Trend Worth Trying: Acid Washed Shorts


When I first picked up these shorts in the store, it was half in jest. “When I was a kid, I had shorts just like these!” I told Lana. I was about to put them back when she said, “you should get them, Mom!” Adorable as it was, I still wasn’t quite sold, but we took them into the fitting room nonetheless.

Not gonna lie: I was a little apprehensive about rocking acid wash again. The last acid-washed item I owned (complete with zippers and bows at the ankles) was definitely purchased at Mervyn’s (do you remember!? I was so very obsessed) and accessorized with a side ponytail and T-shirt gathered up with a scrunchie. Literally DECADES ago. Ugh. Who knew a dressing room could double as a time machine.

Once I got them on, though, you guys — they’re so good. They’re stretchy but they don’t look it. Super random attribute, I know, but for some reason that’s important to me when choosing denim. The rise is great — reasonably high so that you can rock a somewhat cropped top, like this knotted tank, and not worry about showing too much belly. The vertical seams on the pockets are flattering, the rolled hem gives a cut-off feel without being an actual cut-off. The acid wash definitely sends out loads of summer vibes. And best of all? They’re $17 at full-price. As if I needed another reason to love Target.

We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too.We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too. We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too. We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too. We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too.

Acid-Wash Jean Shorts: The Fit

I’m just over 5’5″ and typically take a 0-XS in fitted bottoms or a S in looser, more casual pieces (think linen pants or the Voloshin x TME bottoms). I went with the XS in these since they offer a fair amount of stretch, and they’re what I consider to be the perfect length. Plenty short enough to show a little summer leg, but because the opening is a little more fitted, they’re not too cheeky. 

Outfit Details

Acid Wash Jean Shorts — The first pair of new shorts I bought this summer, and I’ve been wearing them every single sunny day since. Stretchy without being snug. Wearing an XS. 

Tank Top — I’m wearing it knotted here, but it’s flattering un-tied and even tucked. Thinking of getting the peach color, as well, for pairing with dark denim. Wearing an XS.

Bralette — I wear this almost more than any other bra/bralette I own, especially in the summer. It’s my go-to for tanks with larger armholes, off the shoulder sweaters, pretty much any weirdly-strapped tank situation where I don’t want to bust out a strapless bra — oh, and for my Voloshin x TME Morgan Flyaway Top, which just arrived in the mail todayyyyy!

Adidas — My favorite Stan Smiths. Looking forward to adding another pair of classic Adidas to my closet later this summer (can’t resist S’s shelltoes whenever I see them!). Wearing a kiddos size 6 (typically about $10 less if you wear up to a W9 — I wear a W8).

Sunglasses (Similar) — My exact Sunskis are sold out all over the web, but I love the look of these Illesteva sunnies if you’re willing to drop a bit more cash for a luxe brand. (They’re even a bit less sporty and, dare I say, more stylish.) These Le Specs don’t have the mirrored lenses, but they offer classic style, indestructibility + polarization at a great price, too.

Daypack — You know from my last style post that this is our go-to daypack for summer. It’s playful, durable and right-sized for daily adventures. Plenty of room for all the essentials (and then some), and if you outfit it with this almost custom-fit insert, it’s an organizer’s dream. 

Shop This Outfit

Shop More Acid-Wash Jean Shorts

Of course, now that I’ve accidentally stumbled across acid wash shorts (and,OK, fallen a bit in love), I have to know what else is out there. Turns out: lots. (I even found two super-unique dresses I couldn’t help but add.) Here are some of my faves:

We're taking on another '90s throwback trend: acid-wash jean shorts. Cool Ranch Doritos, knotted tees & scrunchies — here we go! Affordable, too.

My Husband’s Go-To Pants

Since he makes an appearance in these photos, it’s worth disclosing: every pair of casual pants in Chris’ closet is Levi’s 511. Literally, like, 12 pairs or something — both denim and stretch twill. After years of rocking questionably trendy designer denim, he’s returned to the classics for good. They’re slim fit — not skinny — and the perfect length for his favorite flip flops, Chelsea boots (these Nisolo boots were part of his father’s day gift, and they’re so versatile, comfortable and well-made!) — and, of course, Vans (they’ve revamped these Old Skools with a cloud-like interior and he’s been wearing them nonstop). These olive — or, Lodge Green, as they’re called — 511 Hybrid Trousers are lightweight with a bit of stretch for comfort. (On sale on Amazon here! Or Click through here for additional colors.) He wears them to both the office and on the weekends. For summer, I especially love the preppy-retro look of a rolled hem. 

