Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Finds: Shorts

Why is it that there are far more ugly, unflattering shorts than cute ones? Earlier this week I was in Florida (more on that later) and my theory was proven as I saw hundreds of women of all shapes and sizes wearing shorts and so few of them wearing pairs that actually looked good. Finding a good pair of shorts is definitely an ordeal. It seems that nearly all pairs fall into the following categories:

Too Long- witness the return of the dreaded Bermuda, which has invaded every popular retailer with an strength of last year's bubble skirts. I've only witnessed one woman who successfully pulled off the Bermuda, and she looked and dressed like a J.Crew model (she appeared to be missing hips, thighs and a butt). Whether women with more than a pinch of fat on their hips and thighs will attempt to recreate this look is yet to be seen, but this is definitely not a universally flattering look.

Too Short: Short lengths go in and out of fashion, but there will always be a significant portion of the population (particularly among 12-18 year old girls) who prefer shorts with slightly more coverage than an average bikini bottom. This really is only acceptable as a cover up on the beach, because otherwise one would feel naked walking in public with what is essentially glorified underwear.

Too Old: A medium cut waist and 4-5 inch inseam is totally practical (hides upper-thigh cellulite, no butt exposure of any kind when you bend over) but they scream stay at home mom (no offense to the stay at home moms out there). This is an old lady short, and while I like the idea of more coverage, a pair like this takes all the sex appeal out of wearing shorts.

Too Young: On top of inseams shorter than 1/2 inch, many brands are releasing shorts in crazy patterns, colors and materials (damn you Juicy and your popularization of velour!) that are far too silly for a grown woman to wear in public.

But finally... I present the most frightening short of all...

I don't care what Nordstrom says... the career short is a sin against fashion. How many offices that require at least business casual would let you in the door in an outfit like this? And if you get in the door, you have to have really cruel coworkers if they don't tell you to go back home and change. Please friends, stay away from the career short.

So what's left for a girl who wants to look cute, put together and age appropriate? Most of the time I stick to skirts in the summer unless I'm exercising, hanging around the house or running errands. But I was determined to find at least a few pairs that I wouldn't mind being seen in public in. I looked at length, coverage and pocket size/placement when considering which shorts would meet my criteria of looking flattering, sexy and classy. Here's what I found:

J.Crew, Women's Seersucker Short, $50

The Gap, Women's Stretch Short Shorts, $39.50
Hollister, San Clemente Short, $34.50

J.Crew, Women's Washed Linen Trouser Short, $58
Abercrombie & Fitch, Cathy Short, $39.50

Anyone else have any suggestions for brands or stores that carry cute shorts?


Anonymous said...

I've had good luck at Forever 21 finding shorts, and there are some cute ones on the Urban Outfitters website.

I've been wanting try on some bermuda-ish shorts to see if they work for me- I am of the no hips variety, but sadly I have thighs.

Anonymous said...

I just started reading your blog, and so far loved it, but now I must disagree with you. (I'm sure this won't keep you up nights). All of the supposedly "great" shorts you found are much too short for anyone that has thighs of a greater circumference than her calves. I agreed with most of your assessments of the mistakes women make with shorts, except bermuda shorts. I'll concede they would not be flattering on most plus size frames, but neither would the shorts you picked out. I really think bermudas can make a nice look, and at the very least are a better option for short women than the dreaded capri pants, or "floods" when worn on someone under 5'5". I also kind of like the long shorts wih a jacket look, I wouldn't call it a "career" look, however. Maybe it's an age difference thing.

Distar said...

I'm 5'4 and on the curvy/fit side, and haven't worn shorts since I was 14. All of the things you say Meg are true, but even the perfect shorts you list don't work for women under 5'6 with hips.

For any American Idol fans, didn't Haley totally rock the shorts on this wks show?

Meg said...

