Saturday 16th December 2017
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And now for something completely polarizing

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks without running it because I possess so much ambivalence on the topic of shorts. And I’m only including it now because I Instagrammed a picture of myself bravely wearing them over the weekend, which prompted several of you to request a post on them. But they’re such a contentious topic. Many of you flat-out hate them, and for good reason: the wrong pair can do terrible things to your legs. And so many of you have crazy neuroses about exposing your knees under any circumstances. But I like them when it gets really hot, and believe that they can look good on even the most imperfect pair of legs—if you find the right pair. I got some very similar to these from James Perse last summer and wore the hell out of them. They’re definitely on the casual side, but if for kicking around, they’re great.

These have the feel of chinos, which appeals. I’d wear them with a button-down and good belt.

I have these, and adore them.


I think the gym short silhouette is actually a very flattering shape, if you want to go shorter.

And here’s a gym short in plus-size range.

This pair comes almost to the knees and is therefore probably best for those with longer legs.

I like the army green and high waist of this plus size choice.

shorter pair than I usually go for, but they’re nice and roomy around the leg, which keeps them flattering.

A nicely tailored option from Theory.

I wish this came in more sizes, because it’s the best longer-length denim short I found.

Posted on June 29th, 2017 31 Comments

31 Responses

  1. Summer says:

    I am a small 53 year old woman, and I definitely wear shorts in the steamy DC summers. I love J Crew’s fit, although most of the ones I have are several years old. And in the last few years, I gravitate to longer shorts rolled up to mid-thigh (fingertip level) with loose, rather than fitted, shirts. I think the “denim diapers” have given shorts a bad name — they can definitely work as a casual weekend look.

    • E. says:

      J.Crew’s 4″ chino shorts are great! Shorter rather than longer shorts look better on me. I couldn’t deal with TX summers without shorts and wear them almost any time I spend extended time outside. I’m 52 and happy with my body and what it has done and can do, so if anyone doesn’t like seeing my spider veins, they can avert their eyes. 🙂

  2. c.w. says:

    I was one of the folks who “liked” your instagram post because I thought you pulled off the shorts-for-women-of-a-certain-age really well. Oy and Egad could there BE a more polarizing clothing option?! Being in my sixties I have regulated my short wearing to old cutoffs over my bathing suit when I go to the beach. However, I also wear (around the house) a pair of Kuhl brand shorts (I believe Title 9 carries them) that I’m told are flattering.

    I will say I’m very tempted by the James Pearse (they look soooo comfortable!) and The Great pair.

  3. Dianne says:

    I am 55years old, 5′ 6″ and borderline plus size on top. I love shorts and wear them all summer long.

    I prefer untucked shirts ( see borderline plus size on top) so I’ll try any style that doesn’t have a drawstring closure because the drawstring doesn’t look right with an untucked shirt.

    A pair of white Bermuda length shorts and a blue chambray shirt are my go to outfit all summer long.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      Dianne, that sounds simple and classy. Whereas, I’m borderline plus-size in the middle, so it makes it difficult to find thing that fit my waist AND hips. (Did I just really confess to that???) 🙂

  4. Pamb says:

    I’m one of those who can’t stand their knees: never could. My cousin and I used to joke about sharing a hospital room: I’d have knee lips and give her my fat for her boob job!

    I prefer skirts/dresses hovering above the knee. I just feel cooler.

    However, what I thought you were going to say what was polarizing was those shorts with the thick rolled cuff, and THAT I agree with. Don’t need more attention and thickness mid thigh, thanks! 🙂

    Props to those who pull them off, though. I wear shorts and layered tank tops once a year, at the MN State Fair, where it’s hot and no one cares what you wear.

  5. joannawnyc says:

    Now that I no longer work in a freezing a/c environment I am revisiting my shorts “capsule” so to speak. Shorts in the Hudson Valley are different from shorts in Brooklyn, though the desire to keep the backs of one’s thighs from sticking to the seat of one’s mode of transportation remains.

  6. DeDe says:

    Heeeeeey! I was hoping for a shorts post today, and whaddaya know, here it is! Sometimes a girl just needs a pair, knees and such be damned. Thanks for giving us so many good options, because I can never seem to find any when I look (and I’m sure I can’t be the only one, because Shorts Are Hard).

  7. Jennifer says:

    YES to shorts! The longer J.Crew chino shorts are very good, in my opinion, and I’m a big fan of taking shorts to the tailor to make them slimmer around the thighs and the rear since my legs need a closer cut. I’ve had luck with the shorts at Banana Republic, as well.

  8. Adrien says:

    I live in Virginia so shorts are a big part of my casual wardrobe. They are HARD though. The inseam options always seem to be short-short or dowdy and it’s hard to find the in-between. I’m wearing a lot of cut-offs but have a pair of army green cargo-pocket shorts from Banana Republic that are my “nice” option. I pretty much always wear them with a loose peasant blouse type thing.

