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Women’s Shorts l Affordable, Classy & Casual

There are many reasons to look forward to summer each year — hanging out by the pool and on the beach, grabbing ice cream with friends, and time spent outdoors in the sun. One of the best things about the weather getting warmer is being able to pull out your favorite pair of shorts — and pick up a new pair or two to add to your closet. Layered with a fun top or tee, this staple is a must-have for every spring and summer wardrobe. Styled with the right tops and other garments, you can even stretch your shorts into other seasons like spring and fall.

While some people may feel a little self-conscious wearing them at first, anyone can wear women’s shorts and look fantastic — it’s all about finding the pair that fits you and makes you feel your best. Once you are confident in styling your shorts with your favorite garments in your closet, they become a piece you’ll want to wear long after the dog days of summer are over. 

Women’s Shorts: A Powerful Statement Throughout History

Like many other fashion garments, shorts began as a popular men’s clothing item — but women claimed it as their own, making it a statement of liberation and independence and turning it into the popular garment it is today.

Beginnings in the Male Closet: The modern “short trouser” emerged in 19th and 20th Century England and America, and was exclusively worn by young boys. When World War II took a generation of men to tropical climates, short pants became more popular with grown men, and quickly achieved widespread acceptance throughout the Western World in the late 20th-century.

A Rise in Hollywood: The first women to wear shorts in public were 1930s Hollywood celebrities. Womens’ shorts remained worn mostly only by athletes and pinup girls until a few decades later when they became more widely popular.

Shorts as a Liberating Statement: The cultural and sexual revolutions of the 1960s saw the rise of shorts-wearing among young women. Shorts remained a sign of liberation for women throughout the swinging 60s and disco 70s.

In 1979, Catherine Bach, an actress in the popular TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, further popularized the garment when she wore the infamous short shorts named after her — Daisy Dukes. 

A Modern Staple: In an era when it became more common for female adults to wear jeans, trousers, and suits, more conservative iterations of womens’ shorts began to appear at garden parties throughout the 80s. This further normalized women wearing shorts of all styles for a variety of occasions.

Today, millions of women freely wear shorts to beat the heat and make a statement. They’re seen everywhere from the gym and on errand runs to weekend brunch and even more formal occasions. Whether denim, lightweight cotton or linen, or a chic athletic material, shorts are a modern staple in nearly every closet.

What to Wear with Women’s Shorts

The great thing about shorts is that there’s a pair for every occasion — and with the right styling, they’re not just for summer. With some layering, you can wear your favorite shorts for spring, fall, and even winter.

Here are some ideas of what you can pair with various types of shorts to suit a variety of occasions:

A Button-Down

A button-down shirt over shorts strikes just the right balance of casual and classy. A loose, lightweight button-down works perfectly with jean shorts, leather shorts, Bermudas, or just about any other style of shorts you can imagine. Choose your favorite solid color or printed pattern to tailor this look to your personal style.

Button the front of the shirt for a more sophisticated look. Or wear your favorite tank or plain t-shirt underneath, leave the shirt unbuttoned, and roll up the sleeves to just below your elbows for a more casual vibe.

Your Favorite Graphic Tee

Pair your jean, khaki, or dressy shorts with a graphic tee or your other favorite t-shirt.

It’s the perfect way to play with color and make a personal statement. Style this look with your favorite sneakers or ankle boots and you’re ready to take on whatever the day brings.

A Sharp Suit Jacket

Looking to bring your favorite shorts into the cooler weather days? A classic suit jacket is the perfect pairing to bring your shorts from summer to fall — and even winter.

A suit jacket and matching Bermuda dress shorts are perfect for an upscale happy hour or a business lunch. Denim shorts and a suit jacket are a more casual combo that creates a very fashion-forward look for everything from brunch to an evening out with friends. 

To keep this look in your outfit rotation during the colder months, layer your shorts with your favorite pair of tights underneath. Then you’re ready to rock this combo all year long.

A Chic Striped Tee

Nothing says “summer” like some lightweight shorts paired with a horizontal-striped tee and boat shoes. It’s an effortless, breezy look that will keep you cool and classy during all the warmer months. This ensemble is a favorite for days out on the water.

Try a black and white striped tee for that chic French vibe. Grab a coffee and a croissant and you’ve achieved that everyday Parisian aesthetic.

A Lightweight Crop Top

For those summer months when even the air in your apartment feels too hot, a crop top and shorts is the perfect outfit.

