Shorts Alternative for Summer?
Here Are Some Options
The days are getting warmer and our summer clothes are the go-to. I’m always watching for styles that I can wear in place of shorts. I envy women over 50 who have beautiful legs and can wear shorts and look great. I don’t count my legs as one of my best features, mostly because of veins and a bit of loose skin around the knees. Finding alternatives to wearing shorts is a win. Here are some summer friendly styles that I like to wear on hot summer days that are stylish and cool – and aren’t shorts.
Summer Dress Styles
I’m growing to love wearing casual dresses on summer days. They are cool and there are so many style options.
I don’t wear dresses above the knee any more, so I’m not showing pics of this style. There are many styles with hemlines above the knee that are beautiful and very appropriate for older women, and if you are someone who can wear that style, go for it! (Short styles often work well for shorter women.)
I prefer dress lengths just below the knee, mid-calf, and maxi.
Summer dresses that hit at or just below the knee provide a perfect alternative to shorts. The shorter length keeps you just as cool as shorts – sometimes more so because the fabric isn’t really close to the body.
Mid-calf (or midi) dresses and those that hit between between the knee and ankle and are a great option for keeping fashionably cool. This is my preferred style.
The maxi has come in and out of fashion since the 60’s (remember the Flower Child days?!). It’s resurged as a popular style trend for the past few years. It’s an easy style to wear and can be flattering on most body types. Maxi dresses can take you from a day of errands or a work day to a night out by styling for the occasion. (They also make great swimsuit cover-ups, by the way).
Be aware of your body type when shopping for a maxi style. If you are short, you’ll want to make sure there’s not too much fabric that can overwhelm you. Also, patterns can play a role in how a maxi dress or skirt flatters or doesn’t, so make sure you pay attention when trying on maxi styles.
Maxi dresses are beautiful and feminine, create a gorgeous long line, and can be very casual or very dressed up. And they can really be cool to wear if the fabric is lightweight and the dress is a bit loose fitting.
A summer skirt is a fun way to express your summer style. One summer skirt can be the anchor for a multitude of looks by pairing different tops with it.
I like to wear loose and flowy skirt styles that keep me cool on hot days. I keep my hemlines at or below the knee just like with summer dresses.
Maxi skirt styles, with length to the ankle, are an option to maxi dresses. They are a great travel option – with a variety of tops that coordinate with a maxi skirt, you can create multiple looks with just one skirt.
Pants – Ankle, Crops, and Beach
There was a time when I didn’t put on a pair of pants for the entire summer – it was shorts, shorts, shorts. Time marches on and now my summer wardrobe includes a variety of pant styles.
I’m not a huge fan of crop pants, but it is a very trendy look this season. The hemline with the crop style hits about mid-calf and there are a lot of crop styles to choose from. Capris are another category of short pants – the hemline hits just below the knee.
When wearing pant styles that have a short length (above the ankle), be sure to style them with proportion in mind. The shortened leg style can do the opposite of elongating your leg. 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
Ankle length pants are popular in spring and summer, and that’s my preferred style. Summer temps where I live are often mild, and this is a perfectly appropriate and comfortable thing to wear. Ankle pants hit a few inches above the ankle. They won’t be a great solution if it’s a very hot day, since they wear pretty much like long pants. But they do give the illusion of being lighter with the bare skin of your ankle and a bit above peeking out.
My description of beach pants are loose fitting, lightweight, elastic waist pants. They look appropriate for summer wear in casual settings. They are super comfortable (elastic waist – yes!) and can look very stylish when styled for the occasion. In the photo below (right), I was in Hawaii and going out for a shopping trip so I wanted to look a bit stylish while comfortable and appropriate for Hawaii-casual. I simply added a tank with some detail features and jewelry to elevate the look from beach to a day out.
Nothing says classic summer season like linen. It’s cool on hot days and always looks classy, even when the inevitable wrinkles set in. Wear linen pants, a dress, or a linen shirt and, even though your legs are not bared, you’ll feel cool on summer days.
Okay – I said no shorts, but …..
Well, never say never. There may be times when a pair of shorts is the most appropriate thing to wear for the occasion. I’ve done it a few times. I like long length shorts – 9 or 10 inches. The bermuda shorts trend has returned. And, yes, the baggy bermuda short is a trendy take on the style, but you need to be careful if you’re over 40 about choosing loose bermudas, because they can look a bit un-stylish on women of a certain age. A closer fit, long short is easier to wear. Look for shorts that have a narrow leg opening and style them with a loose fitting top. A styling trick is to wear pattern where you want to draw the eye. On the infrequent occasions that I wear shorts, I wear a top with a print or a solid with some kind of styling detail or feature to draw the eye up rather than to my legs.
The Long and Short of It!
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.
*The cute scruffy dog in the feature photo at the top of the post isn’t mine – he’s a sweet winery dog who greeted us when we visited.