Shopping Hits and Misses: Shorts Edition

Fashion Advice

Shorts are one of the hardest things to shop for. Outside of bathing suits, shorts can have you over-examining your body with cuts, lengths, and shapes that can accentuate that which you don't love and minimize the good. Many women choose to never wear shorts and I get it and respect that decision. I didn't wear shorts for many years. However, once I turned 40 I decided to wear them no matter what so I could be active and comfortable in the summer heat. Almost all my shorts from last summer either don't fit or fit strangely so I needed to get a couple new pairs. I am 5'3″ and vary between a 12 and 14, petite and regular.

For today's hits and misses post, I took my photos with the Amazon Echo Look.  Amazon sent me an Echo Look to try out. A hands-free camera with fashion advice, the Echo Look has built-in LED lighting, lets you save looks into Collections, get advice from fashion experts, while having all the features of Amazon Alexa.  I wasn't required to do any sort of promotion in exchange for receiving the Echo Look; I chose to use it for this shoot because I felt it would provide better photos than my mirror selfies.  Let me know what you think, if you prefer these or the mirror selfies.

I've had the greatest success sizing up for shorts (either going up a size or choosing regular instead of petite). This explains the broad range of sizes in the shorts I ordered and show below. All of these shorts are available at Nordstrom; I chose this retailer because of the range of brands and sizes, and how easy it is to return those which don't work. Read below to find out which shorts were the best shorts for my 14 petite self, and which were misses..

Caslon Pull-on Twill Shorts, Size Large, Color Olive Sarma

I love an easy pull-on pair of shorts, but usually, they are of linen or some sort of outdoorsy fabric. I wanted something that would look polished, not REI or pajamas. These receive positive ratings and come in four colors. They have a 2.5″ inseam which concerned me as my sweet spot is 3″ – 5″ but I was willing to try. The large is equal to a 12/14.

The size large fits well, I think the XL would be too baggy. These shorts are shorter than I usually wear, but because they ride a bit lower on the waist, it's not as drastic. I love the olive color, it's a nice change from khaki, white, and denim yet just as versatile.  The fabric is nice and soft but doesn't stretch out like linen.  The only thing I don't like is the trim on the side of the shorts isn't the same color as the material and makes the shorts look a bit more casual/REI.  These are almost great, but I wish they were just a half inch longer so they cover the heaviest parts of my thighs and are sure to not allow chub rub. That and the off-color seams make me not love them so they're going back. MISS.

(as an FYI these shorts also come in plus sizes with a 4.5″ inseam)

Caslon Cotton Twill Shorts, size 14, color Tan Cobblestone

I bought these same shorts in the past so I knew they'd be a decent fit, quality, and cut.  So good… they're already out of stock at Nordstrom AND at Nordstrom Rack! I still linked to them in case they come back in stock. I've seen them in stores, so you may be able to find them if you have a Nordstrom nearby. From the past I found the petite to be a bit too low in the rise for my booty, so I went with 14 regular, which is a 5.5″ inseam.

I also know from owning these before that they stretch out a bit with wear.  These are straight from the box, not stretched. These are good basic shorts that can look nice with a polished top for an outdoor barbecue, or go casual with a simple tank and Birks for running errands. They wash well, and are comfortable.  I hate to say hit since they're out of stock but I think they are a hit!

1901 Clean Twill Shorts, size 14 Petite, color Tan

When I visited Trunk Club, my stylist Kelsey let me know 1901 was the new Nordstrom in-house brand to replace Classiques (RIP).  I like the clean lines, what I've tried from the line is high quality, but most pieces are a bit too preppy for my tastes. These shorts, however, looked classic, clean, and flattering. They looked to have a high rise so I chose the shorts in 14 petite instead of regular.

Yeah, these do not fit. I struggled to connect the hook and eye closure and had to suck in like crazy to get the zipper zipped.  I hoped I wouldn't bust the zipper before the photo shoot was finished.  And even if they did fit, they look like awful camp counselor shorts. I think if you were very thin with maybe a pear shape these would be flattering but for everyone else, I think it's a hard pass. MISS.

Caslon Boyfriend Shorts, size 33, Color White

I am not sure why I ordered a size 33.  Maybe because my best fitting jeans are a size 33?  The size chart for these shorts shows that a 33 is larger than a size 16 (okay that confuses the heck out of me because a 33 is usually a 14/16 with other retailers). So anyway, I ordered a 33.

