Summer Shorts Review & Comparison

I’ve been teasing my summer shorts review for weeks, and it’s finally ready! This one is a doozy, you guys, so make sure you’re sitting down. I tried on over 20 pairs of shorts, and these are the results!

Summer Shorts Review & Comparison: I tried on over 20 pairs of shorts, and these are the results!

Shorts can be tricky, but in some areas of the country, they’re pretty much a necessity in the summer months, so I hope this post makes your quest for the perfect shorts a little bit easier.

Every woman’s body is different, so like with any other wardrobe item, figuring out what works best for you is the first step. If you aren’t sure, I recommend trying on a bunch of different styles and taking pictures of yourself in the mirror, much like I’m doing in this post. It really is very telling.

What to look for in a pair of shorts: 

Determine the length that looks best on you. I personally feel best in shorts with a 3 – 4″ inseam, but I know a lot of women prefer longer lengths. I tried all different lengths so you can compare.

Pay attention to the leg opening. You don’t want the leg opening to be too wide, but if you have wider hips and thin limbs as I do, you may struggle to find a good fit. The key is to try a bunch… or read on because I will comment on leg opening for each pair I tried.

To cuff or not to cuff. A cuff tends to draw attention to that part of the leg, so keep that in mind as you assess different pairs of shorts. I don’t mind a cuff because that’s a thinner part of my body, and I think the added bulk helps offset my wide hips; but if you have larger thighs, you may want to forego the cuff — or at least be sure you like where it lands on your leg.

Don’t ignore the rear view. Pocket placement can make or break a pair of denim shorts just as they can with a pair of jeans — perhaps even more so! I prefer pockets that aren’t too large, and I don’t like them placed too high or too far apart. I’ve only learned this by trying a bunch, taking pictures, and comparing. Again, everyone is different, but this is what works for me.

Finally, distressing. I know, I know. Someone will tell me that anyone who pays good money for clothing with rips and tears is a slave to fashion. Whatever. I like them. If you don’t like them, don’t wear them. Never fear, I will show a variety of options!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: For more details, you may want to read my Dos and Don’ts for Wearing Shorts.

Okay, let’s get this party started!

Summer Shorts Review & Comparison

For size reference, I’m 5’5″ and typically wear a size 28 or 29 (6 or 8) in jeans, and I usually wear an 8 or 29 in shorts. All shorts in this post are an 8 or 29 unless otherwise noted. All descriptions are beneath the pictures.

I divided this post into 3 parts — denim shorts, white denim shorts, and chino shorts. Let’s start with my favorite… denim shorts!

Denim Shorts: J.Crew, Joe’s, Madewell, LOFT, Gap, Kut from the Kloth, Wit & Wisdom, AG, Citizens & Joe’s

I pretty much live in jean shorts during the summer. If you’re a regular around here, you will not be shocked to hear that. I usually keep it casual with sandals and t-shirts, so for the purpose of this post, I tried them all on with my Madewell Whisper Cotton V-Neck Pocket Tee (size medium) and Tory Burch Miller Flip Flops.

J.Crew Denim Shorts in Merrill Wash

J.Crew Denim Shorts in Merrill Wash $79

  • Everyone needs a good, solid pair of jean shorts. Meet yours.
  • Sits at hip.
  • 8 3/4″ rise.
  • 4″ inseam cuffed to 3″.

I found these shorts very comfortable, with a good amount of stretch. The wash looks really good, but the rear pockets are rather large, and I don’t care for the width of the leg opening and how it sort of flares at the bottom.

Verdict: returning.

Best Summer Shorts for Moms: Joe's Jeans Bermuda Frayed Cuff Denim Shorts

Joe’s Jeans Bermuda Frayed Cuff Denim Shorts (also at Nordstrom) $98

  • A ripped cuff hemline brings laidback style to these jean shorts.
  • 5″ inseam; 20″ leg opening; 9 1/2″ front rise; 14″ back rise (size 29)
  • 87% cotton, 9% polyester, 4% elastane or 99% cotton, 1% elastane

These look a lot like the J.Crew pair, but they material is a little stiffer, although still comfortable. They have a much better fit thru thighs, and smaller rear pockets with better pocket placement. I also like the wash a lot, as well as the raw cuffed hem.

Verdict: keeping.

Summer Shorts Review: Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts in Jordie Wash

Madewell High-Rise Denim Shorts in Jordie Wash $72 

  • With a super-flattering (and just a bit vintage) high rise, these distressed denim cutoffs are definitely on the sexy side…
  • Front rise: 10 3/4″; inseam: 4″.
  • 99% cotton/1% spandex denim.

