Shopping Round-Ups

Casual Alternatives to Shorts

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

Gap Factory t-shirt dress (M) // Gap Factory denim jacket (S) // Tory Burch sandals (8)

This post is for any woman looking to change up her shorts and t-shirt uniform, as well as those who prefer not to wear shorts and want other options that are cool and comfortable when it’s hot outside.

Casual Alternatives to Shorts

#1. Dresses

Dresses are the easiest option because they’re one and done, and right now all lengths are trending. Maxi dresses are supposedly making a comeback, but I still see a lot of midi lengths out there, and knee-length dresses are a classic look that don’t really go out of style.

Gap Factory dress (S) // sandals (8) // woven tote (similar for less) // Kendra Scott earrings // Victoria Emerson bracelet c/o

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’m finding a lot of nice casual dresses at Gap Factory this year.

stripe t-shirt dress (S) // VEJA Esplar (39) // YSL tote (similar for less) // DIFF sunnies // Kendra Scott earrings // Victoria Emerson bracelet c/o

#2. Crop Jeans or Pants

Crop jeans and pants are a great solution for ladies who want more leg coverage. They may not always be your first choice if you live in a warmer climate, but light-weight fabrics can be practical for summertime on mild days and cool evenings.

These white crop bootcut jeans are my go-to for summer when I don’t want to wear shorts; they look crisp and clean paired with bright colors, pastels, or neutrals.

Sundry tee (1) // MOTHER Insiders (also at Bloomies) (29) // P448 sneakers (39) // DIFF sunnies

Wide-leg crop pants are very much on trend right now, and this pair has a nice beachy-chic vibe. They look best with close-fitting tops that stop at the waist or high hip, or with a tank top tucked in.

PAIGE Anessa wide leg crops (more sizes at Neimans and Zappos) (29) // Sanctuary tank (M) // Dolce Vita sandals (8) // DIFF sunnies

#3. Wide-Leg & Palazzo Pants

Wide-leg pants are coming in strong 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.

Madewell The Carley Wide-Leg Pant in Softdrape // Crochet-Trim Sweater Tank

#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. If you have issues with chafing, these Thigh Society Cooling Shorts are awesome. I just ordered a few pairs to wear with skirts when I don’t want compression, and I plan to take them with me to Italy.

Chaser tank (S) // AMO denim skirt (28) (similar for less) // Nordstrom sandals (8) // woven tote (similar for less) // Fendi sunglasses (similar for less)

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

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

#5. Jumpsuits & Rompers

Jumpsuits and rompers are fun for a one and done look, if you can get past the bathroom situation. Some slide on and off very easily, so it’s always worth a try.

This Vuori jumpsuit is buttery soft and great for lounging, or throwing on after a long day at the beach.

Vuori Falls Jumpsuit (M) // Dolce Vita sandals (8)

And I was thrilled to see this Zella jumpsuit back this season. It has a similar casual vibe, but the fabric is thicker, and it’s a little more athleisurey… if that’s a word!

Zella jumpsuit (S) // similar Sam Edelman sandals // straw totes

For a dressier look, LOFT has this comfortable jersey knit tie waist jumpsuit that I wore out to dinner in Florida. It can also be dressed down with flat sandals and colorful jewelry.

LOFT Tie Waist Jumpsuit (S) // Marc Fisher sandals (7.5)

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

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16 thoughts on “Casual Alternatives to Shorts

  1. Love all the outfits especially the t-shirt dresses, love a good t-shirt dress for summer. Is the Gap black striped dress a size (M)? I noticed the first pink one was noted as size (M). Thanks!

  2. I still wear mostly shorts because my day-to-day life is very casual, but I enjoy mixing it up. I like maxi dresses and jumpsuits– mostly tank style. I never like midis on me– I think it’s the athletic calves. I also enjoy short skirts or skorts, although even though I’m 61, I feel like my legs look better in my 5-inch shorts. My legs are big but very muscular, so again, short or long is better than in-between. Thanks for sharing these alternatives to shorts!

  3. I love all the different options! It makes dressing for this time of year a breeze! I also agree with knowing what works well on your own body type. I am drawn to skirts but don’t find them flattering or comfortable on me anymore! A shift dress has been my go to for the longest time but this year I’ve tried out some wrap dresses in midi length (more like a maxi look on me) and I’m loving the different vibe!

  4. Great post!

    How do the thigh society cooling shorts differ from Spanx and Wacoal? I just ordered both of these from your link in the what to buy at Nordstrom. I ordered Spanx in nuetral and black color and same with Wacoal.

    Can you give a quick rundown of all 3 and how they differ (or overlap)? Also what color do you suggest for all of these?

    1. I am wondering the same thing. I also prefer ones that are quiet when I walk and don’t make a swishing sound, so would like recommendation on that if possible. Thanks.

    2. The Thigh Society cooling shorts don’t have compression; they are designed to be a cooling under layer to skirts and dresses to prevent chafing.

      The Wacoal Body Base Shorty has light compression – they are smoothing but not necessarily sculpting. I like those under white denim so I have the beige color.

      The Spanx OnCore Mid Thigh Shorts are for heavy-duty sculpting and slimming. I wear those under body-con or clingy dresses, and I have those in black and beige.

      I also recently got these Spanx Power Shorts – they are kind of in between the Wacoal and the OnCore Mid Thigh Shorts in terms of compression. They’re lighter and stretchier than the OnCore, for sure. I wore them under this blue Talbots dress on Sunday.

  5. Great post, thank you! I’m looking for wide leg, cropped, gauze or linen Beach pants. It’s seems like you featured some on your bathing suit post?

  6. Hi, I always have trouble finding white pants for work. Doesn’t have to be bright white, but looking for a spring/summer fabric. Thanks

  7. I definitely enjoy options… as like you said sometimes shorts just aren’t appropriate. I’m loving the athletic looks this year in dresses and skorts.

  8. Great post, love all these looks! Fyi for those who struggle with chafing , check out body glide for her anti-chafing stick. I’ve also used a trial size deodorant for this purpose. Works great and not as hot as wearing shorts underneath!

  9. I don’t wear shorts anymore. I have veins in the back of my knees that are unsightly. Skirts never feel right on me. I wore capris but have moved on to cropped pants. I do like dresses, midi or maxi but mostly wear them at home. They are cooler. I love tee shirt dresses but need one with a bit more shape. I have a tiny waist so I feel most have no shape. Any ideas?

  10. I ordered two sizes in the gap factory denim jacket. I want a lighter wash one. Should be here by Saturday. I also have the gap factory light blue and white stripe T shirt v neck dress per yiur recommendation. The XS was slightly too tight so reordered the Small. The v neck is alittle low, but still keeping it. Do you wear something under yours as I know you have the small also. Have a great day. Our weather has been hot here in the NW. 90’s.

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