Shorts can be a tricky piece of clothing—one of the hardest, in fact, for women’s bodies. The wrong pair can cut off your legs—making you appear wider or shorter than you really are—or look horribly out of proportion on the top and bottom. Unfortunately, the style solution is often to simply “go shorter!” (I have a Nair ad and “Who wears short shorts?” playing on repeat in my head right about now.)
So what do you do if you want to wear shorts but not look like a high schooler at a summer music festival? We’ve got some tricks for you.
Keep in mind that the tips below work for women of all heights, but if you’re on the short, petite side, pairs that are slightly shorter and hit around mid-thighs will work best to help lengthen your form. And if you are long and tall, shorts that hit just below mid-thighs where your legs dip in before the kneecaps look amazing because they balance your long legs. (Side note: That little “dip” before the kneecap is actually the most universally flattering hemline for skirts or dresses for any height.)
Whether you’re tall or short or in-between, here are a few short options if you want to . . .
COMPLEMENT WIDER HIPS
For those of you who have proportionally wider hips than your bust, the key for shorts is to find a pair with a sturdy waist and a shape that is body-skimming but not skintight. Your shorts should hit at the hips and fall straight down to the hem rather than hug the thighs. This will help create a straight silhouette that doesn’t exaggerate your hips.
BALANCE A WIDER TOP
If you have a proportionally larger top than your hips, or you’re an hourglass shape (meaning your bust and hips are similar in measurements with a tapered waistline), you can play with a less structured silhouette. Go for relaxed fits that will drape over your figure. Soft silk or linen fabrics will tastefully create or highlight more of a curved shape, which balances your top. You can also highlight your waist with a drawstring detail or tied bow belt.
SUIT A STRAIGHT SHAPE
For those with a straight shape (meaning your proportions are somewhat the same at the bust, waist, and from the hips down), the key is to create some curve. More form-fitting shorts, such as tight denim Bermuda shorts in a slightly longer length, will add the appearance of a curvy shape and be super flattering. On the flip side, you can play with looser styles, such as cool, slouchy boyfriend shorts.