hands handling mail
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
August 30, 2023 ·  5 min read

Postmen explain why they always wear shorts throughout the whole year.

Postmen are hard at work all year round to bring us our packages, letters, and the inevitable junk mail. However, even in the blusteriest of weather, many seem to be spotted wearing shorts. As a result, many have wondered why. As it turns out, there’s a simple explanation for the change in attire, and shorts weren’t always the dress code.

In fact, postmen’s dress code has changed within roughly 10 to 20 years and has a surprisingly complex history. Furthermore, because the postal service has been around longer than many states have even been part of the U.S., the postal service has seen a number of transformations that also include methods of travel.

Postal Workers Become Official

Although the mail delivery service began in major cities in 1863, it wasn’t until 1868 that postmen were required to wear a uniform. In October of that year, Postmaster General at the time, Alexander W. Randall issued a statement regarding the postmen uniform stating that should be “invariably worn” by postmen “while on duty”.

Superheroes Wore Capes

The original uniform consisted of a hat, which was mandatory then and still is today in many states. It also included a vest and coat, as well as pants and a reversible cape. Comically, the original uniform for postal workers made them appear superheroes, which isn’t far off. After all, they faced harsh conditions to deliver letters to citizens everywhere. From horseback to steamboat to air mail delivery, postal workers have faced the challenges of the elements for decades to deliver holiday cards and packages and endure the harsh heat of summer so people can share their summer adventures. Therefore, balancing things out has taken a lot of effort, so postal workers can comfortably do their jobs.

Source: Shutterstock

Postmen Uniforms Evolve

Although the pants were ideal for cold weather, as they were made of alpaca wool, the heat became unbearable in the summer. As a result, “hot weather wear” was added to the dress code in 1873, meaning postmen wore grey flannel pants and coats rather than alpaca wool. A Panama hat was also permitted to further protect postmen from the sun’s rays.

The next uniform change would take place in 1887 and would have nothing to do with the comfort of postmen. It simply required postmen to wear numbered badges on their heads as a way to help minimize fraud. In 1893, several regulations were implemented regarding specifications, such as the number of buttons postmen could have on their coats. Luckily, in 1901, another uniform change would take place. This time in favor of postal workers finding yet another method to stay cool. Postmen had been permitted to wear a dress shirt and tie in place of their coat. In 1931, another attempt to regulate temperature came into play as postal workers were also permitted to wear sweaters. Later, in 1944, short sleeves were permitted, but shorts were still prohibited from the dress code.

Again 1957, a dress code change was made, this time strictly impacting women. They were ultimately setting a precedent for possibly including shorts into the postal worker dress code one day. Women were permitted to wear skirts, but they had to be no higher than 13″ off the ground.

Directly Asking Postmen Why

On April 1, 1973, mail postal workers were permitted to wear shorts. Three months later, women postal workers were given the same courtesy. However, that still doesn’t explain why postal workers wear shorts even in the winter. Interestingly, that’s a personal preference rather than a mandatory thing, and thanks to a Reddit thread, there’s been a platform for numerous postmen to share their own reasons for wearing shorts, even in winter.

Source: Shutterstock

One user actually disclosed it’s because they don’t like the fabric of the winter attire, stating, “The sound of the waterproof material rubbing against itself with every step is horrible. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.” Meanwhile, another user who was a postal worker a few years ago explained that in their area, postmen were required to wear long pants in the winter.

My boyfriend is a postie, and whenever I ask him about the shorts, he says that he stays warm because he’s walking all day, and jeans are too uncomfortable to wear when you’re doing 30,000 steps a day. He does occasionally wear joggers, but that’s once in a blue moon,” one Reddit user explained on behalf of their significant other.

“It really is just because it gets hot doing the job.” Commented another postal worker.

Comical Answers Included

 “Legs dry quicker than trousers is my main reason, also, I’ve been skateboarding for 34 years now, so my lower legs are immune to things like cold and pain…and the occasional dog. Winter, I’ll be wearing several layers on top, thermal socks and… shorts, wife thinks I’m mental…This is the way.” One user comically disclosed.

Meanwhile, someone else comically postulated, “When you are accepted for a delivery round, part of the RM initiation service is to have half of your blood replaced with antifreeze. This comes directly after dropping the rubber band of brotherhood, but before being ceremoniously bitten on the behind by the dog of destiny.”

Simple Explanations

While in some cases, postmen can be seen wearing long pants in the Winter, more often they’re seen wearing shorts because they manage not to overheat that way. For anyone who’s ever run or hiked or skied, that will likely make sense because while sweating in the Summer is a bummer, sweating in the Winter can actually have an even more unpleasant effect, such as becoming overwhelmingly cold if the wind hits your sweat. Postal workers often have to deliver large packages and walk up and down driveways and streets all day long. They actually exert a lot of energy doing their job, which can become incredibly strenuous depending on the circumstances.

Although there are a number of advancements that society has made, including electronic mail and delivery services like Amazon, that have created less demand for the postal service, it is one of the oldest still operating businesses or services in the country, making it an important part of U.S. History. Furthermore, in many places, namely more rural parts of America, the U.S. Postal Service still provides invaluable services for citizens.

Keep Reading: Package Shipped In 1971 Finally Gets Delivered 50 Years Later


  1. Letter Carriers’ Uniform: Overview.USPS
  2. Why are all the postmen still wearing shorts in this weather?” Reddit
  3. Service Badges.Smithsonian
  4. The gloriously leggy history of mailmen wearing shorts.Trivia Happy. Phil Edwards March 5, 2014.
  5. Posties explain why they always wear shorts all year round no matter the weather.LAD Bible. Jess Hardiman. January 12, 2023.
  6. The real reason postmen always wear shorts.” Indy100. Becca Monaghan. August 22, 2023.
  7. How the US Post Office Has Delivered the Mail Through the Decades.” History. Sarah Pruitt. June 29, 2023.