The Wish star recently went viral when social media got wind of his post-workout attire look: a pair of white, thigh-grazing corduroy shorts, which he paired with a yellow hoodie as he stepped out in Los Angeles last month. Fans quickly took notice on Instagram, where compliments about his legs abound in the comments.
As for the actor himself? He wasn't fazed at all by the responses.
"I don't think there is anything to defend. It's called a short, isn't it? It's supposed to be short," Pine, 43, told E! News on Nov. 14 when asked about the look. "It's like a Tom Selleck vibe. It's like a '70s surfer vibe. I prefer that."
Pine doubled down, comparing his choice to the Showtime-era Lakers.
"Would you rather see them with the short-shorts and Magic Johnson looking like a basketball player and athlete, rather than wearing some sort of capri on the floor? No. So, I'll be wearing the short-shorts," he said, "until the legs go."
This isn't the first time Pine has gained attention for his unique style. From colorful blouses and rainbow cardigans to coastal grandmother homages, kaftans, summer suits and overalls, the actor appears unafraid to break traditional norms in fashion.
So why do Pine's outfits seem to always take off online? According to experts, memes depict him as a fashion rebel who's uninterested in playing by traditional fashion rules. That kind of attitude tends to resonate with audiences more, Claire Sisco King, associate professor of communication studies and chair of cinema and media arts at Vanderbilt University, tells Yahoo Entertainment.
"These memes cast him as a bit unpredictable, and audiences often take pleasure in public figures who seem liberated from conventions," she explains. "The image of Pines as cheeky and eclectic is part of what resonates."
The memeification of Chris Pine
Public interest in Pine's style has been growing for years, but King argues it saw a clear resurgence during promotion for his 2022 film Don't Worry Darling.
In case you forgot: At the time, rumors were circulating about alleged behind-the-scenes drama between director Olivia Wilde and lead actress Florence Pugh amid Wilde's on set romance with Harry Styles. When it came time to do press for the film, the media sharpened its focus on Pine, argues King, and his seemingly "blasé attitude towards work and fame" became meme gold.
you can almost see the screams catching in his throat pic.twitter.com/AXtiPAd4zx
— anna (@therealromanroy) September 5, 2022
"Pine seemed to be bored, sleepy, or even dissociated during press junkets and was even wearing sunglasses during the premiere of the film" at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, she explains. "And, of course, there was the viral video that many internet viewers interpreted as depicting Styles spitting on a nonplussed Pine," which Pine ultimately debunked.
Commentary about Pine's sartorial choices "became looped into these conversations" throughout the film's promotional tour, says King, leading to more interest in Pine's eclectic wardrobe.
Mordechai Rubinstein, who is a street-style photographer and men's fashion writer, sees a through-line in what Pine wears and who Pine is, in that his style conveys a level of authenticity that many men find appealing.
"He's being honest and not trying like so many others," Rubinstein tells Yahoo Entertainment. "A man that wears a tailored corduroy suit with such a great collar and tie to boot, while defending his short-length choices, is the kinda guy I want to talk about clothing with. He clearly knows how and when to dress."
Pine's style also sends a powerful message about his personality, he adds. Love them or hate them, the viral images highlight an A-list male celebrity playing against masculine norms.
Pine's fashion has evolved over the years just as other male stars — including Styles, Brad Pitt, Oscar Isaac, Lil Nas X and more — have helped to dispel convention by wearing skirts, nail polish and other accessories traditionally viewed as feminine, explains King.
"Those choices do impact fashion norms more generally because audiences do a lot of self-fashioning in relation to the images of public figures," she says. "Prince, David Bowie and even Mick Jagger are earlier examples of famous men who have challenged the bounds of masculinity and taken on stylistic sensibilities associated with femininity. It is also important to remember, as Billy Porter pointed out in relation to the discourse about Harry Styles’s Vogue cover, that queer and nonbinary people — including people of color — have long been making nonconventional fashion choices at much greater peril and with much less reward."
Ultimately, it's not only what Pine wears, but what he conveys through his outfits that draws most people in.
"I think viewers take pleasure in the sense, however real or imagined it might be, that he doesn't care what other people think of him and is uninterested in expectations about what he is supposed to wear, do or even be," King says.