Men have to wear hot pants again, and it's all this guy's fault

David Beckham is so 1998. The new face of soccer chic is Cristiano Ronaldo, who like Beckham before him, parlayed a superstar career in English football at Manchester United into a massive contract with Real Madrid. The 24-year-old Ronaldo celebrated his just-signed, $131 million contract by hitting the Los Angeles club scene with Paris Hilton and taking his scantily clad lounge-chair lizard routine, already famous in the European tabloids, into the American press.

Pay close attention. You'll be spending your money on his look next season.

Because the pretty-boy Portuguese striker looks so good in skin-tight, teeny tiny shorts (click here and here for two humiliating images), now you're going to have to learn to wear them as well. That's because after the images of Ronaldo playing at a Beverly Hills pool were published, thereby earning the American stamp of approval, British stores reported that sales of the male hot pants style have more than doubled.

Thus the destiny of where you will spend your money next year is set. Beckham has much more of a classic style than Ronaldo, who's more likely to wear flip-flops or flowers in his hair. Still, his celebrity is breeding emulation by the people who order the clothes you'll have to buy next season. Because of Ronaldo, 1978 is coming back.

"We believe that demand for super tight shorts is about to become a worldwide phenomenon -- and the value of the market will dwarf the fee paid for the player by Real Madrid," predicted the buyer for Debenham's, a major British retailer.

You could say that what happens in England won't necessarily transfer here, but when it comes to fashion and style icons, history has other things to say about that. Even before Beckham, there were the 1980s and 1970s rock looks, and before that, there was Carnaby Street.

That's not all. Real Madrid says it plans to sell a million copies of Ronaldo's uniform shirt, too. "In Real's eyes," writes Britain's Telegraph, "Ronaldo is the 'Golden Goose' of merchandising, the global icon they have lacked since David Beckham's departure to LA Galaxy in 2007."

One possible benefit of having to wear hot pants again: There's no space for a wallet. Perhaps wearing them will lead to spending less. They certainly make me want to eat less. I'm cutting down on Oreos after looking at his pictures.
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