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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 the 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.
Best Shorts for Working Women: Rediscovering Comfort and Style in 2023
Enter 2023, 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 readers threadjack 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.
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Readers, are you wearing shorts more often in 2023? 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.
1. Cabo Linen 4″ Short
Introducing the Cabo Linen 4″ Short, your ultimate companion for warm-weather travels, resort vacations, and beach outings. Embrace the summer vibes and experience the luxurious comfort of these shorts while enjoying the freedom of movement and style they provide.
Crafted with care, these shorts are made from subtly textured linen that feels incredibly light and breathable against your skin. Say goodbye to discomfort and hello to the sheer bliss of wearing linen in the summer heat.
2. ‘Ab’Solution Stretch Twill Shorts
These pair of stretch-twill shorts are designed with technology that shapes and sculpts, resulting in a comfortable and flattering fit that you’ve never experienced before.
3. Nautica Women’s Tailored Stretch Cotton Patterned
These shorts are the perfect addition to your warm-weather wardrobe and vacation outfits, offering a touch of sophistication to any look. They are tailored to fit perfectly, ensuring a flattering silhouette that accentuates your curves.
The inclusion of a hint of stretch ensures comfortable movement, allowing you to enjoy your activities without restriction or discomfort. Whether you’re dressing up for a night out or keeping things casual, these shorts are versatile enough to fit any occasion. With their stylish design and comfortable fit, they are sure to become a staple in your summer wardrobe.
4. Democracy Women’s Ab Solution 7 Short
Presenting Democracy’s revolutionary “Ab” solution Jean, a remarkable fusion of style, comfort, and cutting-edge technology. Built on the principle of “Curve Equality,” we have crafted a jean that celebrates the uniqueness of every shape while enhancing a woman’s silhouette. Prepare to experience a new level of style, comfort, and confidence with Democracy’s groundbreaking “Ab” solution Jean.
Best Pull-On Shorts for Summer
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 many colors, while the Target ones above are a recent budget find from Elizabeth. (Stock seems to change 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 are 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.
5. Cubavera Women’s Wide Leg Drawstring Linen Short
Experience the epitome of comfort and style with the Cubavera Women’s Wide Leg Drawstring Linen Short. Moreover, these shorts redefine casual chic with their effortless pull-on design and spacious wide leg. Crafted from breathable linen fabric and lightweight poplin fabrication, they keep you cool and comfortable all day long. The two-tone yarn-dyed fabric adds a subtle yet versatile touch to elevate your outfit.
6. J.Crew Mercantile Drawstring Shorts
The J.Crew Mercantile Drawstring Shorts are the epitome of effortless style and comfort. Crafted with a blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton, these shorts offer a lightweight and breathable feel, perfect for those warm summer days.
The elasticized, drawstring waist provides a comfortable and customizable fit, allowing you to find your ideal level of comfort. Say goodbye to restrictive waistbands and hello to freedom of movement.
You can see even more pull-on shorts from J.Crew here.
7. Women’s Elastic Waist Loose Shorts
Experience ultimate comfort and effortless style with these Women’s Elastic Waist Loose Shorts. Designed for flexibility and all-around movement, these shorts stretch with you, allowing you to move freely while maintaining optimal comfort. Pair them with your favorite tops and sneakers for a chic and comfortable look that’s perfect for any occasion.
8. GRACE KARIN Women’s Bowknot Tie Waist
Upgrade your summer wardrobe with the GRACE KARIN Women’s Bowknot Tie Waist Shorts. Made from a breathable and comfortable blend of 49% Viscose, 34% Polyester, and 17% Polyamide, these shorts offer a perfect combination of style and comfort. The elastic ruffled waist provides a flattering high-waisted look, while the side pockets add a casual and convenient touch.
(see all of our suggestions for what to buy at Amazon for work outfits)
In previous discussions, most readers love the 5″ length but note that you can find similar shorts in 3.5″–9″ lengths.
9. 5-Inch Cotton Blend Twill Shorts
Get ready for a stylish and comfortable summer with the 5-Inch Cotton Blend Twill Shorts. Made from a soft cotton stretch twill fabric, these shorts offer a flattering fit and come in a variety of your favorite shades. With convenient front slant pockets and back welt pockets, these shorts combine functionality with style, making them a versatile choice for any occasion.
10. Caroline Classic Shorts
The Caroline Classic Shorts are a must-have addition to your summer wardrobe. These versatile shorts feature a button and zip closure, along with belt loops for a customizable fit. With 2 slant pockets and 2 welt pockets, these shorts offer both style and functionality. Made from a comfortable twill fabric blend of cotton and spandex, they are machine washable for easy care.
