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!

t-shirt dress (M) // Birks (39)

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.

What To Wear Instead of 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. Shorter lengths are trending again, and knee-length dresses are a classic look that don’t really go out of style.

dress (M) // sneakers (39)

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 always like these t-shirt dresses from Gap Factory, and I’m glad to see they brought them back this year.

solid t-shirt dress (M) // denim jacket (S) // sandals in makeup (8) // stripe t-shirt dress (S) // VEJA Esplar (39)

#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.

MOTHER Insider (also at Saks) (29) // Sundry tee (1) // sneakers (39)

Wide-leg crop pants and jeans are very much on trend right now, and the looser style can feel more cool and comfortable than the bootcut and straight crop jeans. The PAIGE Anessa has a nice beachy-chic vibe, and they come in some colors too. I also really like this wide cuff pair. The denim is lightweight and very soft.

PAIGE Anessa (29) // Sanctuary tank (M) // sandals (8) // KUT from the Kloth Meg // Frame tee // sandals (8)

#3. Linen & 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. Linen or a lightweight cotton fabrics can be quite cool and comfortable. I recently found this pair with a more structured waistband, which I prefer, but there are lots of options with elasticized waists and pull-on styles.

KUT from the Kloth Meg Linen Blend Pants (6) // white tee (M) // sandals (8)

#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. Denim skirts are trending big time this spring, and cargo details are huge right now.

As far as length goes, it’s either short or long right now. Mini skirts are back, and bias cut midi skirts are everywhere, as are the long denim skirts. The just-above-the-knee-length is looking a bit tired to me, but it can work if the skirt has modern details, like this raw hem denim skirt with utility pockets. And I like the just-below-the-knee length, like the denim skirt I’m wearing below.

Athleta Soho Skort // old Madewell tank // sandals (8) // denim skirt (29) // ribbed tee (M) // sandals (8) // belt (M) // woven tote (option)

If you have issues with chafing, these Thigh Society Cooling Shorts are awesome. And skorts are another good shorts alternative that provides a little more coverage to allow for ease of movement. Athleta makes a lot of nice options.

#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, and this sporty Zella jumpsuit is still available in a few sizes.

Vuori Falls Jumpsuit c/o (M) // sandals (8) // Zella jumpsuit (S) // similar Sam Edelman sandals // straw totes

A linen fabric can be nice and cool, and LOFT has this comfortable jersey knit tie waist jumpsuit. I wore it with heels, but it can also be dressed down with flat sandals or sneakers.

LOFT Tie Waist Jumpsuit (S)

I hope this post is helpful! What are your favorite alternatives to shorts?

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25 Responses

  1. Great post, I do wear shorts, but my favorite alternative is dresses. I wear long-line undies, like bike shorts, underneath to prevent the dreaded chafing.

  2. I still wear shorts, but mostly I find shift dresses in bright cotton or skirts in denim or cotton work the best for me
    There’s something about seeing a Lily Pulitzer dress that makes you feel summer is here
    Brings me back to my mothers summer parties with the ladies

    1. Agree about Lilly P dresses! I have a hard time fitting into those, but I have several tops and one sweater! Definitely speaks beachy summer vacation to me!

  3. Those linen Kut pants look amazing on you! I love that outfit! Unfortunately they would be too long on me. I am 5’4″ and lately all pants and jeans end up being longer than I want them to be. I am ready to have more jeans with a finished hem but it’s impossible to find ones in the right length. Petites sometimes work but the selection of petite pants and jeans has been terrible lately. It’s such a frustrating issue. I suppose I really need to find a good tailor so I can have pants hemmed to the proper length.

  4. Great post for today since I have all my warm weather clothes boxes down from the attic and I’m basically trying on everything!! Love dresses with simple lines and wide-leg crop linen blend pants. I have one navy skort that I like but can never find it when I need it! Glad your ankle is healing up nicely and you could be out of that boot soon!

  5. For those times when shorts won’t do, I typically wear a dress. I would love to wear more dresses when it’s warm but it’s challenging to find. I don’t like t-shirt dresses because they’re too casual and not fitted enough. I also like a v-neck since I’m a 36C. It’s hard to find a nice casual day dress that’s not too casual but not too “dressy”. I do have “dressy” shorts that I can wear out to a nice restaurant, it’s basically like wearing a mini skirt in my opinion.

  6. I rarely need tailoring because I’m 5’7” but there’s a nice dry cleaner near me that hems for a reasonable price.
    It’s a good place to start if you just need a basic hem

  7. I love how you label all of your examples with price and brand. Great post, as always! Thank you, Jo-Lynne!

  8. I love the Gap factory tee dress (perfect for Florida!). I am going to order a few…
    This is a random question, but would you be willing to share your hair color formula? I just love it. I was not sure this an appropriate place to post, unsure where to ask this! Thank you.

  9. Congratulations on the upcoming transition to the lace up brace from the medical boot! I know that you can’t wait for that and being able to drive again because I’ve been in that boat many times. Thank you so much for putting this post together! I am one of the ladies that does not wear shorts out and about too often for several reasons. I have 16 dresses in my closet now. I’ve added the Caslon dress to my wishlist. I have several pairs of linen and linen blend pants that are so cool and comfortable during the heat of the summer. And I like that they can be dressed up or down.

  10. All good suggestions. I would love to try linen pants but I’m afraid they would bag out in the butt. Can anybody comment on that? Thanks.

  11. I prefer wearing dresses over shorts especially here in Florida they are so much more comfortable also like wearing jumpsuits

  12. Jolynne, do you have any tips for keeping t-shirt dresses from stretching out at the butt? I purchased the Old Navy 100% cotton t-shirt dress last year, but it stretches out so much after I sit down that I stopped wearing it.

  13. The timing of this was perfect! I think I was probably in surgery when this email hit my inbox. Now that I’m back in The Boot myself, it’s going be…interesting…to find things to wear. Thank you for this!

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