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Who wears short shorts?

June 24, 2010

Summer officially began this week. But for most of us, temperatures have already been reaching into the mid 90s — often with high humidity.

On this blog, we frequently praise dresses and skirts as a stylish way to keep cool during the heat wave that is summer in the South, as well as up the Eastern seaboard. However, shorts are another (albeit, more casual) option.

Mainly reserved for weekends and vacations, shorts can be a blessing. For one, we women don’t have to make sure we’re always sitting in a ladylike manner.

However, done wrong, shorts have the potential to make us look shorter and rounder. And no one wants that!

Here are some things to keep in mind when making selections:

If you do not have long legs, stay away. Those of us who are a bit vertically challenged and/or have larger thighs than we might prefer should avoid these mid-leg foes.

Some find this type of short more forgiving for curvy gals simply because of coverage. But if you fall into the “short” category, there’s no way to avoid these cutting off your legs and making them appear shorter.

(I don’t wear these, can you tell?)

Maybe you’re fit and short — these can be a cute option for you. You get to show off your legs, and the shorter you go, the longer your legs look. Just please, for the rest of us, make sure you cover what needs to be covered.

Don’t want to show off so much leg? Fairly average height? Mid-length shorts are the best bet for most people. Casual or preppy, this length is generally cropped to be flattering.

If you see me wearing shorts, they will be of the mid-length variety.

Who decided capris were a good idea and should be mainstream? OK, OK, once again for the tall and thin — and even then they’re questionable. These can work on some people, usually with heels, but they have a tendency to make women look short and stumpy. My feeling is this: Shorts or pants, pick one please.

Summer is the perfect time to be creative and energetic with clothing selection, and shorts are no exception. They do not have to be plain and monotonous.

While outlet shopping on vacation, I snagged a pair of bright shorts from the Gap Outlet, and I’m smitten. I also have a pair of plaid shorts I enjoy.

One word of warning though: This is true for all shorts, but make especially sure plaid shorts aren’t too tight or the pattern will be distorted and they’ll look even tighter than they feel.

First, yes, it is a double standard that women are allowed to wear jean shorts (denim shorts), but when men wear them they are automatically jorts. Why? Because we can make them look good.

That does not mean we need to wear them. Not if you’re dressing to impress. Unless maybe you’re going for this:

Compliments of the Internet

As a University of Georgia alumna, I can’t help but mention Gators Wear Jean Shorts. So this is obviously something to be avoided.

I know the summer heat can be intense, but that doesn’t mean style has to suffer. Take this opportunity to be a little more casual while keeping cool — and show you can look put together even though it’s a million degrees with 11o percent humidity.

56 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 11:26 am

    Great advice! And I agree with you on the capris issue… it’s rare that I’ve seen someone wearing capris and said to myself “what a classy outfit”

  2. June 24, 2010 11:27 am

    I love shorts…

    In Australia.
    They fulfill formal and informal types of wear.
    You have to be clever but one pair can go either way.

    Nice work

  3. June 24, 2010 11:29 am

    I tried wearing Bermuda shorts when I was 18 or so and I wore them a few times with heels. I soon realized that I’m just not tall (or slim) enough to pull them off. Shorts can be super tricky if done wrong.

  4. jenclinton permalink
    June 24, 2010 11:39 am

    I’m not very tall (or tiny) but bermuda shorts look fine with heels! I was actually stopped on the street once because of my bermuda shorts/black heels/black dress shirt combo. As long as it hits above your knee and you can elongate your legs with heels (especially nude ones), don’t give up on this trend so quickly!

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 24, 2010 3:01 pm

      It’s great this style works for you! I will concede some people really can make it work. Nude heels do seem like they would go a long way in lengthening legs. I guess I just don’t think this is a look I could pull off, but more power to you!

  5. June 24, 2010 11:44 am

    I LOVE daisey dukes…and since they are short, they make my legs look longer.

  6. June 24, 2010 12:03 pm

    Thanks for all the shorty advice, especially the anti-jean shorts for men. Good lord, I didn’t think they wore those anymore! The photo you included at the end was just precious. 🙂

    I love the short-shorts myself, but never could quite wrap my head around capris. No matter how cute or flattering, they forever look like you’re waiting for a flood. 🙂


  7. Blake permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:02 pm

    what about short shorts for men?

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 24, 2010 3:15 pm

      Well, for athletics (such as running), I can definitely see men going for shorter-than-average shorts. But in general, most men’s shorts hit an inch or two above the knee, and this seems about right to me. Too long is no go, and too short means showing a lot of leg. I remember in college, though, the fratty-types were very into shorter shorts with boat shoes.

  8. June 24, 2010 1:06 pm

    I’m 5’3″ but my legs are short vs. my thighs which are longer-weird i know. My shorts have to come to the middle or above my knee so i don’t look short & stubby.

    Also, I have skinny jeans that i roll up to mid-calf and only wear that look with heels. Makes me look longer.

    Great advice… love the deductive reasoning for the jean shorts 🙂

  9. Lulu permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:19 pm

    Ah, thank you for the advice:-)

  10. June 24, 2010 1:26 pm

    my running shorts are short. my bike shorts are spandex. my swimsuit is a speedo. and my legs are shaved.

