Superficial Edition: SHORTS

May 11, 2021

I will be 41 next week.

I have been thinking about what I want to wear this summer. My typical uniform of dark skinny jeans & tee isn’t ideal in 90+ temps with FL humidity. I rather like the idea of floaty linen dresses but one kid (ahem G) would probably drip their popsicle all over me, and then what?

Honestly, the answer is shorts. I don’t love to wear shorts but I just don’t see an alternative practical solution. I received a lovely gift of these shorts for Mother’s Day (along with a cute bag & 3 tank tops! Very nice job Josh & kids!):

I like the whole ensemble; shorts here

Mine were a size too big (size inflation much, Madewell?) and I will exchange them but I am getting the same pair. But I also kind of want a new pair of denim shorts. I have heard great things about AGOLDE and kind of want to try some but . . . am I too old? WHAT IS THE CUTOFF AGE FOR CUTOFF SHORTS?

AGOLDE Parker Vintage Loose Fit (these are not sponsored links)

I don’t particularly love my legs but I also look rather frumpy in longer shorts because I’m short (and my legs are short too).

So there you have it. If you are late-30s or (gasp) over 40 like me, what are your thoughts on shorts? Specific brands or styles to recommend? Should I just stay in workout wear all summer? (It’s an option.)

FYI: If you do link something specific in the comments it may go to automatic moderation but I’ll be able to release it 🙂


  • Reply Beth May 11, 2021 at 6:06 am

    I’m really struggling with this as well (turned 40 last year and also do not love my legs right now). I’m actually moving to southern FL next month and know my yoga pants won’t fly all summer long in the 90’s plus humid weather of Florida. I have a few pair of linen shorts from Loft from last year and have been looking at a few pairs from J.Crew but the struggle is real!

    If you are open to linen I think these are cute! Good luck!

  • Reply CBS May 11, 2021 at 6:08 am

    Wear the shorts – life is too (heh) short to be hot and uncomfortable. I like cut offs, I think they are super cute and I don’t think there is an age limit unless they are the ones that are cut so high they literally show your cheeks. I also really like the casual linen ones. Gap does a good 3″ and 5″ chino short in fun colors. I tend to just wear running shorts for around the house/walks etc.

    You might get more mileage out of a dress than you think – get a bright pattern and the popsicle stains won’t show up. And a tshirt dress looks cute with canvas sneakers as well.

  • Reply Allison May 11, 2021 at 6:11 am

    Hi Sarah! I’m 37, mom of a nearly 6 and 3 year old. I tend to wear running shorts and a tank in the summer just to deal with sunscreen and popsicle hands, but I think cutoffs are completely reasonable so long as you feel comfortable! I have a few pair of shorts from JCrew Factory that I love. The thing about them that is great is they sell 3 and 5 inch inseam (I think?) so if you are shorter you can go for the 3 inch variety. They also are in the $20 range so you can try out a few patterns/colors 🙂 I find the quality better than Old Navy / Target. Best of luck!

    P.S. As a person who grew up in South Florida I would argue the cutoff age for cutoff shorts is well north of 60 🙂 My mom is 65 and has friends who wear them….

    • Reply sophia May 11, 2021 at 11:20 am

      I love j crew for shorts!

  • Reply Mara May 11, 2021 at 6:13 am

    I just got an Athleta skort and while it won’t work for all summer wearing, it will for casual stuff. I think they will be like my summer leggings. I don’t love my legs but the skort feels more flattering than shorts.

  • Reply KGC May 11, 2021 at 6:17 am

    I’m also not a huge fan of shorts – it’s just hard to find some that fit me well. I’ve had luck with JCrew and JCrew factory – they come in lots of inseams (I’m partial to 4” but I’m also 5’7”) and actually fit my waist and (lack of) hips (which sounds “ideal” by beauty standards but really isn’t because nothing fits). Honestly you’re probably best just ordering a whole bunch – like 10 pairs or more – and figure out what fits best and return the rest.

