Fashion Magazine

The Best Shorts for Grown-Ass Women: Over 40 Styles For All Sizes, Shapes, and Situations

By Wardrobeoxygen @wardrobe_oxygen

What does a grown-ass woman wear in the summer? Whatever she wants to wear! I know some folks are not comfortable in shorts, and that's okay. Do what makes you feel good. But if you're hot and uncomfortable because you feel you will be judged for your legs, stop letting the thoughts of those who don't care about you and don't improve your world cause you to overheat.

Below I share what I find to be the best shorts for grown-ass women. Different lengths, leg shapes, waistbands, sizes, fabrics, and styles so you can feel comfortable and look the way that makes you feel good this summer. And by the way, not a single pair of shorts are over $100 (most are less than $50) and all of them are machine washable and easy-care. Let's have fun this summer, let's not stress over staining, stretching out, or dry cleaning our shorts!

What Length of Shorts is Best for Grown-Ass Women?

This really is determined by your height, shape, and comfort level. As a petite size 14 woman with a curvy frame, I find shorts that are 4″ to 5″ in length to be long enough to prevent chub rub while still hitting at a length on my thigh that makes me feel confident.

Below are the two most popular length of shorts for grown-ass women, but honestly wear whatever length feels good to you:

  • A mid-length or mid-rise short, which has a 4″ to 7″ inseam (length from crotch to hem) is the most universally popular short length regardless of height, size, and age. If you hold your hands to your side, a mid-length short will hit near the tip of your longest finger. Such a length of short can be a straight fit, pleated, cuffed, full, or fitted and looks good with tucked-in, fitted, and loose tops.
  • A Bermuda-length or long-length short is a great choice for those who prefer to keep their thighs completely covered while still looking stylish. A Bermuda short usually has a 10″ to 12″ inseam with a straight fit that is perenially classic and looks fresh with tucked-in and loose tops.

While in the past the specific length, cuff, fabric, and silhouette of a garment determined whether it was stylish or not, these days you can wear most anything and it will look great. Choose comfort, style with confidence, and that combination can always look great!

The Best Tip for Great Fitting Shorts

My best tip for getting great fitting shorts? Go up a size. Are you usually a size 14? Buy a size 16. Are you usually petite? Consider choosing regular. While that same brand in jeans may be perfect in your regular size, you truly don't want the same fit for shorts. With a bit more room, shorts will be less likely to ride up, will hang a bit at the hips giving you room to bend and stretch, while still achieving the same aesthetic.

Don't like having to size up in shorts? Cut that darn tag out! Nobody needs to know what size clothing you wear. And let's be honest, women's clothing sizing is so incredibly inconsistent that number in your shorts has absolutely nothing to do with your figure, your value, your style, your appearance, or anything else. You're perfect, it's the shorts that are the problem, and sizing up may make you like them more!

What Are the Best Shorts for Grown-Ass Women?

I do not believe that a certain age determines what length or silhouette of shorts you should wear. Every body looks great when wearing what feels good. For some that may be a 2″ inseam, for others they may prefer something that skims the knees. Some like a fuller leg, some feel most confident in a trim silhouette. I separated shorts by basic categories: denim, linen, twill, athletic, casual, and dressy.

I did not separate by body type or size, however with each pair of shorts I will share the size range available and details about fabric, length, color options, etc. I hope within each category you can find a style that is right for your unique and fabulous grown-ass body.

Do note that I refuse to share a pair of shorts that does not have pockets. It's 2021, women deserve to be able to be as unencumbered as men. Whether you want pockets to hold your keys or just to have something to do with your hands, we all deserve pockets in our clothing!

The Best Size-Inclusive Denim Shorts for Women

Denim shorts are a summer staple, but they can often be as hard to shop for as swimwear. Too tight, too short, too heavy, too whatever... when you find a great pair of denim shorts it's sometimes worth it to buy two pairs! Below I share the best denim shorts for women; these are shorts that continuously get great reviews from women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and personal style aesthetics. Numbers 1-3 are the top row, 4-6 the middle row, 7-9 the last row of the collage:

