The Best Shorts for Moms

Shorts are tricky once you’re past a certain age, but in some regions of the country they’re pretty much a necessity. Even though I love to wear jeans all year round, there are plenty of times during the summer when it’s just too hot, plus I’m not a huge fan of dresses so shorts are a must for me. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat so I’ve rounded up some of the best shorts for moms that are out there right now.

First let’s discuss what to look for in a pair of shorts. Shorts can go really wrong when they don’t fit well. One of my best tips is to pay attention to the leg opening. Ideally you want your shorts to follow the line of the leg without being too tight. If they’re too wide, you’ll look frumpy, but you also don’t want them to be too tight through the hips and rear (check both the front an back views.) Sometimes you have to size up. I wear a size 6 in most pants and jeans but I often wear an size 8 in shorts.

You also want to determine the inseam length that is right for you. This is usually a range, not an exact measurement. The style of shoe you’re wearing and the style and length of your top will help dictate what length of shorts looks best. Typically shorts are short (3½” – 4″ inseam), mid-length (5″-7″) or Bermuda (9″-11″). Most women look best in mid-length shorts.

3½” shorts // 5″ shorts // 7″ shorts // 10″ shorts

I actually prefer a 3½” or 4″ inseam on my shorts, but I don’t mind 5″ or 6″ if I wear them with shoes that are neutral and/or have a low vamp. (The higher the vamp on your shoe, the shorter your leg will look, so sometimes you have to compensate by shortening your shorts or skirt.)

Joe’s Jeans Rolled Denim Shorts

I don’t usually wear Bermuda length shorts. I feel like they look best on women who are tall and long-limbed and I’m only 5’5″, but denim Bermuda shorts with a rolled hem can be cute. The twill ones seem to be harder to pull off. These from White House Black Market are 9″ which I find more flattering than the 10″ or 11″ Bermudas that are more common. For size reference, I did stick with the size 6 in these because they stretch quite a bit.

White House Black Market 9″ Bermuda jean shorts

Another tip: neutral shoes tend to look best with longer shorts because they elongate the line of the leg and keep you from looking stumpy in the longer shorts.

Ultimately, you have to wear what feels most comfortable to you. Some women really don’t like their legs or they’re very modest so they prefer longer shorts. Others like to keep the shorts shorter, and that’s fine too, as long as you don’t have any bootie hanging out. There is a line that must be drawn, ladies. No one wants to see that (at any age, but much less on us over-40 types! LOL!)

Finally, always, ALWAYS look at the rear view.

Kut from the Kloth Gidget Denim Shorts

SO many shorts I’ve tried look fine from the front, but when I take a look at the rear view, they go right back on the rack. Pocket placement is important as well as the general shape they create. If they make me look wider than I am, they go back too. If they show a panty line or look like they’re creating a wedgie, they’re a no-go as well. Seamless underwear are your best bet for avoiding the last two issues.

Okay, so here are my favorite summer shorts right now. I realize most of these are on the shorter side of the shorts spectrum, so I’ve tried to give some longer alternatives throughout.

Best Shorts for Moms, Summer 2017

My current favorites are these AG Hailey in White Restored with the 3½” inseam. (The Hailey comes in other washes as well.) I’ve had these for several years so I’m glad they still sell them! The fit is fantastic, and they hold up great. Unfortunately, they’re pricey, but they often go on sale.

For size reference, I wear 28 in AG jeans but I have a 29 in these shorts. There’s more of this look in this post.

AG The Hailey Shorts

Another nice pair of shorts that is less expensive and still fits great is the Kut from the Kloth Gidget denim shorts. These have a frayed hem and a 4″ inseam, and they’re available in other denim washes and colors as well. You can see me wearing them here. (I clearly have a thing for blue tops with white shorts!) I have these in the size 6, for reference. There’s more of this look in this post.

The Best Shorts for Moms: Kut from the Kloth Gidget Fray Hem Denim Shorts

Kut from the Kloth Gidget Denim Shorts

For an even more affordable style, I found these Mossimo Mid Rise Midi Shorts at Target at the recommendation of another blogger. These also have a 4″ inseam. (And yes that’s another blue shirt. I really need to expand my horizons!) I did size up to the 8 in these, and they’re perfect. You can see more of this look in this post.

Mossimo Mid Rise Midi Shorts (sold out; see all chino shorts at Target)

For a slightly longer length, these Loft denim Bermuda roll shorts have a 6½” inseam and the trendy raw flip cuff. I really like the length of these for women who are trying to find a happy medium between short shorts and Bermuda shorts. (I have NO idea why they call these Bermudas, but anyway.)