    But like another commenter said, I think dresses can be a good option! I wear a lot of casual tee or tank dresses and either Rothy’s sneakers, Toms, or Birkenstock’s when I’m running around with the kids. Doesn’t have to be fancy and still keeps me cool. And you’re washing the shirts or shorts with popsicle so washing a dress isn’t any different 🙂

    Good luck! (Also I love these ‘superficial’ posts. Keep them coming!)

  • Reply Jeannemarie May 11, 2021 at 6:31 am

    Wear the shorts! I have varicose veins all over my 41 year old legs and I don’t care -I hate being hot! But alternatively, I love to wear loose fitting cropped linen pants I got from J Crew Factory and lots of cotton or Jersey dresses from Boden – easy, not hot and fine to wear chasing kids around!

  • Reply Maya Dora May 11, 2021 at 6:50 am

    I feel like you had a lot of Anthropologie dresses at some point (an older birthday post you’d linked to, maybe?)… Bust ’em out! Wear ’em! They tend to be solidly made and can handle stains and washing machines. Dresses are so cool and comfy in the summer!

  • Reply Jennifer May 11, 2021 at 6:55 am

    Athleta has some great comfy skirts – I wear a couple of the minis all summer. I feel like they are more put together than shorts. Also check out just some easy cotton dresses – I think they’d survive the kiddos (maybe try darker colors or patterns).

  • Reply Joy May 11, 2021 at 7:04 am

    Shorts do not look good on me so I’ve spent years in skirts and Tshirts or casual dresses in the summer, even back when I had little kids. Patterns hide a multitude of stains. Also, skorts are a great compromise. They have the ease of shorts but are a little more polished for going out.

    I think it’s what you’re comfortable in and look good in. If you like shorts and feel comfortable in them, go for it.

  • Reply Cindy May 11, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I enjoy your blog. I am a skirt gal, as well dresses. So many more options as well easy to launder with the occasional toddler food droppings. I was raised on a Peach/ Almond ranch…. I have not worn “cut-offs” since “ life on the ranch”. Cut -offs were really our old work jeans mom would cutt-off since the knees were gone from hard work.

    • Reply Melissa May 11, 2021 at 9:32 am

      I agree that there is no cutoff- wear what you want! I’ll also be 41 soon and always questioning what’s “age appropriate” but usually try and tell myself to just go for whatever. I’m really into old navy’s 4 inch linen shorts this season with target universal thread v necks or tanks. This is my uniform for summer 2020- I have multiple colors of each!

  • Reply A. May 11, 2021 at 7:28 am

    I don’t believe in age cutoff, you wear what you want when you want 🙂 I don’t adore my legs either, but I find that high waist shorts, not too tight in the thighs (!) do wonders in terms of comfort for summers. I love Everlane, good ethical brand.

  • Reply Mom of 4 May 11, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Skorts are the answer! I’m a mom of 4 (11, 9, 5, 2) very active kids. Since you’re petite you could easily find ones long enough that they look like a skirt or you could wear the shorter ones that look like a mini skirt. So easy to be active, casual or dress up depending on shoes. My favorites have come from Lilly Pulitzer, Athleta, and Lands End. Also check out the dresses from Jude Connally and J McLaughlin – there are some really cute prints in easy breathable fabrics that would hide popsicles. Good luck!

  • Reply Jenn May 11, 2021 at 8:13 am

    I’m 32 but firmly believe there is no cutoff for cutoffs! Also, how is C? I keep anxiously waiting for an update!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 11, 2021 at 8:16 am

      Totally better!! I don’t know if it was a the Keflex or just time, but his ear improved greatly after 24 hours of antibiotics. And no more fevers 🙂 And EVERYONE back at school!

      • Reply Jenn May 11, 2021 at 8:18 am

        Yay so glad to hear!!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns May 11, 2021 at 8:47 am

    I don’t like shorts either. I have tried to find some I like and even at my realistic “ideal” weight, I don’t love how I look in them or how they feel. So I tend to wear sundresses. But my favorite is a jean skirt. I have one I love that is super comfy and very flattering. I know I shouldn’t be so vain and care about how I look in things, but I also find shorts to be uncomfortable.

    But you did encourage me to get a new swimsuit from Athleta! I got the same bottoms as you and a tankini top!