  1. Lee Flex-Motion Bermuda Shorts: Check out any list for the best plus sized denim shorts and these will likely be on it. If not, the writer didn't do their homework. Made from 69% Cotton/ 30% Polyester/1% Spandex, these shorts will move with you while still looking like traditional denim. Available in misses sizes 2-18 and plus sizes 14W-30W, they come in a variety of colors and washes and look great unfolded or cuffed to your perfect length.
  2. L.L. Bean Sunwashed Shorts: Love the look of denim but hate the heavy fabric and snug fit? Then these shorts from L.L. Bean may be for you! While made from 100% cotton, these denim shorts are soft and provide airflow. With a 6″ inseam, elastic waist with drawstring, and plenty of deep pockets, these could be the shorts you reach for over and over again all summer. Misses XS-XL and plus sizes 1X-3X in two washes.
  3. Kut from the Kloth 'Gidget' Shorts: I have owned these shorts in three sizes over the years because I think they're such a great denim, great wash, and great fit. And they are so great, my 5-year-old Kut from the Kloth denim shorts still look like new and still look stylish. Available in sizes 00-18 with a 4″ inseam; I link to the Kut from the Kloth website, but this style of short is available in a variety of washes and colors at department stores like Nordstrom.
  4. Gap Midrise Washwell Shorts: In a classic wash with a 5″ hem that looks great down, single-cuffed, or rolled, this is a pair of denim shorts that will work with so much of your wardrobe. These jeans are made with at least 20% less water than most denim products, and have 1% Spandex for comfortable movement. Available in petite, regular, and tall sizes 24-35.
  5. Universal Standard 'Bae' Denim Shorts: If these fit like the 'Bae' jeans from Universal Standard, I'll be a hardcore fan. Not available until later this month, Universal Standard came out with a line of shorts that includes these in two different washes. Not too tight and not too loose, the 11″ inseam looks great down or cuffed to your perfect length. Sizes 00-40.
  6. Chico's Relaxed Cotton Vintage Shorts: With an 8″ inseam, these are just a hair shorter than a Bermuda, but still offering plenty of coverage with an on-trend vintage look. Available in sizes 0-20/22, these do not have stretch but are a summer weight of denim that will mold to your shape.
  7. Ava & Viv Destructed Denim Midi Shorts: Made from stretchy denim that still looks authentic with distressing and a frayed hem, these denim shorts get rave reviews for comfort, fit, and a length that is long enough for comfort but short enough for a trendy style. Available in sizes 14W-30W in two washes; note that reviews say these run a bit big so if in doubt size down, not up.

The Best Size-Inclusive Linen Shorts for Women

Linen and linen-blend shorts are a summer staple for their breathability and relaxed rumpled chic effect. Yes, wrinkles can be stylish when it's a fabric like linen! Linen shorts are usually a fuller silhouette as the fabric can stretch if pulled taut. I had trouble narrowing this category down to just 9; I have all the highly-rated linen shorts in the carousel below this list.

  1. NYDJ Modern Bermuda Shorts: NYDJ is known for great-fitting jeans, but the brand carries much more than denim with the same trademark fit. These shorts are a more relaxed fit than a typical Bermuda short, but are still polished with a higher rise and clean closure. Available in two colors, these shorts come in sizes 00-18.
  2. J.Jill Pure Jill Linen Shorts: With a 7″ inseam for misses and 8″ inseam for plus sizes, these breezy machine-washable (and dryable!) pull-on 100% linen shorts are a summer workhorse. Available in three colors and misses, petite, and plus sizes XS-4X.
  3. Universal Standard 'Juniper' Shorts: I own these shorts, you can see them on me at this link. For me, I found these ran big and suggest sizing down. Made from 55% linen, 42% rayon, and 3% Elastane, these are breezy like pure linen while not being as wrinkly. Available in four colors sizes 00/0-38/40.
  4. Orvis Performance Linen Shorts: While Orvis doesn't have the most extensive size range, they are known for classic quality for over a century. Made with prewashed WFB Baird Linen, these shorts are also made with OutSmart® Fresh to reduce odors. They have an elasticized back and drawstring front, and are available in five colors in sizes XS-XL.
  5. Universal Thread Mid-Rise Tie Waist Utility Shorts: Made from 55% linen and 45% rayon, these lightweight shorts have front and back pockets, an elasticized waist plus a drawstring for a custom fit. Available in five colors in Misses XS-XXL and Plus 1X-4X.
  6. Garnet Hill Linen Pull-On Shorts: With a midrise elasticized waist with drawcord, these 7″ high-quality linen shorts come in six colors and prints and sizes 0-18.
  7. J. Crew Seaside Short: These linen/Tencel blend shorts have been a staple in. my summer wardrobe for years. While they are a bit short (3″ inseam), they are quick-drying and great to throw over a swimsuit or wear when lounging around the house or out on the deck. They hold up great; my five-year-old pair looks as new as my two-year-old pair I never got out of the attic last summer! Available in 11 colors in sizes XXS-3X.
  8. Chico's Linen Shorts: Chico's does grown-ass women fit really well and it's true for these linen shorts. With a smart, trim but not tight silhouette, these Bermuda shorts have a drawstring waist for a custom fit, come in two colors (at this time, I wouldn't be surprised if they offer additional colors as the season continues), and come in sizes 0-20/22.
  9. Athleta 'Cabo' Short: If you are a fan of Athleta's Cabo Pant (like millions of other people are), you likely will also like these shorts. With a 4″ inseam, they don't run small (get your regular size if unsure), are a pull-on style with additional drawstring, come in three colors sizes 0-26.

