What to Wear When You’d Rather Not Wear Shorts

What to Wear When You’d Rather Not Wear Shorts

As promised (did you read to the end of last week’s blog where I promised?!), this week we are exploring options for dressing the bottom half on those hot days. What can we wear if we’d rather not wear shorts?

This post began as a review of the alternatives to wearing shorts. And I still want to list the options for those of us who prefer not to wear shorts on the warm spring and summer days. However, as I was writing about cropped and capris pants, it became obvious that this category is one that warrants a little more conversation than just listing it as an alternative style to shorts. So, here are the styles you can wear when you don’t want to wear shorts, plus a little more about the styles that encompass crops and capris.

Maxi Dress or Skirt

This style has come in and of fashion since the 60’s. It has been a popular style trend again for the past few years and is easy to wear and quite chic. Since your legs are covered, lightweight fabrics work well on those hot days, but because there is no clinging to your skin, it is a cool option without baring your legs. I have a favorite maxi skirt that I wrote about last season (The Best Maxi Skirt According to Me!). That particular skirt is no longer available, but what I love about it is the easy waist and the fabric that’s pretty much wrinkle proof (perfect for packing for a trip). Maxi skirts and dresses can take you from a day of errands to work to a night out by styling for the occasion. They also make great swimsuit cover-ups. Be aware of your body type when going for this style. Shorter gals want to make sure there’s not too much fabric that overwhelms you. Also, patterns can create an illusion of being heavy, so make sure you pay attention when trying on maxi styles.

The long maxi dress style is almost a better option when you don’t want to wear shorts on the hot days because it doesn’t bind at the waist. The continuous fabric skims the body and feels very comfy on a warm day. Another plus is that the maxi dress creates a continuous line as opposed to a maxi skirt with a top that necessarily has a horizontal line between top and skirt.

Free People Hot Tropics Maxi Skirt
Free People Hot Tropics Maxi Skirt
ECI Print Maxi Dress
ECI Print Maxi Dress
Caslon Drawstring Waist Maxi Dress
Caslon Drawstring Waist Maxi Dress

Summer Dress

So many dresses; so few days! There are so many pretty summer dresses and this is a perfect alternative to shorts in spring and summer. The styles run the gamut from above knee to mid-calf and off-the-shoulder styles to tanks, halters, various sleeve lengths. The options are endless, and you can find just about any style that makes you comfortable.

My very favorite long summer dress is an easy cotton knit that falls about mid-calf. Plus it’s a super fun print and a happy red color. It’s definitely my “go-to” on the sweltering days.

You can find a summer dress style for just about any occasion. Just be sure that if you are wearing a summer dress for work that it’s appropriate for your work environment.

Trouve Body-Con Maxi Dress
Trouve Body-Con Maxi Dress
Lucky Brand Hannah Embroidered Shift Dress
Lucky Brand Hannah Embroidered Shift Dress
Vince Camuto Havana Tropical Maxi Dress
Vince Camuto Havana Tropical Maxi Dress

Culottes, Palazzo Pants, and Skorts

Wow – I don’t think I’ve heard the term culottes since I was a teenager. But in researching for this post I discovered that it’s still a thing! Culottes look like a skirt but are cut like pants; in more recent years they’ve been called skorts. The term is interchangeable, but in my mind skorts are a shorter, more casual style than culottes. This style is a great alternative to shorts – it gives you the ease of shorts but, depending on the length, can provide a little more leg coverage. It can be a very casual, vacation-y look, or a going-out-on-the-town, dressy style, depending on the length and fabric, and on how you style it with accessories.

Palazzo pants are described as wide-leg, loose flowing pants. The difference between them and culottes appears to be the flowy-ness of the fabric. This style to me is a little dressier than culottes.

Word of caution here: Some of the lightweight and flowy fabrics used for culottes and palazzo pants can be very UNflattering. Be careful – when you try on this style in light fabrics, make sure you carefully consider your backside. I’ve seen LOTS of women in these styles who may not have worn them if they’d taken a look at their backside.