  • Reply Omdg May 11, 2021 at 9:13 am

    I like those denim shorts! I may just get a pair for myself. I just wear skirts and jogger capris now during the summer. I have these ugly spider veins that I want to get lasered on my right calf. Do you know anyone who has done that?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 11, 2021 at 9:47 am

      I don’t and I have rather ugly veins too. in theory it would be very easy for me to try bc josh could do it 🙂

    • Reply Grateful Kae May 11, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      I got sclerotherapy done on this out-of-nowhere huge spider vein on the side of my thigh a few years back. Wasn’t there one day, but suddenly the next day….it looked like I had EKG strip etched into my leg. Lovely. Anyway, the sclerotherapy was quick, not too painful and took care of >90-95% of it. I eventually might get some other smaller areas done but this big thigh beast was the most noticeable problem area. 🙂

      • Reply Steph May 11, 2021 at 7:50 pm

        I had ablation and sclerotherapy for my varicose veins in one leg and unfortunately it didn’t do much for the appearance but helped with the burning pain I was having. I’m also in Canada and it cost me over $3000 as it was considered ‘cosmetic’ but having a husband as a vascular surgeon I say absolutely give it a try. You may have better results!

        • Reply Grateful Kae May 11, 2021 at 7:57 pm

          Oh my gosh!! I must have had something different. Mine was just a one hour session of the little tiny injections and cost about $350 I think. But I didn’t have varicose veins- just spider veins in that area.

      • Reply Omdg May 12, 2021 at 8:43 am

        Ooh! This is so useful! I think I may look into this. I don’t have varicose veins (yet) just spider ones. Did a vascular surgeon do it? How did you find someone?

        • Reply Grateful Kae May 12, 2021 at 12:09 pm

          So I went to a local place that is a highly regarded “Vein and Laser Institute”. I had a consult with both the doctor and the nurse/ practitioner to see what I was a candidate for and I think they took some pics and did some imaging to check on flow and stuff. Can’t remember exactly. Then I was able to schedule the sclerotherapy for another day and in my case, it was just the one appointment with the RN Injector specialist that I needed. It was awesome! Totally solved the problem area after a bit of bruising cleared up. Pretty painless too- just tiny little pricks of the needles but no biggie. Was there for an hour.

  • Reply Irene May 11, 2021 at 9:31 am

    I have some shorts from Boden that I like- chino shorts I think that come in a variety of in seams- I think I wear 3 inch? Like you I am fairly short but want to be covered. I do wear a lid running clothes which I think are fine and then dresses for meeting up with people unless it’s a playground or something super active. I just bought a super comfortable Capri length black jumpsuit that I actually really like with super wide legs. I may try to dip into rompers and jumpsuits and bit more this summer!

  • Reply oem May 11, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Madewell must have its target market done well because my 43 yo self has been drooling over those shorts in their catalog.

  • Reply acdalal May 11, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I am approaching 50, and last summer I realized that I was no longer comfortable in shorts. (Other than cutoffs, which I will wear until I’m dead, thankyouverymuch!) So I wear a lot of casual dresses with bike short-length leggings underneath, or t-shirts, tank tops, and tunics with bike short-length leggings or capri-length leggings. Much more comfortable and, on me, way more flattering than shorts.

    • Reply Kathy May 11, 2021 at 10:05 am

      Yes! I’m a huge fan of bike shorts under skirts and dresses. This combines the fun of skirts with the ability to play freely with my niece and nephew on the swings. 🙂

  • Reply Erin May 11, 2021 at 10:25 am

    I am pro-dress, especially in the summer heat (I’m in NC)! I tend to gravitate toward midi/maxi styles, which admittedly might be tricky for shorter gals (I’m 5’7″), but lately Loft and Old Navy have both had some very cute options which tend to come in petite sizes as well. Target has also had lots of great dress options this spring, which makes ordering/trying on/returning very easy. For pricier options, I love the Hill House Home nap dresses, Emerson Fry, Banjanan, and Free People. Basically a flowy floral midi dress is my jam, and prints hide stains well (I have a 3.5 year old and a 6.5 year old, due with our third in August).

