Denim shorts rule supreme when summer rolls around. Every girl has at least one pair of trusty cutoffs in her wardrobe that she reaches for on repeat when the temps start to soar. That said, even this summer style essential has its shortcomings, leaving you feeling, well, underwhelmed when you want to take your look to the next level.
For every pair of basic (interpret that as you like) bottoms stacked up in your closet, there should be a show-stopping alternative on hand that will send your Insta following into a frenzy. Because any opportunity to take your sartorial reputation up a notch must be seized — life’s too short to simply blend in. Put those DIY cutoffs back in the drawer and slide into one of these swoon-worthy picks instead.
1. ASOS Pretty Embroidered Shorts ($52): Forget the standard date-night frock — redefine after-hours attire with pretty pink shorts that will put even your most-loved chambray bottoms to shame. Style with a silk cami, boyfriend blazer and a dainty lariat for a sophisticated look that will knock ‘em dead.
2. & Other Stories Oily Shorts ($195): Found it: This is one pair of statement shorts even a minimalist can get behind. The luxe leather is prime time for after-hours affairs, but it packs plenty of daytime potential too. For an office-appropriate ensemble that goes well beyond pinstripe suits and snoozy shift dresses, team ’em with an oversized blouse, sleeveless jacket and menswear-inspired loafers that mean business. Can your denim shorts do that? Didn’t think so.
3. Mango Suede Shorts ($80): You don’t have to be heading to the festival to rock a bit of free-wheelin’ suede. Let the good vibes roll with lace-up shorts that would look ah-mazing with a frilly sleeveless top and bright clogs. Throw in a pair of round sunnies for extra ’70s style cred.
4. Zara Shorts With Belt ($30): Summer without stripes? That’s downright scandalous. Even if preppy isn’t your thang, you can still rock the iconic pattern with these black-and-white shorts that have contemporary appeal. Play up your minimalist aesthetic with a satin pajama top and understated slides for an easy-breezy afternoon at the park, or beers and tapas on the boardwalk.
5. Topshop Floral Print Shorts ($60): Stand out in a sea of cutoffs at your next barbecue or waterfront event with exotic floral shorts that are straight-up dreamy. Make ‘em pop with a white, ‘90s-inspired halter top and a gold Man Repeller-approved arm party.
6. Selected Fria Polka Dot Tailored Shorts ($106): Hit remix on a blasé work-week routine with suiting separates that will make crunching numbers and tedious to-do lists feel like a rare treat. Playful polka dots are guaranteed to put a bit of pep back into your step, especially when paired with metallic Oxfords and dazzling drop earrings that are desk-to-drinks ready.
7. SOONSU 16SS Grey Ruffle Light Shorts ($198): Don’t let ruffles’ fussy and frilly rep keep you from taking these anything-but-average bottoms for a test drive. Architectural pleating sets these stunners apart, lending a fashion-forward edge to any off-duty or after-hours look. For an errand-running ensemble that straight-up stuns (because you never let your style guard down), pair them with a classic white tee, badass gladiator sandals and a sleek choker necklace.
8. Zara Printed Shorts ($26): Whether you’re chillin’ with your toes in the sand or swaying to the beat at an outdoor concert series, these golden floral shorts deliver all the feels you need — and then some. Go ultra boho with a peasant top and lace-up pom-pom sandals, and don’t even think about leaving the house without a messy fishtail braid.
9. H&M Embroidered Bib Overall Shorts ($25): Like your go-to denim overalls, only better. Floral embroidery and a bib silhouette make these shortalls super sweet. Avoid an overly saccharine feel by styling them alongside a mock-neck top and flatform sandals with a don’t-mess edge.
10. & Other Stories Round Edge Shorts ($65): Sophisticated shorts that will take you from a.m. to p.m., no problem? Sign us up! With their zip-up front and high-waisted cut, these pretty pink shorts are a shoo-in for GNO or dinner with bae. Send the fashion-femme vibes into overdrive with suede lace-up sandals, a structured boxy top and statement earrings that scream DDG. Pull hair back into a sleek ponytail and opt for a dramatic cat eye for an undeniable runway-ready look.
11. Loft Petalwork Riviera Shorts With 4″ Inseam ($50): Any time is a good time for a bit of pattern play. Team these psychedelic shorts with a striped off-the-shoulder top and metallic sandals for a Saturday morning spa date, or dress ‘em up with a choker-neck top and peep-toe heels for mixing and mingling out on the veranda.
12. Forever21 Floral Crochet Shorts ($16): Upcoming glamping weekend with the girlies? Take these flirty crochet shorts along to add a feminine touch to flannel shirts and band tees alike. Or if you have a wedding-related event on the agenda, amp up the fancy factor with a floral bell sleeve blouse and statement necklace.
13. Johnny Hates Jazz Training Shorts ($189): Athleisure enthusiasts and lazy girls everywhere, eat your hearts out. Fake it ’til you make it with these striped track shorts that would feel right at home with a rib knit tee and sporty slides. (No one needs to know you skipped the gym this morning.)
14. Madewell Scallop-Hem Pull-On Shorts ($60): Any way you swing it, these scalloped shorts are what your closet has been missing. An easy sub for a twirl-worthy skirt or jeans, they’re the perfect partner to everything from oversized button-downs to bow-neck tops.
15. & Other Stories Lacing Detail Shorts ($95): Calling all cool girls in training: These sassy lace-up shorts have girl boss attitude built right in. Whip ‘em out with a band tee, loafers and funky hoop earrings for a late-night gig, or go the extra style mile with a cold-shoulder top, espadrille wedges and a boater hat for lesiurely strolls along the boardwalk.
16. Mojave Ruffle Shorts ($38): And we swoon. It’s safe to say that this scene-stealing pair is what dreams are made of, whether you wear them with something as simple as a high-neck cotton tank and Birks for a casual coffee date or pull out all the stops with an embellished blouse, sky-high stilettos and a box clutch for an urban rooftop affair.
17. Finders Keepers Either Way Short ($140): Shorts with this much panache are meant to be shown off, so best believe you’ll be busting them out at every opportunity. Tuck in a black mock-neck top, then pop on a pair of suede mules and asymmetric earrings for a getup that will take you from dinner at that posh new place straight to the dance floor.
18. Loft Ikat Riviera Shorts With 4″ Inseam ($60): Slipping on these ikat shorts is like taking an instant vacay to the sunny seaside towns of Cinque Terre. Whether you’re sipping Limoncello by the water or strolling down cobblestone streets with gelato in hand, make sure you have these lovelies on standby.
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