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Instead of Shorts? Wear These 11 Alternatives

June 1, 2021

Hello, and welcome to Dressed for My Day, where my goal is to inspire and help women like you and me to dress beautifully and appropriately for our unique days so we can engage graciously with those around us and influence them well. I’m really excited about today’s post because I’ve had so many readers ask for alternatives to shorts for the summer months. So today I have 11 alternatives to wear instead of shorts this summer.

Instead of Shorts - 11 Alternatives

I get it. You still want to look summer fresh, feel cool and be comfortable, but you just don’t want to wear shorts. Or maybe you just don’t want to wear shorts all the time.

Fortunately there are a number of fashionable, comfortable and easy to wear alternatives to shorts. And my list may not be exhaustive, but I think every woman will find at least a few choices that suit.

Before we start, let me explain how I selected these styles. I’m not including things like slacks or dressy dresses. Instead, these options are distinctly casual alternatives. A few of them are more chic than others, but they’re all appropriate for things like going to a church picnic, running errands, rooting on the home team, entertaining in your backyard or playing with the grandkids. These are truly the non-shorts pieces you can wear when others are wearing shorts. Make sense? Good.

Updated Post – 04/04/2022

This is a popular post that I update every year. Several of the photos are from one, two and three years back. Since I haven’t yet worn or modeled all of these options this year, it serves me best to keep using the old photos in some instances. But I’ve updated all of the links and shopping widgets as of the date above.

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my links I potentially earn a commission on your purchases, but at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting my work here by shopping my links.

Check Out My Latest Video on the Topic!

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Summer Jeans

Let’s get jeans out of the way. They’re not my favorite choice because they can be hot. But if you are going out on a cool evening you will look summery fresh in white, pastel or cropped jeans.

Casual Outfit in Cool Spring Colors
See this post for full details. similar pastel jeans // similar embroidered popover // updated similar leather sneakers

The jeans and popover shown above are from Talbots several years ago. But I found similar pastel jeans in the prettiest colors of spring 2022 and a lovely short sleeved embroidered linen popover for this season.

Of course, I’m a big fan of white jeans in the spring and summer. You can dress these up or down.

Duster Length Button Up Shirt
white jeans // similar tee // white eyelet long tunic // sandals // necklace – As seen in this video on my YouTube Channel

This year looser fit jeans are trending and these can be quite comfortable for the warm days since they don’t cling to you like skinny jeans. Some brands have even begun producing summer weight jeans from a softer, lightweight denim. In the photo below from last spring, I’m wearing the Madewell Perfect Vintage jeans, and I’ll be wearing them again this summer. These are great jeans!

White Linen Blazer Outfit for Spring
White linen blazer // Madewell Perfect Vintage Jeans // See the original post for details.

I really enjoy these straight leg ankle jeans for a spring and summer option. The released hem is a nice modern touch. They fit true to size.

White T-Shirt with Ankle Jeans and Cardigan
Talbots Pima Cotton V-Neck Tee // slim ankle jeans // similar open front cardigan // gold Gia leather buckle sandals currently not available // necklace // earrings // demi bracelet // pearl bracelet // sunglasses

I’ve gathered a few of my favorite summer jeans in the shopping widget below.


Joggers are one of those fashion choices that resulted from the pandemic we’ve experienced this past year. While these relaxed fit pants were already on the rise, they really took off this year during the stay-at-home orders. Brands pivoted from more traditional workwear to pitching elevated joggers and pretty tops for Zoom meetings.

Girlfriend Utility Joggers with Washwell™ from Gap

Unfortunately another result of the pandemic was that I gained a little weight in my legs. Ha! So I haven’t yet found the perfect pair of cotton or linen joggers that work for me. But especially if you have thinner legs, joggers are a great option. Not only are they stylish, but they will balance your proportions, adding a little fullness to your lower body.

black joggers
High Waisted Cargo Joggers from Old Navy

Wondering what shoes to wear with your joggers? Really, the sky’s the limit. You can wear feminine sandals or more sporty sandals, such as these Tevas or these Birkenstocks (similar for less). But you can of course wear sneakers or flip flops, too. Here are some similar pants to consider.

