The Best Shorts You’ll Actually Want To Wear This Summer

From tailored styles to something a little sportier.

best shorts for women 2024

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

It's impossible to talk about summer dressing without mentioning something that a lot of people genuinely seem - year in, year out - quite alarmed by: the best shorts. Maybe it's the fact that they tend to be short, go figure, and therefore quite exposing after a spring spent bundled in leggings.

Or perhaps that, with their relaxed fits and elastic waistbands, you have to work that little bit harder to make them look smart in your summer wardrobe. Nevertheless, 2024 is backing shorts in a big way this warm weather season - and they've had something of a makeover since the last time you wore them. But how exactly does one wear shorts?

@meccajw on instagram
©@meccajw on instagram

First, you need to know what are the best summer shorts to look for. Chino-style shorts have been edged out for tailored shorts that look 100% more sleek. Some even come with matching suit jackets (usually both halves of the equation are pleasingly oversized so the overall effect isn't too shrunken) or with especially elongated and slim-fit legs so that they're effectively culottes.

Tamu McPherson styled her high street pair of shorts - chestnut-coloured from Mango - with a matching waistcoat and a crisp white blazer to bring three-piece suiting well and truly into summer territory. I can't help thinking that this exact combination, with the addition of some gleaming costume jewellery, would work wonders as an alternative to a wedding guest dress.

@tamumcpherson on Instagram
©@tamumcpherson on Instagram

For a more relaxed option, and for anyone who used to fall back on cargo shorts, the best shorts have a relaxed fit and come with an elasticated waistband this summer. Opt for 100% linen or a cotton-linen blend to make them extra breathable during warm weather.

Denim shorts always seem to make an appearance, but instead of the teeny-weeny cut-offs that provide zero sun coverage, this summer's jean shorts are loose and long or come with something statement about them (either an especially high waist or a pleasingly fun pattern).

Finally, best shorts practice dictates that there needs to be an element of balance in your outfit. What this means, simply, is that you should counterpoint that stretch of leg with something oversized on top. An organic cotton shirt with a few buttons undone, say, would immediately make a pair of sweat shorts look sharper. And at the beach, give a pair of swim shorts (or even swim trunks) a surfer kind of cool with a tie-dye jumper and a bucket hat.

That's the long and short of it, but have a go and see what you come up with. You might just wear them all summer long.

SHOP: The Best Shorts For Women

Arket High Waist Linen ShortsArket

The classic chino short gets an update at Arket, this time with linen. They're super comfortable, and super cool too as linen is one of the most breezy fabrics you can choose this summer. Pair with an oversized white shirt and you've got yourself the perfect outfit for exploring your favourite European city.

La DoubleJ Palmetto-Print Silk ShortsFarfetch

Equal parts comfy and stylish, La DoubleJ's silk shorts are ideal for your next island getaway. In a gorgeous ivory white, red and navy blue combo with a motif that depicts palm trees, these shorts are made from a unique silk twill from the Italian city of Como. They also have an elastic waistband so they can be easily removed when you want to sunbathe without the dreaded tan lines.

Ganni x Coggles Floral-Print Organic Cotton ShortsCoggles
Price: £73 (was £145)

With its ditsy print and blue fabric, these shorts have summer written all over them. Plus, they're super easy to match with a white t-shirt and trainers to bring a more playful twist to any basic outfit. Or, go for the full floral look and invest in the matching Ganni x Coggles blouse.

Levi's 501 Mid Thigh ShortsLevi's

There's nothing more iconic than a pair of Levi's denim blue shorts. These shorts are the perfect length that aren't ridiculously short-short and they won't ride up when you sit down. Made with the classic Levi's vintage-inspired fit, these shorts are timeless and will remain ubiquitously cool for summer after summer.

For a classic all-rounder linen short, these Hush ones demand to be added to your holiday packing list. The drawstring waist is sure to come in handy when you want to whip off your shorts and dive headfirst into the sea, or, when you want to feel extra comfortable when perusing around town.

Citizens Of Humanity Ayla Denim ShortsMy Theresa

For a more modest short that's not as baggy as a Bermuda short, but is not as fitted as a more traditional-styled short, the Ayla Denim shorts strike the perfect balance. Crafted in a light indigo wash denim, its shorts will soon become one of the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe thanks to its versatility and classic design.

Uniqlo Seersucker Cotton Gingham Checked Easy ShortsUniqlo

Sorry to go all 'coastal grandma' on you but Uniqlo have the perfect easy-breezy shorts for summer. Available in three different colours; Beige, Black, Green and Blue, all featuring a timeless gingham print. We called these shorts 'easy-breezy' due to its airy seersucker fabric and relaxed cut with a single tuck at the front. Style with a white tee and an oversized blazer and you're good to go.

Frame Le Brigette Distressed Denim ShortsHarvey Nichols

We know Frame for its denim jeans and handbags that have been spotted on the likes of Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr - but what about its shorts? These denim shorts have that look as if you've picked them up from a vintage shop (even though you haven't), with its aged contrast stitching and frayed unfinished cuffs. Perfect for the days where you feel like you want to wear something a little less tailored.

H&M Linen ShortsH&M
Price: £18.99

For an airy pair of shorts from a high-street retailer, H&M have some great linen shorts in various different colours including light beige, olive green and light blue. There's no drawstring on this pair, but there is an elasticated waist to cinch you in, or, to tuck your white shirt into.

ME+EM Bermuda High-Rise Denim ShortsHarrods

If you're brave and bold enough (or both) to wear Bermuda shorts then these ME+EM ones should be your top pick. Since the 80's, longline denim shorts have always been somewhat of a wardrobe staple. To make it a little more 00's, we suggest styling your Bermuda shorts with a retro Adidas jersey or football tee.

COS Boucle ShortsCOS

If you don't know what bouclé is, it's basically an organic cotton-blend that's naturally stretchy and extremely comfortable. That, coupled with the fact they have an elasticated waist, make these COS shorts essential for days in the park, or for putting on after a swim. The bright pistachio-green colour is certain to complement a tan too.

What material is best for shorts?

There is no one material that's labelled 'the best for shorts.' Cotton is arguably one of the most popular choices thanks to its softness and versatility, but other materials like linen and denim have their merits too. Linen shorts, for example, is perfect for hot climates, as they're lightweight and breathable, which provides excellent airflow to keep you feeling cool. Denim however is more structured, and can look slightly more put-together. For sports and outdoor activities, moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester and nylon are usually the go-to for most people. It's all about finding a pair of shorts that suit your lifestyle, climate and comfort.

What type of shorts are trending right now?

Some of the types of shorts that are very much in right now are mini shorts, jorts and Bermuda shorts - it seems like it's one extreme to the other, either very short shorts or longer shorts.

If neither of these are your style, your best bet is to opt for a short with a more timeless silhouette. When was the last time denim shorts were out? Never. Denim is something that will always exude an element of coolness and laid-back charm, whether that be distressed or frayed. Don't like denim? Try linen. Linen is gloriously cool in the summertime and can be paired with a matching linen shirt for a more presentable look.

The great thing about shorts in general is that they don't necessarily be on trend to be considered cool. There are so many different styles that look great on everyone, so finding that perfect pair shouldn't feel so daunting. After all, it's 2024, don't be worried about getting your pins out.

Natalie Hammond is Grazia’s Senior Fashion News Editor. She loves winter, hates summer and can often be found writing about the weather (and what on earth to wear).

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