Often shorts this length are too wide for me, but the leg opening on these is perfect. If you have smaller thighs, you might really like these. You can see me wearing them here, and I have more info on this outfit in this post. (For size reference, I’m wearing a size 6. These stretch some, so I stuck with my usual pants size.)

Loft Denim Bermuda Roll Shorts

I personally like this raw flip cuff better than the double-roll cuff. I feel like it looks more modern. I also prefer it to the frayed hem because those are super casual and sort of remind me of Daisy Duke, haha! I still wear the frayed hem shorts, but my favorite look right now in denim shorts is the raw flip cuff.

Loft also has some shorter raw flip cuff shorts that you may like if you prefer the 3½” inseam. I have the AG Hailey in this same style.

AG The Hailey Raw-Hem Shorts

Moving on to twill shorts… I don’t have as much luck with these as I do with denim. I find that they are often too wide in the leg opening, and the rear pockets usually don’t do me any favors (I prefer the external back pocket that is sew on as with most jeans shorts) but sometimes you want something a little bit nicer.

In years past, I had good luck with the Old Navy Pixie Shorts with the 3½” inseam. I haven’t tried them yet this year to see if they changed their styling at all. They’re a little wider than I prefer through the thigh, but the rear view is pretty decent for this style of short. They also come in a 5″ inseam and a 7″ inseam as well, although I find those to be way too wide for me personally. For size reference, I have these in the 8.

Old Navy Pixie Chino Shorts (3½”)

One other style I’ve liked a lot for the past several years is the Ann Taylor City Shorts. I have them in 3 colors. These have a 3½” inseam (for a 5″ inseam, check out the Ann Taylor Mid Shorts.) These are really nice quality and thicker than the Old Navy shorts. I have the size 8. This picture is from a few years ago, and wow, my hair has grown!

Fashion Over 40: Navy and White Shorts and Tank

Ann Taylor City Shorts

Finally, the Coastal Stretch Shorts at White House Black Market are really nice, but again with the leg opening… it’s also a little too wide. Maybe I should look into having some of my shorts altered. Has anyone tried that? These have a 5″ inseam and are really nice quality. They work great with heels or with flats, and I have them in an 8. You can see them both ways in this post.

WHBM Coastal Stretch Shorts

And that’s all I’ve got!

Do you have any favorite shorts to recommend? Let us what they are and why you like them in the comments!

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52 thoughts on “The Best Shorts for Moms

  1. Great work, JoLynne! Thanks for doing all the leg work for us. Pun intended! I have a pair of Old Navy Sweetheart shorts that I really like. They have the raw flip cuff with a bit of stretch. I bought them last year. I went back this year for another pair and couldn’t find them. Working in a high school office where I dress up everyday, I find myself reaching for my casual summer ‘uniform’ – shorts and a t-shirt! With your help, I’ve learned how to jazz up a simple t-shirt and shorts.

  2. Love this post !! This is the best post I have seen all summer from any blogger. You really did a lot of work here! Thank you so much

  3. Great ideas ! I love the pink shorts, white tee and denim. when I find shorts I love I buy them in every color. Comfort and style are so important to me. If its going to be steaming hot we better feel comfy ! An old pair of Columbia shorts are my go to ! I love white shorts and a black tee also !
    I love the advice you give! Every post ! Thank you !!

  4. Great post! Thank you for all you do to keep us looking good! I’ve had good luck with the Riveria shorts from Loft. A couple years ago they changed the waist band though and I didn’t like that as much….

  5. This is such a helpful article!! I bought the cutest romper from the Gap & I thought I was too old for rompers. It runs a little big, so I got it in a small. Would look great on you too! V-neck soft spun cotton romper in black…so comfortable & looks age appropriate. I hate the word “romper” tho…sounds like a toddler outfit!

  6. Great post! I’ll share that I like shorts from NY&co, especially since they have a slightly higher rise which helps avoid muffin top. I have bermudas, twill, and denim ones from there. One point also- the reason I prefer 5″ to 3″ shorts has nothing to with modesty but because I find the shorter lengths ride up in the crotch area.

  7. Love the time and effort your put into your blog! Shorts are not easy for me but this is certainly helpful info.
    I tend to just go with a casual skirt or skort (if they are even in style anymore? lol) or a casual summer dress.

