May 10, 2017 - Ask Alison, Easy Outfits, I Feel Pretty, Style

The Guide to Finding Age Appropriate Shorts


Hey pretties!  It’s that time of the year when I seem to get asked this question more than any other…

Please help Alison!  I’m over 40 and have NO idea what length shorts I should be wearing (or if I should even be wearing shorts!)  Do you have any rules about shorts lengths?  What do you consider age appropriate shorts for us gals? Thanks in advance!

This is a GREAT question dear reader.  With the Summer 2017 GYPO Style Challenge just around the corner (registration opens on 5/19), I’ve been getting asked this question a lot so I wanted to get this guide out ahead of your shopping.  To answer your question, let’s start (and end) here…

Rule #1:  There are no shorts length rules.  

How freeing is that? So that means if you’re 50 and wearing 3″ shorts, I ain’t mad at ya! It also means if you’re in your 20’s and love Bermudas, awesome sauce!  There’s no such thing as age appropriate shorts.  For the record, I’m 43 and wear them from 3.5″ to Bermuda length.

One Glaring Exception:  If at any point you’ve got cheek peeking out, then add a few inches.  Please. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I was out last summer and saw young girls (and some not so young) with inches of cheek hanging out.  Inches, I tell you! No, just no.

I will get off my preachy, judgy soapbox now, but again, no.

Other than that, remember rule #1, there are no rules.  That’s right NO RULES!  

It’s all about YOUR comfort level and what flatters YOUR body type.

Some women are petite with short legs and can rock a 3″ short, some have longer legs and prefer a longer style.  I have medium length legs and go either direction.  I also have a special challenge of finding pairs that fit my waist and hips. Since I’m wider through the hips, shorts typically gap at the back of my waist or they pull across my hips. That’s truly what makes shorts shopping a challenge for me.

In order to do a little research for this post and prove my point, I went out shorts shopping recently looking for that elusive perfect pair (which I didn’t quite find, but more on that later).  I also wanted to illustrate how different lengths and styles can flatter…or NOT.  Sometimes it’s not about what length the shorts are but how they fit in other areas that truly determines how they look.

My journey began at Target and here’s what I found there.

*Sizing Note: All of the shorts featured in this post are a size 2 and run true to size.

Pair #1 – 5″ Printed Shorts

The Verdict:  The length on this pair of 5″ printed shorts was fine but they pulled across my hips.  NOT flattering.


[5″ Watercolor Floral Chino Shorts]

Pair #2 – 3″ Textured Shorts

The Verdict:  These 3″ textured shorts also had the weird pulling and were a little too short.  Although you can’t tell, if I had bent over in these we may have had an issue. The next size up was too big in the waist.


[3″ Textured Neon Shorts]

Next stop…Loft.

Pair #3 – Bright Bermuda Shorts

The Verdict:  I’m usually not a fan of Bermuda shorts on me yet I LOVED this pair! Normally I can’t wear shorts like these because the pockets pop out since my hips are wide compared to my waist. These laid nice and flat. Plus I love this color!


[Bermuda Roll Shorts]

Pair #4 – 4″ Riviera Shorts

The Verdict:  Although I have a few pairs of 4″ Riviera shorts, this pair did nothing for me.  They felt boxy and awkward and I was between sizes in them.  Not a winner.


[4″ Riviera Shorts]

Pair #5 – 6″ Riviera Shorts

The Verdict:  I actually liked these 6″ shorts better than the 4″ shorts because they were less boxy. Shorter doesn’t always equal more flattering.


[6″ Riviera Shorts]

Pair #6 – 3.5″ Denim Roll Shorts

The Verdict:  Winner!  I loved these denim shorts and they were the only pair that came home with me from this shopping trip. Perfect length, great wash. The only thing is that they gap a little in the back, so not quite perfect, but close.


[3.5″ Denim Roll Shorts]

Pair #7 – Denim Bermuda Roll Shorts

The Verdict:  These denim bermuda shorts were just ok.  They were a little big in the waist and made me feel like SpongeBob Squarepants.


[Denim Bermuda Roll Shorts]

Moving on to Old Navy…

Pair #8 – 3″ Cuffed Denim Shorts

The Verdict:  I really liked these cuffed denim shorts. The only reason I didn’t buy them is because I wanted the darker wash and they didn’t have them in my size. This denim is really soft and comfortable. This pair of shorts fit me the best of any I tried on, no gapping in the waist and no pulling in the hips.


[3″ Cuffed Denim Shorts]

Pair #9 – Denim Bermuda

The Verdict:  Just plain weird!  My daughter and I were both perplexed by the fitted thighs on these slim Bermuda shorts. It’s like they took a pair of skinny jeans and cut them off at the knees.


[Denim Slim Bermuda Shorts]

Pair #10 – 3″ Boyfriend Cutoff Shorts

The Verdict:  The face says it all!  These 3″ cutoff shorts felt more like bikini bottoms on me than shorts. The picture doesn’t do it justice but I definitely felt a little too exposed in these bad boys! This pair was definitely not in my comfort zone.


[3″ Boyfriend Cutoff Shorts]

Pair #11 – 3.5″ Pixie Shorts

The Verdict:  It’s amazing the difference a half inch makes!  I actually liked this pair of Pixie shorts, although they pulled a bit too much across the front.


[3.5″ Pixie Shorts]

Pair #12 – 5″ Mid-Rise Everyday Khaki Shorts

The Verdict:  These 5″ mid-rise shorts were a little too park ranger for me – not just the color, but the fit too.  Yuck.