Casual Skirt

If you’re wanting more coverage of your legs but still want to keep cool, a midi skirt is a pretty choice. But if you’re just wanting to wear something besides shorts and don’t mind baring your legs, a shorter skirt will be cool and fun. Just add a simple tee and sweet sandals or even sneakers for a casual vibe.

My midi length skirt below is from a few years ago and no longer available. But this gauze midi skirt is lovely.

Stripe Midi Skirt for Spring
See this post for more details.

This year I purchased this fun patchwork cotton canvas A-line skirt this year. I styled it three ways in this post. It’s about sold out in misses sizes, but still pretty well stocked in petite options.

A-Line Patchwork Skirt
patchwork skirt (similar preppy pastel skirt and patchwork relaxed chino shorts) // cotton t-shirt // denim jacket // customized Alex pendant // bone leather Willow espadrille sandals (similar but more economical Eileen Fisher Viv wedges) // leather tote // earrings (another option) // Nordgreen Unika watch with white leather band (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off) // Sunglasses (same brand on sale)

Summery Dress

If you want even more coverage of your legs, but still want the feminine appeal of a skirt, choose a maxi length skirt or dress. You’ll be cool and stylish. Add sandals or sneakers, depending on the occasion.

Maxi Dress for Spring and Summer
seamed maxi dress (similar better stocked dress in blue) // slingback wedge sandals (more economical option) // watch (Native) Use code KAYHRMS for 15% off your order // denim jacket // straw bag (more economical option) // sunglasses (more economical option)

But if you just want an option other than shorts, but don’t mind baring your legs, choose a shorter dress for comfort and style.

red side tie shift dress // sneakers // earrings // crinkle cotton beach shirt

I’ve gathered a number of dresses in a variety of styles in the shopping widget below. Wear them with sandals, flats or sneakers.

Barrel or Lantern Pants

Personally, I’m loving the new fuller leg silhouettes that are definitely trending right now. And I do believe that every woman can weal a fuller leg pant of some sort. The barrel or lantern silhouette may just be the most friendly option because the tapered calf to ankle is quite flattering.

Animal Print T-Shirt

My fatigue barrel pants from Everlane are about sold out in the black, but they give you a good idea of how this silhouette works. These slightly cropped pants are very cool and lightweight, so they’re a great options for summer. I’m finding many other similar pants for you to check out.

Eileen Fisher cropped lantern pants in black // Good Days Graphic Tee // Sahara wrap // leopard print sandals

I also have these Eileen Fisher cropped lantern pants in black. And I recently ordered these puckered organic linen lantern pants, too. While I plan on wearing these pants for several years (and on constant repeat this summer!) both of those options are a little pricey. But check out these High Rise Barrel Khaki Pants from Gap. These are great!!! If you’re game for giving this silhouette a try, I think I’d start with those.

I’ve filled a shopping widget with these and other options. I’d look for lantern or barrel (or cigar or balloon!) pants in lightweight fabrics that will have a nice, casual drape for the summer.

Pedal Pushers

They’re back! Well, I wouldn’t say pedal pushers are trending. But they are available. These may not be your most flattering choice, especially if the end of the pant hits at the widest part of your calf. But the fashion police are not going to give you a ticket for wearing these retro pants if you choose to sport them.

How to Wear Pedal Pushers this Summer
See this post for more details. updated similar pedal pushers // similar tie front tee// updated similar leather sneakers // no-show socks 

I think the key to wear these shorter cropped pants is to keep all your other style choices more modern. So wear a simple tee or even a graphic t-shirt. Add modern sneakers and some simple jewelry. I found more pedal pushers for you to look at today.

Lightweight Chinos

Keeping it light and cool, chinos provide full coverage but won’t get you as hot as jeans. And you can roll them up at the cuff for a fun summery vibe.

Casual Summer Outfit in Soft Neutrals
 relaxed chinos //  100% cotton sweater  // Tory Burch Miller sandals (more economical choice) //  Kendra Scott Olive necklace // gold hoop earrings //  Nordgreen Native 5-Link watch (use code KAYHRMS to save 15%) // similar straw hat

And if you’d prefer a more modern version, opt for patch pocket or cargo chinos.