Leith Paperbag Waist Culottes
Leith Paperbag Waist Culottes
Two by Vince Camuto Surplice Chambray Culotte Jumpsuit
Two by Vince Camuto Surplice Chambray Culotte Jumpsuit
1.State High Waist Wide Leg Pants
1.State High Waist Wide Leg Pants

Crop Wide Leg Pants

The crop wide leg style is one I have yet to embrace. It’s a newer silhouette – to my recollection becoming a trend last season. This style differs from culottes in that the cut is more pants than skirt. It’s a casual look, best for day wear. I don’t know if I will every wear this style. I think it can be a tough style to pull off in a flattering way. But it is very trendy, and when I see women taking on the trend, I have admired their fashion forwardness.

7 for All Mankind Kiki High Waist Crop Wide Leg Jeans
7 for All Mankind Kiki High Waist Crop Wide Leg Jeans
Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Crop Wide Leg Pants
Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Crop Wide Leg Pants
Alice + Olivia Beta Embellished Wide Leg Crop Jeans
Alice + Olivia Beta Embellished Wide Leg Crop Jeans

Cropped Pants, Capris, and Clam Diggers

So here we are. This is a confusing category. What’s the difference between capris and cropped, and what the heck are clam diggers anyway?

I have a conflicting relationship with this category. I am drawn to crops but not sure about capris. Capris can fall into that dangerous not-cool, style-for-middle-aged-people category. Clam diggers, to me, are a fun style that says vacation – I would not wear this style in another situation.

My interpretation of these styles goes like this:

  • Crops – The hem hits above the ankle.
  • Capris – This style hits at about mid-calf. In another era they were called pedal pushers (I actually remember that!).
  • Clam Diggers – This is a little shorter than capris, hitting below the knee, just at the top of the calf.

Any of these styles are an easy go-to when you don’t want to wear shorts. They cover up what you don’t want to display but still leave a little skin exposed so they look hot weather appropriate. Cropped pants are actually quite in style.

Wearing crop styles, however, can be challenging as the shortened leg style can do the opposite of elongating your leg, in other words, the crop style can make you look heavier than you want. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When wearing close fitting pants that are cropped, it’s important to remember that the hem of the pants should end at a narrow part of your leg. When the pants hit at a wide area, like mid-calf, it can make your leg look heavy.
  • Focus on the proportion of your outfit when wearing crops. Try to create a rule of thirds: Your top part is usually 1/3 and your bottom part 2/3. But you can also create a 2/3 top 1/3 bottom silhouette. (More details about this in the post linked below.)
  • Shoes – Wear shoes with a heel or shoes that are nude color to elongate your leg.

Here’s a great post, and very detailed, about how to wear crop styles from 40+ Style, a blog I follow: How to Wear Cropped Pants – An Extensive Guide

Blogger Sylvia shows a variety of photos of herself in different crop pants styles, which is helpful for style inspiration. She talks about how to correctly proportion your outfit when wearing crop pants and how to style different widths and lengths. It’s a great post.

Kut from the Kloth Crop Skinny Jeans
Kut from the Kloth Crop Skinny Jeans
NYDJ Dayla Colored Wide Cuff Capri Jeans
NYDJ Dayla Colored Wide Cuff Capri Jeans
Halogen Crop Stretch Cotton Pants
Halogen Crop Stretch Cotton Pants

Wrapping Up

There is a lot of flexibility in fashion when it comes to dressing for hot weather. It’s fun to integrate variety into your wardrobe, too. So try a few different style solutions if you don’t want to wear shorts, whether it’s because you’ve passed your short-wearing days or you just want some different style options.

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2 Comments

  1. Julie
    May 12, 2017 / 11:40 am

    Awesome, thanks! I’ll be sad when the maxi dresses go out of style. So easy to dress up or down! As a fan of capris, I’m inspired to try some tunics for the 2/3-1/3 look and get more coverage. That will be an excuse to buy some summer peep toe booties!

    • May 13, 2017 / 7:23 am

      I love maxi dresses to. They are so versatile and make me feel feminine. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post from 40+ Style. I thought it was good and worth sharing. Re peep toe booties, I’ve been loving mine. They always get comments and they are so fun to wear! Get some!!

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