    [this is where i tell you i’m a triathlete, lest you think strange of me… too late.]

  11. June 24, 2010 1:27 pm

    I, personally, love jean shorts. Maybe it’s just me. But since I’m not aiming for the whole “Dukes of Hazzard” look, the tops usually have to be nicer.

  12. rangamchiru permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:29 pm


  13. June 24, 2010 1:30 pm

    Hahaha, I’ve been doing it all wrong! Thanks for pointing that out!

  14. June 24, 2010 1:40 pm

    I loved this 🙂

  15. June 24, 2010 2:26 pm

    Nice short shorts.How are short shorts men?

  16. June 24, 2010 2:29 pm

    As a current UGA student, I loved this post. First off, I have those bright colored Old Navy shorts. Secondly, everyone knows, gators wear jean shorts and we never want to look like a Florida fan. GO DAWGS!

  17. June 24, 2010 3:07 pm

    Oh dear God, you’ve just reminded me why I vowed many years ago to never ever where shorts – even if it means sitting in uncomfortable side saddle like positions so as not to show my knickers off in parks and on beaches.

    Also love the title, is it a quite form the Suicide Machines? Or did they nick the lyric from another song?

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 24, 2010 3:41 pm

      Fair enough, but they’re nearly impossible to completely avoid in Atlanta. It is currently 95 degrees F here now.

      The title actually came from a TV ad Nair used to run, which can be found here: Turns out it’s actually a song by The Royal Teens, though.

  18. June 24, 2010 3:49 pm

    So then what should I wear? I’m short, and shorter shorts don’t seem to flatter me. I bought longer shorts, “cargo” or “bermuda.” I recognize that they are not the best option for short people and work better for longer legs, but I can’t help but think they look better than shorter shorts, which I think show off my too-white legs and my sort-of flabby thighs. Up until these longer shorts, I’d been wearing capris, and they are getting too hot for me, I’ll tell you.

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 24, 2010 8:08 pm

      Have you tried shorts that hit about mid-thigh? I’m 5’4″ and that’s what I tend to wear. There are some great options this length too.

      The bright shorts I mentioned from the Gap Outlet are actually a little longer than I normally wear, but still plenty above the knees — they don’t qualify as bermudas. They have a great fit and are comfortable to wear without showing off too much skin.

  19. June 24, 2010 4:01 pm

    This may be the incorrect place to post this, but what is your take on jean skirts? Mid-thigh, or a little shorter.

    I have learned how to use the vintage electric sewing machine that has been collecting dust in my closet and wanted to turn some of my old jeans into jean skirts. With the exception of the upper portion of my thighs, I have great legs and I love showing my legs off. My vision is captured in this blog:

    Please give me your thoughts on the questionable jean skirt!

    • June 24, 2010 4:05 pm

      Personally, I love jean skirts. I think they’re a casual alternative in the summer, and can easily be dressed up or down. I’m envisioning it with a white button-down shirt and strappy flat gladiator sandals, maybe topped off with a fedora. Or you could try it as a bathing suit cover-up.

      Oh, and personally, I’m not a huge fan of tons of stringy threads hanging down, but a few here and there are OK by me. That’s more a matter of personal preference, though.

      • June 24, 2010 10:42 pm

        Agreed, I have no desire to have the ‘fringe’ look on the ends.

        It’s been 4 years and I haven’t got rid of the baby belly area so I typically wear sun dresses in the summer because I can showcase the legs but conceal the midsection. I’m down to a size 10, one more size to go!

        I’m a fashion violator so I genuinely appreciate your great ideas, especially the fedora. Thank you! 🙂

  20. Songbird permalink
    June 24, 2010 4:25 pm

    So agree with you on the Capris… I mean, they are more long than short and just look like someone has run out fabric.

  21. June 24, 2010 5:01 pm

    Interesting! I just did a blog about shorts and capris this week too:
    At least learning what to call all these different-length shorts!

  22. June 24, 2010 5:24 pm

    I wear shorts ALL the time. In fact had a nicepair of caramel city shorts for zara on today for work. They are totally underrated. I can’t get enough of them. Bring back the short for good – Hurrah!

  23. June 24, 2010 5:32 pm

    I love a short short

  24. hugsandmisses permalink
    June 24, 2010 6:10 pm

    I really like this. I tend to go towards all lengths, but usually short. This was really funny and very helpful. 🙂

  25. Katy permalink*
    June 24, 2010 7:01 pm

    I wore a pair of black linen shorts from F21 out to dinner with my brother last weekend and he called them skank shorts. They were like mid-thigh. I used to rock capris a lot, but I have since passed that phase. I wore long shorts pretty much the whole summer in Oxford, and now I realize that they are in no way flattering to me. I find that I will put on jeans before shorts, even in the 90+ degree weather we’ve had in DC. Well, actually, I wear dresses everyday, but still.