Clearly, they are too big.  I think if I went down two sizes, they would fit great.  However, with trying on shorts with Trunk Club and this post I realize I don't really like cuffed shorts this season.  I'm at this age where I am really aware of things looking too old or too young on me.  They may look great on others the same shape or the same age, but otherwise normal clothes will look too try-hard or frumpy on me. And cuffed shorts on me feel a bit juvenile and look a bit dorky. That being said, they don't on everyone and these are nice.  They're not too thick, but not thin, completely opaque, they stretch, and I think are pretty flattering casual white shorts.  But for me, a MISS.

Liverpool Vickie Frayed Denim Shorts, size 14, color Ridgecrest Destruct

Every summer I order Liverpool shorts and every summer I return them. The denim is very thin and stretchy, which can be great but I also find that Liverpool runs narrow in the legs so their denim shorts on me end up looking like cut-off jeggings.

Because the denim is thin and stretchy, fancy washes always look a bit odd on Liverpool jeans, as though they're silkscreened. These shorts are no exception. The plus to these shorts is they are a really good length.  If you have skinny legs, these could be good but otherwise, I think they look too goofy especially for $49. I've found chicer of denim shorts at Walmart. MISS.

Treasure and Bond High Waist Boyfriend Cutoff Denim Shorts, size 33, color Gravel Light Destroyed

I have a pair of Treasure and Bond shorts from last year and adore them.  Great fit, great style, great price. These looked hip and cool, but not too short or too tight.

I put these on and Karl walked in the room. “Do you want me to be honest?” he asked. Of course. “I think they're try-hard.” He was right, these shorts are like the cuffed shorts.  There are some styles I just find look too young or too old at my current age and size, and these look too young.  A bit too distressed, a bit too light, a bit too trendy.  I would have rocked these three years ago but now they just feel wrong.  But if they're your type, these are great shorts.  They fit nice (I sized up and am glad I did), nice quality denim, comfortable. But for me, MISS.

Kut from the Kloth Gidget Distressed Denim Shorts, size 14, color Consolidated

Kut from the Kloth is another brand I regularly have success with.  They're one of my favorite brands for opaque white jeans so I hoped I'd have similar success with their shorts.

If you follow me on Instagram and Instagram Stories you've seen these shorts a lot so clearly, they are a hit. Long enough that they don't ride up or allow chub rub, loose enough that they breathe and allow free range of movement, distressed but not so distressed that I look try-hard, not too low or too high of a rise, and heavy denim but with a hint of stretch.  They're a 5″ length which is pretty perfect. HIT!

So now I own two pairs of shorts, and honestly, this may be enough to get through the summer. However, if I do buy any more pairs you know I will be sure to share them with you in a future hits and misses post!

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49 Comments

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49 Comments

  • Angie July 10, 2018

    I’m 5’4″ and probably about a 12/14 too, I recently found two pairs of shorts I’m in love with.

    Men’s 7″ Linden Flat Front Chino Shorts – Goodfellow & Co™ in size 36:
    https://www.target.com/p/men-s-7-linden-flat-front-chino-shorts-goodfellow-co-153/-/A-52982821?preselect=53132379#lnk=sametab

    Time and Tru Women’s Bermuda Short in size 16:
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Time-and-Tru-Women-s-Bermuda-Short/394275903?variantFieldId=actual_color

    The Walmart shorts look absolutely horrible online, but I’m in love with mine. Only the black canvas ones, though. The other colors and fabrics, bleh.

  • Chris July 6, 2018

    Allie, I see from looking at the ad for the Amazon Echo Look that what I am complaining about is built in and very intentional. From their ad, “computer vision-based background blur to make your outfits pop”. Well maybe so, but I don’t care for it. When I went to photography school, we would have been graded down for this – unless it was specified in the assignment.

    Of course when I went to photo school and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, the first year we had to shoot
    everything with a 4×5 film view camera (No non-film cameras then). Between that, the heavy accompanying tripod, accessories, my purse, and books, I had a lot to haul around on public transportation. Pass this along to Karl. I think he’ll get a chuckle even if you don’t.

    • Alison Gary July 9, 2018

      Yep I don’t love that blur feature either, I think it helps with privacy but it looks goofy so I prefer a very simple backdrop so it’s not as obvious!

  • Chris July 6, 2018

    Allie, I like the denim shorts you picked. I also like the white shorts on you. I know they are the wrong size and are cuffed but I like them on you. I’d like the white shorts on you even better if they were the correct size.

    About the camera –

    I like it that you have more freedom in posing. What I don’t like you might be able to alter with settings. The resolution seems low. The depth of field is shallow. Combined, the photo looks partly
    out of focus, especially the outside edge of your hair and silhouette. I know that sometimes this technique
    is used intentionally to create a mood. It can be effective used on a nature setting to create a
    fantasy feel, but I personally don’t care for it on straight clothing shots. Editorial fashion – Maybe.

