Shorts Substitutes for the Over-40 Summer Goddess

Not that women over 40 “shouldn’t” wear shorts. Nothing wrong with that; hello gorgeous Vix, Desiree, Adrienne et al. Wear your shorts and rock your fabulous legs all summer long.

I guess the title of this post should be Short Substitutes for Women Who Choose Not To Wear Shorts. And that would include me. Except for working out and washing windows, I prefer to cover my upper legs in public. My calves, well, they are awesome.

The no-shorts decision is a problem in Florida, starting about, um, now. And a month from now, daily highs will be in the 90’s. Jeans, my favorite casual wear, will be too suffocating for day wear, although still fine for evening events.

So here is what I’ll be wearing in the day, for casual times (Work wear is simpler, because I go from air conditioning to air conditioning pretty quickly).

  • Airy cotton skirts. I love these for steamy days. Gathered waists are more  comfortable than zip-and-buttons. Knee length or longer, so I can bike in them too. Machine washable, of course. These are actually cooler than shorts because they allow for more cooling breezes to circulate!
A couple of bright skirts like this, only 3″ longer. Banana Republic.
  • Sundresses. This is a tough category for me, because I don’t like to go out in just spaghetti straps. Most sundresses are built that way. But I have found a few airy dresses with some coverage. These are wonderful for lunch with friends, shopping with my sister, and looking cool. Just add sandals.
And a couple of these yummy dresses, Athleta. Offered in five colors.
  • Knee length shorts. Some occasions call for a pant. If I’m going to be climbing or rummaging or doing a long bike ride, a skirt is not going to cut it. Bermuda shorts are having a revival on the runway, and making their way into the shops. I’m going to pick up a pair of slim Bermudas and try them out this summer.
I love the slim shape of these Bermudas. Vince Camuto at Nordstroms.

I’ll tackle the up-top wear next post! How about you: are you a shorts woman or do you seek alternatives when the days get steamy?

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  1. I am a shorts-wearing Summer Goddess (totally stealing that!) and I love Bermudas and summer dresses, too. Once we escape winter, I'm ready for any method that lets me soak up some Vitamin D 🙂

  2. I live in Phoenix so shorts are a must! (Running after two kids makes skirts and dresses less practical.) I just insist on finding long shorts. I get frustrated that the "cute" pairs (prints, plaids etc) tend to be shorter lengths, but I've had no trouble finding a variety of knee length (or nearly so) solid shorts (mostly I shop at Kohl's) and I just bought a plaid pair from Land's End.

  3. I almost never wear shorts, because even when I was super thin (long ago now!) they would ride up in the middle. :/ this is not a good look on anyone, so I stick to dresses, skirts, cropped pants, and occasional knee length shorts. I find that linen pants can be quite cool as well. I really love casual dresses; you look polished even though its super simple! I live where it's super hot in summer, so strapless dresses have become almost a uniform for me.

  4. I buy shorts but never end up wearing them! I actually think skirts work much better in the summertime. With shorts, my inner thigh chub rub causes them to punch up oddly around my butt and crotch. Does anyone else have this problem? I don't have it with pants because the longer material balances out the friction, I guess.So with shorts I have to do the awkward walk-and-kick-a-leg-out-to-shake-out-the-bunched-fabric-in-my-crotch dance and hope like hell no one notices!

    With skirts, I still have to deal with the chub rub so I usually layer bike shorts underneath. They don't bunch up and they prevent me from starting a chub rub friction fire. One time I wore a pencil skirt to work and went without bike shorts for some reason. This was in August in Baltimore. Needless to say, on my drive home I was spread eagle in the car trying to fan the AC between my legs. While stuck in awful traffic. Lesson learned!

  5. I used top live in Florida so I can relate!
    I love wearing skirts and bermuda shorts but my tops have to have sleeves to hide my upper arm flab 😉

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  6. I will go for knee length shorts.I'm trying to figure out a piece for bottom that I haven't tried yet and it seems like a nice alternative.

  7. Hi Patti!

    I'm not a short person i prefer by far dresses and skirts for summer, much more elegant i think !

    Have great day

    Ariane xxx

  8. I agree with you about shorts and capris. Just this morning I heard Peter Gunn say one of the worst style for any shape of women, skinny, slim, average, etc. was capris. They hit at the worst part of the leg and makes everyone look shorter and heavier. Thank goodness I have been wearing summer skirts and sun dresses for several years now.

  9. I like shorts but bermudas are wrong for my pear-shaped self. My thighs end up looking like sausages in a casing. Shorter shorts with a straight leg give me a longer/slimmer looking leg. I like summer dresses and skirts but I like the freedom of shorts.

  10. I'm a total skirt gal myself and for the exact reasons you mentioned. I, too, have found they are just more comfortable and more flattering. I do own way too many (longer shorts) that I never seem to wear, except for gardening. I'm thinking this was post was meant to remind me to pack those up and give them away. Thanks for the fun post.

  11. It's not that I don't like shorts I am just tired of them, come to think of it I am tired of capris too. So this summer I am going to wear skirts and dresses. I like the ones you suggest.

  12. I like the slim bermudas! I don't wear shorts. I had two pairs last summer, but they pretty much got no wear in favor of skirts and dresses. If I really need pants, I'll go for a cropped pant or cotton capri. I don't like the exposed feeling. I don't care that I'm only 23 and slim! I don't like shorts.

  13. So with you on the skirts! Shorts get even harder when you are a little overweight because the get tight and pull in all the wrong places. Nice gathered/elastic waist slightly fuller skirts solve all those problems.
    Closed toed shoes are also pretty much done for a while…

  14. These are some great picks, Patti, but I think we need to amend this to say "Short Substitutes for Women Who Choose Not To Wear Shorts – at any age!" Because I'd rock all of these!


  15. Temperature is certainly not an issue here in Germany, I mean hot temperatures 😉
    I don't own a single pair of shorts or bermudas, just hate them… When I travel to warm countries, I take a lot of skirts and mainly dresses.

    Lady of Style

  16. Thank you for the mention, Patti! And yes, I am still a shorts-wearer. I love them and think they look better on me than skirts and dresses do.

  17. I got a pair of the slim bermudas last summer and lived in them – I don't feel comfortable in short shorts anymore! I tend to go for a skirt or like last year some slim bermudas – they looked great dressed up too!

  18. I keep trying shorts, but I don't really like them except for sports. I'm a skirt/dress gal all the way!

  19. No shorts for me! I'm an hourglass shape so fat gathers unattractively in pockets above my knees and above my elbows (Flat tummy though, so ha!). Anyway, I haven't worn actual shorts since I was about 15. I go with all the alternatives mentioned above, but a recent discovery is wearing bike shorts under skirts and dresses to prevent chafing on hot days. Works a treat!

  20. Thanks for the mention! It's pretty rare to have many shorts wearing days here (unless it involves 90 denier tights underneath). I've made a few pairs of hot pants from curtains just on the off-chance.
    Love the colour of the skirt and that pretty sun dress. I bet you'd rock those bermudas ! x

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