5 Simple Tips for Choosing a Flattering Pair of Shorts

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How long are your shorts?

How long or short should your shorts be?  This is a question I’m frequently asked so I thought I should post an answer!

Shorts are one of those clothing garments that are often rather tricky for many women past the age of 40 to wear.  We may not be particularly keen on showing off a lot of leg, yet the most flattering style for many may be a shorter short.

Choosing a flattering short is more related to body proportions than shape.  It comes down to the length of your legs.

5 Simple Tips for Choosing a Flattering Pair of Shorts

1. Keep the leg opening narrow – the wider the short leg opening, the wider you look (horizontal line rule), so keeping your short leg opening narrower creates a sleeker profile.

5 Simple Tips for Choosing a Flattering Pair of Shorts
A narrow leg opening is more streamlined

2. The longer your legs the longer the short – Bermuda and City Short styles suit longer legs and shorter bodies.

5 Simple Tips for Choosing a Flattering Pair of Shorts

 

3. The shorter your legs, the shorter the short – Mid-thigh and shorter shorts suit shorter legs and longer bodies.

4. If you’re not sure, go with a mid-thigh length with a narrow leg opening and a mid-rise.

5 Simple Tips for Choosing a Flattering Pair of Shorts
End shorts mid-thigh if you’re not sure

5. End shorts on a narrower point of your thigh – legs go in and out – ending hems (horizontal lines) on narrower points is always more flattering.

Pretty simple really!

Use your body shape guide to find a flattering waistband shape (paperbag waists, only for I shapes and the very long torsoed woman), the fit around the hips and thighs should be like any other trouser.  Got a long rise?  Then look for a higher rise rather than low rise short.

The truth is, if you have fuller thighs naturally, shorts will never be as flattering a garment as a skirt is, as they are wider rather than longer and the most flattering garments are generally longer than they are wide.

More Short Tips Here

How to Style Shorts

Shorts Suits – Office Appropriate or Not?

How to do Smart Casual in a Hot Climate

What to Wear When you Don’t Have Great Legs

How to Measure Your Body Proportions

 

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5 Comments

  • “The truth is, if you have fuller thighs naturally, shorts will never be as flattering a garment as a skirt is, as they are wider rather than longer and the most flattering garments are generally longer than they are wide.”

    A few years ago, it would have bothered me to rule out entire categories of garments. Now I appreciate how much TIME and money ruling out categories saves me— I’ve never felt my best in shorts (and your above explanation helps me see why) so why bother shopping for them? I have two versatile pair of shorts for the hottest summer days, and they’ve always been more than enough.

    • I’ve pretty much ruled out pants from my wardrobe that aren’t stretchy – as my flat bum just doesn’t look good and trying to get a good fit is nigh on impossible!

  • Hi Imogen! I’m curious about a specific kind of shorts, specifically ones that look a bit like a trapezoid. The easiest example I can think of is the high-waisted shorts of the 1940s. They usually have a side closure (so that you don’t have the extra bulk of a front fly), and they usually have a fuller/wider hem, sometimes cuffed. (In the ’80s we used to call them “camp shorts”.) In addition, the hem is frequently set on a bit of a diagonal, rather than level with the ground, and they tend to be more of a skirt silhouette than a shorts silhouette.

    I ask because I have been wearing only capris for the past 20ish years, as they are much more flattering than shorts. I tried a pair of sailor shorts on last summer, and while they were made to be (too) tight, I thought maybe I was onto something. I can sew, but shorts/pants are a lot of work, and I hate to invest that amount of time and money into something that I won’t wear.

    For reference, I’m a 5’2″ hourglass shape (8 shape when I add weight), slightly short-waisted, and I don’t particularly want to emphasize my thighs.

    And as a follow-up, what would you wear with high-waisted shorts if you were in your mid-40s? I like vintage looks, but I’m not quite sure where to go with this.

    • If you have a longer body high waisted shorts could work for you (as long as you don’t have a pouchy tummy), remember back in the 40s they were wearing girdles which gave them nice flat tummies. They also work best on a narrow and defined waist as the flare shape needs a narrow horizontal on the top to juxtapose with the wider hem.

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