How to Shop for Shorts by Body Type

For most of my young adult life, I avoided wearing shorts all together.

Sometime in high school, I began thinking that shorts were no longer flattering on the adult body into which I was growing.  It was ok in the midwest because the air conditioning was always full blast in the Summer, so you were somewhere on the spectrum of sweating in the muggy midwest heat or shivering and hypothermic, but never in the middle.

When we moved to Arizona, I realized that people here simply do not wear pants year round.  The air conditioning is kept at a much more comfortable temperature inside businesses because it’s expensive and nearly impossible to shift from 110 degree heat to 68 degree air conditioning.  Somehow, I had to learn to get comfortable with wearing shorts as an adult, which I can honestly say was a feeling I had never had before.

My legs are muscular and I’m short, so I have a slight hourglass, but mostly a muscular build.   I have short legs, so shorts can easily divide my legs into smaller sections and make my legs look stubby.  Nothing ever fits and most of the time, I feel like the shorts are squeezing my legs in an unflattering way or riding up and exposing areas that I would rather not.  Don’t hear me wrong, I love my legs and I have never taken issue with showing them; I just never felt as though shorts were doing me any favors.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a guide to finding shorts that are more flattering that the ones I had previously been trying to pull off.  I’ve done more research and heard all of your feedback- which I always love and I now have more helpful hints to share.

How to shop for shorts by body type

  • Mid-Length is middle ground.  Mid-length shorts are generally considered to be universally flattering, so if you aren’t sure what will look good on you, these would be the style to try.   I personally recommend taking a few snaps of yourself in a mirror with different hem-length shorts and looking them over to see which is most flattering.
nordstrom.com (click the image for details)
nordstrom.com (click the image for details)
  • If you’re short, you should go with a shorter hem.  This has always troubled me; I don’t like the look of shorts that are too short, however, longer shorts divide my legs visually into different sections and can make me look shorter.  Combat the short look by wearing a lower cut shoe that shows your ankle- high tops and ankle straps will always make you look a bit shorter.  That’s not to say I never break these rules, but sometimes when I feel I don’t look my best, I check my proportions and that’s usually the culprit.  The color of the shoe matters as well; you’ll get the most hight out of your look if your shoes are nude (close to your skin color) or match your shorts.

Notice the difference it makes when I change the height of the heel, color and the height of the shoe on my ankle.

How to style shorts properly

The look that makes my legs look longest is the neutral shoe that shows the most ankle.  I still wear all of the shoes with these shorts, however, if I’m concerned about looking my absolute best, I’ll go for the longer legs.

  • Too tight is too bad.  You’ve seen the shorts that are way too tight to be flattering in any way.  You know what I’m talking about.  Keep them loose enough to move comfortably.  If you’re afraid of looser shorts adding volume to your hips, keep them slimming and body skimming without being tight, avoid patterns/ prints (they draw attention) and go with darker colors for slimming.

    nordstrom.com (click the image for details)
  • Balance your bottom with your top.   If you’re shorts are long, balance it with a shorter top.  A useful tool if you’re uncomfortable with the shorter top proportion is to throw a blazer or un-buttoned button-up on over a shorter tank.  This balances because you still see the waistline, but the top layer draws the eye down.How to style shorts properlyStyling the Short torso

Take a look at all three styles.

The most balanced look is the look on the left.  The hem on your top really does make a big difference.

  • Shorter torsos look best in lower cut shorts.  The lower the waistline, the longer your torso will look.  The photo below shows shorts sitting just on the hip bones, which will be optimal for the woman with a short torso.

    Short Torso... drop the waistline on your shorts
    bustle.com
  • Longer torso?  Rock high waisted shorts; you’re legs will instantly look longer.

    pinterest.com
  • For a slimming effect at the hips, go for shorts that have side closures.  Eliminating the zipper in the front section, will flatten your tummy.

    How to style shorts properly

    nordstrom.com (click the image for details)
  • Smaller hips?  Choose shorts that will add volume to your hips like pocket details, prints, pleats, and darts.

    How to style shorts properly
    nordstrom.com (click the image for details)
  • Good luck shopping and styling!  Let me know if you have more tips and tricks!

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    Kate Thakkar

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