  • RoseAG July 5, 2018

    I’m a total shorts lover and I think you look pretty good in most of them, except the Clean Twills which look like they’re cut for someone to wear under a long tunic where they don’t want any waistband bulk. Since you want to wear them with a shorter top, they’re wrong, wrong, wrong.

    One thing that I do is try a ton of them on and if I like the fit but they aren’t hitting me at the right place I’ll short them.

    • Alison Gary July 6, 2018

      That’s a great idea, the fit in the rise is most important, length can be adjusted!

  • Catherine July 4, 2018

    Love your unflinching Hits and Misses posts, and this one was especially good. I am 55 years old and still wear shorts, for better or worse. I would like to add two things: the Costco near me sold Calvin Klein denim City shorts which, for $17, make my legs look pretty darn good; and my advice about ripped denim looking “too young” – do not pair it with a peasant-y top or a band t-shirt. Wear it with something more conservative (like a tailored shirt) and it suddenly looks more sophisticated. At least I hope so! 🙂

    • Alison Gary July 6, 2018

      I agree mix distressed with polished, it’s a safe bet! And thanks for the heads up on the Calvin Klein shorts!

  • Carolyn July 4, 2018

    I picked up a pair of cute Caslon shorts at Nordstrom rack yesterday to wear today! I am kind of excited about them. I also have shorts (I bought 4 pairs of the same style, different colors) from J Crew that I love. I did the same with shorts from Land’s end a few years ago but then they discontinued the style!

    • Alison Gary July 4, 2018

      Fantastic! I agree with shorts if you find a style you like buy a few in different colors!

  • Mary July 3, 2018

    Great minds think alike…I put my cuffed shorts in the donate pile about an hour before reading this. Like the Kut from the Kloth shorts. PS- I get a ton of wear out of the pull-on Zella shorts you recommended last year,

    • Alison Gary July 4, 2018

      I’m wearing my Zella Switchback shorts right now as I type this! Such great shorts!

  • Karin July 3, 2018

    Thanks for trying on all these shorts plus the commentary! Also, I LOVE the Amazon Echo photos. I have never liked mirror selfies, and this allows for much more flexibility and expression. Please keep using it!

  • Tracie July 3, 2018

    Even though you have a very different shape than I do, I love these posts because they help me understand how to look at the stuff I’m trying on. Thanks!

  • Anne July 3, 2018

    I haven’t worn shorts in years in public, but now I remember why. The short cropped pant right under the knee, no longer in fashion, gave me both coverage and comfort. I bought 2 white longer length boyfriend jean shorts this summer and surprisingly I’m wearing them to death. I’m glad I gave shorts another try.

  • Mare July 3, 2018

    I loved the Liverpool shorts on you and was surprised they were a miss, but looking good in something is second to feeling good 🙂

    • Alison Gary July 4, 2018

      Yeah I don’t think the photos show how the fabric is so thin. I think if it was thicker or more rigid fabric they’d be a win.

  • Susan July 3, 2018

    Your pictures look great though your selfies always are good too.Could you talk more about looking try too hard. It’s one of my fears

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      I think it’s a personal feeling. I can see women my age or older who could rock super distressed shorts like that. I think it’s because I’m not a real rock chick. I know I skew more “cute” and let’s be honest, I’m not an ex-rock star, I’m a suburban woman who spent most of her adult life behind a computer shopping at Nordstrom, her most exciting weekends spent at a Delaware beach drinking vodka sodas or Miller Lites while dancing to a ’90s cover band or wearing practical shoes and plenty of sunscreen at a hippie music festival. So when I go too far into band tees and distressed denim it looks and honestly feels like a costume. Also a big one is undergarments – if I can’t wear underwear that is functional and comfortable it’s likely too try-hard for me. I think the older I get the more I get a sense for what is try-hard for me. One thing that really has helped is journaling what I wear. How did I feel when wearing it, what comments did I get.

  • ROSANA July 3, 2018

    i liked all of these on you minus the too small high-waist 1901 😉 You look fab! in shorts!

  • ErinG July 3, 2018

    Great choices! I also really liked the echo pictures. My favorite pic was of the 1901, perfect facial expression! I agree with you about cuffs. My favorite denim shorts from last year were cuffed, but when I put them on this year NOPE.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Isn’t that funny about cuffed shorts? I say it’s us getting to know our bodies and personal styles better because I see other women in cuffed shorts and they look positively chic. And thanks for the feedback on the Echo photos. I think I have a good place in my house where I can set it up for future shoots (this one was easy because my husband had his photography backdrop up so I could just use it before he took it down).