11. Nautica Women’s Comfort Tailored Stretch
Elevate your warm-weather style with the Nautica Women’s Comfort Tailored Stretch Shorts. Crafted with a blend of 98% cotton and 2% elastane, these shorts offer a hint of stretch for comfortable movement throughout the day. Featuring a zip fly with button closure and front slant pockets, these perfectly tailored shorts are both stylish and functional, making them the ideal choice for your vacation and summer outfits.
Best Shorts for Working Out/Lounging
Looking for great workout shorts? See reader favorites and more in our recent roundup of the best shorts for summer…
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 Under Armour 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.
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.
12. Under Armour Women’s Play Up Twist Shorts 3.0
Experience unmatched comfort and performance with the Under Armour Women’s Play Up Twist Shorts 3.0. Made from a soft and lightweight knit construction, these shorts provide superior comfort and breathability, while the moisture-wicking material ensures quick drying to keep you cool and dry. The updated exposed elastic printed waistband adds a touch of style, and the convenient side hand pockets offer practicality.
13. Skechers Women’s Go Walk High Waisted
Achieve both style and comfort with the Skechers Women’s Go Walk High-Waisted Shorts. Featuring a double-layer compression high-waisted waistband, these shorts provide a secure and flattering fit. The exterior side pockets offer convenience for storing small essentials, while the flatlock seams ensure a chafe-free experience, allowing you to move with ease during your workouts or daily activities.
14. Athletic Women Lining Safety Pants
Enhance your athletic performance with the Athletic Women Lining Safety Pants. Made from anti-pilling, anti-shrink, and anti-wrinkle fabric, these pants offer durability and long-lasting quality. With a high waist and tight fit, they provide optimal support and comfort, while the included safety lining ensures natural movement and prevents any potential embarrassment.
15. Nike Women’s Dry 10K Running Shorts
Maximize your running performance with the Nike Women’s Dry 10K Running Shorts. Crafted from sweat-wicking material, these shorts keep you dry and comfortable throughout your run, while the mesh insets provide enhanced breathability. With a comfortable fit, elastic waistband, and interior drawcord for personalized sizing, these shorts offer a distraction-free running experience.
Best Tailored Shorts
It can be really difficult to make “tailored” shorts look non-frumpy — but these are all huge bestsellers, so perhaps other readers are more successful than I am. (Those of you 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, Ann Taylor, or NYDJ; note that the Boden pair above come in multiple inseams from 3–9″.
16. Golf Women’s 7″
These shorts are made of 92% recycled polyester and 8% elastane and come with a high waistband and a secret ball pocket. Moreover, They have a relaxed fit through the hips and thighs and are made of lightweight stretch fabric for comfortable movement. The shorts are suitable for a range of activities, from sports to casual wear.
17. Nike Women’s Flex Victory Short
The Nike Dri-FIT Victory Shorts blend style and functionality, featuring tailored elements such as a hook-and-bar waist closure with practical mesh-lined pockets. Made with a smooth and stretchy fabric, these shorts are a versatile addition to any wardrobe. Additionally, they are composed of at least 50% recycled polyester fibers, making them an eco-friendly choice.
18. Verdusa Women’s Elastic High Waist Pleated Shorts
Upgrade your summer wardrobe with the Verdusa Women’s Elastic High Waist Pleated Shorts. Made from soft fabric, these shorts feature an elastic waist and casual flared style, offering both comfort and style. Whether you’re heading out for a street stroll, a work day, or a weekend getaway, these versatile shorts are perfect for any occasion.
Best Denim Shorts
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’re self-conscious about 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.
19. Parker Distressed Denim
High-rise shorts with a relaxed fit and light-wash denim feature ragged raw-edge hems and a vintage attitude with destroyed details.
20. Boyfriend Denim Shorts
These shorts are designed with a loose boyfriend fit and casually cuffed hems. Furthermore, they feature threadbare abrasions and shadow creases that add a lived-in charm to the stretch-denim material.
22. Nova High Rise Jean Shorts
The shorts feature a zip fly with button closure, a five-pocket silhouette, contrast stitching, copper-tone hardware, belt loops, and a distressed, ripped raw hem.
Psst: Hunting for lightweight summer pants if you’re heading into the office? These are our favorites…
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!
More Cute Short Outfit Ideas
If you love these summer shorts for women, you might want to consider reading our related posts below —
- Coffee Break: HeatTech Shorts with Waist Warmer
- Workwear Hall of Fame: Skimmies Slipshorts
- Weekend Wednesday: How to Wear Shorts as an Adult
- Tuesday’s TPS Report: Shorts with Split and Slant Pockets
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