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Jean shorts may be one of the most versatile choices when it comes to your everyday summer wardrobe. Your first thought when we say jean shorts might be a pair of light-washed Daisy Dukes, but today the category goes so much deeper than that.
“Jean shorts go great with a simple white blouse, some funky jewelry, and the shoes of your choice—wedges, flats, sneakers, booties, or heels all look great with jean shorts depending on your activity of the day,” says fashion expert Katie Schmidt.
We tapped three style experts to get some insight into what makes a quality pair as well as how to style them for both business and casual occasions. Read on for best jean shorts on the market now.
Best Overall: Everlane The A-Line Denim Short
Let’s call these a wardrobe staple. Made from non-stretch cotton, this pair is made to last. Dress them up or down with a blouse or T-shirt and wear them with your favorite pair of sneakers or flats. The A-line cut makes these shorts extremely comfortable on different body types and is just the perfect length. Plus, it comes in both a lighter wash with finished hems and a medium wash with raw hems to cover multiple wardrobe occasions.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size Range: 23-33 | Inseam: 5.5 inches | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low
Best Budget: H&M Mom Ultra High Denim Shorts
Quality denim can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t budget-friendly options. With five pockets and an extra high waist, these jean shorts are ideal for those casual outings and activities. Even better, a percentage of the cotton is made from recycled materials.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% spandex | Size Range: 0-10 | Care: Machine wash cool; tumble dry medium
Best Designer: Gucci Denim Shorts with Horsebit
We'd bet that these shorts stand the test of time (and trend cycles). At under $1,000, these shorts boast a unique vintage look with horse-bit accents and a logo-stamped leather patch on the back.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 25-30 | Care: Hand wash
Best Bermuda: Banana Republic The Denim Bermuda Short
Bermuda shorts typically rest right above the knee and can be worn cuffed or uncuffed. This pair stops a few inches above the knee and rest high on the waist. These can be worn as semi-casual attire for a day on the town or a backyard barbecue. The style is available in an ecru colorway as well which would complement well with more elevated ensembles.
Material: 94% cotton, 5% recycled cotton, 1% other | Size Range: 24-35 (regular), 24-32 (petite) | Inseam: 9 inches (petite), 10 inches (regular) | Care: Machine wash
Best Distressed: Aerie Distressed Daydream Denim Short
Offering the perfect amount of stretch thanks to a stretchy elastic waist in the back, these shorts are extra distressed and come in seven kinds of washes for any outdoor event. They're supposed to be super soft and comfortable and only get better with each wash.
Material: 88% cotton, 12% polyester | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Care: Machine wash
Best Vintage-Inspired: Urban Outfitters Urban Renewal Vintage High-Rise ‘90s Denim Short
Head to Urban Outfitters to get these high-rise 90s-inspired jean shorts. No two pairs are identical in terms of look, but they all have a zip and button closure to keep them in place. Pair with an oversized shirt or vintage tee for a casual and nostalgic outfit for your next day in the city.
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Inseam: 3.5 inches | Care: Machine wash
Best Embellished: Cider Diamond Tassels Ripped Denim Shorts
Add a bit of sparkle to your jean shorts with this pair embellished with crystal tassels. Whether you’re going to a music festival or the state fair this summer, arrive in style with this mid-rise pair. Finally, complete the look with a vibrant crop top or a breathable mesh shirt for those hot all-day events.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL
Best on Amazon: Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Signature Mid-Rise Bermuda Shorts
There’s nothing that Amazon doesn’t have and that applies to jean shorts. Shop tons of name brands on this supersite like these Levi’s that have garnered over 7,000 ratings and 4.6 out of 5 stars. If you’re on the curvy side, these jean shorts will hug in all the right places for a comfortable fit.
Material: 83% cotton, 15.5% polyester, 1.5% elastane | Size Range: 2-28 | Care: Machine wash
Best for Dressing Up: Good American Good Curve High Waist Denim Shorts
When you think of dressing up, typically jean shorts don’t come to mind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. This pair provides nearly 20 inches of coverage from the back for a classy look that can be worn to a birthday party or dance recital—and pretty much anything else.