    For shorts, I prefer a pull-on or drawstring style with functional pockets as opposed to a zip fly. J.Crew & factory used to make a great style called the boardwalk but it looks like they don’t have them this season. I’d check poshmark for some gently used ones in that style! They are pretty similar to this style from Madewell, which I also like quite a lot: I’ve also had good luck finding the Madewell version on Poshmark.

    For white denim shorts (which honestly go with everything!), I love these button fly ones from J.Crew:

    • Reply KGC May 11, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      A million times YES to white denim shorts from JCrew. I have a different style from them that I love love love and they are my definite go-to if I’m not in a dress. They do truly go with everything!

      • Reply Abby May 12, 2021 at 3:52 pm

        I love those Madewell pull on shorts – they wash up really well.

  • Reply Gillian May 11, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I live in dark colored casual dresses in the summer. think black and navy. I have Tee-shirt dresses from Everlane, J Crew, Boden…all in dark colors to deal with the popsicle stains. I have 2 pairs of shorts that I can wear to the occasional amusement park, but that is really it.

  • Reply Evi May 11, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    Nothing superficial about it… Who doesn’t want to look and feel good about themselves?

  • Reply Alyce May 11, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    My issue with cutoff jean shorts isn’t age relate – it’s that they’re hyper casual, and I have a hard time identifying places where it’s appropriate to be that casual. But know that I kinda think all shorts are too casual and only rarely wear them. I’m really not a casual person when it comes to clothes – I own no sweatpants, joggers, etc. I only wear gym clothes while exercising, there’s a lot of overlap between my business casual work wardrobe and my home wardrobe, and I’ve gotten properly dressed pretty much every day of the pandemic. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. But it honestly doesn’t sound like you’re actually all that comfortable wearing shorts. If you think you’d might be more comfortable in a dress, I second what others have said about wearing patterned dresses, as the patterns are much more forgiving if there are stains. You may want to consider whether getting some popsicle juice on a dress makes you more uncomfortable than you’d be wearing shorts. With good laundry techniques (basically, get a good stain treatment, use it, if the stain doesn’t come out in the wash, don’t put it in the dryer – treat it again while wet and wash it the next time you do another load), I find I never have lingering stains.

    My summer uniform is either long flowy dresses (from Ace and Jig, Pyne and Smith), a more structured shirt dress (from Everlane, Alex Mill), or wideleg cropped linen pants (from Eileen Fisher, etsy) with a fitted Smartwool tank top. I’m only 5’0″, and I find that a long maxi dress or a monochrome shirt and cropped pant outfit actually make me look taller than shorts do because visually, my summer outfits offer a long unbroken vertical. Shorts chop you up visually and make you look shorter, especially if your shorts are a different color than your top. (And now that I’m typing that out, maybe the challenging proportions for me as a short person factors big time into why I don’t enjoy wearing shorts in addition to the casualness of them).

  • Reply Jjiraffe May 11, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    I decided this summer I needed a pair of jean cutoffs like my fav old Levis that I used to live in at college. (My college was located literally on the beach, so shorts were a must.) I did a TON of research (including looking at those AGOLDE cutoffs you posted) and ended up buying these admittedly expensive pair. I can’t believe I spent so much on cutoffs. BUT. They are loose enough that my legs look skinnier than they are while being insanely comfortable. I already wear them a lot, and they remind me of my carefree beach-y student days.

  • Reply Kat May 11, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    41 here too and I hated shorts for a long time but having kids made me need to wear them to avoid flashing my underwear at playgrounds/picnics, etc. Agree with others about J.Crew. I have many pairs of the basic chino shorts and love them. (4 or 5″ inseam is my preference). Old navy shorts are also super cute and I have a few fun patterned pairs. Also tshirt dresses are the way to go. Circle back on this and let us know what you get! And more importantly what yo like to wear!

  • Reply Jasminr May 11, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    My summer uniform is an Old Navy dress with either Capri leggings or bike shorts underneath. Some even come in petite which make then a perfect short dress.