Whether you opt for a graphic crop top or cropped tube top, this is the ideal pairing with any denim or lightweight shorts to keep you happy and cool in the sweltering heat. 

A Blouse

Looking for a way to dress up your shorts for summer happy hours and weekend brunches?

Any lightweight blouse is great to rock in the summer with your favorite shorts. Try mixing and matching floral or other printed shorts with your favorite colored blouse for a bold and bright outfit combination.

A Sharp Blazer

A blazer over a pair of shorts with a simple t-shirt gives a classic rock-n-roll vibe. Bonus points if you layer it with your favorite band tee.

Whether you opt for denim or leather shorts, you can’t go wrong with this edgy look.

A Staple Denim Jacket

The denim jacket is the perfect outerwear for the summer months when temperatures drop at night — it’s light enough to comfortably wear on mild summer days and matches the look of your shorts.

Pair with your favorite pair of cutoffs for that bold denim-on-denim look. Or style your denim jacket with your favorite colored or printed shorts for a more casual everyday look.

A Cozy Pullover

For more options to bring your shorts into the cooler months, try mixing up your shorts with a lightweight, loose-fitting pullover. This is perfect for those transitional months from summer to fall and winter to spring when the days are hot but the mornings and nights are cold.

An Everyday Tank Top

A tank top and shorts are a classic pairing, perfect for that effortless everyday summer look.

Switch it up with a vintage crocheted tank or a top with lace trim to add some dimension and fun to your outfit.

Classic Cami

Looking to achieve that classic “loungewear and comfort clothes as everyday wear” look? Pair a cami with a classy pair of loose cotton or silk shorts with lace trim.

For a more elevated yet still casual vibe, wear your favorite colored cami with paper bag shorts or another loose style.

Your Favorite Sneakers

Shorts and sneakers were practically made for each other — they’re a dynamic duo.

Try athletic shorts and sneakers for that look that transitions from yoga to brunch. Or try denim cutoffs with Converse or your favorite all-white sneakers for a more everyday look. No matter what combo you choose, you can’t go wrong with shorts and sneakers.

Summer-Worthy Sandals

Sandals are another summer wardrobe staple.

Try your favorite shorts with flat strappy sandals, a wedge or heeled style, or dress it up with ones that feature rhinestones or bright pops of color. You can wear this pairing with a wide variety of tops — including a crop top, button-down, blouse, or classic tee — to create the vibe you want.

Classy Heels

Just because shorts are often thought of as casual doesn’t mean you’re limited to wearing them with sneakers.

Heels are the perfect compliment with dressy shorts because they elongate your legs and add elegance to your ensemble — creating an outfit that’s perfect for a more upscale summer occasion.

How to Choose the Best Shorts to Make You Feel Confident in Your Skin

Like any other garment, finding the right fit shorts can be challenging — every body is different and unique. One person’s body can vary greatly from another, and there isn’t one short that is the perfect fit for every person.

A style of shorts that makes you feel confident and cool may make another feel uncomfortable. Finding the perfect balance of comfort, personality, and wearability is the key to finding the perfect pair — or pairs.

There are a handful of things to consider when searching for your perfect pair of shorts to make you feel your most confident self. While you should wear whatever shorts make you feel your best if you’re looking for some tips, here are a few guidelines to help you pick the best shorts for your style… 

If You Want to Highlight Your Legs

If you’re looking for the perfect pair of shorts to frame your legs and make them look miles long, look for ones with a higher leg. Shorts that come up on the mid- or upper-thigh will naturally elongate their appearance.

A higher waist may make a torso look shorter, but it can also make legs look longer.

When choosing the perfect pair of shorts in this style, try a fabric and fit that is soft and loose. Lightweight fabrics are much more comfortable and will feel less restrictive with these types of shorts compared to tighter, more fitted options.

Slim-cut long shorts are also very flattering to the legs. Denim and other structured fabrics are great materials for this style. Play with different lengths and consider options with a cuff that can be rolled up or down. This will help you find the perfect length to highlight your body and make you feel confident.

To Make Your Torso Appear Longer

If you want to create the illusion of a longer, taller torso, opt for mid- or lower-rise shorts. This will highlight your torso, giving it an elongated appearance.

When choosing the length, consider a pair that comes down at least to mid-thigh or closer to the knee. This can help draw the eye down the length of the body, making you appear taller overall.

Denim is a great material for this style and will create endless outfit pairings. Also, consider linen and breathable cotton options to play with breathability and comfort.