I like this lighter wash a lot, but I’d have to get used to the 11″ front rise. They look good in these pictures, but when I had them on, I felt like they were giving me a wedgie even though they’re not too small. They’re also quite short — I’m wondering if that inseam length is the un-cuffed length. They look and feel to have a 3″ inseam — which I don’t mind, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re considering them and you prefer to keep your inseams longer. The pocket placement is definitely better than the J.Crew pair… I’m conflicted on these. I think I need to try them on again.

Verdict: undecided.

Summer Shorts Review: Madewell High Rise Mid Length Denim Shorts

Madewell High-Rise Mid-Length Denim Shorts in Adeline Wash $69

  • A mid-length version of our holy grail jean shorts…
  • Front rise: 11″; inseam: 7″.
  • 98% cotton/2% elastane denim.

These shorts are super comfy and very soft! Unfortunately I don’t love shredded raw hem, and I’m not crazy about the light wash, plus the rear pockets look HUGE to me. I would probably like them better cuffed, but I’m going to hold out for something better.

Verdict: returning.

Review: LOFT Modern Denim Bermuda Shorts in Authentic Light Indigo Wash

LOFT Modern Denim Bermuda Shorts in Authentic Light Indigo Wash $54

  • Expertly designed with premium mills to smooth, lift, fit and flatter in all the right places…
  • 10 1/2″ rise with 8″ inseam, rolled
  • 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex

I’m wearing a size 28 in these because I know from experience that LOFT shorts run big and tend to bag out with wear. They felt snug at first but loosened up quickly. They have a lower rise than all the above, good fit on thigh, small rear pockets, a nice mid-indigo wash. I’m liking these a lot!

Verdict: keeping.

Summer Shorts Review: LOFT Modern High Waist Denim Shorts in Destructed Mid Indigo Wash

LOFT Modern High Waist Denim Shorts in Destructed Mid Indigo Wash $54

  • Expertly designed with premium mills to smooth, lift, fit and flatter in all the right places…
  • 11 1/8″ rise with 3″ inseam
  • 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex

I’m undecided on these. I really like the wash, but not crazy about the higher rise. The frayed hem is a little funky, but they fit really well and have a narrower leg opening. The rear pockets are okay — they’re set kinda far apart, but it’s not a deal breaker.

Verdict: undecided.

Summer Shorts Review: LOFT Denim Roll Shorts

LOFT Denim Roll Shorts in Staple Dark Indigo Wash $54

  • Expertly designed with premium mills to smooth, lift, fit and flatter in all the right places…
  • 9 5/8″ rise with 3 1/2″ inseam, rolled
  • 98.5% Cotton, 1.5% Spandex

I also sized down to a 28 in these. I personally found these more comfortable than the LOFT Bermuda. They have a flattering fit, a pretty nice wash, and good rear pockets. Of the three LOFT pairs I tried, these are my favorites.

Verdict: keeping.

Review: Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution Cuffed Denim Shorts

Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution Cuffed Denim Shorts $68 

  • Cuffed shorts in soft stretch denim are designed to slim with inner mesh panels that shape, smooth and lift in all the right spots…
  • 6″ inseam; 20″ leg opening; 9″ front rise; 14 1/2″ back rise (size 8)
  • 54% cotton, 27% rayon, 17% polyester, 2% spandex

These are comfortable, but I don’t care for the fading, and they flare a little bit at the leg opening. They look better on the website than in person. That said, I do like the 6″ inseam.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: KUT from the Kloth Gidget High Waist Cutoff Shorts

KUT from the Kloth Gidget High Waist Cutoff Shorts $69

  • A button fly brings a trendy twist to high-rise cutoffs with a retro slim fit…
  • 4″ inseam; 22″ leg opening; 10 1/2″ front rise; 14″ back rise (size 8)
  • 99% cotton, 1% spandex.

These look a lot better on the website as well. They fit okay, but I didn’t care for the wash at all in person.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: GAP Mid Rise 3" Denim Shorts

GAP Mid Rise 3″ Denim Shorts $45

  • Dark indigo wash with fading and whiskering.
  • Mid rise.
  • Easy through the hip and thigh.
  • Inseam: regular 3″
  • 99% Cotton, 1% Spandex

These shorts are comfortable, the wash looks pretty good, and they fit well; but the pockets are quite large, and they widen slightly at the hem. I worry about what I might expose when I bend over — another reason I like it when jeans fit closer to the leg.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: GAP Mid Rise 5" Denim Shorts with Distressed Detail

GAP Mid Rise 5″ Denim Shorts with Distressed Detail $49

  • Dark indigo wash with fading and whiskering.
  • Mid rise.
  • Easy through the hip and thigh.
  • Inseam: regular 5″
  • 99% Cotton, 1% Spandex

These fit okay, although they’re a little wide in the leg opening, but yikes, that wash is ugly. It’s worse in person — almost an acid wash. If you have them and love them, don’t get mad at me, but they just didn’t do anything for me.

