush my smooth legs and bare thighs. Perhaps then you can understand what it was like for me as pulled my short trousers right the way up to leave my legs almost completely exposed. Then, as I drew up the zip and hooked up the metal clasp, came the tingling feeling of vulnerability as I felt the air around my bare legs heighten my sense of exposure. Worse still if I was wearing my short socks to school; then I would have to endure the stares of passers-by on my way to and from school, to say nothing of the teasing from the boys, as everyone saw my long, gangly and utterly smooth legs in all their humiliating glory. 

And if my short trousers weren’t enough to emphasise my juvenile status I might add that I was never allowed to wear proper shoes and always wore T-bar school sandals whether dressed in short socks or long. As I grew older my sandals felt particularly childish, especially since I never saw any other boy wearing them, apart from those still at primary school of course. 

But despite all my nagging and begging, which really should have got me into more trouble than it did, mum came to a surprisingly favourable decision and a few days after my fifteenth birthday, the following Saturday morning in fact, I was thrilled to be taken to the boys’ outfitters to be measured up for my first ever pair of long trousers! It was my best birthday present ever! Mum explained however that although I would be permitted to wear long trousers to school, it was first and foremost a privilege for boys to be allowed to wear long trousers.  I was left in no doubt that as such, it was a privilege which could be withdrawn or withheld. There would also be certain strict conditions attached to this privilege and chief among these was that I would not, under any circumstances, make a fuss when I was required to wear short trousers on other occasions.  Furthermore I would only be allowed to wear longs to school if I behaved myself and did not get into trouble (I think mum thought that when I wore long trousers I would somehow become liable to be corrupted by naughty boys into doing naughty things with them). 

I eagerly agreed unreservedly to all the conditions mum attached to my getting a pair of long trousers. I remember thinking that I had at last crossed the Rubicon into adulthood and that it wouldn’t be long before I was allowed to wear longs all the time and not just for school! 

While we were at the outfitters, and quite unexpectedly, mum asked the assistant to show her a “boy’s suit” for me to try on. Was this a special birthday surprise, I wondered? I proper suit for me to wear? A suit complete with long trousers? Suits always came with longs trousers… didn’t they? 

“Certainly, madam, and may I enquire as to your son’s age?” 

“Yes, Robert is fifteen years old.” 

I couldn’t believe that mum would buy me a proper grown-up suit and I was thrilled as I watched the assistant disappear into the stock-room. He soon returned with a suit to show mum for her approval. It looked great! A proper grown-up suit! 

Mum took one look at it and announced: “Oh no… That won’t do at all!” 

What was wrong with it, I thought. It looked perfectly alright to me. Mum hadn’t mentioned buying a suit for me, but I when she asked to see one it made sense to me that I would need a proper suit to compliment my school longs. After all, I thought, I was old enough to have some other clothes to wear for “best”, wasn’t I? Up until then I always wore full school uniform for “best”; that is for church, outings, visiting and other formal occasions no matter what day of the week or time of year. 

“I’m sorry, madam… you did ask me to show you a boy’s suit for your son…” the assistant replied apologetically. 

“Yes but… Perhaps I should explain…” mum said, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, as she turned to look at me. I was dressed in my full school uniform or course, even though it was a Saturday, and of course I was wearing my short, very brief, school trousers. Mum’s voice was always on the loud side and I could see a number of customers in the busy shop had already turned to look our way when they heard mum tell the assistant how old I was. I’m sure it was the fact that a fifteen year old boy was to be seen dressed in very short school short trousers that aroused their curiosity. 

Now the assistant was looking straight at me. I was blushing. Mum continued in her clear, strident voice: “As a special present for my son’s fifteenth birthday Robert has been given his first pair of long trousers which he will be permitted to wear to school provided he behaves himself…” 

I felt myself blush an even deeper shade of red and I could see even more curious customers watching as mum continued: “… At other times Robert will continue to be kept in short trousers, just as he you see him now. I hope I make myself clear?”
“Yes madam, perfectly clear… you require a smart short trouser suit appropriate for your fifteen year old son to wear?” 

“Exactly…” mum said. Then she added ominously, “… and I expect him to get plenty of wear out of it as well…”  

“I understand perfectly madam. You may be assured that all our short trouser suits for boys are made to last. They are designed to withstand everyday wear and still look smart. I have your son’s measurements… if he would like to accompany me to the fitting-room we’ll soon have him dressed in his new suit… ahem, his new short trouser suit, for your approval, madam…” 

Mum nodded graciously and I was instructed to follow the assistant. I soon found myself dressed in a boy’s tailored short trouser suit and in my stockinged feet, was led back out onto the busy shop-floor so that mum could view the suit. 

One glance from mum said it all. She was not happy. Not happy at all. 

“You can carry out alterations I trust?” she said, rather imperiously I thought. 

“Certainly madam… we have our own seamstress on the premises.” 

