Feeling a little put off by tweens wearing what are essentially denim underpants? Us, too. With all the short, DIY jean cut-offs out there, it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are short alternatives. But there are. And, frankly, cut-offs are great, but they are totally basic and not really appropriate for everything. So we’ve picked out 16 pairs, none of which are denim, that are perfectly acceptable to wear for weekend outings, casual dinners and even the office. It’s summertime, so get to baring those legs, ladies!
A grownup’s guide to wearing shorts
The Fit: Short-ShortsLove showing off your long legs, or want to create the illusion of length? Opt for short-shorts (a 3" to 4" inseam). Wear them with wedges or chunky heels to add length. And try choosing a fun pattern to draw the eye upwards.
J.Crew Geo Brushstroke Short, $75 at J.Crew. J.Crew
The Fit: Short ShortsA scalloped edge adds sweetness to trouser-style shorts. Make sure this style isn't tight on the thighs—a little space between fabric and skin will be more flattering and make legs look longer.
Gap Chambray scalloped summer shorts, $60 at Gap. The Gap
The Fit: Short ShortsThe flat waistband, pretty pleating, wide leg and floral pattern make these a great skirt alternative. Plus, you can get away with a much shorter hem on shorts than you might when wearing a teeny mini. Tuck in a delicate sleeveless blouse and add espadrille wedges for a put-together look.
Roxy Act Nice Shorts, $45 at Roxy. Roxy
The Fit: Short ShortsThese faux leather shorts are not as tough-looking as you might imagine, thanks to sporty styling. This makes them great for a day with sandals or perfect for evening with heels.
Zara Faux Leather Sport Shorts, $30 at Zara. Zara
The Fit: Short ShortsAvoid the often junior-looking overall trend and invest in a pretty romper instead. This one is so much easier to wear than overalls because it's just one piece to put on and the monochromatic look is lengthening.
Aritzia Corbett Romper, $125 at Aritzia. Aritzia
The Fit: Mid-LengthMid-length shorts can show off sleek legs while allowing for a bit more modesty. These silky rayon shorts look dressy despite their drawstring waist and loose jogger fit. Wear them with a blazer and a simple top to work or with a basic tank all summer long.
Gap Printed jogger shorts, $55 at Gap. The Gap
The Fit: Short ShortsChambray is denim's softer cousin. You get the classic look without the rigid fabric or distressed look. The casual styling of these shorts is elevated with pretty embroidery, too. So cute.
Ann Taylor Chambray Embroidered Drawstring Shorts, $92 at Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor
The Fit: Mid-LengthAnother pair of work-appropriate shorts, the wide leg opening on these luxe-looking pleated shorts is flattering on thighs. Wear them with a white button-up or a tone-on-tone top for a sophisticated look.
Aritzia Babaton Alvin Shorts, $75 at Aritzia. Aritzia
The Fit: Mid-LengthThe short version of classic summer chinos, these relaxed-fit, roll-up shorts look adorable with simple sneakers.
Gap Boyfriend roll-up twill shorts, $50 at Gap.The Gap
The Fit: Mid-LengthThese pretty shorts have a touch of sheer fabric at the hem for a sexy look that's suitable for daytime. The flat front and mid-length are flattering on a variety of body types.
Club Monaco Lysa Shorts, $150 at Club Monaco. Club Monaco
The Fit: Mid-LengthThese high-waisted shorts accentuate a defined waist and the longer rise gives the illusion of longer legs.
Ann Taylor Crepe Drapey Shorts, $79 at Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor
The Fit: Mid-LengthAnother cute alternative to a skirt, these patterned shorts are so much more stylish than the skorts of years past. They're not pretending to be a skirt but the panels and geometric styling make them just as dressy.
Zara Printed Loose Trousers, $30 at Zara. Zara
The Fit: LongThe long version of classic khakis can also elongate legs, but maybe avoid these if your legs, from hip to knee, aren't the longest. Wear these with just about anything. A tank makes them casual, a long-sleeve blouse dresses them up and a polo gets you yacht-ready.
Joe Fresh Classic Short, $29 at Joe Fresh. Joe Fresh
The Fit: LongYour long shorts don't have to reach the knee. These khaki-styled shorts flatter legs of all lengths and come in a range of fun colours.
Joe Fresh Short, $16 at Joe Fresh.Joe Fresh
The Fit: LongWho says shorts can't be formal? A tux stripe—this one in gold maille—adds an air of elegance to basic linen shorts. Add gold heeled sandals, a floaty silk camisole and some statement jewellery for a wedding-appropriate ensemble.
J.Crew Collection Pull-On Short With Chain Mail Tux Stripe, $178 USD at J.Crew. J.Crew
The Fit: LongThese loose-fit, long ruffled culottes take shorts to a new, dressy level. Wear them with perfect black flats and a button-up to the office or a form-fitting top and heels for evening.
French Connection Aro Crepe Frill Detail Shorts, $60 at French Connection. French Connection