The last time I purchased a pair of denim shorts was right after I got married (going on 10 years, whoop!). I was living in a valley town in Northern California that ranks as one of the sunniest cities in the United States, with temps averaging in the 90s in the summer. Shorts were a must, and the pair I wore constantly were a shorty shorts, bum-cheek-bearing pair made from vintage Levi’s. In good vintage fashion, they were a high rise, which at the time was pretty outrageous — and a big part of why I loved them.
A Few More Inches, Please: Long Denim Shorts Tried By A Tall Mom
While I broke that near decade-long stretch without buying denim shorts earlier this year (with this pair), I am now searching for shorts that aren’t so… well, uhm, short. I’ve been spying long denim shorts as they pop up all over social media, but more than being trendy, they just seem so dang practical, too.
Gone are the days I get a thrill from flashing my bum cheeks to the world when I’m wearing everyday clothes. I want shorts that don’t make me look or feel naked…especially when I sit down (which is common with long legs + shorts). I want denim that doesn’t feel suffocating (but not baggy, and can be rocked with cropped tops) — but can be seen underneath oversized tops, too.
With this wishlist in mind, I set out to find a great pair of long denim shorts, doing my best to avoid the real-deal bermuda styles that touch your knees, yet still able to provide a great length on my 5’9” legs. I tried on some epic pairs, including Levi’s 501 Mid Thighs, AGOLDE Parker Longs and 90s Pinch Waist, Gap Boyfriend Shorts, and the Free People Sequoia Short. Let’s go!
Same Vintage Look, More Room To Play: AGOLDE Parker Long Shorts
Many of us know and love the AGOLDE Parker Shorts; they are a hot pair that sells fast. When it comes to those perfect classic cutoff shorts, the Parker are it, and fit far better than any denim shorts you’ll pull off a rack. While the original pair gets my husband’s vote as his favorite pair to see me rock, I am partial to this Parker Long, which has almost three inches of extra length. It’s still the same vintage loose style as the original Parker, just more room to run and play with!
Note: some retailers such as Nordstrom don’t differentiate between the two lengths in the product name, you have to double-check the fit notes for the inseam or get sharp at noticing the way they look in photos.
Fit Notes: I ordered my usual size 28 and they are perfect!
A Pleasant Surprise: AGOLDE ’90s Pinch Waist Shorts
Since AGOLDE hit a home run with the Parker short, I really wanted to try another long style of theirs. I tried on their Dee Super High Rise that has an inseam landing in between the Parker and Parker Long, but my normal size was far too small, and it left me realizing I wasn’t actually wanting a super high-rise when wearing denim shorts. I returned them and tried these: the 90s Pinch Waist. These are the longest pair of my try-on, and I thought they would be a bit silly… but, naturally, I fell in love with the most outrageous pair. The ’90s style feels very on-trend, and the extra length was surprisingly just really dang comfortable.
Fit Notes: I went up to a size 29 after I could barely button the Dee pair and both were listed as “true to size”, but I think in doing so I lost that “pinch waist” effect they are supposed to have, and they’re a bit relaxed instead (in hindsight I realize the fit problems were because the Dee is a “super” high-rise which usually requires more room). Regardless, the AGOLDE 90s Pinch Waist are really comfortable and don’t feel too big. Size up for a relaxed feel (or try your normal size for that true pinched waist vibe.)
A Bit Rigid: Levi’s 501 Mid Thigh Shorts
I just tried my first pair of Levi’s 501 Original Cropped jeans, although the Wedgie Fit (inspired by vintage 501 fits) is a longtime favorite in my closet. When shopping for the 501s, I discovered these Mid Thigh shorts and thought they might be perfect! Turns out they’re good — not great. They were the most stiff of any I tried on, and thick. I was surprised to find that I didn’t love them as much since I prefer really rigid denim in my jeans. But I guess when it comes to shorts, I’m looking for a bit more flexibility and comfort. Levi’s are always a great price point, and these come in under $100.
Fit Notes: My trusty Levi’s that I have owned for years (size 28) felt too tight since having a baby, so I decided to size up to a 29. Unfortunately, they had too much room, and there was extra fabric that appeared to bulge around my lower abdomen when I moved – not exactly the look I’m going for. I think I might be stuck in between sizes with Levi’s, and since I don’t feel like breaking in a pair of shorts for the quick summers my town has, I didn’t find these to be a win for me personally.
The Really Good Pair: Free People Sequoia Short
These shorts are really good. They’re soft, have the perfect amount of distressing, and the perfect mixture of being loose but not baggy. I just discovered that Free People has a CRVY Collection of denim, which factors in the problem of gaping at the waist that those with curves often encounter. These shorts also have a pair for that collection, so if you’re someone who has trouble finding their bum and waist both fitting well in a pair of denim, check out the CRVY Sequoia Shorts! Bonus, this short comes in under $100.
Fit Notes: True to size, wearing my usual 28 and they’re superb.
The Budget-Friendly Pair: Gap Mid-Rise Boyfriend Shorts
If the Levi’s 501 Mid Thigh Shorts and Free People Sequoia Short had a baby, these Gap Boyfriend Shorts would be born. They are soft and flexible like the Sequoia, but they look like a straight up dupe of the Levi 501’s. The leg is a loose fit like all the rest I tried on, and that’s to be expected since they’re actually called a boyfriend style. This pair comes in as the most budget-friendly of the roundup, but you can tell there’s definitely a difference in quality, and these just don’t fit as tailored as the other more expensive pairs. Still totally cute, and have the added bonus of coming in both petite and tall sizes!
Fit: Ordered a 28 but they felt a bit loose in the waist. The relaxed fit is great, though I can’t speak for how they would wear and if they would bag out over time, etc.
Shop Long Denim Shorts
There are so many good qualities in a lot of these pairs of denim shorts — my personal favorite? The ’90s Pinch Waist. What I would recommend to everyone? The Parker Long Shorts, hands down. But if you’re hoping to keep your new fav pair of shorts under $100, I would definitely go with the Sequoia Shorts — they were just so comfortable and cute.
Psst – here’s the crop tee I’m wearing in photos; it’s light + feels perfectly worn in, is the perfect length for high rise bottoms, and under $30!
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