Eight Tips for Choosing Shorts (Especially For Over 50s)

A favorite pair of denim shorts!

Okay, I said it!  I am over 50 years old, and I might as well be proud of it because that fact will not change.  There is no going back; no do-over; no mulligan.  It is what it is.

Age brings many great attributes such as wisdom, self-awareness, and, let’s hope, a good sense of humor.  Age can also impose some limitations such as, in my case, the ability to tumble down the hall without getting dizzy or do the splits.

Self-imposed fashion no-nos are another limitation of aging.  I wouldn’t even attempt a pair of Daisy Dukes, nor would I throw on the knit biker shorts that seem to be trending now.  Honestly, I am not sure anyone should be wearing the knit biker shorts as they remind me of the pink crocheted shorts one of my dolls wore when I was little.

So, how do we rock a pair of shorts when we hit the second half of our life?  About the same way we did in our first half our life!

Here are a few things to consider:

These long, dark shorts, although they fit perfectly, do nothing for me. They make my legs look shorter. Even the neutral color shoes don’t help to lengthen my legs.

Don’t get caught just buying longer shorts.   Longer shorts do hide more flesh, but they can also make you look shorter since less leg will be showing.  If you must go with longer shorts, go for colors that are in the range with your skin tone so that the break between fabric and leg is less severe.  I am pale, so I choose chambray, ivory, white, pink, etc.  I avoid black, navy, and patterns.  I would also choose footwear that elongates the leg as well, such as skin tone slides, sandals, or lowcut tennis shoes.

As always, a well-fitting pair of shorts will look better on any body size or aged person.  If you can’t find a perfectly fitted pair of shorts, be prepared to have them tailored to fit you.  I see lots of high waisted shorts and pants worn low, which means the crotch hangs halfway down the thigh.  No matter your size or age, this looks ridiculous.  Either buy a smaller size and wear them at the waist or purchase shorts made to be worn mid- or low-rise and get a size that allows the shorts’ crotch to be worn at your body’s crotch.

These darling shorts are not for me! Not only are they too big in the waist, too long in the crotch, and too wide in the legs, they are a very thin, unlined linen. In the event you are worried that I would pair them with the green top, I would not! It was just what I had on when the shorts arrived.

Choosing thicker fabrics will hide a multitude of body issues.  If you have dimpled skin, thicker fabrics will gloss over the issues while thin fabrics will mold to the indentions.  Shorts made of thicker fabrics are less likely to ride up if your legs touch when you walk.  They also will provide a firmer structure that looks so much neater on bodies that aren’t firm.  If none of this makes sense, then you are probably young, small or are really fit.  My favorite fabrics for shorts are denim and pants-weight, cotton twill.  If you see panty lines when you try them on, then the fabric is probably too thin.

The leg openings are twice the diameter of my legs. That is way too much fabric to look good on me.

A wider leg opening provides an illusion of thinner legs.  Of course, too wide of an opening can add girth, so stick with a cut that is 4 to 5″ wider than your leg.

If you are apple-shaped, elastic waists will most likely add girth, whereas an hourglass or pear-shaped person will find them to be flattering.  Elastic in the back of the waistband will be more flattering than totally elastic shorts.  I had wanted a pair of paper bag waist shorts for a couple of summers now, and this year found a pair that actually works for me.  They are a bit shorter, but since the fabric is thick and the legs are wide, they don’t look too bad.

I love these paper bag waist shorts. They are a sturdy fabric, and the elastic waist is not too gathered. The leg openings are about 5″ in diameter larger than my leg. Perfect!

Be leery of patterned shorts.  Be it small or large, patterns draw attention.  If you are self-conscious about wearing shorts, then the last thing you want to do is draw attention.  Instead, buy a few pairs of shorts in basic colors that flatter and fit that can be worn with a multitude of tops.

The length on these is as short as I feel comfortable wearing. Since the fabric is heavier weight, they stay down and don’t ride up when I walk.

As for length of shorts, it will all depend.  For me, I find that shorts that hit midway down my thigh are the most flattering for me.  Not too short, nor too long.  If I had really toned thighs, I might be willing to go a hair shorter, but short shorts aren’t always flattering no matter our age, size, or level of tone.  It all depends on what looks best and feels best for you.

Anything that must be adjusted (i.e., pulling shorts legs down when they ride up) is never attractive on any person.  If this is happening with your shorts’ legs, consider if they are too short, the legs are too tight, the material too flimsy, or the length is hitting right where your legs rub together.  Choosing shorts that are longer, looser, thicker, or, again, longer will make all the difference in your comfort and appearance.

These are my stay-at-home shorts. They are linen, too big, too wide of leg, gathered waist…all the wrong things, but they are comfortable and have pockets!

As with any look or piece of clothing, wear what you feel good wearing.  I am less into being fashionable or stylish and more into being me.  My clothing choices will always be based on my tastes, my comfort level, and the appropriateness for the occasion.  Although I may look to fashion magazines for ideas, my purchases will be tailored to my needs.  Fundamentally, I would always prefer to dress in a tailored and classic style.  I have added in some bohemian and romantic pieces in the last few years, but generally, when I am selecting what to wear from my closet, I lean to the classics.

If you stick to purchases that are well-fitted to your lifestyle, tastes, and that work for your body type, you will be confident when wearing those pieces.  And we all know that confident people always look great!

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