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.  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!  Crop jeans might be your thing.

[Straight Roll Cuff 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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