I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect pair of not-too-short shorts. The pair I can wear while picking up my kids from school, the pair I can sit down in cross-legged without fear, the pair that won’t leave the back of my thighs exposed, thus imprinting every pattern of seat top into them.
But it’s tricky! Right now, shorts are ping-ponging between two extremes: denim underwear and mom shorts.
Long time readers know I love my denim underwear, but it’s not something I reach for everyday. Yet the Mom Shorts….there’s nothing wrong with them, per se, but I’m not quite ready to go there.
So now that mom jeans are cool, are mom shorts the new mom jean? It certainly looks that way. Have you seen The Mom Shorts video, done to the tune of an old New Kids on the Block song??? And I quote: “they go great with a little tankini down by the pool.” OMG DYING. The Holderness Family rocks my world.
In addition to pockets (the need is pointed out in the video, haha) I’d like something with a little bit of an edge. Something cool or tomboyish – not overly preppy. It’s really hard to balance out a pair of preppy shorts in general, and trying to offset the khaki, mid-length mom short is a bigger challenge than I’m up for.
So. Below are a ton of denim short options – most of which meet my criteria. I tried on almost every length, ranging knee-length to juuuust below denim underwear, at price points from $30 – $200.
The Shortest Pairs
Not denim underwear territory, but still above mid-thigh. Here are the ones I tried…
**The Best: DL1961 Shorts**
If you follow me on Instagram, (@shanachristine), you know that these DL1961 shorts are my favs of the bunch. A perfect rise, super soft, they’re short enough to be sexy, but long enough to sit cross-legged on the playground. And? The distressing is spot-on. (More sizes available at Revolve or Zappos.)
*RUNNER UP: Joe’s Jeans Rolled Shorts*
The rolled-hem shorts by Joe’s Jeans are insanely soft. Cuff ’em, keep ’em long – both work. I was actually kinda shocked by how much I liked these super-soft shorts. I don’t typically go for plain, dark blue….but the higher rise feels a little more modern, and I loved the roll. Size down, though – I’m waring a size 24 for reference.
AE Midi Shorts
AE’s midi shorts have, in general, decent washes and cool distressing. My issue, I think, is that my bum looks like it’s circa 2003 when we were squeezing ourselves into low-rise jeans and everything just squashed out. For the record, I’m wearing a size 2, and may have been happier with a 4?
On the upside, they’re cheap, and the wash mimics designer denim. Worth a try?
These O’Neill Beach Cruiser shorts are super cute, but have a major case of Juniors sizing. SIZE THE EFF UP. Then, conceivably, they’d be cute. These are slim through the leg – no belling out over the thigh (but probs best on skinny thighs). NOTE: The shorts I tried on are almost sold out, but try these – same brand, similar cut.
Madewell High-Rise Shorts
These Madewell high-risers remind me of a vintage pair of Calvin Kleins that I inherited from my mom. Like the vintage pair, they have a really high rise which can be sexy or matronly, depending on your perspective. Personally, I’m ‘meh’. I like the vintage pair better. Also, one must decide if high-rise shorts on a hot day are *really* what you will be reaching for. (I’m wearing a size 24 – they run a size big.)
The Mid-Length (or Boyfriend) Shorts
**BEST BET: Rag and Bone Boyfriend Shorts**
These Rag and Bone Boyfriend shorts are my long-time favs. I bought a majorly distressed pair last summer, and wore the heck out of them. They look good with flats, heels, etc. Even the bum isn’t bad – which tends to be the Achilles heels of both boyfriend jeans AND boyfriend shorts. So. If you can swing the price, these might be the only shorts you need this summer. But size down – these shorts run really, really big (I’m in a 24 for reference).
Shopbop carries a slightly more distressed wash if anyone is interested.
*Runner UP: Treasure and Bond Cuffed Boyfriend Shorts*
The surprise of the bunch was these Treasure & Bond Cuffed Boyfriend Shorts. They’re soft, comfy, have a good wash, and a decent rear-view. These a really solid choice for a longer, slouchier short. Go with your typical size – I’m wearing a size 25 for reference.
*HONORABLE MENTION: AE Tomgirl Shorts*
AE makes their version of the boyfriend short, The Tomgirl Short, in a ton of different washes AND fabrics. Their distressing and wash look much more expensive (think almost as good as Rag and Bone), but the fit is not nearly as good. Worse, depending on the wash you choose (and the amount of stretch in the fabric), the fit changes drastically. Still. If you can figure out your size, these are really great shorts.
It seems that if the shorts are made out of 100% cotton, they run large. Below, I’m wearing a size 00 (although a 0 would’ve been more comfortable).
In these shorts, I needed a size 2 – I think they run more true to size.
One Teaspoon Chargers
One Teaspoon, reigning champ of the denim underwear, actually makes a longer short! But true to form, they retain they’re denim-underwear vibe, and the result is more like….a denim diaper?
But here’s the thing: I freaking love them. They are not the sexiest shorts I have, in fact they might be slightly man-repelling, and they are stiffer than I like my shorts to be, so they’re kind of awkward….but in a good way.
I suspect most of you will be rolling your eyes. That’s fine. I know there’s someone out there all YES, S, I GET IT. The wash I’m wearing is long gone, but I kinda love this one at Revolve or this one (no distressing but cool wash) at Amazon.
Paige Jimmy Jimmy Boyfriend Shorts
I had high hopes for these Paige Jimmy Jimmy Boyfriend shorts. And they are great shorts. The reason they weren’t my favorites is because they are too….middle-of-the-road in every category. They’re shorter than most boyfriend shorts, but longer than typical cut-offs. The rise is fine, and they’re nice and soft, but the wash is neither distressed nor plain.
In short (haha), they are completely forgettable (admittedly, this might also make them very versatile).
**BEST BET: AG Nikki Shorts**
Gang, there’s something that feels really fresh and modern about AG’s Nikki shorts. They’re a slim, knee-length short that comes in differing amounts of distressing. I’m totally hooked. Below I’m wearing the AG Nikki in SunBleached Destroyed, but the less-distressed (but still SO good) is this one. All of the function of mom shorts, but with a completely different vibe.
Annoyingly, these shorts are almost completely sold out, but they’re the most similar to skinny jeans. I wonder if you could just hack and old pair off at the knee? Here are a few other similar pairs (the dark one by Hudson has a cool, Tomboy vibe).
Anyway, more on these shape later, you guys. I’ve been messing around with styling them – a little tricky, but I’ll throw some stuff up on Insta (@shanachristine).
Which denim shorts are your favorites? Any that I missed? Help a mama out, and feel free to leave links in the comments!