The Best Women’s Shorts for Summer That Aren’t Jorts

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Animation: The Cut

For such a small amount of fabric, shorts can pose a lot of sartorial problems. Are they too short to wear to work? Too long to wear out? Is elastic okay? Why do I feel like I have to choose between looking like Nigel Thornberry on a safari or Alex Honnold, that rock-climbing nut from Free Solo??

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, some office workers and their employers are starting to rethink their stance on shorts after all this time working from home. But no matter what the rules are, it can still be difficult to find a pair that feels right.

“I’m desperate for a more upscale pair of shorts than the jorts I wear everywhere, including out,” said one of my colleagues. She says she’s “allergic” to Bermuda shorts, so those are out, but every other option still feels “really nerdy.” Where are the normal-but-not-boring options? And, on the flip side: Where can a girl get a good pair of fun party shorts? Below, I crowdsourced suggestions and shared some pairs that I’ve added to my cart.

Every summer it’s the same question: How much thigh are we showing? “My gut is telling me that shorts are only going to start getting longer, especially in the crowd of men I count myself among who take pleasure in wardrobes that border on repellant,” says Throwing Fits co-host Lawrence Schlossman. On the menswear podcast, inseam length is a frequent subject, and until recently, the TF official stance has been: “Five or die.”

“While five-inch inseams will continue to dominate the field, this year we’re also veering hard in both directions and roping in one-inch and nine-inch,” added co-host James Harris. Here’s the breakdown: “One-inchers give chic pervert, or, you know, French. Fivers emit a stoic confidence in yourself, even if you’ll be matching every ‘day-in-the-life,’ ‘NYC-hidden-gem’ TikToker. And nines are paradoxically the most challenging to pull off, because as much as Instagram moodboards ironically claim Adam Sandler as a shorts god, only one man can have all that inseam power.”

Although ones and fives and nines are more of a menswear thing, I have to agree with Schlossman that the bigger the shorts, the better this summer. I’m sick of my pandemic “park hang” five-inch Patagonia Baggies, and once you feel the roomy ease of a pair of truly baggy shorts, it’s hard to go back.

A guy friend of mine says he’s into the Site Short from Adsum, a Brooklyn-born menswear brand that’s not too gorp-y and not too fashion-y, either. This pair has a 6.5-inch inseam, if you want to break free from the “five or die” chains as well. (This goes for everyone!)
Available in sizes S to XL.

If someone is going to give you a hard time about wearing a three-piece suit to work, then I give up. These linen shorts are supersoft (I’ve dropped by the store multiple times to touch them) and feel expensive without being too pricey.
Available in sizes 0 to 14.

Aritzia is a solid bet for workwear that isn’t too stuffy.
Available in sizes 00 to 16.

A reader suggested visiting Banana Republic Factory for some good, cheap linen shorts, and I’ve also found myself on its website recently. If I’m not buying linen shorts from Uniqlo, I’m probably going here.
Available in sizes 0 to 20.

Linen shorts tend to get wrinkly and, depending on how they’re tailored, a little floppy too, which I hate. Material is key with shorts, and this nylon pair seems sturdy and lightweight. I’ve been eyeing them as a good Prada dupe.
Available in sizes 0 to 2.

A belt can always elevate a pair of shorts. Available in sizes 0 to 16.

My favorite shorts this summer are a pair of light wool knee-length Celine ones I found on the RealReal for a very good price. These are similar. Snag them! They make me feel European.
Available in size M.

“I really like Tibi shorts,” says Cut editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples. “They’re good for work because they’re tailored and a nice fabric, and they usually hit the knee, which makes them a bit more formal.”
Available in sizes 0 to 10.

These seem like a solid investment pair that will likely last you a while, which is good because they’ll need to survive the ruthless inseam trend cycle.
Available in sizes 4 to 12.

I’ve heard many good things about Big Bud Press bottoms over the years. They come in lots of different colors and a wide range of sizes, and they seem well made.
Available in sizes 2XS to 7XL.

An editor told me she wears these and now I really want a pair. The silhouette is more stylish and flattering than your average pair of outdoor shorts, and the fabric is more everyday as well. People won’t think I’m on my way to do something active when I wear them, which I’m definitely not. (They also make them for men.)
Available in sizes XS to L.

My friend is obsessed with contrast-stitching and says this recent purchase was a success. They look like denim, but they’re actually linen. She suggests sizing up for a baggier look.
Available in sizes S to XL.

I’m more into this pair, personally, because they’ve got a bit more volume.
Available in sizes 0 to 10/12.

The severe cut of these makes them not your average track short. I’d wear them to a dance party.
Available in sizes XS/S to XL/2XL.

Same for these by Luar, but I’d be just as happy to wear them around the house.
Available in sizes XS to XL.

If you look closely, these bike shorts are printed with scenes from The Sopranos. What more could you want?
Available in sizes XS to 2XL.

I love my Pleats Please culottes so much I might need to get the shorts version. They’re a classic — incredibly comfortable and stretchy, and easily packed into a suitcase.
Available in sizes 1 to 5.

A friend says the algorithm made her buy these hot pants, and she actually loves them. They remind me of the corduroy shorts I used to get at American Apparel, and they are very Los Angeles.
Available in sizes 24 to 40.

I think these would look best if you wore them with the matching top.
Available in sizes 8 to 12.

I have a problem, which is that I want everything from every single Adidas x Wales Bonner drop, including these shorts (which an editor friend says she will be purchasing). I like that they’re knit and not a sporty material.
Available in sizes S to XL.

These remind me of the greatest shorts of all time, which are the sequined SS18 Comme des Garçons pair Frank Ocean wore on the cover of 032c magazine.
Available in sizes 2 to 6.

I love a theme, and I would be the person who wears these to a summer barbecue where lobster is being served. (And everywhere else.)
Available in sizes XS to L/XL.

I’ve been admiring the work of this young, New York–based designer, Olivia Cheng, for a while. She’s known for her use of real flowers, but this galactic pair of shorts is just as dreamy.
Available in sizes 2 to 10.

The bright ’80s print makes these shorts a guaranteed good time, from the beach to the afterparty on someone’s floating houseboat Airbnb.
Available in sizes S to XL.

Lambskin? In the summer? Groundbreaking. (Actually.) The fact that there are only two pairs left is inspiring.
Available in sizes IT 42 and IT 44.

These shorts are just the right amount of sheer, and the fabric is luxuriously thin. I also wanted this yellow-striped pair from the brand for my Italian vacation this summer.
Available in sizes XS to XL.

This brand is haunting me on Instagram, and it’s getting harder and harder for me to resist it as it gets warmer out. This set just looks so light and comfortable. It’s like pajamas that no one would know are pajamas.
Available in sizes XS to XL.

I’m done with the bike-shorts trend, but knit leggings? That I’m okay with. They seem kinda Audrey Hepburn-y.
Available in sizes S to L.

I know these have “sport” in their name, but I would wear them to go out dancing, which is a sport too. Available in sizes 2XS to 3XS.

I bought these during lockdown because I was sitting on my butt all the time and wanted looser shorts, but I love them so much that I’ve since bought multiple pairs.
Available in sizes 23 to 34.

Cut editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples likes these because they’re casual, but not “skintight booty shorts.”
Available in sizes 00 to 20.

If you hate ripped jeans, these are a more formal, tailored option. I bet you could get away with wearing them to the office.
Available in sizes 24 to 36.

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