It was clear the assistant wasn’t quite sure what had upset my mother, but I knew. I could feel the hem of the short trousers tickling my legs just above my knees… the legs of the trousers were far too long! I knew what mum was thinking… my thighs were almost completely covered… that would never do! My heart sank at the thought of more embarrassment as mum spoke: 

“Something will have to be done about the trousers,” she announced brusquely and already people were looking in my direction to see what all the fuss was about. The assistant appeared to be still unsure what mum was driving at… 

Clearly it was up to me to say something: “Um… the, err trousers… the trousers are a bit, err long for me to wear,” I nervously told the assistant. 

“Oh I see… you would like the legs of the short trousers to be taken up?” 

I nodded, “Yes please…” and mum smiled her approval. A few more shoppers looked over to see what was happening. I blushed some more and the assistant turned to address my mother: 

“Why of course we can alter the short trousers of your son’s new suit… that’s not a problem… If I could just ask him to jump up onto this bench… that’s right… now we can see just far his short trousers need to be taken up.” 

I did as I was told and found myself very much the centre of attention. Standing on the bench, I was raised up by about two feet, so now everyone in the shop could see me perfectly. My elevated position meant the assistant was easily able to lift up one of the legs of the short trouser suit in order to demonstrate how it could be shortened to the required length. With his tape measure at the ready, he gently eased up the right leg of the tailored short trousers about an inch then looked over towards my mother for approval. 

In answer mum simply held out her hand palm uppermost and made a sort of waving movement with her fingertips to indicate that the leg of the short trousers should be lifted higher. I felt the assistant’s fingertips brush my bare thigh as he pulled the short trouser leg another inch upward. He glanced at mum once more and again she responded by waving her fingers to signify the short trouser leg was still too long. 

This time the assistant bared even more of my thigh and I looked round to see that some of the other customers were quite openly watching the proceedings; clearly they were intrigued to see just how short the legs of my short trouser suit would be and how much bare thigh I would end up displaying. 

Now the leg of the short trouser suit was pushed up so far as to leave no more than an inch of trouser leg. Compared with the unaltered left leg of the short trousers, the right leg looked ridiculously short; shamefully short. As used as I was to wearing very brief short trousers to school, there was something different, something exquisitely humiliating about my having to wear a suit with short trousers. After all a suit by its very nature is not a school uniform that boys wear; a suit is something that grown-ups wear; but a boy’s suit… a boy’s short trouser suit, is a garment that simply announces to the world that the wearer is still an immature boy, a boy moreover who is not considered to be grown-up enough to wear long trousers. 

The altered leg length at last appeared to satisfy mum and the assistant marked up the short trousers for the alterations to be made. I felt the tape measure being drawn around my upper thigh as the assistant was instructed by mum to ensure the short trousers were loose fitting enough to be, “… lifted up if necessary.” I knew what mum meant and so, I was sure, did the assistant. Mum meant for the legs of my short trouser suit to be loose enough for her to pull up the trousers in order to smack the backs of my bare legs should it be necessary to admonish me for naughtiness. 

“If madam would wait a couple of minutes, I’ll just pop the trousers through to our alterations room,” the assistant said and then, to my horror, the assistant simply undid and removed the short trousers right then and there. These and the jacket were whisked away to leave me standing on the bench in shirt-tails and socks. 

Mum wasn’t in the least concerned at my obvious distress. My white schoolboy underpants were clearly visible under the short tails of my school shirt and I must have been blushing even more than before as I stood there in the middle of the shop where everyone could see me. In considerable embarrassment I picked at my shirt-tails and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the price I was paying for my school longs was worth the cost. 

The assistant came back empty-handed after what seemed to me an eternity and explained that I would have to come back for a ‘fitting’ of my altered short trouser suit. 

“Well then, you’d better go and get dressed, Robert,” mum said. 

“Please mum,” I asked, “Please my I wear my long trousers?” 

I didn’t find out what mum’s answer would have been, although I’m sure I could have made an accurate guess. As it was the assistant spoke before she had the opportunity: 

“… I’m sorry I hadn’t realised your son would wish to wear his long trousers just yet. You see I’ve already wrapped them… Would you like me to unwrap…?” 

“No, you needn’t trouble yourself… that won’t be necessary… Robert will wear his short trousers,” mum replied. 

This further embarrassing exchange of words hardly mattered to me. I was just pleased to leave the outfitters and the attention I had attracted from the many customers… besides I was thrilled to be carrying home my first ever pair of long trousers! I was fifteen and in my opinion well past the age for longs… 

But of course life is never very straightforward and it was a little while longer before I was allowed to try on my birthday present. That year we had a period of unseasonably warm weather and mum decreed that I would continue wearing short trousers to school so that I would benefit from the unexpected sun and fresh air. Needless to say I was teased mercilessly by the other boys in my class… and some of the more junior boys too, those who were already proudly wearing long trousers… as, to make matters worse, I had told everyone about how I’d got a pair of longs as a present for my fifteenth birthday. So when I was seen to be still wearing short trousers to school, well of course everyone wanted to know when they were going to see me in longs. 

Inevitably the teasing cries of “shorty-short-shorts!!” continued and despite my protestations it was made quite clear that none of my classmates believed a word of what I said. No one believed that “girly-legs” (another name I was called which perfectly described my long and noticeably smooth legs) had any long trousers to his name. 

