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The Best Shorts for Older Women

A hot topic in the summer is “should older women wear shorts” or “what shorts are appropriate for older women?” and there are lots of requests for outfits and “shorts for older ladies.” What are the best shorts for older women?

If you don’t wear shorts, don’t like them and just aren’t comfortable in them, that’s okay and this post isn’t for you. You do and wear what you look and feel good in.


 if you have ever said “I’d wear shorts if…” or you want to be more comfortable in the summer heat by wearing shorts, keep reading.

Shorts can be a summer staple for many women.

We are going to take a look at the best shorts for older women today but let me first say,


When I get requests for styling “shorts for older women,” I ask myself “What is that?”

“What are shorts for older women?” Don’t some of the same shorts that fit a 20 year old fit a 50 or 60 year old? What’s the difference? Shorts are shorts.

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First, we all have our own opinions about what is “old” or “older.” Some think over 40 is older until someone in their 40s passes away and then we are quick to say,” oh they were so young.” Even 50s is young for passing away, so why do we make it “older” for everything else?

Then there is the issue that everyone has a preconceived notion about what is appropriate for women of a certain age. When you ask for “shorts for older women” do you mean knee length shorts? What defines “shorts for older women”?

Why do we even have these preconceived notions?

Read a few articles and posts on shorts or shorts for older women and you will quickly see in the comments that opinions are all over the place and some are dead set against a woman over 40 or over 50 wearing shorts at all or shorts shorter than knee length.

Why? Is it the arbitrary number of age the issue or is it the way you think a woman of a certain age looks?

Sure, we get sun-spots, age spots, skin loses elasticity, we have spider veins, varicose veins, cellulite, scars and a number of other things as we age. (BTW- It means we have LIVED. And have some more living to do!)

 Is it that why people think a woman over 40 or 50 shouldn’t wear shorts? Or is the age some magic number where you abandon shorts regardless? What if you are blessed to still have great legs and look ten years younger than the date on your birth certificate?


I’ve seen younger women and girls wearing shorts that were way too short for even a trip to the grocery store and younger women in shorts that just don’t flatter them.

Wearing shorts is more about what flatters your body type and what your comfort level is than age. Instead of age, let’s focus instead on finding flattering shorts at any age.

These tips will assure women of all ages look good in shorts if they choose to wear them.

There are a few things to take into consideration when finding flattering shorts.

Pick a flattering inseam.

shorts for older women with various inseamsPin

There really is no magic inseam length that looks good across the board on everyone. Typically shorts are short (3½” – 4″ inseam), mid-length (5″-7″), or Bermuda (9″-11″).

What looks good on you depends on your body type and height. Some people have a long torso and short legs, or short torso and long legs. Some have both short torsos and short legs and some people have both long torsos and long legs.

I have a short torso and short to average legs (not long but not too short but I do often shop pants in the petite sizes). I’m also a pear shape.

The same pair of 5 inch inseam shorts will not look the same on me as they would on a taller person with a rectangular body shape or even a rectangle body shape of the same height.

I’ve had someone on Instagram tell me my shorts were a tad too short and someone in a group post say I looked good and should keep “rocking the short-shorts”. Um, my overall height is 5’2 and I was wearing a 5-inch inseam in both instances.

Those aren’t “short-shorts.” They may appear a bit shorter because of my curvy shape and thicker thighs, but 5 inches is a medium length and long shorts don’t flatter my body.

A good rule of thumb is that shorts should come to at least the end of your fingertips.

Again, that’s a different mark on every body because we have different length arms. For me, it would mean wearing 4 or 5 inch inseams. A 5 inch or 6 inch inseam is my preferred inseam but the cut of the shorts make a difference too. 

If they are cut fuller in the legs, I will sometimes wear a 4-inch inseam. Short and tight is not a good combination, so I only go shorter with a fuller cut short.

I also have those 3 inch inseam shorts pictured above but I’m very selective about where and how I wear them.

Use the fingertip rule as a minimum and go from there. If your fingertip length still shows thigh bulges you want to cover, wear longer shorts.

Don’t chop your legs in half. Wearing shorts too long will cut your legs in half and will interfere with the rule of thirds. It’s the beginning of a recipe for frumpy.

I took a poll on instagram and most said the appropriate lenght of shorts for women over 40 or 50 was over 5 inches. Next was at least 5 inches.

Don’t discount the shorts based on age or inseam. Try them on first. You might be surprised at which inseam actually looks good on you.

Cathy at My Side of 50 is just adorable in her 5 inch inseam shorts. Yes, 5 inch inseams! And Cathy is over 60! Are you reconsidering “shorts for older women”? 5 inch inseams work beautifully for Cathy.

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Consider the leg opening.

Bermuda shorts tend to have slimmer cut legs and smaller leg openings (hence why they don’t often work well for women with larger thighs.)

You don’t want shorts to fit so tight in the legs that they squeeze the leg and thighs. You also don’t want your legs to appear lost or drowning in the leg openings if you have slim legs. Chino, denim and bermuda shorts (if you are tall enough for them) are good choices for those with slim legs.

Stretchy denim and aline-shaped shorts with a little pleating, or paper-bag or tie-waist shorts with roomier leg openings will be a better choice for those with thicker thighs.

Size up for a better fit.

Size up for a better fit, especially in denim shorts. You don’t want them to fit like jeans fit. Sizing up will allow for a roomier fit in the thigh area.

Purchase shorts in quality fabrics when choosing shorts for older women.

If you don’t want to look frumpy, stop buying frumpy fabrics. Look for more tailored shorts made of substantial fabrics instead of flimsy fabrics. This is an area where the “older woman” can set herself apart.

Leave the thin knit gym shorts to the 20 and under age group. Older women should look classier, so buy classier fabrics and styles that are tailored.

Kellyann at This Blonde’s Shopping Bag is rocking these bermuda shorts. She adds other structured pieces like blazers to elevate a shorts outfit.

bermuda shorts outfitPin

Footwear makes a difference.

Pair shorts with sandals, slides and sneakers. If you want to make your legs look longer, wear a neutral colored or clear sandal, like Kellyann does above.

Stick to flats and low heels, like low block heel sandals. Pairing pumps and high heel shoes with shorts is going into a territory you don’t want to go. It might be the opposite of frumpy, but it’s not a good look either.

The shoes you wear with shorts will dictate the vibe of your outfit as they do with any other piece.

Maintain balance with your outfit.

We talk about this all the time in fashion. If you are wearing a loose fit or voluminous piece, pair it with a more fitted piece on the other half. Balance also applies to how much skin you show expose. Maintain some balance with that as well.

Instead of shorts and a tank top, add some coverage up top.

While it’s not a hard, fast rule, you may find that you are more comfortable wearing shorts if you expose less skin on the upper body when exposing your legs.

Pair shorts with a button up shirt, shirt with elbow sleeves or add a jacket or kimono. Cathy gets lots of coverage with her kimono above, and still looks cool and summery. Kellyann does the same with blazers, jackets and tops.

Apply some self-tanner to your legs.

Self-tanner definitely helps conceal and distract from those blemishes and veins you may be uncomfortable with. Yes, it takes some practice. No one is born knowing how to do everything.

The more you apply it and use it, the better you get at applying self tanner. Some of my favorites are Clarins and St. Tropez. My daily go to for a budget friendly option is Jergens Natural Glow . A mitt makes application easier and smoother.

Now that we’ve settled the issue on appropriate shorts for older women, I hope you have some new found confidence in wearing shorts before the summer ends.


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