How I Shop For Shorts

July 6, 2017

Shorts shopping tip

Shorts shopping tips

When the weather gets hot one of the things that I think about is keeping as cool and dry as possible.  Shorts is a great way to help me do just that.  But finding a good pair of shorts can turn into a struggle if you don’t know what to look for when you shop.  As a gal with an athletic shape, short in height, and more curves below my belt than above, I’ve become an expert at how to fit clothes for my challenging bottom half.

When it comes to fitting shorts, the 2 areas I am focused on are the fit at my waist and the fit around my thighs.  Shorts is one of my most challenging wardrobe items because I’m short in height, athletic in build, trend towards the pear body shape, and my waist is much smaller than my curvy rear.  Everything I do is centered around making sure that the fit in the waist and thighs is going to work for me.  I’ve boiled down this process into 3 simple features that I look at: material, inseam, and the details on the waist itself.

Shopping Brake’s Tips for Buying Shorts

Pick your material.  Before I even try a pair of shorts on, the first thing I do is look at the material.  I don’t want anything scratchy and some materials (I’m looking at you linen) work well on others but not on me.  I’m also not interested in any materials that do not have structure to them.  Soft, silky fabrics, high stretch materials, and anything with a shine to it will show cellulite when flat against the skin and I certainly don’t want to show that off to the world.  The amount of stretch is especially important for my shorts because the fit on my shorts is the exact opposite of my jeans.  Unlike my skinny jeans which I want the fabric to fit flush against my body, for shorts I look for the opposite, fabrics with structure that will fall in a straight line, not follow the shape of the body itself.  My favorite style of shorts is chinos because they are a lightweight material and have a little structure to them.  They are also highly versatile and dress up and down with ease.

Choose an inseam.  Once I’ve decided on the material next up is the inseam itself.  I want my shorts to fall just below the widest part of my leg.  However, this is not just a visual test.  Not only must the shorts fall just past the biggest part of my thighs, but they must also be comfortable when I sit down.  If you haven’t been doing so, be sure to do the “sit test” in the fitting room.  Sometimes shorts are loose and fall at the ideal length on the leg when you’re standing but sit down and forget about it!  Shorts often rise up an inch or more while seated, which is why I pick a 5 inch inseam instead of a 4 inch inseam.  The shorter inseam is lovely when standing but rises up too much and it starts cutting into my thighs when I sit down.

Look at the waist.  Because I have a small waist and larger legs and bum, the shorts that fit my thighs are often too big in the waist.  A lot of advice will tell you to have a tailor add darts, but I say don’t do it!  If you are truly a curvy gal like me, then your rear is big.  Every single time I’ve added darts so that I remove the waist gap I am unable to pull the shorts up past my butt cheeks!  Instead, I look for shorts with belt loops.  Since the waist on my shorts are often bigger than my natural waist I simply add a belt.  This pulls in the fabric just like a waist dart would do, but I never removed any fabric, which means when I have to pull the shorts past my big rump, I still can!

Pay attention to the rise.  Another feature that is somewhat linked to the waist is the rise itself.  I don’t select shorts that are specifically “low rise,” but I do look for a rise that falls below my natural waist.  I’m aiming for an inch or 2 below my natural waist.  Often the structured material of the shorts combined with the slightly lower rise leaves me able to wear my shorts without a belt anyway.  And once again the “sit test” comes into play here.  If the rise is too low when I sit down I get a gap in the back and I’m not interested in showing off my underwear no matter how cute it is.  Selecting the proper rise and shorts with belt loops are my 2 must haves for the waistline on my shorts.

You’ll notice a couple of features missing from my shorts including no cuffs and no big back pockets.  Cuffed shorts draw attention to the largest part of my leg and big pockets make my round butt look flat.  Neither of these are attractive to my eye.

Earlier I mentioned that I prefer chino shorts because they are highly versatile.  These 5 inch chino shorts from JCrew Factory outlet I’ve owned for 3 years and they are still going strong.  (Here’s another option from JCrew, I just like the factory outlet colors better.)  The shorts in these 2 outfits are the exact same pair that I’m wearing at the top of this post.


Outfit #1 – Chino shorts dressed up.

For the first outfit I’ve dressed up the chino shorts with a blazer and block heeled sandal booties.


Outfit #2 – Chino shorts dressed down.

For outfit #2 I’m wearing one of the most simple summer looks, a short sleeve t-shirt and flip flops.  I also added a printed belt for a little interest.

Hopefully if you have struggled with shopping for shorts in the past these tips will help you.

What do you look for when shopping for shorts?


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