[5″ Mid-Rise Khaki Shorts]

Honorable Mention

After exhausting the store options near me, I resorted to online shopping.  I bought these fray hem white shorts last week.  Kut from the Kloth jeans and shorts just fit my body type, period. When you find a brand that works, you buy them.


[Gidget Fray Hem Denim Shorts]

And if you’re just plain not into shorts…

I get it.  Trust me, if I didn’t live in Texas, I’d be perfectly content wearing jeans year-round!  Capris jeans might be your thing.


[Straight Roll Cuff Capri Jeans]

My hope is that this post illustrated one thing, the length is not necessarily what makes for age appropriate shorts, it’s all about the fit.  As long as your shorts fit well and flatter your body type, you’ll be good to go!

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  • Alison, I love this post! First of all, you have fabulous legs! I have the hardest time finding shorts and prefer dresses or capris in the warmer months. My legs are my best asset and shorter shorts look best on me, but then my thighs touch and get all sweaty and I can’t stand that! Or when the back of my legs stick to a chair. Yuck! I have a few pairs but I wear them very infrequently. But this post has the best message and such a great round up shorts options!


    • Thanks Shelbee. I am happy you enjoyed it. Shorts can be such hard find. I’m glad you have a few pair you like and hope you find a new pair you like soon! 🙂

  • Sometimes I think I have a harder time finding shorts than a great pair of jeans and that’s saying a lot! For so long I thought I needed the longer bermuda shorts because of my age but 3 years ago I switched to 4-5″ length and the difference has been amazing. Having the shorts end nearly the largest part of my legs made my legs look longer and thinner where the bermudas just accentuated the girth. 🙂 Great post..thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome Shelly. Thanks for checking them out. I think shorts can be harder to find too! Glad you found a length you like! 🙂

  • Kellyann

    I’m talking shorts on my blog today too, great minds! I went to Loft on Monday and tried on a few pair, my faves were the bermudas too. I love the length and the colors!

    • Thanks Kellyann! You look great in those shorts on your post and I love your top too! 🙂

      • Kellyann

        Thank you Alison!

  • Laura

    It’s so true, you have to feel comfortable in your shorts so buy what you like and is flattering on you!

  • This post is so timely for me. I decided last year would be my last year wearing shorts. I decided I was too old. But this year I see so many lovely ladies rocking shorts at all ages and I decided the heck with what some people say, I’m wearing shorts. Thanks for the great post! Peace!

    • Thanks for checking them out Cheryl. I am glad you enjoyed this post. I hope you find some shorts you love and wear them!! You rock your shorts! 🙂

  • I have to admit when I saw the title of this post I was livid. Then I read what you wrote and I couldn’t agree more. Age has nothing to do with short styles, body type does. I’ve seen amazing legs on 50-70 year olds and unsightly legs on 20 somethings. I really wish the phrase “age appropriate” would disappear into oblivion. it is so offensive. It’s not even used correctly. Did you know if you google “age appropriate” it’s definition refers to what is age appropriate for children/teens to wear and toys to play with or movies to see. Somehow the phrase was flipped to insult and humiliate older people. Anyway, enough of my rant. Wonderful post! TFS!

    • Thanks for reading on past the title Amy! I agree. It does depend on the body style and personal comfort, not the age. 🙂

  • I noticed you mentioned capris (and showed a pic!). So are they still in style? For some reason I have been thinking that cropped jeans (on my short legs that means to the ankle and beyond haha- not great for hot summers in the south!) had replaced capri length.

  • OH my gosh, your face in #10, so funny, I’m a 3.5″ girl myself. I saw those white shorts on your IG stories, was wondering where you got them. I love that brand too, and yep typically will stick with it. I only have their pants, so looking forward to trying out some shorts too!

    • Thanks Sarah. Yes you have to stick with what you like! I hope to see you wearing some soon! Loved the outfit and jacket today in your post!

  • Suzanne E.

    I know your pain being wider in the hip and always having to deal with waist gap. My husband keep trying to convince me that it’s ok to have the waist altered to fit better.

  • Yvonne Cutler Huffaker

    It made me feel better to see that someone who wears a much smaller size than I do has to try on a lot of pairs too! I just thought it was because I was bigger… AND… I can’t wear slash pockets because my hips pop out there!!! I bought some shorts last year that fit everywhere but my waist… the chambray from target… and I took them to a tailor to fix the waist. He did a great job and I was proud to wear cute shorts! Thanks for guiding us… I am (almost) looking forward to some shorts shopping this year!

  • Cathy

    Thanks for this post. It is so very helpful! And after trying on 10 pairs of pants today I totally get how frustrating it can be. Since you mentioned capris, where should the bottom hit your leg? Right in the middle of your lower leg? Under the knee? I don’t want to look out of proportion!

    • Hi Cathy. A good rule would be above or below the widest part of your calf. You don’t want it hitting right in the middle of the widest part of your calf. Happy shopping! 🙂

  • I was just clearing out space in my closet to bring up the shorts, too! Woohoo. I still wear them but not too short. LOL Thanks for this post.

  • Seriously, you look great in ALL of these! Some of favorites are Target, Old Navy and Loft!

  • Thanks Ashley! I might be looking for one! 😉

  • Nicole Mölders

    I like the yellow pair. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style.

  • I only wear shorts on holiday or sitting in the garden when it’s hot – my legs are usually too pasty to inflict on the general public! I really like the yellow ones and also the denim ones that you bought – they look great!

    Emma xxx