And in the icy era before global warming came to the fore, young chaps just had to grin and bear the chill.
But in these full-length modern times, it seems that young lads of primary age are being paid to wear them.
George Hannah, 11, a pupil at Abbots Ripton Primary School, near Huntingdon, has been wearing his shorts to school since last November. And what's more, he has vowed to keep wearing them until July.
So far, this plucky young lad has raised pound;237 in sponsorship which goes towards the school's extension. But the challenge has certainly not been pleasurable all the way. He recently told the Hunts Post: "When it was minus two I did feel the cold, but I'm still carrying on."
And George's pledge is a tough one. It reads: "My promise to the school is to wear shorts whatever the weather: snow, frost, ice, rain, hail, sleet, sunshine, and even raining knives! So please spare a penny for my icy, knobbly knees."