Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.
There was a time in my 20s and 30s when I had virtually no casual shorts. During the week, I worked in a very conservative office (definitely no shorts), and I spent most of the weekend days lounging around in workout clothes until it was time to get ready to go out with friends, when I generally preferred denim or dresses. Even if I was running errands or doing something on the weekend, I generally preferred easy, jersey dresses, generally paired with everyone’s favorite Jockey Slip Shorts.
For me that changed when I had kids — even if the slip shorts were opaque it felt wrong to be crawling around on the floor playing in a dress. Around the same time, I started working from home, and as I’ve noted before I prefer having a pocket for my phone. So shorts re-entered my world.
Enter 2020, and I think a lot of working women are rediscovering shorts, as we work from home more and more — and I’ve watched with interest a number of great reader threadjacks on the best shorts, particularly for those with curvy thighs or in a cusp size of 12–16.
We haven’t discussed the best shorts in a while, so I thought I’d go on a hunt and round up some of the reader favorites and bestselling styles that are out there right now.
This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
Pictured on home page, clockwise: hot pink / olive / black & green / denim / center
Ladies, are you wearing shorts more often in 2020? Which are your favorite women’s shorts for summer — and what has made them your favorites?
Reader Favorites: Shorts for Curvy Thighs / Sizes 12+:
Readers had a lot of great threadjacks recently about the best shorts for curvy thighs in the 12/14/16 cusp-range — reader favorites include the four shorts pictured above, along with shoutouts to Crown & Ivy, these linen shorts from Athleta, these workout shorts from Under Armour, and Carrie Underwood’s line, CALIA.
Best Pull-On Shorts for Summer
Caslon / Athleta / J.Crew / Target
Pull-on shorts have become wildly popular over the past few years, and if you’re having a super relaxed, easygoing summer, these might be perfect. The blue chambray pair above is one of the best reviewed shorts at Nordstrom and comes in lots of colors — the Target ones above are a recent budget find from Elizabeth. (Stock seems to be changing every time I look; if they have your size and color you may want to buy now.)
Some favorites that readers called out were the Athleta linen style (pictured above in beige) or this slightly different Athleta pair; these Old Navy shorts are a heavier fabric but bestsellers there. And J.Crew Factory and J.Crew are both leaders in, well, pull-on shorts…
If you want a pair of shorts with a pull-on waist but more of a twill fabric, check out these interesting ones from Everlane.
In previous discussions most readers love the 5″ length, but note that you can find similar shorts in 3.5″–9″ lengths.
If 5″ feels a bit too short but 7″ feels a bit too long for you, take a look at Loft and Ann Taylor Factory, where I was happy to see they have 6″ lengths. (Boden too!)
Best Shorts for Working Out/Lounging
Under Armour / Gap / CALIA / Nike Dry Tempo
If you’re looking for shorts for general lounging/working out/outside adventures, this is your category — a number of readers have given shoutouts to the UnderArmour shorts (particularly in reader threads on curvy thighs). A very similar pair is the Nike Dry Tempo (in black), which is a bestseller at Zappos.
The CALIA line is new to me, but these “anywhere” shorts with double layers look lovely — Dick’s Sporting Goods has a ton of colors in the style.
If you’re looking for water adventures, readers sang the praises of these Eddie Bauer “amphib” shorts… which seem to have sold out over the weekend. (Keep checking back…)
My personal favorites for working out/lounging are tighter shorts with pockets, like the tie-dye ones pictured above from Gap, or these Amazon bestsellers; Zella and Old Navy both sometimes have similar styles.
Best Tailored Shorts
Boden / Ann Taylor / Banana Republic
It can be really difficult to make “tailored” shorts look non-frumpy — but these are all huge bestsellers, so perhaps other ladies are more successful than I am. (Readers who wear these, what are your secrets?)
I would add Bermuda shorts in this category, which may look most at home on the golf course. Some bestsellers are from Vince or NYDJ; note that the Boden pair above come in multiple inseams from 3–9″.
Best Denim Shorts
AGolde / Madewell / BlankNYC / Levi’s
Denim shorts are really in fashion right now (and yes, they do come and go out of style!). Major pros here include that they almost always have pockets, are really durable with nice, thick fabric if you have issues with your cellulite, and can have a cool, laid-back vibe.
“Relaxed” denim shorts are super popular right now, with very distressed options like the ones from AGolde, BlankNYC, and Levi’s being bestsellers at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Madewell’s has a bestselling pair as well.
Readers gave shoutouts to these Eddie Bauer “boyfriend” shorts when discussing the best shorts for curvy thighs; personally, I’ve always been a fan of Kut from the Kloth for my curvy thighs.
Psst – hunting for lightweight summer pants if you’re heading into the office? These are our favorites…
Some of our favorite lightweight summer pants, above: Nic & Zoe / Express / Old Navy / Uniqlo
Readers, what shorts are you wearing this summer? Do you prefer shorts or casual dresses in general for summer weekends — and how has that changed this year if you’re working from home more frequently?
Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
The Lone Ranger
The Target link doesn’t go where it should.
sorry about that; fixed now!
We’ve started a casual conversation with relatives about trying to meet up for a family reunion next summer (hopefully on the other side of COVID) and northern Michigan has come up as a possible destination.
Any recommendations on where to look? 6 adults, 4 kids age 1 – 13. More interested in outdoor adventuring than cute little towns / art galleries, however, ideally we’d be near enough to a city with a grocery store for gluten-free food since a couple of the kids have Celiac disease. Any recommendations?
Frankfurt is great (near Sleeping Bear Dunes), Glen Arbor, or Beaulah. Lots of lodging options- houses, cottages, hotels. You should be ok in any of those areas for grocery and dining options.
For fans of the Vuori joggers, I recommend the Vuori Halo Performance Short. Amazingly comfy. I’m wearing them now because on Zoom no one can tell you are wearing shorts.
They are out of stock at Vuori, but REI still has some. The sizing is consistent with the joggers, which I find to run just a bit large. I am between two sizes and went with the smaller size, but I wouldn’t size down an entire size.
Any recommendations for shorts with a longer inseam? I find a lot of shorts are a little too short for curvy girls.
Curvy long shorts
You and I both! I would love to see the recommendations here…
Yep, most of these look too short for me – I’m 5’9″ and a size 16 and need a 9″ inseam for anything worn out of the house and at least 6″ for workout shorts. The collection I have assembled through the years is from all kinds of places – Loft and AT, a couple Old Navy, some Eddie Bauer, some Duluth Trading and Carhartt, store brands at Cabela’s or REI or Academy Sports or Dick’s, and Brooks and Target/C9 for workout shorts.
Suggestions for what to do for an employee whose parent is in the hospital on a ventilator due to COVID? I’ve already offered time off and a flexible schedule.
I would also recommend the Everlane Cotton Twill shorts for the twill/chino category. I haven’t tried the Everlane pull-on variety mentioned, but I just bought the Cotton Twill shorts, and I wore them 2 out of 3 days this weekend because I like them so much.
Cw body image/weight. I’m a little annoyed at a friend and I’m not sure if this is just a me issue. Over the weekend, I got together with a handful of people (we stayed outside) I hadn’t seen since before lockdown. I’m the largest of the group, most are quite thin and are imho pretty obsessive about their weight. Whatever, to each her own, I just excuse myself for a few minutes when they lament that their body fat went over 18% (yes really) because of the COVID 15. No one wanted to take group pictures during our outing, which was of course fine, we were sitting pretty far apart anyway.
This morning, one friend circulated to the group a candid shot of me and one other friend. The other woman looks great but the shot is super unflattering of me, I’m bending over to adjust something and you can see a lot of fat rolls. My mother would say I should’ve dressed better if I didn’t want anyone taking pictures of my rolls. Everyone is commenting that the pic is cute. I’m trying to assume best intentions… but it’s really hard for me to believe that people who are SO weight conscious would actually think that picture is cute? I know for a fact these ladies do not appreciate pics of them slouching/looking down/taken at an unflattering angle – in other words, they would not like a pic of them bending over adjusting something. It feels almost like they’re making fun of me? Or maybe I’m being too sensitive and this is a me issue not a them issue? And now that I’ve typed this out, I feel like a 13 year old girl (I’m nearly 40), I should probably move on with my day and not give this another thought.
Kindly, I think this is you. A lot of women bond over weight. I don’t like it, but I’ve definitely done it. It’s so much a part of the female script that it’s both an easy way to connect and hard to avoid.
I get it, because I hate most pictures of me, but I think this is mostly you. Your friends probably think the picture is cute because it’s a nice reminder of a nice time spent together featuring two people they care about. Unless the picture is going to end up in publicly visible place, I would just move on.
In-House in Houston
I’m agreeing with OP. If she circulated an unflattering photo of one of them and she looked cute, would there be any backlash? I would imagine yes. If she objectively looks bad and they’re all commenting how cute she looks (or maybe they’re commenting about the other person in the photo) it seems very mean-girl to me. Maybe you need to look for a different friend group?
Even if your body does not look the way you would like to, I wouldn’t assume that these women — who are your friends — are making fun of you. There’s probably something in the photo that does look cute about you. Maybe your smile looks particularly joyful, or your hair looks amazing, or it captures any number of other things that have nothing to do with how your body looks. It’s your prerogative to love or hate a picture of yourself for any reason you want, but that’s probably not the same thing your friends are focusing on.
Heads up on the Madewell– every pair of their shorts / pants that I’ve bought has ended up fitting like it’s cut for an apple-y type butt. I’ve been pretty pleased with their increased size range, but it’s really brought home to me that they seriously have a limited range of cuts. I’ve also found some great shorts from, of all places, American Eagle, but they also tend to mostly have cuts for the apples among us.