Casual Alternatives to Shorts

I personally love wearing shorts, but they aren’t always appropriate for the occasion, and I totally understand that not every woman feels comfortable baring her legs. Fortunately, there are lots of great casual alternatives to shorts!

Casual Alternatives to Shorts for Women Over 40

I’ve updated this popular post for the new season, and I hope it’s helpful. I can see from pulling this post together that I need to add some skirts and jumpsuits to my wardrobe rotation this summer.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts

#1. Dresses

Dresses are the easiest option because they’re one and done. Midi dresses are trending this season, but maxi dresses and above-the-knee dresses are still very much on trend.

Lighter fabrics and flowy styles may be cooler, but I tend to gravitate to t-shirt dresses and more fitted styles because they’re more flattering on me.

I recently styled this tie dye midi dress from Old Navy. It’s lightweight and comfortable, and the elastic waistband helps define the waist.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Midi DressOld Navy midi dress // Sam Edelman platform slides // similar tote // Kendra Scott hoops

I also really like the fit of this Caslon muscle tank dress, but the solid black sold out as soon as I got it in the mail. It also comes in a trendy camo print and a navy/white stripe.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: T-Shirt Dress Caslon muscle tank dress // BP. Sage Slide Sandals // Nordstrom crossbody

This Caslon maxi dress is back this year. I love the flattering scoop neck and drawstring waist. It has a high side slit, for ease of movement, and it also helps to keep you cool on a hot day.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Maxi Dress Caslon maxi dress // similar wedge sandals // denim jacket

Here’s another dress I ordered, photographed, and then it sold out before I was able to post to the blog. This seems to be a theme this spring! It’s still available in the pink starburst print, and they have this grey chanterelle in plus sizes.

not-so-fun fact: I also ordered the pink print, and had it in the car the day we shot this look… but I chose to shoot this grey print instead. I had no idea one would sell out.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Midi Dress Treasure & Bond Sleeveless Midi Dress (plus size version) // BP. Sage Slide Sandals // Nordstrom crossbody

This popular Leith body-con tank is only left in a few sizes, but I bet a lot of you have this in your closets! I love the ruching and the tulip hem.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Tank Dress Leith body-con tank dress// Vince Hazen flats // Gucci sunglasses (option) // Madewell necklace // Stella & Dot wrap bracelet

Another blast from the past… Boden always has a large selection of summer dresses, and this one is one of my favorites from a couple years back. Check out the current selection of Boden dresses for something similar.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Dresses Boden Melinda jersey dress (shop current Boden dresses) // Stuart Weitzman Marabella wedges // Tory Burch McGraw hobo

And this shift was another Old Navy find. It has just enough shape through the waist to flatter your curves, and the v-neckline is also flattering. The cap sleeves are nice for those of us who want a little more coverage than sleeveless styles, but you will still stay cool in the heat.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Shift DressOld Navy shift dress // Dolce Vita sandals // Rebecca Minkoff Megan hobo // Gucci sunglasses (option) // Kendra Scott hoops // Lucky Brand bracelet // similar pendant

This Everlane tank dress is one of my favorites from last season. I’ll link it because they have a few left in the Large size. (It runs true to size.)

And this year they have a really cute slip dress that has a similar vibe, but it’s not as bra-friendly as mine. If you don’t mind wearing a strapless bra, it’s a good option.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Midi Dress Everlane seamed midi dress (similar slip dress) // similar sandals // Gucci sunglasses (option) // Gorjana necklace

Shop Summer Dresses:

#2. Crop Jeans or Pants

Crop jeans and pants typically have a hem that falls 2 – 3 inches above the ankle bone, and they can be straight, skinny, or wide-leg. This is a great solution for ladies who want more leg coverage, and you can find lots of options these days.

I realize pants may not always be your first choice, especially if you live in a warmer climate, but light-weight fabrics can be practical for summertime on mild days and cool evenings.

White crop straight jeans pretty much scream Summer! They look crisp and clean paired with bright colors, pastels, or neutrals.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: White Crop PantsTalbots crop straight jeans // cap sleeve sweater // buckle sandals

The Mother Insider is my new denim obsession. I have them in this distressed style as well as the white, and they also come in a good medium blue non-distressed wash as well as a darker blue non-distressed wash.