  8. JoLynne,
    Thanks for the great post. I have a question does being a certain age determine the length of short you should wear? I am 62 and am really struggling to find shorts that look good on me and I feel comfortable in. I wear a size 12 so I am not real thin and do not have trouble finding pants or jeans just shorts. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hey Kathy. There are some who would say that age does dictate the length of your shorts (or whether or not you should be wearing them at all, lol) but I think it has more to do with your comfort level, the area of the country (or world) you live in, and of course how good your legs look. I think as women get older, most start to wear their shorts longer, but there is certainly nothing wrong with wearing a 5 or 6 inch inseam if you’re comfortable in them. Sometimes it’s just the most practical choice.

      I also wrote this post on alternatives to shorts, that might be helpful, although the links are old:

  9. So many great options & looks. Thank you for doing all that research! I just took note of the denim vest/pale pink shorts look & remembered I have pale pink skimmers & a denim vest. So, thank you for picking out my OOTD!! Since I have a heavier thigh, I opt for skimmers that hit mid knee. Some are a bit above which is fine as well. This year my new skimmers came from Christopher & Banks. They are a nice light weight, came in 4 colors, are stretchy but don’t stretch out & fit this curvy size 16 Grammy perfectly! I purchased all 4 colors available, plus a pair of olive ones, which just came out. My heavier denim weight skimmers come from Kohls, their Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda line. I’ve had some for a few years & have held up well. Enjoy that sunshine we’ve been promised for later in the day!

    1. I know I’m late to the party, but thanks for all the work you did.

      Gina P., thanks for the tips as well!

  10. Great post! I try to find mid-length that look flattering, especially when seated. The whole having to sit down and showing thigh thing has me ????

  11. Great post! I recently had a pair of shorts altered because of the wide leg opening. It really improved the look of the shorts. But due to the fact it was denim and because the hem has to be taken out and redone – it was spendier than I had anticipated. But it really did help the look of the shorts.

    1. Good to know, I might try that with some of mine. My denim ones are fine, but the twill ones are all so wide. I think it’s b/c I have wider hips and smaller thighs.

  12. Thank you so much for all of the work you put into this post! I am 5’6″ with long legs. If I am going to be out around other people, I normally wear my longer shorts, that come to my knees, for many reasons, but one different reason. I do not like to sit on surfaces without fabric protecting the back of my legs because I don’t know what else has been on that surface. I’m not a germafobic with most things. The shorts I do wear are Kim Rogers from Belk and Sonoma from Kohl’s. I have a denim skort I haven’t worn yet this year, so it may end up in the donate pile. We’ve got storms moving in for this afternoon, then lower temps and humidity next week. Yay! Enjoy your day!

        1. I was asking about the sandals in the other White House Black Market Bermuda shorts (9Inch) The 2nd picture from the top…

          1. Ooooooh those! Sorry. Those are also old. LOL!!! They were Rebecca Minkoff… I feel like I saw them somewhere this year tho… google this: rebecca minkoff georgina studded sandal and see if you find them. I’m headed out or I’d look. 🙂

  13. Thanks for the great round up! I really appreciate the “why” of what works and what doesn’t ( this shoe cuts off the leg, this color elongates the leg). I am wondering about the athletic skorts seen at Athleta or Title Nine? Have you ever worn those? They seem super comfy especially for being at home or running errands but I’m not sure about the style. I don’t really play golf or tennis so don’t want everyone asking me about my game if I show up wearing them plus I don’t know how they fit or what body types should stay away from them! I don’t have a lot of time to check out these things so it’s so handy to read your blog!

  14. Thank you!
    I also like the Riviera shorts from Ann Taylor; I ordered the navy and white turtle print-adorable and I always gravitate to navy/white!

  15. Great post! i love when you analyze why a style works and why it doesn’t. I did alter some shorts this year and I think it is definitely worth the effort. I found a 8 or 9 inch inseam looks best on me but they are really hard to find. I bought longer shorts and hemmed them all to the length I was comfortable with. I stopped wearing shorts a few years back (I’m 61) but this year I just decided it was a matter of getting ones that were the right length and fit properly. After reading your thoughts, I may taper the legs of my shorts for a slimmer fit. THanks!

  16. Sorry to say this, but shorts are a big NO for your age (or mine!). Even with such a wonderful body as you have, they just don’t look adequate. I think that they just drop a whole bunch of years on those women who after 30s wear them.