The Best Size-Inclusive Active Shorts for Women

I know I am not the only one who wants to spend this summer outdoors after a year of being cooped up. And after a year of being cooped up I want activewear that performs, offering comfort and function over whittling my waist or lengthening my legs. Below I share some of the best active shorts for women in misses and plus sizes:

  1. L.L.Bean Vista Camp Shorts: These shorts are virtually indestructible. Throw them in a tote while still wet and leave them in the trunk for a month. Wear them while sitting on sand and gravel. Have your dog use them as a chew toy. They will still look and perform beautifully. Made with UPF 50+ fabric, these have front zipper pockets and back patch pockets, an elasticized drawstring waist, and the Misses are a 6″ short with the Plus at a 7″ inseam. Five colors available in sizes XS-3X.
  2. CALIA by Carrie Underwood 'Journey' Shorts: Made from an antimicrobial and moisture-wicking fabric, these 5″ inseam active shorts have zipper front pockets to keep your essentials secure. Available in six colors in sizes XS-3X.
  3. Athleta 'Brooklyn' Short: Recycled Featherweight Stretch™ fabric is UPF 50+, abrasion-resistant, and feels silky sleek and light as air. These shorts have a 4″ inseam (5″ for tall), front regular and back zipper pockets, and come in three colors and sizes 0-26 (tall in sizes 4-16).
  4. Chico's Zenergy Chic360 Shorts: This is another style of shorts I actually own and love. They're quick drying, offer sun protection, have zipper pockets, and I love the wide waistband that doesn't dig or segment. The 7″ inseam is just a bit above the knee on me, making them work with even an oversized hoodie at the end of the day. I've worn these for canoeing and biking, but also with a knit top and sandals for running errands. Three colors to choose from in sizes 0-20/22.
  5. Athleta 'Hustle' Short: I appreciate how Athleta not only extended their size range but also offers some styles of shorts and skorts in different lengths. These are a 4.5″ inseam, are UPF 50+, and made from recycled water bottles. Small key pocket in the waistband. Two colors to choose from in sizes XXS-2X.
  6. Columbia 'Sandy River' Shorts: Columbia is one of the original outdoor brands to offer plus sizes. These shorts are quick drying with a 6″ inseam for Plus and 5″ for Misses, zipper pocket, and UPF30 sun protection. Reviews say these run big so if in doubt, size down. But expect to have these shorts still looking and performing great years from now; these are shorts that can take a beating while being comfortable. Nine colors to choose from in sizes XS-3X.
  7. Athleta 'Marin' Board Short: Made for water activities, but stylish enough for most anything this summer. These shorts are made from recycled water bottles, wick moisture, protect you from the sun, and dry in a flash. Three colors to choose from with these 5″ inseam shorts. Sizes XXS-3X in three colors.

The Best Size-Inclusive Chino Twill Shorts for Women

This is another category where I found amazing chino and twill shorts, too many to fit into my nice little collage. I encourage you to check out the carousel below the list for all the great twill shorts I found. But these are some of the best:

  1. Universal Thread High-Rise Shorts: Made with lightweight stretchy cotton, these shorts have a smocked/elasticized waist, pleats, and deep pockets for comfort, practicality, but also style. These are great for curvy figures. Do note, reviews share these shorts run big so don't use my tip for sizing up. Available in Misses XS-XXL and Plus 1X-4X in four colors.
  2. Tommy Hilfiger 'Hollywood' Bermuda Shorts: These twill Bermuda shorts get rave reviews for fit and how well they hold up after multiple washings. With a 9″ inseam, they come in eight different colors. This is the link for the shorts in sizes 2-18, and this is the link for the same shorts in sizes 16W-22W (do note a lot of the plus sizes are out of stock; I also found them in more sizes and colors on Amazon).
  3. NYDJ Drawstring Cargo Shorts: Made from a stretch twill with a knit waistband and slimming technology, these shorts have deep front and back patch pockets and come in two colors. Available in Misses and Petite 000-18 and Plus 14W-28W.
  4. L.L.Bean Canvas Sunwashed Shorts: A classic for a reason. These washed cotton canvas shorts have a 6″ inseam and an elasticized drawstring waist. With large front and back pockets, you can carry all your necessities while remaining cool and comfortable. Available in sizes XS-3X and five colors.
  5. J. Crew Stretch Chino Shorts: Like Talbots, these shorts from J. Crew come in a range of inseam lengths. As a 5'3″ woman, I have liked the 4″ short (you can see it on me here), but I am considering an extra inch with the 5″ short for this summer (what is featured in the collage). They also come in and a 10″ length. Available in sizes 00-24, all lengths come in classic colors like white, khaki, and navy but the shorter lengths also come in some really fun colors that are perfect for summer.
  6. Talbots Summer Twill Pull-On Shorts: I am all about pull-on shorts this summer. Especially when they have a waist nice enough for tucked-in tops, why not be comfortable this year? These are a 6″ inseam for Misses, 5″ for Petite, and 7″ for Plus. They are a cotton/Tencel blend that is light and breezy. These shorts come in four colors and Misses, Petite, Plus, and Plus Petite XS-3X.
  7. Talbots Perfect Shorts: To err is human, and I realize that I shared two different lengths of the Talbots Perfect Shorts in one collage! Well, it shows how different they look in different colors and lengths!