  • Reply Nan May 11, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    So funny that a topic so simple as shorts could draw so many comments…but it sure does! I also do not love shorts in the summer either. I will wear from time to time but I tend to like jogger type pants or flowy light weight pants/capris for the summer. I have gotten so much use out of my joggers from Lululemon and here is an example of one I like from anthropology:

  • Reply Coco May 11, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    i live in shorts and just got a new pair of cutoff shorts. why is there an age for that? go what you like to wear and forget about your age.

  • Reply LDMN May 11, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    I am a HUGE fan of skorts! Athleta has great ones that last a long time, and in TOP mom form, I just bought one from Costco (brand is 32 degrees) that I really like!

  • Reply Erin R May 11, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    Another vote for casual dresses + bike shorts under. I have tons from target, old navy and Costco. Not winning any fashion awards but they look fine!

  • Reply lawandcreative May 12, 2021 at 7:27 am

    I am so much more comfortable wearing work clothes than casual. A pencil dress, heels and a blazer is so easy to put together! Then in my casual life I live in the same pair of jeans, a black vest top and a hoodie that is practically falling apart…..

    Personally, I love wearing shorts, am 36 and don’t plan to stop wearing them anytime soon. We sadly don’t have the weather for them often here in England.

  • Reply Charlotte May 12, 2021 at 8:00 am

    The Farallon shorts from Athleta are my favorite.

  • Reply Kristi May 12, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Yes shorts are necessary in the summer heat! I prefer a more athletic or casual style, I have some from Athleta and Title 9 that I really like. They also have skorts if that’s your jam.

  • Reply Kim N May 12, 2021 at 11:54 am

    I love these cut off shorts from Nordstrom
    They are much cheaper than the Agolde ones, come in a variety of colors, and have a little stretch so they are very comfortable. I am 44 and still wear them 🙂
    I also have a couple of skorts from Athleta, and I love tshirt and tank dresses from Target/Lands End/Boden. They wash well, are generally cooler than shorts, and work as swimsuit coverups with flip flops, chasing kids around with tennis shoes or TOMS, or dressed up a little with fancier sandals, and maybe a scarf or jean jacket if it is cooler.
    I say wear what you like and feel good in!

  • Reply Cecily May 12, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Wow, amazing number of responses about shorts! Joining the mix to add that I’m 39 and love these shorts from Prana: They are available in 5″ and 7′ inseams. I like the 5″. We have very different builds (I’m 6’1″), but I think these are classic shorts that can work for a variety of body types. Also extremely well made so worth the price.

  • Reply Christine May 19, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Wear the shorts! I’m 46 this year (not sure how that happened, lol) and LOVE 5″ ish inseam shorts. But, I spent the first 40 years of my life in a high demand, conservative religion than meant knee length shorts (or longer) and shoulders must be covered, so now I love my shorts and tank tops. I have to make up for lost time! So, if you like the shorts, you want to wear the shorts, then definitely wear the shorts.

  • Reply 2016windaily June 15, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I am over 60, so apparently older than many here. 😉 I am also a very definite pear shape, so short shorts are both uncomfortable, and risky. HA!! In reading style recommendations for shorts for pear shapes (or whatever term they are using now for bottom heavy) they recommend shorts with some flare to them, and a medium length. Of course, even a medium length ends up being kind of short-ish, because my ampleness in this area takes up some real estate. I have had some bermuda type shorts, but my stylish friends vetoed them, due to the “ice cream cone” profile they tend to cause for me, as do skinny leg jeans. I do have some knit flare leg shorts I wear around the house that I got from Penney’s. They are very comfortable, were very inexpensive, and have lasted a very long time. I also have some flare leg shorts from Loft that have lasted well. I’ve been disappointed in the quality at Loft recently, but these have worked. And, of course, skorts are definitely the answer. Coverage, and comfortable, without risk of exposure if you doing something active. I have gotten some from Athleta, and also from Lands End. Oh, and I’ve been this exaggerated pear shape all my life, so it isn’t an age issue, and I’ve also had prominent veins my whole life, so have had to just get over it. 😉 In case that helps anyone here.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 15, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Love it!!!!

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