Shop Chris’ Outfit (& More Men’s Levi’s 511 Styles)

So tell me, friends. Acid wash — are you feeling it? Too trendy? Too…nostalgic? Or just right? What if I told you I was eating a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos while I wrote this post, just because it felt right….? 😉

Hope everyone had a great Fourth!

Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!


  1. Mervyns! Yes!!! Redwood City Mervyns (now Kohl’s, interestingly enough). I’m not sure I can get behind the acid wash, but I do love reminiscing and you and your family look fabulous. I love your daughter’s dress (I have a son, so no girl’s dresses here, but you guys rock!)

    • Thanks for the kind words! And I have so been to both that Mervyn’s and (now) that Kohls, which is admittedly basically exactly the same as Mervyn’s (but without the cult following I seem to recall…? Maybe I should check their acid wash selection…)

    • Haha, to each her own! It felt like a risk, for sure, but once they were on they just seemed…doable? Anyhoo…*rocking on* 🙂

  2. Mervyns! Completely forgot about that childhood staple. I love the shorts on you. And totally not opposed to the idea of bringing back acid wash. But more intrigued by the 511 hybrid trousers and how to get my thicker- thighed hubby into those cute pants 🙂 It’s so hard to convince him that slim anything is the way to go now. HELP!

    • Ok, so admittedly Chris is on the lean side, but he rides bikes (like, a lot) and has a fair amount of muscle in those quads. He is vehemently against true skinny jeans, but the slim fit of these walks the line perfectly. They’re seriously the perfect dude pant and can be styled so many ways!

  3. Oof. I think I just found my hard line in the fashion sand! You look adorable but this is a definitive no. I, too, love your daughter’s dress!

    • Bwahaha, hey, you win some, you lose some. 😀 And thank you — Lana’s dress is from Old Navy a few seasons ago, and it’s easily her favorite. Always keeping my eye out in case they bring back something similar! (If I spot it, I’ll make sure I share!)

  4. When I was very young I can recall my mom and dad going out to a Bon Jovi concert one night as a special treat. It was a really big deal and I thought my mother looked so glamorous in her outfit for the big event. Teased hair, bright red lips, huge red hoop earrings and bangles, all to complement an acid wash pencil skirt, an acid wash button down shirt (tied at the waist!), and even acid wash stilettos with a metal heel. Still to this day no one has ever looked as badass and glam as my mother did to me that night. Her confidence was sky high and even as I child I knew the whole combination was special. Everyone should feel that way when they get dressed! Anyways, all of that is to say that acid wash will always be a good idea in my book, trend or not, ha!

    I love the shorts (and tank!) on you so much that I’m going to try them too! Thanks for sharing, your family is beautiful!

    • Awh thanks, Aeriel — hope you love them! And I am IN LOVE with your momma! What a freaking style icon. (Pretty sure I would pay money to see even a picture of those stilettos!) And the kiddo concert memories are so funny, aren’t they? One of my first memories is of my parents and their best friends going to a Neil Diamond concert (no acid wash for that one) while I stayed home and ate Rice-A-Roni with the babysitter. Actually, I still kinda like Rice-A-Roni… 🙂

  5. I really like the shape of these shorts, and I don’t mind the black acid wash, but the blue or other colors are just too much like a 80s costume.

    • I love the black, too! So tempted to make those my next pair. But (obviously) I’m loving the blue and wearing them much nonstop. (That said, I’ve never been one to turn down the opportunity to bust out a costume, so why stop at daily life?)

  6. Emily, I wanted to say thank you so much for finding these shorts! My size was backordered (The Mom Edit effect?), so I just got them in yesterday and looooove them. I’m 18 weeks pregnant with my second, and by going up a size, these are stretchy enough to fit over my bump and will surely work even longer with the hair tie trick (not to mention next summer). I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think maternity denim washes tend to be a little stale, so this acid wash is like a breath of fresh air! I’m loving them with olive green tops. Thanks again for the recommendation!

    • Ahhhh, I love hearing this! So glad you were able to snag your size and that they’re helping style the bump! I’ve been a little obsessed with olive green tops, too. So cute!

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