“I would like to find a decent pair of khaki shorts that are not 3 inches long and super low rise, nor 1940’s style. Just something classic and simple,” writes Susanna. “I live in south Georgia so it’s already in the 80s here this year and I’m trying to spruce up the wardrobe a little, but in a stay at home mom with little kids sort of way.”
Paillette short, $148 at J. Crew. Insert eye roll here.
I have also been on the lookout for great chino shorts this winter; February and March are the best time to buy, because if you wait until the kids are out of school and the pool is open — or, in most of the country, until the temperatures are really shorts-appropriate — there’s nothing left in the stores. Except, of course, the 3″ sequin shorts, which are only practical if you are Blake Lively. And even then I reserve the right to question your choice. And possibly mock it. Who knows.
7″ chino short, $45 at J. Crew. That’s better.
When you’re shopping for shorts, there are a few simple things to look for; let’s start with length. A 7″ inseam is almost universally flattering: long enough to cover your wobbly bits but short enough to make your legs look long and lean. Technically, this is not a Bermuda short — Bermudas fall all the way to the knee and, despite offering the fullest coverage of any shorts style, can make your legs look both shorter and wider. Ironically, a Bermuda short works best on a woman with slim thighs, because the longer hemline doesn’t disrupt the leg line. If you carry your weight in your hips and thighs, a slightly shorter inseam will be more flattering; look for shorts that fall from the widest part of your hip and hit just below the widest part of your leg. Most of the time, that will mean a 7″ inseam.
Bloomer shorts, $49.95 at the GAP. No.
Avoid tapered shorts, unless you have very very slim legs. Like tapered pants, tapered shorts can create an ice cream cone effect, particularly if you’re opting for a dark color. Also be wary of this season’s bloomer shorts, which are only cute on wee little waifs like Emma Watson, and only in carefully crafted photo spreads for fashion magazines. On a real mom, these shorts will make even the smallest derriere look like a sofa cushion. They are also meant to be worn with heels, and if you’re wearing heels to the park this summer, we really need to have a talk.
Roll-up shorts, $39.95 at the GAP. Yes.
A flat front is the most flattering; avoid pleats entirely, as they add weight and bulk where most women don’t want it. The same goes for flap pockets on the rear of your shorts; if you are looking to add shape to a flat bottom, then a flap pocket is your friend, but if you’re searching for shorts that will minimize the back view, skip them. I like these roll-up shorts from the GAP because they have a nice flat front, they’re not too low-waisted and you can customize the length a bit. They seem like the perfect blend of slouchy-yet-tailored, which is what Susanna is looking for.
Finally, look for shorts in a neutral color, one that is similar to your skin tone; this will also create a longer leg line and draw the eye up away from your shorts (and legs) and toward whatever you’re wearing on top. Which we will talk about next week!
Your turn: where do you buy shorts? Have you found any great classic styles this winter? Or are you finding yourself tempted by the “novelty” shorts that seem to be everywhere right now?