Verdict: returning.

Review: Citizens of Humanity Ava Cutoff Shorts

Citizens of Humanity Ava Cutoff Shorts $167

  • Wrinkled whiskering and fading softens the wash on these cutoff Citizens of Humanity shorts.
  • Rise: 8.25in
  • Inseam: 2.75in
  • 91% cotton/8% elastomultiester/1% spandex

By way of comparison, I tried these on from my closet. This is my go-to pair of cut-offs, and yes they’re pricey, but I did pick them up when they were on sale a couple years ago. I’ve always loved these shorts — they’re sooo comfortable — but I didn’t realize quite low large those pockets are. And yeah, they’re really short. I didn’t realize they were actually shorter than a 3″ inseam, but I think they sit low enough that they don’t really fit that way. I will keep wearing them, but probably not buy shorts quite this short again. #gettingold

Summer Shorts Review: AG Nikki Denim Shorts in 16 Years Indigo Deluge Destructed

AG Nikki Denim Shorts in 16 Years Indigo Deluge Destructed $168

  • Whiskered, faded, shredded, raw-edge hems
  • 8.25″ rise, 9″ inseam
  • Cotton/polyurethane

Clearly we just made a huge leap in price point, but I love this brand for jeans and am always drawn to these shorts. (I tried them last year too.) I always want to love them, but  they’re too wide in the leg, and I just don’t think I’m cool enough to pull them off. I like the light wash, but not with all the fading and distressing.

For distressed jean shorts, I prefer my BlankNYC pair. I think something about them being shorter makes it work better, plus the price tag is much more palatable for an item of clothing I will mostly wear to bum around at home. I didn’t try these on for this post because they’re almost sold out, but here’s a try on pic from earlier in the season:

Summer Shorts Review: BlankNYC Blank NYCDenim Cuffed Distressed Shorts in Weekend Warrior

The other pair that I love and wear a lot, but didn’t try on for this post because they’re almost sold out is the AG Hailey. While I love them, I think I’ve found some similar but lower priced options (the LOFT denim roll shorts and the Joe’s) that I like almost as well. In fact, I think the LOFT and Joe’s fit better, but I do love that AG denim; the wash can’t be beat.

Summer Shorts Review: AG Hailey Cuffed Denim Shorts

White Denim Shorts: J.Crew, J.Crew Mercantile, Madewell, Gap & Kut from the Koth

If you thought finding good white jeans was hard… wait till you start trying white shorts. Ha! Actually, I found most of these fairly thick and not terribly see-through, but the fit on some is really unfortunate.

J.Crew Denim Short in White

J.Crew Denim Short in White $69

  • Your favorite white jean now comes in a pair of shorts, with a hint of stretch for a comfortable fit.
  • City fit—our lowest rise. Sits just above hip.
  • 4″ inseam.
  • Cotton with stretch.

These are comfortable and a nice quality fabric, and I like that they’re cuffed with a 4″ inseam, but they flare a bit at the hem. All J.Crew shorts seem to do this. Bah humbug.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: J.Crew Mercantile White Denim Short

J.Crew Mercantile White Denim Short $29

  • Cotton/poly/elastane.
  • Sits just above hip.
  • 3 1/2″ inseam.

These are okay for me. I kind of like that they’re not a stark white, and I like the cuff and the 3 1/2″ inseam. They’re just a little wider in the leg than I prefer, but the rear view is better than the pricier J.Crew pair. For the price, they may be worth keeping.

Verdict: undecided.

Summer Shorts Review: Madewell The Perfect Jean Short in Tile White

Madewell The Perfect Jean Short in Tile White $64

  • Fits high and tight on the waist and easy through the hip and thigh, like your perfect vintage cutoffs.
  • Front rise: 11 1/2″; inseam: 3 1/2″
  • Premium 100% cotton denim

I really don’t care for these. The high rise and relaxed fit through the leg is trending right now, but it does nothing for me.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: GAP Mid Rise 5" Denim Shorts with Raw Hem in Salt

GAP Mid Rise 5″ Denim Shorts with Raw Hem in Salt $49

  • Raw, frayed hem.
  • Mid rise. Easy through the hip and thigh.
  • Inseam: regular 5″
  • 80% Cotton, 18% Rayon, 2% Spandex

No, just no. The fit is all off, and they’re kind of thin and see-through.