The Best Size-Inclusive Dressy Shorts for Women

The majority of shorts for sale this season are athletic, relaxed, denim, linen... a very casual feel. But sometimes you need a polished dressy short to wear to an outdoor summer function with a blouse or camisole and dressy sandals. For some, the workplace may be creative or more relaxed and permit dressier long shorts in place of trousers. Below are the best dressy shorts for women in a great range of silhouettes, sizes, and colors:

  1. White House | Black Market Smooth Stretch: Tailored cotton blend shorts with a 5″ inseam dress up or down beautifully. Available in sizes 00-18 in a variety of neutrals, brights, and prints, these are shorts that can complement your blouse or make a statement all on their own.
  2. Torrid Self-Tie Paperbag Waist Mid Short: Several of you have told me how much you love these shorts for comfort, for style, for breeziness, and how they can elevate a simple knit top. With a 5″ inseam and removable self-belt for a customized look, these shorts are available in sizes 10-30 and the Torrid site often has these same shorts in other colors and prints.
  3. Talbots Perfect Bermuda Short: These shorts are called "perfect" for. a reason. Clean lines, smooth hook and bar waist closure, and a traditional 10.5″ inseam (9.5″ for petite), these are shorts that will add elegance even to a striped t-shirt and sneakers. Seven colors available in misses, petite, plus, and petite plus sizes 2-24.
  4. Tahari ASL Crepe Shorts: In pebbled crepe with a longer length and clean lines, this is the kind of short that can work in the office (Tahari even has a matching belted jacket). This key lime color is an unexpected neutral that looks phenomenal with black, white, olive, gray, and cream but also pops of color like hot pink, plum, coral, and various shades of blue. Sizes 0-18.
  5. Chico's 'Brigitte' Shorts: I love the 'Brigitte' pants from Chico's (see them on me here). They are a stretch that looks crisp even if you sat in them on a flight to Florida (I know from experience). The shorts are equally as sleek and streamlined. With a 10″ inseam and made from 76% rayon, 21% nylon, 3% spandex, these are great shorts with a tucked in or left-out blouse and a pair of metallic sandals for a festive evening. Five colors in sizes 0-20/22.
  6. M.M.LaFleur 'The Fletcher' Shorts: Okay, I said no shorts were over $100 but these are. However, these are incredibly elegant shorts that look chic with a Breton tee and sneakers, but also have a matching blazer to make an incredibly chic short suit. Buy them together and get 15% off your purchase. These shorts come in two colors, have a 6″ inseam, come in sizes 0-18, and are machine washable.
  7. A New Day High Rise Pleated Bermuda Shorts: Made from a lightweight blend of 92% rayon and 8% polyester, these shorts have a great drape and catch the breeze. Available in two colors, they are available in sizes XS-XXL.
  8. Athleta Skyline Short II: Think Athleta is just for activewear? Think again. Not only did they expand their size range to 3X, Athleta has really upped their street style game and these shorts are proof. Made from recycled polyester, these 4″ inseam shorts are silky and breezy, resist wrinkles, and the self-belt elevates the whole look. Available in four colors sizes 0-26.

What About Skorts?

Stay tuned! After trying a couple of highly-rated skorts that left me disappointed by quality, design, and fit, I decided to order several from different size-inclusive brands and do a proper review with photos. Consider subscribing to Wardrobe Oxygen or following me on Instagram to be notified when the next review for grown-ass women drops!

In Summary...

The best shorts for grown-ass women are the ones that give you the comfort and confidence to get out in the world and enjoy yourself this season. If shorts aren't your thing, that is totally cool and I respect you knowing yourself. But if you have been curious about wearing shorts this summer, I hope this guide to the best shorts for grown-ass women proves helpful!

If you know of a great pair of shorts that aren't listed here, do share in the comments! Your recommendation may be exactly the thing another Wardrobe Oxygen reader has been looking for!


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