They were tailored, khaki numbers cut just above the knee with double pleats and finished with sturdy canvas belt loops. The saying was used to denote an age ago, often in a mocking manner. An era past.
I was trying to get my dad who’s just turned 70 to give me an example of the saying but apparently he’s never heard it before, possibly because he actually lived through the time when policemen did wear shorts.
This is one attempt:
Dad: You know last time I used to run around and get into all kinds of trouble, we would sneak into the Botanic Gardens and catch the fish and the jaga (the fierce Singh guard) would chase us. You kids now are so safe, no sense of adventure.
Me: Dad, last time policemen wear shorts.
Which I kinda feel is lacking so if you have more (and better) examples, feel free to add them on.
(Shorts and men are having another hey-day at the moment. I think in a hot, humid tropical island like Singapore, shorts are a given on days off and weekends. It’s just too hot for trousers if you are out in the day and not at the office. Besides there is a whole range of options out there now. Men’s fashion is fickle and the shorts are getting shorter but the man on the street should stick to cotton tailored shorts that cut just above the start of the knee, without pleats. Keep the shape simple but play around with colours and prints- your shorts should fit without being too baggy or overly tight). Uniqlo has good basics and Brooks Brothers does some very good (if pricier) chino shorts, occasionally in vivid madras checks or covered with some pretty cool critter embroidery. When Sunday rolls round just kick back with a G&T and rock those orange lobsters all over your seersucker shorts.