Casual Alternatives to Shorts

Whenever warm weather rolls around, I always start getting requests for 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

Casual Alternatives to Shorts

I’m putting this post together early in the season, so most of my pictures are from last year. I’ll link the items I can, and I’ll round up some current season options at the end of each section.

#1. Dresses

Dresses are the easiest option because they’re one and done. My 17-year-old daughter lives in long dresses during the spring and summer, and she’s ordered several already.

She styled this one for the blog earlier in the season, but unfortunately it already sold out.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Midi Dress

We have this v-neck jersey maxi dress on order, as well as and this one.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Maxi Dress

This maxi dress was popular for several years, but unfortunately they didn’t bring it back for a 3rd season.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Maxi Dress

A midi dress can be nice as well, and it’s not as much fabric to deal with, which can be cooler. This striped midi is from Banana Republic last year, but this one is similar.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Midi Dress

This long weekend tee dress from Everlane is cute, if you like the shift style, but it’s not as flattering on my hourglass body type as a dress with more structure.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Everlane Long Weekend Tee Dress

Personally, I prefer knee-length dresses. This ruched tank dress is perennially popular, but it’s quite body-con. I sized up to a medium.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Leith Ruched Tank Dress

And I like this Treasure & Bond ruched knit dress for casual wear. It also comes in black.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Ruched T-shirt Dress

And I’ve done well the past couple of seasons with Boden dresses. This one wasn’t brought back this year, but there are lots of other cute options.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Boden Melinda Jersey Dress

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.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Crop Jeans

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.

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 crop jeans by Kut from the Kloth are back this year, and the denim is nice and lightweight for summer. They’re great for those of us who are a little shorter because the inseam is only 24″. I styled these with a stripe top and metallic sandals.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Kut from the Kloth Lauren Crop Jeans

These white crop jeans are BlankNYC, and I can only find them in a few sizes at Zappo’s, but I’ll round up some other options for white crop jeans below.

I actually have a few pair on order because I’m looking for a smaller pair this year, so look for those in future Try-On Hauls! I styled these with a casual tee (front-tucked) and nude slide sandals.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts: Kick Flares

These Paige joggers are a little more spendy, but they go on sale from time to time. They’re fully stocked at Shopbop and Paige.com, and Evereve has them in a pretty grey.

I love wearing these with a graphic tee and sandals or sneakers.

If you like utility pants, Wit & Wisdom has a similar style for less, and LOFT has these light blue crop utility pants in their spring lineup.

Or you can always just wear your favorite skinny or straight ankle jeans and cuff them. These are the AG Prima ankle jeans from last year’s #NSale, with a single cuff.

STYLE TIP: Cropped pants with a higher rise will make the pants look longer so you look taller. (Generally, anything lower than 9″ is considered low rise. When you get over 10″, it’s a high rise.)

It’s also a more modern look, but you’ll want to balance this advice with your personal body type. I’m short-waisted with a larger bust, so I like my crop jeans and pants to have a 9 or 10 inch rise. Anything much higher makes tucking my top look awkward.

I love the light neutral color palette in this outfit, and the combination of textures keeps it from being too plain. Wearing Look by M knit cardigan with Everlane tee, Citizens Rocket crop jeans, and Treasure & Bond Sannibel wedge sandals. #springoutfit

Shop Crop Pants and Jeans:

#3. Wide-Leg & Palazzo Pants

Wide-leg pants are a huge trend this spring, and the good news with these are they are often 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.

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.

If you are tall or long-waisted, this can be very flattering, but it’s not a good look for me, so I’ll pull examples from some of my favorite websites.

These woven crop pants are a cropped style, and they’re 100% cotton so they should be cool and breathable, but that also means they may wrinkle easily. Also notice the nude shoes.

STYLE TIP: A nude shoe elongates the look of your legs and helps you look taller and slimmer.

Linen pants are always going to be cooler than synthetic fabrics, and these linen blend crop pants with the tie waist are really cute, but they do require that you tuck in your top, as shown here.

Also note the delicate, minimalistic sandals she’s wearing to further elongate the leg.

For a full-length wide-leg pant, I found this stripe pair at Gap. They’re 55% linen / 45% cotton, which is a nice blend of natural fabrics.

These are styled with a casual white tank and white sneakers, and it works because the pant have a high rise and are full length, plus the vertical stripes visually lengthen the leg.

Shop Wide-Leg and Palazzo Pants:

#4. Try A Skirt

Skirts are a great option for women looking for casual alternatives to shorts in warm weather because they’re just as cool as shorts.

J.Crew Faux-Wrap Midi-Skirt with Nine West Gianna Cut-Out Slides

Right now, the midi skirt is having a moment. The midi skirt is nice because it covers the knees without overwhelming your frame, as a maxi skirt tends to do.

STYLE TIP: Follow the same rules as crop pants as far as length of the skirt and pairing tops and shoes. Shorter tops will allow more of the skirt to show, making you look taller. And make sure the hem of your skirt ends where your legs start to narrow — never at the widest part of the calf.

If you prefer more leg coverage, or just like the look of a longer skirt, don’t rule out the maxi skirt. Last spring, I styled a chevron print maxi skirt with a tank top and denim jacket, and I wore nude slide sandals.

Summer Maxi Skirt Outfit: LOFT Chevron Maxi Skirt with Vince Camuto denim jacket and Nine West Gianna Slides

Frankly, I don’t think this one does much for me, but it has to do with the way the tank top was bloused out a bit. I had hoped the denim jacket would offer the structure I needed, but it still didn’t quite work. A more form-fitting tank that was the right length to leave untucked would have looked better.

My favorite alternative to shorts is a knee-length skirt. I find these to be the most comfortable and easy to wear when it’s hot outside. Of course, if you don’t want to show your knees, this is not an option, but I find a knee-length skirt the most flattering and easy to wear of all the options.

I love a cargo skirt with a tank top. This picture is from like five years ago, and I still love this outfit. I was struggling with plantar fasciitis so I was wearing a chunkier sandal than I typically like to wear, but it did the job.

Alternatives to Shorts: Cotton Skirt

(If you DO need a comfort sandal, I highly recommend Vionics. They have come a long way since then!)

Denim skirts are great too and so versatile. I styled this one with a tie front tank. Notice how it’s shorter than a traditional top and ends just below the waistband of the skirt.

Also, my sandals have an ankle strap, but that doesn’t chop up the leg because the gold is close to my skin tone.

Skorts are another option, although not one I typically wear. They’re great for those who are more active and want to make sure they don’t expose anything they don’t want to expose. I didn’t find a ton of options, but this one from Eddie Bauer is cute.

Also, Lilly Pulitzer has a bunch, and Athleta always has a few skort options too.

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. This one is from Gap, and it is soooo soft and comfortable.

I’m not as much a fan of the romper; it seems rather juvenile to me, but I think it just depends on your personal style.

Shop Jumpsuits & Rompers:

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

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