A Rather Horrifying Denim Shorts Try-On Sesh (& What I’ll Actually Be Wearing…)

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Well this was….interesting. Jean trends have been all over the map for the last couple of years, and denim shorts are now suffering the same fate. The styles are trending longer in length, so originally, I had set out to find a pair of cute (and comfy) denim bermuda shorts. The results were, um…

An Attempt To Find a Cute Pair of Longer Denim Shorts (Bermuda?)

…well. You be the judge. (And FYI – at the very end of this article I have a shopping widget that includes everything — the good, the bad, the pieces I casually mentioned if text links drive you nuts.)

Let’s do this.

1. Denim Mom Shorts: What Fresh New Hell Is This?

I know these are the shorts of the moment. I know they are. I know that they are the natural extension of mom jeans: mom shorts. I get it, I do. But I…don’t….think….I can get on board.

I mean…where do I even start? Actually, let’s start with a pic. That should do it.

featured: AGoldE Mid-Rise 90’s Loose Shorts, size 25

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

At first glance, they are not terrible. But…as I stood there, it dawned on me that I have some fundamental issues with the whole concept of denim mom shorts:

A. Summer is hot.
B. Is thick, stiff denim constricting my stomach how I plan to spend a series of 90 degree days? No. No it is not.
C.  Can you imagine showing up at the beach, stripping out of your shorts and having that huge red ring around your stomach?
D. Side view:

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | sandals

E. There is no end to that bum.  It is, in fact, the longest bum on record — possibly the flattest — stretching down to mid-thigh. I don’t know why I find mom jeans so much more flattering than mom shorts (and g-d knows I’ve eaten enough sartorial crow to understand that I may, in fact, regret these words someday) but HOLY HELL WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?

[deep cleansing breath]

So I tried. Again. I put on my thinking cap, my engineering hat, and dug down (deep) for my inner 20-something. How would one successfully style these shorts???

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | heels

With a crop top and heels, of course!! The high-rise, stiff denim is actually conservative enough to offset sexy shoes AND a crop top. This look totally works  I *could* wear it out on date night. But that brings me to my final point:

F.  I’m too old for this shit.

I like my denim shorts with comfy flat sandals and flowy tanks. The end. And if I do end up wanting/needing a pair of mom shorts…I’m going to eschew denim and go in the direction of cute and tailored mom shorts. Like these Vince Camuto cuffed shorts (you can see them on, here).

Moving on…..

2. The Shorts That Didn’t Fit Even When I Went Up Two Sizes

I am DONE with you, Levi’s shorts. DONE.

featured: Levi 501 Long Shorts (size 26)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | sandals

3. My Old Favs, Updated With a Higher Rise?

Spoiler alert: Still no.

My beloved One Teaspoon Bandit shorts (aka my ‘denim underwear’) just got a fresh update for 2019. Still underwear-like, but with a modern high-rise. They look fine (although I’d like to see some distressing on this particular pair) but I have the same problem: high-rise just isn’t comfortable in really hot weather. So…nope.

featured: One Teaspoon Hollywood Bandits (size 25)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | sandals…  or try Bloomies for more colors

4. The Ones That Aren’t Bad…If You Like Stiff Denim

Which I do not. BUT….if you are all-in on the vintage 80’s denim trend (basically mom jeans with non-stretch denim) these Free People shorts are actually a decent shorts option. The rise is high (but not too high), the denim is non-stretch (but not horribly stiff) and they have just enough distressing.

The length isn’t as overwhelming as the AGoldE shorts, but they do have that high-rise which I have vowed to stay away from in hot weather. (For now. We’ll see how long these “vows” last.)

featured: Free People Sofia Shorts (size 26)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts (size 26 – and a darker wash is available here)| sandals…  or try Bloomie’s for more colors

5. More High-Rise, but With Sexier Distressing

The only thing wrong with these shorts, in my opinion, is the high-rise and non-stretch denim. I just…can’t. I can’t in the hot summer weather.

featured: 3X1 Blake Short (size 24)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts (size 24) | sandals…  or try Bloomie’s for more colors

6. Bermuda Shorts, But With Sleek & Stretchy Denim

I had high hopes for Frame’s Le Vintage Bermuda Short. These are….not bad. They’re not bad. But they fit exactly like skinny jeans, just hacked off at the knee, leaving me….conflicted. My eyes are not quite ready for this silhouette, but I’ll admit that we’re getting closer. Maybe if the wash wasn’t so uniform? IDK.