So my first ever pair of long trousers hung, unworn, in my wardrobe and each school morning I ached to take them from the hanger and put them on. Mum hadn’t given me permission to wear them since I tried them on in the boys’ outfitters. My requests to wear my long trousers to school were all refused. It became a torment to see my long trousers hanging in the wardrobe unused. I would run my fingers down the material and wonder whether I would ever feel it covering my bare legs. 

In the meantime I had to return with mum to the boys’ outfitters to be fitted with my new short trouser suit. I can’t begin to describe how awful it was. As I said, I was quite used to wearing exceptionally short short trousers to school as part of my uniform, but the alterations that had been made to the short trousers of my new suit felt quite different. I think it was because it was a suit rather than a school uniform. Even though one hardly expected to see a fifteen year old boy like me dressed in short trousers for school, there were still boys at my school in the First Form (and even one or two, although more rarely, in the Second Year) who were dressed in short trousers… this of course served to highlight my own ridiculous predicament still wearing short trousers in the Fourth Form! What I am trying to say is that although it was rare enough to see a boy of my age, a boy of fifteen, dressed in a school uniform which included very brief short trousers, it wasn’t completely unknown… what was almost unheard of was to see a gangly fifteen year old schoolboy dressed in a smart plain suit that included a pair of equally eye-wateringly brief short trousers! 

My short trouser suit was unmistakeable! The short legged trousers simply screamed to everyone who saw them that I was still an immature boy who couldn’t be trusted to wear longs. I hated it. When I was taken out at the weekends or during holidays in my school uniform, I at least had the pretence that the uniform I wore gave me no choice but to wear short trousers. If challenged I could mumble something about strict school regulations, but not when I was wearing my new suit. 

Unlike my longs which hung unworn in the wardrobe, mum took no time in taking me out in my new suit. And there was a new and exquisite humiliation in store for me. One of our regular days out took us to a place that charged an entrance fee. Wearing my new short trouser suit I was surrounded by inquisitive boys all of whom were wearing smart and expensive looking casual clothes… not a short trouser in sight in spite of some of the younger ones who couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. Mum and I approached the ticket office. 

“One and a half, is it madam?” 

“No… two full tickets please,” mum said in reply. 

If it was possible I felt even more conscious of my short trousers as a cool breeze tickled the very tops of my bare thighs. I heard a couple of boys giggling behind me and a gasp of incredulity from an older girl I had only just noticed. 

“Boys under fourteen years old are half price, madam,” the helpful person in the ticket office reminded mum. 

“Thank you, but I am aware of the pricing arrangements,” mum said in answer, then turned to me, “Robert, would you please tell this person how old you are.” 

I blushed. A queue was building up behind us. 

“I’m fifteen… um… fifteen years old,” I stuttered embarrassed beyond belief. 

“But madam, I can’t help but notice that your boy is wearing short trousers… I thought… Well I thought that as your boy was wearing short trousers, that he must be younger than he looks…” 

“I quite understand, but don’t let the fact that my son is dressed in short trousers deceive you,” mum replied, “Sometimes looks can be deceptive. However I can assure you that my son Robert is indeed fifteen years old… As for his wearing short trousers, I see no reason that while he is still a boy at school that he should not continue to be kept in short trousers. I consider short trousers to be smart, healthy and character-building. Robert will continue to be kept in short trousers until such time as I consider him to be mature enough to wear longs. He might be fifteen years old, but he is still a boy.” 

Mum’s lecture, well intended as it was, seemed to go on forever and made me squirm with embarrassment. As I have said before, mum has a voice that carries somewhat, so everyone else in the queue heard every word she said and it wasn’t long before I heard whispering voices behind me poking fun at my shameful short trouser suit and sniggering at my exposed legs bare to the very tops of my thighs. 

Mum and I had hardly got through the turnstile before I heard a taunting chant: 

Who wears short-shorts? He wears short-shorts!” followed by a burst of high-pitched laughter from the young boys.

I gritted my teeth and muttered to myself: “… but I have got a pair of longs… just you wait… I’ll show you… I’ve got some long trousers too!” 

Quite when mum would allow me to wear my longs… my special birthday longs, as I called them, I couldn’t guess… I just prayed it would be sooner rather than later.


  1. A quite wonderful tale of woe for a rather immature little boy. Mummy is most sensible and should be commended for her efforts. One wonders whether being dressed in a school cap and a gabardine mackintosh isn't far away, in order to complete the look of a traditional (rather overgrown) schoolboy.
    Mrs Smith

  2. Good story, I do particularly like the description of Roberts short trouser suit. Particularly the shortening process. How exquisitely humiliating for him.

  3. Another delicious read! What is it about the age of 15 that is so appealing? Neither old enough to be an adult but too old to be a little boy. Add to that the growing self-consciousness of legs that refuse to sprout any hairs when all the other boys have hairs and have even started to shave.

    Oh, how I remember the familiar mantra: 'We are going on holiday and you will wear shorts!' And what shorts - legs of just an inch long. I thought I was the only boy to feel like this. Thanks to these stories I see I was not alone.