I appreciated Michael Kelly's comments on our society's loss of class ["The Age of No Class," op-ed, Aug. 11] as partly exemplified by our choices in clothing and adornment for public wear.

While I agree with Mr. Kelly's observations on offensive T-shirts, partial nudity and piercings gone out of control, I suggest that a few words might be directed toward the ubiquitous public wearing of shorts.

Some might recall when shorts were appropriate for sports participation, backyard cookouts and gardening -- period. When enjoying a restaurant meal, shopping, banking or keeping an office appointment, one was spared the visual assault of hairy, vein-mottled or cottage-cheesed legs and thighs.

I've just returned from two years in a foreign country much poorer than our own. There, as in every other foreign land I've ever visited, street wear in hot weather was conservative and dignified. That is, men wore belted pants with tucked-in shirts, and women were in modest dresses or skirts.

If, when visiting my host country's museums or religious shrines, I caught sight of shorts, tennis shoes and T-shirts, I knew that I'd soon also be hearing loud, unaccented English. Never a problem recognizing Americans.

CAROL DAYTON

Oakton