  17. Thank you for this post, so informative! I’m in my mid-40’s and about 10 years ago I started wearing bermuda shorts because I thought that was what was “appropriate”. About a year ago I started reading style blogs and realized that there are no rules in fashion, you should wear what you like, but also what fits and looks good. So I’ve shorted up my shorts game quite a bit. I’m 5’4″ and size 8, so I’ve realized that shorter shorts actually look better on me. However, I have big upper thighs, so I like the 4-5″ length for both comfort and looks. (Hate chub rub!) I just bought two pairs of those Target shorts from your links. I actually tried the olive pair on in store a while ago but didn’t pull the trigger. This was the incentive I needed to buy them, ha ha. Thanks for all the research you do. I enjoy your blog a lot.

  18. Thank you for the research on the shorts! I’m 5’4 and and in my mid 40’s and have struggled for many years trying to find the right fit! Because of you my shopping experience will be a bit more pleasant! ????

  19. It sounds like your requirements for the perfect shorts are the same as mine. I’ve had luck for a couple of years now with the Gap Factory Store City Shorts. I believe they’re a 3″ inseam. They fit nicely in the leg….I also found the Old Navy Pixie a bit wide in the leg. I scored a coral and black pair last year. This year I got red. They also have lots of prints available,

  20. Hi Jolynne! Thanks to you, I have given my shorts drawer a complete overhaul over the past 2 summers. After wearing only bermudas for years, I now have mid-length shorts which are far more flattering on me! It puts an extra spring in my step to feel stylish and confident. Thank you also for introducing us to Kelly. Her free closet challenge, in addition to your blog, has informed my shopping. I now make better choices bringing my closet and lifestyle into balance with each other. Please keep teaching us! I look forward to your blog every day.

  21. Thank you for all the details you provide. Though I m older than you, your blog is my favorite because it’s teaching me to be a better shopper.

    I have lost a lot of weight and have loose skin on my thighs, so I need longer shorts. Being 5’4″, a longer short often looks unflattering. However, Talbots does have a Five-Pocket Boyfriend Short with a 9″ rolled inseam that I think is the most flattering short I have tried. They are pricey at $69.50 but can been found on sale at times. They don’t stretch out much, and the quality is good.

    Talbots also has good quality twill shorts with following inseams: 5″, 7″, 9″, 10.5″, and 13″. They aren’t quite as fitted through the thighs, so I don’t find them as flattering as the boyfriend shorts, but they work for me when I want a dressier short. They stretch out a little more than the jean shorts do. And they come in several colors.

  22. Thank you so much for all the work you went into for this post. It was very informative, and I, too, love the various reasons you give for either doing something or not doing something. Great post and very helpful! Love your blog and thanks for always answering questions promptly. :).

  23. Hi Jo-Lynne. Why are these the best shorts for moms specifically? I am not a mother and wondering why you specified that.

    1. I don’t know, that is a good question. Over the years, I’ve identified as a “mom blogger” and I feel like once your a mom, your fashion needs change and you are looking for clothing that is more practical. Plus a lot of times women are searching pinterest and google for fashion advice for moms so over the years I’ve often included that in my blog post titles. Sometimes I wrote posts and include “over 40” because I know a lot of women are searching for that on Pinterest and Google, but the posts could definitely pertain to younger women too.

      I definitely don’t want to alienate women who aren’t moms (or over 40 or whatever) so that’s definitely something for me to keep in mind. 🙂

      1. Thank you for the response. I was just curious. I know you can’t please everyone and it’s probably a pain trying to make sure you do not offend anyway.

        People often assume that I DO have children or have been married just because of my age, but I have not experienced either. Sometimes that assumption can be annoying. 😉

        I did like and appreciate your shorts post and research. Thanks.

        1. I appreciate the input, truly! Sometimes being specific helps with search traffic and things like that, but I also don’t want to alienate any woman who feels that it’s helpful.

          I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who my audience is and how I want to position myself when I promote my blog.

          I know I want to say that I feature wearable fashion or relatable fashion or something along those lines, but then is it for women? moms? suburban women? women over 40? LOL…

          I’ve had “typical suburban mom” in my bio for a while b/c I feel like that is who I am and who I represent, but then I’ve had people comment and say that some of what I feature is too expensive for “typical suburban moms” and I am out of touch. I guess “typical” means different things to different people.

          Ultimately I just want to write and share what I’m learning, but I do have to think about marketing too. That is probably WAY more than you wanted to know, lol!!!

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