  9. mrv says:

    45 with young kids and could not survive the summer without shorts. I lean towards destructed jean shorts for the most part, with peasant blouse or similar… hide the middle and let the runner’s legs have their moment.

  10. Julie says:

    The James Perse shorts are right up my alley, until I checked out the price. The thoughts of buying shorts in the first place makes me want to question my mere existence, but paying 2 bills is not going to happen.

  11. Emily says:

    Old Navy 5″ inseam shorts. Cheap enough that you can buy a new white pair every year so that they stay crisp and white. Mid-thigh length so they cover the butt and upper thigh but are not dowdy.

  12. Kimbersam says:

    I have the theory shorts, they run a little small. Or I run a little big…..

  13. Sara says:

    Are we not making our own jean shorts these days? That last pair has me ready to wield a scissors.

    I used to love a Zara pair that came right to the knees, but I don’t think they make them anymore. Anything above the knee is just too revealing to me. I was cursed with a lot of cellulite and though the millennials seem to embrace it, I do not have their courage.

  14. Clatie says:

    Nope-ity nope.

  15. Kathy says:

    Seconding Emily: Old Navy is a great shorts source–many different lengths and silhouettes. For some people–most people!–shorts need to be a different silhouette than what looks good in pants/jeans. I have fairly chubby legs (pronounce it “laigs” for dramatic effect), but curvy, not straight tree-trunks. I like a 4 or 5″ inseam that fits like jeans at the waist and hip with a cuffed, relatively loose thigh and a cuff or roll-up. No binding around the thighs, but not floppy. The cuff on a loose denim or twill short gives some structure and is flattering for my legs. I’m not tall, so the hem hits about 5 or 6″ above the top of my knee. If your concern is thigh chub, that’s usually the thinnest part of your thigh. I advise trying on shorter–and probably looser–shorts than you usually go for. Don’t pay any attention to sizing. You will probably do well to size up. Last tip: I love Levi’s for denim shorts, and most of my shorts are denim. Dockers is the khakis/casual pants branch of Levi’s, and can be another great source for non-denim shorts. Try Kohls and Macy’s.

  16. jenny says:

    No. no shorts.

    When I was younger and had firmer thighs, running shorts looked best because I’m small-boned and short-legged, so the shorter the short, the better it looked. Now I live in a-line skirts or dresses.

  17. Emily M. says:

    No shorts for me. Linen pants with a tank top are my uniform for hot weather. But I applaud you for venturing into a controversial area.

  18. Emily M. says:

    Could you do a post on linen? I would love that!

  19. I have the Madewell gym shorts, they are my favorite pair right now since they are kind to my postpartum body. The elasticized waist avoids muffin tops and they have real pockets. I have the olive and the black, both are great and match just about everything.

  20. Iloveshorts says:

    This is so funny to me. I grew up in Houston where everybody wore shorts all the time. I had never heard of anybody hating shorts or their knees till I moved to California. I couldn’t live without them! I too follow the cut-offs and peasant blouse mantra.

  21. Karin says:

    I definitely have to revisit my shorts collection every year…now that I”m 55 the ones that looked OK even last year suddenly seem “unfitting.” I like 9 inch bermudas but it’s hard to find the perfect not-too-loose not-too-snug fit.
    I no longer wear shorts to social events but in So. Cal they’re essential around the house! Also, no matter how old I get I’ll always have one pair of cutoff jeans shorts, just for my own joy. What is summer without them? They get longer every year, but are still a “must.”

  22. Cait says:

    I haven’t owned shorts in years, but I am moving to South Asia soon and I realized I needed to have a strategy for living in oppressive heat. Chub rub is real! The girlfriend chino shorts from Gap are great, they are cheap, a good length, have a bit of stretch and don’t do the awkward creep up in the crotch.

  23. Anne says:

    I’m a day behind on posts, but thankfully the ‘chino’ option was still available in my size and are winging their way to my doorstep as we speak. They seem to be exactly what I’ve been looking for and I promise not to be upset if they aren’t life changing. If they are life changing, thank you for finding them for me!

  24. ed says:

    Hi, Thanks for this post. I am short and capri length looks so dreadful on me. Dumpy, dumpy, dumpy. Better to put a smile on your face, show your knees in shorts, and wear a cute top.

  25. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    I just want to say, I don’t know what I’d do without all of you smart, witty and kind GOACA! You always make me laugh…and DAMN! You’re smart! 😘

  26. Ann says:

    I’m 48 and I think you look awesome in those shorts. And I think we should come up with another name for them. do you remember cutoffs?!

  27. Hick from Styx says:

    I prefer the longer shorts known as “pants” in these parts. I am fond of flared cropped pants, too. To thine own body be true. And since all of mine must be dowsed in sunblock, and that’s a lot of yardage, it just makes sense.

    Many men don’t like wearing shorts, either.