featured: Frame Le Vintage Bermuda Short (size 25)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | sandals…  or try Bloomie’s for more colors

7. The Ones That Are So ‘Meh’ I Just…

There’s nothing to say about these shorts other than mwah mwah, mwah mwah mwah mwah. They’re fine.

featured: McGuire Denim High-Waist Annabelle Shorts(size 25)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

Oh look  — a back view.  <– pro writing tip: point out the obvious when you have nothing original to say

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | sandals…  or try Bloomie’s for more colors

8. Yet This Story Has A Happy(ish) Ending: The Pair I Actually Liked

There’s no doubt that long shorts are going to have their moment this summer. And the Frame shorts (the ones that look like hacked-off skinnies) are pretty darn close  But….I’m looking for a pair that is not only on-trend, but actually comfortable to wear AND suits my personal style. So. The closest pair? AG Nikki Shorts.

These shorts are a tiny bit more low-rise than I’d prefer, but they’re long enough to look intentional, without looking like jeans. I sized up two-ish sizes to a 26 (in AG legging jeans I’ve been taking a 24, but in their high-rise jeans I’ve been happier in a 25….) and I almost wished I had tried on a size 27. Sizing up in these shorts results in a slouchy, boyfriend jean vibe that isn’t a huge departure from what I normally wear in the summer. Which means….I can add these shorts into my existing summer wardrobe without needing to buy all new tops and shoes.

featured: AG The Nikki Shorts (size 26) – also at Bloomingdale’s

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts (also at Bloomie’s)| sandals…  or try Bloomie’s for more colors

That said, if I ever do want to rock that crop top & heels…the updated length of these shorts is just enough so I can go nuts:

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

top | shorts | heels

The Denim Shorts I’ll Actually Be Wearing This Summer

In addition to the AG Nikki shorts (above), my go-tos this summer will probably be these [BLANKNYC] Denim shorts (wearing size 25). They’re mid-rise and short….but not denim underwear. They were my favorites for everyday last year.

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

 

And, of course, my One Teaspoon Bandits (the shorts you guys nicknamed my ‘denim underwear’) at the beach. Wearing size 25.

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

If you’re looking for something slightly more affordable, my sister has had a ton of luck with AE’s Tomgirl Short. She also buys hers up a few sizes up for a slouchier, longer fit. These shorts are super-cute, but the bum never fits me quite as well as the more expensive AG shorts. (And I think the AG shorts are a little bit longer, too.)

It's jean shorts season. I'm trying ALL the brands (AGOLDE, Levi's, AG, Frame, AE...) to find the perfect pair of denim underwear...the answer's inside.

Shop Everything I Featured (or Even Just Mentioned) In This Article

Most of these shorts can be found at Shopbop or Revolve…but I also included links to Bloomingdale’s when possible. Why? Because most are actually 25% off at Bloomie’s right now! (Bloomingdale’s tends to have more sales in general.)

 

What shorts are you guys planning to rock this summer???

xo,

S

31 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the reviews, demin shorts are so hard for me. BUT double check that last pic of you in the crop top and heels-!

  2. I just tried on the AG Nikki shorts before reading this post and agree… they’re good! And I have bigger legs, too. I’m not a short short girl, but who knows… I’ve lost a few pounds and may try again. Thanks for this exhaustive research though!

  3. I’m sorry, but…$200 shorts? Who has money for that? Certainly not the average American mom. And you can make the denim Bermuda shorts look cute by wearing them with low top Converse or Keds.

  4. This post made me laugh so hard. I am not liking the bermuda jean shorts. You have to have skinny long legs for this. I’ve got 5’4″ runners legs, so I’m sticking to short shorts. Once I get spider veins, then …. maybe I’ll go bermuda. However, I think Scotti looked really good in her longish shorts. I may check out AE.

  5. I have a question re: sizing up. So many denim shorts I’ve tried in my actual size have that look of “skinny jean hacked off.” Like I might as well be wearing spandex biker shorts. But when you size up a few, doesn’t that mess up the fit at the waist and especially the, ahem, crotch (i hate that word, sorry). When i size up it makes that area all poochy….(perhaps at 45, I am also too old for this shit)

  6. Try Levi’s Indie shorts. My favorites. I wore the heck out of them last year (sized up two sizes). This year, I bought them in a size smaller (one size up) for a more fitted option. They are high rise, but very comfortable and non-stretch, but come already broken in to softness perfection.

