Last year during my epic jean shorts try-on the clear winners were a pair under $60.
Not the designer denim. Not the $150+ pair. A budget-friendly pair well under $100.
I was determined to repeat this experiment in 2022, except this time, all denim shorts are under $100 and most pairs are under $75. I tried high-rise, distressed and even some mid/low-rise to find my summer shorts for when the temps warm up.
High-Rise, Mom Shorts, Distressed & More: 10 Jean Shorts Under $100
(Spoiler) Out of my entire try-on, I especially loved these High Rise Dad Shorts from Abercrombie & Fitch. The rise and inseam are perfect for me (Note: I am 5’7, broad-shouldered, short-waisted with long legs. I typically wear a 30). But these weren’t the only pair I liked. So, come with me on my journey through 10 pairs of jean shorts and see the amazing, the meh, and the diaper shorts.
1| Abercrombie & Fitch High Rise Dad Shorts
Y’all know how much I adore my Abercrombie & Fitch Dad Jeans so, it stands to reason I would like the shorts version. ‘Like’ is an understatement…I am in LURVE. The rise is perfect, the distressing is just enough and the length is 4 inches, which tends to be my sweet spot for shorts.
Details: Almost 12″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 99% Cotton, 1% Elastane.
Fit Notes: The shorts run big, I’m wearing a 28, which is two sizes down from my usual 30. The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
2| Gap Low Stride Cutoffs With Washwell
I was shocked that I actually liked the Low Stride Jean Shorts from The Gap…but maybe that’s because they are sort of “faux low-rise”? The rise wasn’t available on the website and no matter how many times I did my own measurements I kept getting 10.5′” which is certainly more of a mid-rise (they sit below my belly button). WHAT WITCHCRAFT IS THIS?! All I know is I like them, they are a different, slouchier cut than I typically wear, but they feel fun and fresh for summer. If you’re looking for a lower-rise, but not the “Paris Hilton low-rise denim of the early 00s” these are a good bet.
Details: 10.5″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 100% cotton.
Fit Notes: These shorts run big. I’m wearing a 29, but probably could go down to a 28 depending on how fitted I want them to be. The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
3| Lee All Purpose Denim Shorts
I was most excited to try these All Purpose Denim Shorts by Lee. They are giving total Licorice Pizza vibes and I am HERE for it. The rise is MUCH higher than I typically go, but I think the composition (there’s a lot of cotton and elastic in them) makes them wearable. Lee’s All Purpose Denim Shorts are a fun alternative to the lower rise, distressed denim shorts we’ll see a lot of this summer.
Details: 13″ rise. 3″ inseam. Composition: 80% cotton, 10% polyester, 8% elastomultiester, 2% elastane.
Fit Notes: The shorts fit TTS, I’m wearing a 30. The tee shirt runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
4| Abercrombie & Fitch High Rise Mom Shorts
I was curious to see how Abercrombie’s High-Rise Mom Shorts would stack up against their High-Rise Dad Shorts and honestly, while the mom shorts are perfectly lovely, I do prefer the fit of the dad shorts on me. The rise is slightly lower on this pair versus the dad shorts I mentioned at the top of this post, so maybe that’s what I prefer? I don’t know. If you love A&F’s mom jeans, you’ll probably dig these as well. They’re great shorts, but I’m sticking to the dad style.
Details: 11.5″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 99% Cotton, 1% Elastane.
Fit Notes: The shorts run big, size down; I’m wearing a 29. The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
5| Gap High Rise Denim Cutoffs With Washwell
If you’re looking for a classic high-rise pair of shorts, these Gap High-Rise 4 Inch Mom Shorts are the bees knees (I’ve been watching too much Gilded Age.) A major bonus is Gap offers Tall, Regular and Petite sizes. The regular length works for me (again, I’m 5’7).
Details: 11″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 99% Cotton, 1% Spandex.
Fit Notes: For a slouchier fit, go TTS. For more fitted shorts, size down one (I went with my normal size, 30). The tee runs big, size down. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
6| Free People Loving Good Vibes Cutoffs (aka Denim Underwear)
Maybe I’ve been palling around with Shana too long, but I finally tried a pair of diaper…erm…short shorts. Specifically, Free People’s Good Vibes Denim Shorts. Do I think my legs look fab in these? Yes. Would I spend a majority of my time walking around pulling these out of my crotch and never daring to sit down? You bet. I’m having a hard time returning them though because despite being (gulp) two inches long I don’t completely hate them. Maybe I could wear them with a swimsuit on the beach or a kid-less day out.
Details: 11″ rise. 2″ inseam. Composition: 100% cotton.
Fit Notes: The shorts feel a little big, but I’m afraid to go smaller (I’m wearing a 29, which is already sizing down for me). The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals run TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
7| Treasure & Bond High Waist Boyfriend Cutoff Denim Shorts
Let’s start off with what I like about these Treasure & Bond High-Waist Boyfriend Cutoff Denim Shorts. I really dig the slightly longer length in the back and how they look from the side. I don’t love the overall fit though on me. The crotch is pretty baggy and I don’t like the darker wash along the belt loops. Close but no cigar.
Details: 11″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 99% cotton, 1% Lycra® spandex.
Fit Notes: The shorts run big, size down (I’m wearing a 29 and they’re still a little big). The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
8| Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts in Lemar Wash: Ripped Edition
100% honesty: Madewell sizing has been incredibly inconsistent for me recently (and I am typically a huge fan of their denim). I love the wash and distressing on these Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts. The problem? Despite sizing down they are too dang big! I like the length, but the front is incredibly saggy. There’s relaxed and then there’s…relaxed.
Details: 10 3/4″ rise. 3″ inseam. Composition: 100% cotton non-stretch denim.
Fit Notes: The shorts run big, I sized down to a 29, but probably need a 28 or 27. Size down 2-3 sizes. The tee shirt runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
9| KUT from the Kloth Gidget Denim Shorts
I recently did a review and try-on of KUT From The Kloth jeans, so I figured I’d try out a pair of shorts. If you’re searching for an affordable, mid-rise pair of shorts, the Gidget Denim Shorts are a solid bet. They’re also a nice departure from the super-distressed denim we’ve seen recently from jean shorts. Heads-up that the wash I’m wearing here has since sold out, but I do love the dark wash just as much (if not more).
Dark Wash Shorts | Tee | Sandals
Details: 9″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 99% cotton, 1% spandex.
Fit Notes: I tend to be an 8 in KUT From the Kloth instead of a 10, so these fit TTS. The shirt runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
10| Topshop A-Line Mom Shorts
These A-Line Mom Shorts by Topshop are a great option for someone…that someone is not me. If I had more of an hourglass shape I think these would be killer. Smaller waist, wider thighs, these would look great. I’m a little too straight up and down for the shorts. They’re definitely too big, but I’m not sure sizing down would resolve the issues. They’re just not right for my body.
Details: 12.5″ rise. 4″ inseam. Composition: 80% cotton, 20% recycled cotton.
Fit Notes: The shorts run big, I’m wearing a 30 but would size down in the future to a 29. The tee runs big, I’m wearing a medium. The sandals are TTS, I’m wearing an 8.
The biggest surprise from this try-on? I’m not totally averse to mid/low-rise (ish) shorts. But, I still love my high-rise bottoms and Abercrombie & Fitch’s Dad Jean Shorts certainly reigned supreme for me, although I’m still thinking about those Lee shorts and the diaper cutoffs (le sigh).
Moral to this story? Designer denim is nice, but there are plenty of excellent options for the under $100 budget.
Oh hey Pinners, this one’s for you!