Verdict: returning.

Review: Kut from the Kloth Gidget Raw Hem Shorts

KUT from the Kloth Gidget Raw Hem Shorts $59

  • When summer fun calls, answer it with these fresh white shorts.
  • 4″ inseam; 21″ leg opening; 9″ front rise
  • 98% cotton, 2% spandex

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! These are nice and thick, slim through the thigh, flattering 4″ inseam, and a nice clean white (not off-white like others) and while they’re kind of wrinkly in the rear, I think the fit is pretty good considering my other options.

Verdict: keeping!

Chino Shorts: Gap, Caslon, LOFT, J.Crew & Boden

Okay, home stretch! On to chino shorts. I don’t wear chino shorts a ton, but sometimes it’s nice to have something other than denim.

Summer Shorts Review: Gap Utility Shorts

GAP 3″ Utility Shorts $34

  • Smooth, stretch herringbone weave.
  • Allover woven stripe detailing.
  • Mid rise. Easy through the hip and thigh.
  • Inseam: regular 3″
  • 97% Cotton, 3% Spandex

These are too short and wide in the leg, and I’m not loving the tone-on-tone stripe texture.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: Caslon Utility Shorts

Caslon Utility Shorts $45

  • Crisp cotton shorts get a dose of utilitarian cool with oversized patch pockets in front and mitered flap versions in back.
  • 5″ inseam; 23″ leg opening; 9 1/2″ front rise; 14 1/2″ back rise (size 8)
  • 9% cotton, 1% spandex

I wanted to love these, but the size 6 was too small in the hips and rear (wearing the 6 here), and the size 8 was too baggy in the leg. I like the 5″ inseam, the straight cut leg, and the utilitarian details.

Verdict: returning

Summer Shorts Review: LOFT Riviera Shorts with 4 Inch Inseam

LOFT Riviera Shorts with 4 Inch Inseam $39

  • Because sunny style should always be easy…
  • Mid rise
  • 4″ inseam
  • 97% Cotton, 3% Spandex

I sized down to a 6 in these, and the fit is about right. I’ve never loved the LOFT Riviera shorts, but I figured I’d give them another try. They have a funny little flare at the leg opening, but otherwise they fit pretty well.

Verdict: returning.

Summer Shorts Review: LOFT Riviera Shorts with 6

LOFT Riviera Shorts with 6 Inch Inseam $39

  • Because sunny style should always be easy…
  • Mid rise
  • 6″ inseam
  • 97% Cotton, 3% Spandex

These run big; even the 6 was large on me. They also flare a bit at the hem, or maybe they’re just overall wide, but I don’t love the length either, so they’re going back.

Verdict: returning.

Review: J.Crew 4" Stretch Chino Short

J.Crew 4″ Stretch Chino Short $45 

  • Our classic chino shorts just got better. We added a hint of stretch—which means they’re more comfortable and easier to move in than ever—and tweaked the silhouette to be a little more up-to-date, with a higher rise and tailored fit
  • Front rise: 9 3/4″
  • 4″ inseam
  • Cotton/elastane

These are also a size 6. I have no idea why I didn’t also order the 8. I had high hopes for these, but they do nothing for my rear view. They feel good on, but they look too tight. They also sort of flare at the leg opening, and the zipper splits at top. I’d like to try the 8, but for now, these went back.

Summer Shorts Review: Boden Rachel Chino Shorts

Boden Rachel Chino Shorts $50

  • Chino shorts are a MUST for this season’s wardrobe. They’ve got that smart/casual thing going on, plus a golden ratio of cotton to elastane…
  • 3″ Inseam.

These were recommended by a reader, and given my recent luck with a Boden dress and t-shirt, I wanted to give them a try. Unfortunately they run verrrry small. I’m in the 8, and they are tight in the waist and belly area.

Verdict: returning.

I’d like to try the J.Crew 4″ stretch chino shorts in the 8 because I really like that grey color. I’d also be curious to try the and the Boden Rachel Chino Shorts in the 10, and maybe in the 4″ leg, but they’re sold out. In fact, it looks like the Rachel style is being discontinued, so I think I’ll order the Richmond shorts and the Helena shorts to compare.

As you can see, I could easily have held this post a little longer and tried more, but hopefully this is enough to get you started!

Shop The Post:

Did you like this post? 

Subscribe to get email updates! In addition to my most recent blog posts, you’ll receive exclusive newsletter content like special sales, my newest favorite finds, and an occasional peek behind the scenes — all delivered right to your inbox. PLUS you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card each month, so don’t miss it!

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my links, it helps support my business (at no additional cost to you) so thank you!