Slimming Shorts

If you are looking for a pair of shorts that are meant to hug your figure, try side-zip shorts. These will highlight your natural figure without adding any unwanted bunching around buttons or zippers in the front.

When looking to accentuate an hourglass figure, try high-waist options. These naturally create more of an hourglass shape that draws in your waist and hugs your curves in all the right places. 

Volumizing Shorts

By contrast, if you want to create the illusion of more volume and curves around your hip area, bigger pockets or detailing on the back of the shorts will highlight your hips.

Pleating on the sides of shorts can also create more shape and drama around the hip area. 

If in Doubt, Stick to the Middle

If you’re unsure of what you’re looking for in a short, you can’t go wrong with those that fall around mid-thigh. Mid-length shorts provide enough air on your legs to wear on even the hottest of summer days and tend to win on comfort and style as well.

If you choose shorts with a roll-up cuff — or opt for a classic denim pair — you can play with the length This makes it the perfect versatile garment to have in your closet and will be perfect for everything from midday coffee to summer barbeques.

What is the Right Length of Shorts for Me?

The best length of shorts is whatever makes you feel your most confident, comfortable, and stylish self.

Short lengths are measured by the inseam, just like pants.

  • Short shorts: Tend to have an inseam of around 2-3 inches
  • Midrange shorts: Fall somewhere around 5 inches
  • Longer shorts: Have an inseam of around 8-10 inches or more

The best “all-purpose” short length is 7 inches. This looks good on everyone — it shows the right amount of leg and falls on the thigh in a place that makes everyone feel confident, no matter their body type.

If you’re not sure of the length you want, styles with roll-up cuffs allow you to experiment so you can change it based on your outfit and how you’re feeling that day. This is popular with Bermuda-type styles, along with denim jean shorts.

Q&A Women's Shorts

How do you pick a pair of shorts?

The best place to start is the shape of your body.

If you want to emphasize the length of your legs: Try high-waisted shorts to emphasize and accentuate them.

If you’re looking to create the look of taller hips and a longer torso: Choose a lower rise and shorter shorts.

If you’re looking to accentuate your hips and curves: Pleats and pocket details can add shape to your figure.

If you’re looking to highlight a smaller waist an hourglass shape: Try side zippers to flatter and hug your figure. 

If you’re unsure what you want: Try shorts with roll-up cuffs to play with length. 

How are women’s shorts supposed to fit?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how your shorts should fit. It all comes down to your personal style and what feels best on your own body.

Traditional shorts tend to fall mid-thigh for most women, but shorts can be as short as “boyshort” underwear (typically called “hot shorts”) or go down to the knees (and beyond).

Some people prefer a shorter, more fitted style, while others prefer a longer, more relaxed look. There are as many ways to wear shorts as there are body shapes and sizes — don’t be afraid to try on different styles and switch it up depending on your mood and the occasion! 

What’s the most flattering length for shorts?

The most honest answer is “it depends.” Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, so what you feel looks best on you, someone else may not feel as confident wearing.

Generally speaking, 7 inches is the most flattering length for shorts for all body types and is the easiest place to start when looking for the perfect pair. These shorts fall in the middle of most womens’ thighs and show off just the right amount of leg without riding up. This is also a good inseam, as you can typically cuff the shorts to play with the length you feel most comfortable at.

Shorter shorts can help highlight and lengthen legs, while longer, slim-cut shorts can make legs of all lengths look good. It’s all about how you want to play with different lengths to highlight your personal style.

How do you wear women’s shorts after 40?

No matter your age, you should feel confident wearing whatever clothing you want — including women’s shorts. 

While it’s completely normal to feel insecure wearing shorts — or any other garment of clothing, for that matter — don’t restrict yourself from playing with different styles to find a pair that makes you feel confident. You just need to find the right shorts for your level of comfort and personal style!

Most people feel comfortable and confident in a 7-inch short. However, some prefer more coverage and a longer style — while others feel their best in a shorter length.

Don’t feel like you have to wear long shorts or a certain style just because of your age. Wear what feels best on your body and what makes you feel most like yourself.

What type of shorts makes you look thinner?

Body-hugging shorts with side zippers have a naturally slimming effect. A high-waisted option will naturally hug your hips and flatter your waistline, creating a natural hourglass figure.

Styles with lots of buttons, decals, or pocket accents may feel bulky, so simpler styles can provide a simpler, more smooth silhouette.

Don’t feel like you have to stray away from certain styles just because of your body type — experiment with different lengths, colors, and accents to suit you and whatever makes you confident!