  • Joanie July 3, 2018

    Just popping in to say that the Echo Look photos look excellent.
    Much better than mirror selfies and will allow you to be more creative.
    I don’t wear shorts so I can’t relate but you always look adorable.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Thank you so much Joanie! While I won’t have the same backdrop for the next hits and misses, I’ll use the Echo again. It was really easy to do on my own too!

  • Marti July 3, 2018

    Love the pics. I am more mature, age wise,and have started wearing my shorts right above the knee which makes me feel more covered but still cool and comfortable. I like your choice although I do love the really washed out look of the previous pair.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Thanks Marti! I find at different ages I like my shorts at different lengths. Five years ago I wouldn’t have been caught DEAD in 5″ shorts and now I love them. I recently did a shoot with a brand (it will be up soon) where I wore 10″ shorts and I found them quite flattering!

  • Melissa July 3, 2018

    The two hits are great on you. Another vote for the Caslon Twill shorts, which I have in a regular size, in olive green. Nordstrom was out of stock in petite, but the mid-rise of the regular size fortunately worked perfectly for me and I liked the slightly longer resulting length.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Nice! And note to self to grab them early in the season next year!

  • Heidi July 3, 2018

    I was surprised you didn’t like the Liverpool shorts. I thought they looked super cute! But if you aren’t feeling it, you aren’t feeling it. And you found 2 other pair of denim shorts you liked. Score!

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      They’re such thin denim in person they just look goofy like cut-off jeggings. I should have done a close-up of them!

  • RACHEL July 3, 2018

    For chub-rub, please try Megababe! I’m not with the company but the product has changed my LIFE. I can walk miles in a dress without shorts underneath, and in this heatwave, that’s amazing!!!

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Thanks for this! I’ll be honest I wasn’t considering it because everyone raving about it has been bloggers who are friends with the woman who makes Megababe and I was skeptical if it was any better than say Bodyglide or Monistat anti-chafing gel. Is it really better than those products? I may have to get some and review it!

      • Maia July 3, 2018

        For another opinion, I think that Bodyglide works better than Megababe. I tried Megababe because a friend recommended it and it does feel (and smell) really great when you first put it on but unlike Bodyglide, it absorbs into the skin after a few hours, requiring reapplication. Bodyglide lasts all day for me.

  • Patricia July 3, 2018

    Where I live (Seattle) it doesn’t get hot enough to desperately need shorts so I stick with crops which look better on me. I do love a hits and misses post. Even if I’m not shopping for that item, I learn a lot about what to look for regarding fit.
    Thanks.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      My pleasure! And right about now I’d love to be living in Seattle. It’s crazy hot right now and no chance of rain for over a week!

  • Lacy July 3, 2018

    The photos look great on the Echo. I took your advice for sizing up in shorts and considering Lands End. I bought some of their 5 inch chambray shorts and the faded blue colored denim shorts. The colored denim shorts are stretchy and comfortable- you should try them.

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      My plan was to try Lands’ End next. They make great shorts!

  • Lee July 3, 2018

    I like the pictures with the new camera! I think they really allow you to show us different views & angles. I’m also loving those Kut from the Kloth shorts. I wish they had a non-distressed pair w/ the 5 inch inseem, though. Still, I may give them a try. Those olive shorts were cute as well & that color goes with everything. I think I’ve got 4 pairs of olive pants—ha, ha! I tried some in Loft (their Riveria shorts) w/ a 7 inch inseem but they were dorky on me. Now I’m wondering if I should have tried the 5 inch. Thanks for doing this!

    • Alison Gary July 3, 2018

      Wow I took a look and they really are all distressed except one pair. Speaking of olive, did you see these olive green ones from Kut from the Kloth? They’re 5″ inseam http://bit.ly/2tRjmgJ I haven’t had luck with LOFT shorts, they all look dorky on me too!

      • Lee July 3, 2018

        Thanks for the link to the olive green Kut from the Kloth shorts—very cute & they are 5 inches! I have a very old pair of Loft Riveria shorts (5 inches) and they are so cute & comfortable. I actually wear them to walk my dog b/c they have pockets (for my iPhone and for baggies for pooper-scooping) and they don’t give me chub rub.

  • Susan July 3, 2018

    Great and helpful post! I love the zella shorts from Nordstrom. They are true to size, on the large side, which is great, and a great quality synthetic fabric–slightly REI, but a polished look. I love them because they are magically slimming, can go to a barbeque or on errands, have pockets, and can also go hiking. I wear mine with a linen shirt, half tucked, as well as with a T shirt. The cut around the legs is generous, so there is no tightening-too-tight on the legs when seated. Also, I find that a generous hem on shorts flatters the leg–IMHO. I will try some of these brands!

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