Material: 72% cotton, 7% recycled cotton, 11% modal, 9% elasterell-p, 1% elastane | Size Range: 00-26 | Inseam: 3.5 inches | Care: Machine wash; tumble dry
Best High Rise: Agolde Criss Cross Short
High-rise jeans are never going out of style. Not only do they keep everything in, but also have a chic appeal. With a criss-cross design at the front, these aren’t your typical jean shorts, but a more fashionable version for those looking to turn heads and make a statement.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-34 | Inseam: 4.5 inches | Care: Machine wash cold inside out with like colors; tumble dry low
Best Low Rise: RE/DONE The Short
Take it back to the early 2000s with these low-rise shorts. Be prepared for the denim to be pretty tough yet durable—there won’t be much stretching room, but the fit is unlike no other. Plus, it’s upcycled in Los Angeles from Levi's denim making each piece unique.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 1.5 inches | Care: Machine wash; tumble dry
Best Pull-On: Madewell Denim Easy Pull-On Shorts
For those who prioritize comfort over anything else, opt for a pair of jean shorts with an elastic waist. These shorts easily slide up the legs and create a flattering A-line silhouette down to elongate your figure. Whether you plan on eating a big meal or just need some extra breathing room, this is your go-to pair. They also come in plus sizes.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-XXL, 1X-3X | Inseam: 3.5 inches | Care: Machine wash
Best Paper Bag Waist: Boden Paperbag High Waisted Shorts
An elevated take on the traditional jean shorts, this pick by Boden adds visual interest with the soft pleats and paper bag waist. Create the desired silhouette using the self-tie belt and store important items in the two pocket slits.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 2-22 | Inseam: 6 inches | Care: Machine washable
Best Cutoff: Levi’s 501 Original Cutoff Shorts
Levi’s is a timeless choice for denim and that’s no exception when it comes to shorts. This pair of cutoff jeans provide a relaxed, loose fit with full cheek coverage. Plus, the shredded edges add a bit of flare ideal for more casual spring and summer outings.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Size Range: 23-33 | Inseam: 2.5 inches | Care: Machine wash; tumble dry
Best Boyfriend: American Eagle Denim 90s Boyfriend Short
Popular for its loose, relaxed fit, this pair provides comfort with its stretchy waistband and high-rise design. Plus, the white colorway will tastefully complement any other color or pattern, making them versatile enough for wearing time and time again.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 000-20 | Inseam: 3.5 inches | Care: Machine wash cold; tumble dry low
Best Plus Size: Torrid Bombshell Bermuda Short
Finding shorts that don’t ride up between the thighs can be a challenge, but Torrid solves that problem with ease. For those with thicker thighs, opt for this pair of Bermuda shorts that not only provide stretch, but coverage for desired areas (that’s right, no spillage).
Material: 65% cotton, 20% rayon, 13% polyester, 2% spandex | Size Range: 10-30 | Inseam: 8 inches | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out; tumble dry low
Best Sustainable: Ética Skylar Cutoff Short
Brands that are making fashion more sustainable always have a sweet spot in our book. Compared to other brands, Ética uses on average 90 percent less water and 70 percent less energy to produce its clothing.
Material: 75% cotton, 25% Tencel | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 5.5 inches | Care: Machine wash cold, line dry
What to Look for in Jean Shorts
Versatility and fit
“When you're shopping, search for pieces that are versatile, have natural fibers, and fit your style,” Schmidt says. “Don’t fall prey to the trends! When buying jean shorts, seek out quality materials and production. Quality material will offer a better fit and will last longer.”
Also, remember that jean shorts are for everyone regardless of age. Yes, anyone can rock a pair of jean shorts.
“I always suggest grabbing a pair that is a little longer in the back,” says fashion stylist Desiree Miranda. “No matter your age, you can pull off a denim shorts look as long as they remain tasteful and an appropriate length on the backside.”
What is inseam on jean shorts?
You’ll see the word “inseam” written on every jean short product description—so what does it mean? “An inseam is the length of your shorts. This will tell you how long, or short, your shorts will be on you,” says Schmidt. Specifically, it's measured from the crotch of the shorts to the bottom of the leg hem.
What can you wear with jean shorts?
When it comes to wearing jean shorts, that’s where the fun of fashion comes in—it’s up to you. However, there are a few best practices that our stylists suggest when looking to wear an outfit with jean shorts:
“My advice is to invest in a smaller number of high-quality, classic pieces (preferably environmentally friendly ones). These are basic pieces you can easily mix and match throughout the seasons,” Schmidt says. “Those basics include a pair of jeans, jean shorts, black pants, a dark-colored skirt, a light-colored sweater, and a plain white or black shirt. These types of staple pieces all pair well together, making it easy to pick a stylish outfit, especially when you throw in accessories.”
How to know if jean shorts will be comfortable?
“Consider your size and the materials the shorts are made from. Natural fibers tend to fit better,” says Schmidt. “I am a big proponent of getting your clothes tailored if the fit isn’t quite what you want it to be. There is nothing like wearing a garment that you love that has a great fit!”
She adds that handwoven fabrics tend to breathe much better than polyester and other synthetic fabrics thus making them more comfortable which is something to keep in mind while shopping for jean shorts.
For even more comfort, Miranda suggests making sure there is some spandex in the fabric makeup.
“Typically denim shorts with any amount of spandex will be more comfortable thanks to the soft texture and stretch in them, BUT these you must always buy in a size up. When washing/drying, spandex tends to shrink, going a size up will elongate the life of your shorts!”
How do you wash jean shorts?
After you’ve worn the jean shorts a few times, you’re going to want to wash them. However, to preserve their integrity, you must wash them properly.
“Denim can go quite a few wears before washes (wash when they smell odorous, have a stain, or generally feel like they need a refresh), but when you must launder, it’s important to turn jeans inside out to prevent abrasion, which preserves color longevity and preserves elasticity,” says Madeline Miller, The Laundress product specialist.
Why Trust Byrdie
Casey Clark is a Byrdie contributor and has written about fashion for other publications like StyleCaster, Reviewed, and Buzzfeed. Staying up to date with the latest trends, she’s on the pulse of fashion for everyone and aims to make knowledge about the industry more digestible and easy to understand.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough denim shorts from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.