Get Shorty (Some Pants!) 

Jimmy Au boutique caters to men 5’8” and under

Wednesday, May 31 2006

Sunshine, palm trees, traffic and vertically challenged actors — that’s the, er, shortlist of L.A.’s abundance. So, it was only a matter of time before Jimmy Au’s, the first retail shop catering to short guys, opened here in this land of diminutive celebrities.

Jimmy Au, the owner and designer of Jimmy Au’s for Men 5’8” and Under, recently relocated from Glendale to Beverly Hills, has been creating fashion clothing for shorter men for the past 31 years.

“Short men know all too well the pain and difficulty of finding smaller and shorter sizes,” Au says. Most have long been relegated to wearing ill-fitting, altered fashions designed for the larger man.”

If Au is to be believed — and I think he should be, since he stands 5-feet-3 — short men had it rough before he came along. For one, Au says, they looked like “flying squirrels” because of the extra fabric under the arm. Plus, the breast pocket is always too large and totally in the wrong place. Tucking in a shirt can be unbearable for short men “because the shirttail is longer than your pant crotch line.” Don’t even get Au started on the crotch line: “Short men find it uncomfortable and unflattering to wear a regular-rise pant, either because the crotch sits too low when worn at the waist or the pants won’t lay right unless the waistband is worn at the stomach.” Then there’s the whole pant-leg thing — many cuts are too full for a shorter man; this leaves him with “a baggy seat” and trouser bottoms that “swallow shoes.” In short (sorry, I had to), Au says, “A shorter man wearing most of today’s styles would only make himself look shorter.”

But lucky for these flying squirrels, Jimmy Au did come along, and he’s on their side. At his shop, salespeople will be happy to refer to their extra-short size as the “special” short size, should the “extra-short” make you uncomfortable. But once you’re past the semantics and have accepted the fact that you’re short — but still deserve to look good — a better world awaits inside Jimmy Au’s.

See, Au reworked the proportions of the latest styles of shirts, pants and jackets. He measured from the neck to the waist, and from the waist to the ankle, and came up with ratios that keep a proper proportion for the shorter man.

Not content to rest there, Au went to work on altering perception. That seems like a lofty goal without the use of hallucinogenics, but Au tested various combinations like a mad scientist and discovered that certain styles of jackets paired with certain styles of pants can actually make a man look taller. He would never choose stiff or bulky fabric, and always prefers a subdued pattern over a busy one. You don’t want to be shouting, “Hey, look at me, I’m short!” For example, a soft, subtle pattern gives the suit a stealth aspect.

He carries customized designer labels — Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and, now, Sean John — as well as his own line. He has outfitted many stars, including Danny DeVito, Mark Wahlberg (yep, short), Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen. The hottest item at Jimmy Au’s right now? Leather. You heard me, leather. Au co-designed an impressive line of leather jackets for men under 5’8”, including a hipster with Kenneth Cole, and a very Top Gun leather bomber with Remy, maybe inspired by another under-5-foot-8-er — Tom Cruise. There’s also a motorcycle jacket and a Matrix Morpheus–esque three-quarter jacket from Au’s own line.

Jimmy Au’s designs, for “today’s shorter man who doesn’t want to look short,” are well-proportioned and sexy, and will have a woman in flats in no time . . .?

Jimmy Au’s for Men 5’8” and Under, ?9408 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills; (310) 888-8708.

Reach the writer at limmediato@laweekly.com

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