Yes, they’re spendy, but if you can snag them on sale and you know you’ll wear them a lot, the cost per wear will average out over time.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Crop Jeans Mother Insider crop flares (up to $300 off with code STYLE21SF) // ATM tee (crewneck version) // Dolce Vita sandals

The KUT from the Kloth Amy straight crop jeans are a great alternative to the Mother Insiders. They aren’t as pricey, but they still look great on, and they have a lower rise, which some may prefer.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Crop Jeans KUT from the Kloth Amy crop straight jeans // Free People camo tee // similar Marc Fisher slides // Rebecca Minkoff hobo

STYLE TIP: Style your crop jeans and pants with sandals or sneakers and your favorite tees and tanks, but be sure to choose a shorter top or give your longer tops a tuck to keep the proportions on point.

These Paige cargo joggers are another great casual alternative to shorts, and they’re lighter than denim. See them styled two ways in this post.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Cargo Joggers Paige Mayslie cargo joggers // Boden tee // Tory Burch Miller sandals // Everlane tote // Maui Jim sunnies

Boyfriend jeans are always a nice summer denim option. While they aren’t as trendy this season as they’ve been in the past, they still look current if you choose a pair with a higher rise and wear them with classic tops and sandals.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Boyfriend Jeans7FAM Josefina boyfriend jeans (more sizes at Bloomies & Zappos) // Caslon tee // Tory Burch Miller Cloud sandals // rag & bone sunnies // straw tote

Shop Crop Pants and Jeans:

#3. Wide-Leg & Palazzo Pants

Wide-leg pants are a huge trend this spring, and they’re usually made of a thinner fabrics that are cooler than jeans and chinos.

Unfortunately, this can be a hard silhouette to style, especially for certain body types… a.k.a. mine. But if they work for you, they’re a great casual alternative to shorts.

These Tommy Bahama linen pants would be perfect paired with a tank on a hot summer day.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Wide Leg Pants Tommy Bahama linen easy pants //

STYLE TIP: Wide-leg crop pants look best with close-fitting tops that stop at the waist or high hip, or they will need to be tucked in.

I would never pair this black top with these light floral pants, but it illustrates the idea of tucking in a top to more voluminous pants.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Palazzo PantsLost + Wander Sorrento Wide Leg Pants

Shop Wide-Leg and Palazzo Pants:

#4. Skirts & Skorts

Skirts are a great option for women looking for casual alternatives to shorts in warm weather because they’re just as cool as shorts. I love this play on a sweatshirt fabric, for a casual option. The camo version is also really cute.

Sundry Saturday Skirt // Michael Stars muscle tank // P448 sneakers // J initial pendant // Gucci sunglasses (option)

Skorts are another good shorts alternative, and they provide more coverage to allow for ease of movement. This Athleta Soho skort is back this year, and it comes in a bunch of colors. It’s so comfortable and cute on.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Skirts or SkortsAthleta Soho skort // Madewell Tomboy tank // Sam Edelman sandals // rag & bone sunnies

Shop Summer Skirts & Skorts:

#5. Jumpsuits & Rompers

Jumpsuits and rompers have been trending for a few seasons, and there are a lot of casual options this year. I personally am not a huge fan of these because of the bathroom situation, but some women love them.

You can find jumpsuits and rompers in lots of fabrics, but I focused more on casual options for this post.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Jumpsuit or Romper Everlane The Luxe Cotton Jumpsuit

Shop Jumpsuits & Rompers:

I hope that was helpful! What are your favorite alternatives to shorts?

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7 thoughts on “Casual Alternatives to Shorts

  1. I’m actually branching out beyond my “uniform” of shorts and jeans so this is a timely post. I’m enjoying palazzo-style pants for the first time ever, but as mentioned, shorter, tighter tops are needed. I found several pairs on the XCVI site and had a hard time choosing which ones to keep! I also love maxi dresses and always have an above-the-knee skirt or two.

  2. Thank you Jo-Lynne for this comprehensive list of alternatives to wearing shorts! I am glad to see that skorts are making a comeback this year.

  3. This is timely. I don’t like shorts on me but struggling to find casual dresses I like. You look great in all these.

  4. Great ideas! Love reading this type of post to get some fashion ideas going for the next season. I don’t like wearing shorts. I only feel comfortable in them with a darker tan which generally means dealing with serious sunless tanner. ☹️ I’m a pretty casual girl, so I tend to wear cropped jeans throughout the summer. I’ve given the wider leg jeans a try and love how they are cooler than the more fitted styles. Thanks for all your great posts!

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