  7. Thanks for the research! I live in South Florida and am not a shorts girl. The summers are brutal so I wear a lot of dresses! I just don’t think I have the legs for shorts and that spread when I sit down — yikes! ? But thanks to your inspo I’m going to give them a try in a longer length!

  8. Great, funny article, Shana. I agree… I just don’t think most of those shorts look good. The best were the mid-length ones you also liked, but personally, I also like shorter shorts. Thanks for the laugh this morning. 🙂

  9. I hate regular long mom jeans as well as the shorts, I keep saying who the hell thought this was a good style to bring back?? Mom jeans are just so unflattering on everyone, they give you a flat butt look even when you have a good butt! No thanks

  10. Thank you for the honest and informative edit. I purchased the AG Nikki last year and they are my favorites – great slouch, distressing, and SOO soft. They are worth the price per wear ratio. I have also been impressed by the quality and stretch in the Blank NYC denim shorts. I have also up cycled some of my well loved, but overly distressed jeans into shorts by cutting them myself. My favorites are an up cycled 7 For all Mankind Josephina jeans (boy jeans).

  11. Shorts in general, and denim shorts in particular, are ALL about body type, I think. A shorter woman with super-toned legs — like Shana — looks amazing in short shorts, even “denim underwear.” I’m 5’8″, with a long torso and long legs, so the ones that looks great on her just look like diapers on me. I need a higher rise and at least a 5-inch inseam (or a Bermuda) to look normal. I really love that TME has so many contributors with different shapes and different styles, to illustrate that we can all find our favorite pieces with a little bit of searching.

  12. I was disappointed for most of the article until you got to what you’re actually going to wear this summer, then I have to totally agree. You looked awesome in those short shorts and there’s no reason not to wear them. My opinion is wear whatever you personally like and feel comfortable in, don’t be a slave to fashion.

  13. I loved the linen elastic waist shorts trend from last summer for comfort and temperature, going to keep rocking that.

  14. Thank you! Thank You!! Thank you!! I just finished a horrible denim shorts quest. I was starting to question whether I was going through some latent body dysmorphic episode. Then I read your post and realized that- no. All the new denim shorts just really sucked. And for the record- I am 5’9, 130 lbs, so in theory, some of the new trends should be good for me, but they are definitely a no go. I will dig out my Blanc NYC shorts and cherish them even more this summer!!

  15. This is why I love this blog! I feel like you actually give real reviews – because let’s face it – life is full of fashion fails!

  16. I appreciate your try-on efforts!

    I don’t care if you’re 20 or 50. We’re all too smart and far too worthy to torture ourselves with uncomfortable, organ-crushing and unflattering denim (mom jeans, shorts, whatever)! I don’t have the legs for summer shorts…that shipped sailed a long time ago. But I’m honestly happiest in jeans and a Tshirt all summer long 🙂

  17. OMG! I loved this post and your humor to go along with it. You look great in everything – this is confirmation that the mom jean short trend should not be a thing. Thank you for telling us what you actually wear and love – and Scotti too.

  18. Umm, yeah. Pretty sure this trend is a hard pass for me. Although, I’m so glad you tried it because I cracked up reading this! The fact that you have the shorts the finger is my favorite thing ever! I would have flipped the bird at the $200 shorts that are just ok. For $200 those shorts need to make me look like J Lo, and drive my kids to baseball practice to be worth it! ? Thanks for doing the research!

  19. This is one of the many reasons I love this blog! Keeping it real. I find comfort in the fact that I am not alone with my frustration when it comes to finding for example shorts that look good & feel good. It’s like having a girlfriend to feel solidarity with (especially when one has moved far from home & has no gfs to speak of). Thank you for putting a smile on my face and further emphasizing that it’s the clothes & not my figure that makes some things look laugh inducing. Love from Sweden!

  20. The last time I tried bermudas it became clear that my proportions are such that a pair of shorts that hit right above my knee cut my leg exactly in half and somehow also make my knees look broader than they are? It’s some dark sorcery.

    Also glad to see recommendations for NOT high-rise–it generally isn’t for me (I have no waist; putting a rectangle in a high rise just makes you a rectangle with a fupa), but it REALLY doesn’t work for shorts. I like to be as close to naked as possible in NYC summers. Loving the Blank NYC option because while I like them shorter than bermudas, the denim underwear just let my thighs rub together too much and life’s too short for chafing.

  21. This author lives a life that I will never understand or relate to. Those are some crazy prices for clothing, and WAY too much thinking about how they look.
    I’m going to enjoy wearing long shorts this summer, for the coverage.

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