Anon #2- You're right that the shorts I picked out wouldn't be flattering on everyone. But then again, not everyone looks good in shorts at all, a lot of people look better and feel more comfortable wearing capri pants (or even Bermudas). While the shorts I chose are pretty short, I think that for anyone with medium sized thighs (I'm a size 8 so I count myself in this category), it's more flattering to wear shorter shorts than mid-length ones which seem to emphasize the thickness of thighs more. It's like boy shorts vs high leg underwear or bikini bottoms- you get more coverage from the boy shorts but because they cut off at the thigh, they emphasize how wide your thighs are. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's what I've read (and find works best on myself).

I really appreciate your comment and I actually like it when people (nicely) disagree with me. You've made me realize that it's really difficult to determine what's flattering on every body, and I often use my own body as a reference for what would look good on most women.

Thanks for reading the blog though, I hope that in the future you'll agree with and enjoy more of my recommendations!

Meg said...

distar- Haley did look awesome in those, she definitely worked the "dressed up shorts" look.

Anonymous said...

I love the JC Crew denin with rope tie shorts...great flattering cut too.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same anon #2 and I just want to say I really do love your site and many of the recommendations you make, as well as your keen observations about our society's views about beauty and plastic surgery, etc. It really IS nearly impossible to think of things that would flatter simply everyone. I've heard the boy short vs high cut argument beore, and just don't know which way to go with it, since my tendency in the bathing suit department is to cover rather than expose, despite what might be more flattering! Anyway, thanks for your refreshingly non-snarky reply, bc my comments were certainly made good naturedly.

Rachelle said...

Dude, that model in the J Crew linen shorts has her feet TOGETHER and her legs don't meet ANYWHERE. I get that one of her legs is probably slightly in front of the other but still...she looks skinny AND bowlegged.

Laura said...

I've only got a few pairs of shorts -- all of them for rugby (two pair black knee-length spandex for underlayer, two pair rugby shorts for over).

In the summers, I mostly stick to skirts; at 5'2" with a long torso and a thick-legged size 12/14, shorts and I don't really get along!

Kimberly said...

Laura, I have two inches on you, but otherwise I think we're twins! I have far too much in the way of booty and thighs and legs that are way to short to wear any of those. :( I haven't worn shorts in ten years or so. I find knee-length cotton skirts so much more flattering! But I do have to agree with you that many women out there are wearing unflattering shorts, perhaps because some are trendy.

And shorts as part of a suit? Oh, hell no!

ambika said...

I really need to come here more because your posts are *brilliant.* The shorts analysis is dead-on--I have three pair, 2 of which are cut-offs that I've hemmed because I couldn't find anything last summer that wasn't butt-cheek showing or fashion victim bermuda style. And formal shorts *suck*.

& the breast & plastic surgery in general posts are very thoughtful. Adding to google reader as we speak...

Gwen >> My Relationship Resume said...

Your post reminds me of the Barbara Walters interview with Helen Mirren. Apparently Ms. Mirren does not wear pants and wears skirts or dresses exclusively. Personal choice. Then she says, "I don't understand why Americans wear shorts all the time. Why do they wear those horrible shorts? I don't understand it." Had to laugh excessively at that one given it is quite true when someone who is less than perfect tries to be trendy and/or wearing shorts just not appropriate for them.

Your analysis of shorts was brilliant. As for the shorts you picked out, I can't help but think how every last one is not for me. Was heartened by how many of your commenters also professed to not wearing shorts for over ten years unless around the house or for sport, because I fall right into that category, too.

Anonymous said...

dear meg,
this is a bit off-topic, but could you possibly run a piece on summer cardigans? they are surprisingly difficult to find, and as a college student (and a geographically isolated one, at that) i don't have a ton of time to spend shopping. just simple, flattering, black cardigans -- everything these days is a tunic, but i find that those are impossible to pull off with any amount of body fat.

Meg said...

Anon 8:46- That's a great idea, I've been looking for a summer cardigan myself. I'll try and do a post in the next couple weeks. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much! i'm very excited. love your website and your advice.
- anon 846