I am sometimes not a person who is good with details, research and data or else I would have taken stock of exactly how many pairs of running-style shorts I tried on in my search. Needless to say, it was a lot. If I had to guess…I ordered and tried at least 20 pairs of shorts — most of which I returned.
Zella, Lululemon, Vuori, Nike, Adidas, Amazon brands, Old Navy, Gap, Athleta…I tried all these on. Spoiler alert: if you wanna get right to it? These and these are my favs. If you want ALL the details, keep reading, my friends!
My Epic Search For Athletic Shorts For Thicker Thighs & Shorter Torsos
As someone who has a strong booty and thighs, but a shorter lower torso (yes, it’s gotten quite specific in this search) I have always had the hardest time finding elastic waist pants and shorts that fit well. I always always have to turn the waistband down at the top or I get this balloony fabric at my lower belly that no one wants sport. Anyone else? I don’t think I’m alone here in this effort, according to the hundreds of DM’s (and suggestions!) I got on IG during this search (you can see Highlights on my IG here).
1. My Top 2 Comfy Athletic Shorts Picks
*Fit details: I’m 5’4″ size 28 jeans, 43 years old and a shorter torso, I’ve found out, below the belly button more-so. I have a straighter middle and an overall athletic frame. I do a lot of barre3, a bit of dancing, and also enjoy food as a true hobby. All of this adds up to one picky designer person who refuses to wear ugly shorts, wants something comfy for days too-hot-for-cut-offs and just wants to enjoy the same running short luxuries that people with differing body shapes enjoy. Kthx.
So, let’s get into it. I set out to find a comfy pair of, I guess, running shorts (but I don’t run so don’t get too excited there) to just wear when it’s hot…around the house, in the backyard, to the river/pool, etc., I am not including all of them here because that might take years to document, but I’ll include the most successful (and most unsuccessful) pairs in case you have had the same issue!
A. Top Pick: Carrie Underwood’s Calia Hit Your Stride
I’m just gonna get right to my favorites. The Calia Hit Your Stride shorts (wearing a Medium, also a 3.5″ inseam) from Carrie Underwood’s brand were made for me. Yay! I feel like getting right to my fav pick takes all the build-up and drama out of my epic try-on, but you really just want to know what I liked best anyway, I’m sure! Haha no one else needs to wade through the nuances of soft shorts I dove into, but trust me, if you have the same fit issues as I do, give these a go.
I also tried the Calia Petal Hem shorts and didn’t love those as much. If you are taller or are looking for longer shorts, those may be worth a try!
The Calia Hit Your Stride have a nice wide, comfy waist band and lightweight fabric, are longer in the crotch–slightly shorter on the sides for a flattering look, wider at the thighs for comfort and don’t have extra fabric in the rise. Perhaps me and Carrie are the same. Regardless, thank you for taking the wheel on this one, C.
B. The Other Pair I Kept: Old Navy 3.5″ Dolphin Hem Shorts
Second up…to my surprise, are the Old Navy 3.5″ Dolphin Hem shorts (in Medium) They are super lightweight and soft, not too long or dowdy, not too tight and so insanely comfy. They aren’t AS perfect as the Calia (a tiny bit of puckering above the butt) but darn close, flattering and even more reasonably-priced. I adore how they look overall for such a comfortable inexpensive option.
2. The Athletic Shorts For Thicker Thighs We’ll Call Almost —But Not Quite
A. Athleta Mesh Racer Run 4″ Short
This Athleta Racer Run is a really popular pair of shorts and it was so close for me. I adore Athleta’s quality and style, and I hoped they would work…but there was some bubbling on the butt and for this price that was a no-go. Perhaps if you have less of a booty but still need some great shorts to fit on stronger thighs…these could be a good choice for you. Wearing a medium here.
**I know some of these dark colors are hard to see, but I was already overwhelmed with trying to find the pair I actually wanted to wear to order lighter shades for photography purposes heh. Tried to lighten the photos a bunch so you could see a bit more detail.
B. Nike Dry-Fit Tempo Running Shorts
These Nike Dry-Fit Tempo are super, super cute and the style I was actually really looking for. These were just too long in the rise adding that extra fabric around my midsection. I forgot to try these folded over, but I was on a mission to find some I didn’t have to roll the waistband down on! Wearing a medium. These are part of the Nordstrom Sale, too!
C. Zella Aero Shorts
Super lightweight and almost right…but the Zella Aero were tight on the booty and rode up when I walked. These are definitely mid to low rise, just FYI. Perhaps going up to a large would have worked, but they were so close to fitting I think that might have been too much.
D. Lululemon Speed Up High-Rise Shorts
So, these Lululemon Speed Up shorts were also close. I just didn’t love the leg length or butt view on me. I tried to order the Mid-Rise version but they were out of the darker colors in my size. Wearing an 8 above and have learned I have to go up at least one or two sizes in any Lulu bottoms. And Lululemon’s price point is just too high for a close-but-not-perfect fit. So back they went.
E. Zella Taylor Getaway
So I know it’s hard to see a huge difference here, but this was again the typical problem I have with not only shorts, but also with pants with elastic waistbands, too. The rise of the Zella Getaway shorts is too long and doesn’t fit my torso length, so I have to fold the waistband down. Then the tag sometimes shows. UGH. SO many pairs of comfy pull-on pants are the same for me. These are super lightweight and comfy though, like the other Zella pair. Also wearing a medium here, but just didn’t work.
3. The Shorts That Did Not Work At All
A. Vuori Clementine Shorts
This Vuori Clementine Short is the pair that started the epic search. When I want comfy athletic shorts, I do not want them to look like swim bottoms. These are the softest most amazing fabric, the same as the Performance Joggers I adore, but nope. These did not work. Perhaps a size large might have? But I got frustrated and didn’t try.
B. Target All In Motion
Target brands are a little confusing simply because Target offers so many styles and in different colors and it’s tough to match up online with in-store. But, I’m pretty sure these are the All In Motion shorts I tried, and they just look really dowdy on me and the booty wasn’t flattering. The color is kinda fun, but I did not feel good in them. Wearing a medium.
C. Gap Fit 3″ Running Shorts
Remember those Soffe shorts we used to wear in Jr high and high school? Omg we lived in those on the dance team with oversized tees tucked into the front of them and wow…the mean ’90s where de-pantsing was considered funny. Stress. They don’t do that anymore right? Lordy. Heh. ANYHOO…these Gap Fit Running Shorts feel just like those shorts, but in a cool snake print. BUT. These are bubbly in front and just didn’t cut it. They also had some bubbly effect above the butt that was similar to the Athleta pair and honestly a bit on the Old Navy pair (but those are cheaper and softer so it didn’t bother me) There must be something with the Gap brands and my butt. Haha. Wearing a medium here, too.
Shop All The Athletic Shorts I Tried On
If you have gone through a similar try-on search, whew, I sympathize. This was epic. But I hope all these pics and info give you some assistance if you are looking for a similar pair of shorts for running or otherwise.
Major shoutout to all my lovely peeps on Instagram for all the wonderful recommendations. Thank you for sticking with me and offering up some fab finds for me to try! If you’d like to join the fun there, I’ll be updating the highlights on this subject over there as I wear my two favorite pairs more regularly. Hope this was helpful if you have had the same issue!
Now…on to comfy elastic waist pants? Heh. Ok, maybe after a little break…
Would love to have you follow me over on Instagram @laurajansenstyle for more rad fashion picks, kitchen dance parties, donut reviews and a side of taking things not too seriously, all from Portland, OR.