  26. June 24, 2010 7:16 pm

    I’m still losing baby weight and am refusing to buy new shorts this summer, instead I’m going with the sundress look and so far am finding it much more cooler and versitile than shorts or capris.
    Now, how do I work this into convo with my hubby to tell him that the cut off bib-overalls (I kid you not) that he wears as a swimsuit (seriously, can’t make stuff like that up) have got to go……

  27. Elizabeth permalink
    June 24, 2010 7:18 pm

    I love shorts and I think a nice black short can be quite dressy and classy! I find that skirts actually do not compliment my shape, although I find them comfortable. I might post the question if skirts or shorts work best for women of all different sizes on our blog
    Thanks for the post!

    • June 25, 2010 9:47 am

      I agree with you about black shorts being classy. Some people don’t care for “dress shorts,” but I like them! Just be sure that the shorts are long enough that they don’t look skanky when paired with heels. (They don’t have to be Bermudas though, a short that hits at mid-thigh should be fine.)

      What kind of skirts have you been trying? A-line? Long? Pencil? Mini? There are TONS of different styles of skirts – maybe you just haven’t found quite the right style yet?

  28. June 24, 2010 7:25 pm

    As my life gets longer, so do my shorts.

  29. badmammy permalink
    June 24, 2010 8:22 pm

    No tall chick digs capris!!

  30. whatsnormality permalink
    June 24, 2010 9:47 pm

    I have a pair of rainbow plaid short shorts.
    Crazy? absolutely.
    but surprisingly, they actually work.

  31. June 24, 2010 10:35 pm

    I’m a skirt girl myself.

  32. June 24, 2010 11:39 pm

    Not-so-short shorts always look shorter when I wear them because I have long legs, but I guess it’s also a great way to flaunt ’em!

  33. June 24, 2010 11:43 pm

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Loved your Blog! I agree, I swear some people don’t have mirrors!

    I just bought some short shorts, just don’t know if I’m ready to wear them yet, I think my thighs are a little out of shape, need some exercise!

    Blog ON!

  34. June 25, 2010 12:48 am

    Who wears short shorts:)??? i love this site, great 411

  35. June 25, 2010 2:27 am

    Good luck wearing shorts … I agonised over my thighs throughout my adolescence, finally getting into them at 25. To my surprise I looked good. Why? BECAUSE I WAS YOUNG. Young fresh skin and muscle looks good in most things
    But …
    After 35 … forget shorts … wrinkled knees and broken capillaries and increasing cellulite just don’t cut it on the style front …

    Give up and wear a skirt or capris … they’re just as comfy … twice as pretty …. and don’t make you look like MDUAL …

  36. Peter A. Bruns permalink
    June 25, 2010 3:00 am

    …and bloody hell (Aussie Lingo) – where are the shorts for men? Hey YOU??? You cant cut out one half of the world… or so… says… the man from northern Germany… holding the man… and read: “Australia mon amour”? No? Well, just do it.

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 25, 2010 5:10 pm

      Well, unfortunately, men don’t tend to wear at much variety in terms of shorts — or clothes in general. (Especially here in the U.S.)

      I’ll look into doing a post about men’s shorts soon. Thanks for the tip!

  37. June 25, 2010 3:20 am

    There are many short, shorter and the shortest. It’s your desire what to wear as long as you like it. But some don’t like as you wear your likes.

    Shorts are a wide wide mode of dresses.

  38. Spud permalink
    June 25, 2010 8:11 am

    Completely agree with you on the capris. They make women look too old and too shabby, like they are perpetually going to the market or something.

  39. June 25, 2010 9:54 am

    OoH!! I ❤ it!! (<3= love)

  40. June 25, 2010 10:03 am

    I am a curvy woman, so I have a very hard time finding the right pair of shorts that fit, either they are too big in the waist and tight in the leg or the length doesn’t hit me right. I like to show my legs, so I want them to be short. I wear a lot of skirts, I always have, mainly because I think they look pretty and they are comfortable at the same time. We are going to have to ask this question to our viewers at! What shorts flatter your figure? Where did you find them? Great post, thank you!

    • Melanie permalink*
      June 25, 2010 5:15 pm

      I hear ya! I’m fairly curvy myself, but also short — so that can be a challenge. Many times I end up going up a size in shorts (compared to jeans) simply because I don’t want them to look or feel too snug. I get overly excited when I stumble upon a pair with a good shape!

  41. June 27, 2010 11:53 am

    What a refreshing fashion post. As we all know fashion is something to consider, but we must also take into consideration comfort. So I’m all for something that looks fashionable and brings comfort at the same time.

  42. j8de permalink
    June 28, 2010 2:26 pm

    Bermuda shorts are not for those who are curvy .. just saying ! Also, short shorts are also very good for people who are taller as well, to show off the long legs they already have 🙂

  43. June 28, 2010 3:45 pm

    I had an Australian room mate who would wear absurdly short shorts. I didn’t have the heart to tell him how silly he looked!

  44. Ellen Joy Flores permalink
    November 28, 2011 5:57 pm

    hi..your post is a year ago but I had just read it today hehe,coz I am really searching for denim shorts to buy,but I am not tall that is why I decided to search if its okay to wear shorts…and i find your blog very helpful..thanks


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