Sweatshirt on Shoulders
similar sweatshirt // Madewell’s Northside Vintage Tee // cargo style cropped chinos in canyon // sandals // gold curved hoop earrings // watch (the Native) // sunglasses // yellow satchel bag

Linen Pants

Last summer I fell in love with linen. And I plan to live in my wide assortment of linen pants this summer. That’s one of the nice things about linen – it doesn’t go out of style. Even if you purchase linen pants in some of the newer fuller silhouettes, I expect them to look stylish for years. I think that’s simply because linen is its own breed of clothing. It is quite unique.

Linen Up for Summer
 linen straight leg crop pants // See this recent post for more details and shopping.

The linen pants above are slightly dressier than others that I own simply because they have a button and zip fly. But they still have the wonderful casual vibe of soft, breathable linen. I also recently purchased these Caslon striped linen pants through Trunk Club (but you can get them at Nordstrom) for a more casual feel. They’re a nice linen at a sweet price, and available in several stripe patterns and color combinations. They run a little long, but they’re also available in petite sizes.

You might want to check out my video from last summer, 7 Ways to Style Linen Pants for more outfit inspiration.

What about the wrinkles? Really, you just have to get past that. But I’ve also noticed that linen isn’t wrinkling the way it used to. I think the quality is higher and the technology is better. And many brands produce linen/cotton blends that really hold their shape nicely and don’t even need to be ironed.

LInen pants from Athleta
Cabo Linen Pants from Athleta

Yes, you’ll notice some crossover in the shopping widget below. Linen pants come in all styles, including the barrel or lantern silhouette we’ve already discussed and the joggers. But I felt like linen pants deserved their own category because they are uniquely summer.

You can find linen pants at a variety of price points. But as someone who purchased a lot of it in the last two years I can tell you that there is indeed a difference in quality. So I suggest buying the trendier linen (such as joggers) at the lowest price point you can find and purchasing the more classic silhouettes in the best quality you can afford.

Cropped Pants

Well we’ve talked silhouettes and fabrics; now let’s talk about a particular length of pant. Well, I guess we did that with the clam diggers or pedal pushers, too. But cropped or ankle length pants are almost universally flattering, very on trend and quite cool for summer. There’s just something about having your ankle exposed that makes you a little cooler. Ha!

Striped Linen Shirt
As to be seen in an upcoming video on my YoutTube channel – sand and ivory striped linen shirt // drawcord waist crop pants (TTS) // sandals // smocked tank // earrings

Really the sky’s the limit when it comes to cropped length pants. You’ll find them everywhere this summer…and in a variety of fabrics and silhouettes. But I can highly recommend the drawcord waist crop pants above from Kut from the Kloth, shown above. These crop pants fit true to size and come in five colors. They’re a linen, rayon and spandex blend so they give you the coolness of linen, plus some stretch.

Wearing a Sweatshirt
similar sweatshirt // Madewell’s Northside Vintage Tee // cargo style cropped chinos in canyon // sandals // gold curved hoop earrings // watch (the Native) // sunglasses // yellow satchel bag

The cargo style cropped chinos above are another nice option for everyday pants in several versatile colors. These, too, fit true to size. Yes, they have one cargo pocket on the side, but I don’t think it sticks out enough to add visual weight. But it does add interest and make the pants look more modern and youthful.

Of course, you can find colorful and print cropped pants, too. For more insight into how to wear colorful or print crops, check out this previous post. But I have an upcoming video that will cover that, too. So stay tuned.

I suggest looking for crop pants that fit your lifestyle and work with your body shape and proportions. You’ll find them in every silhouette from barrel and lantern to flare to wide leg to slender cut. So you do you! Just make sure these pants don’t end at the widest part of your calf. Ideally they should hit right above the ankle, within an inch of the ankle bone.

Jumpsuit or Romper

I realize some readers can’t imagine wearing jumpsuits because of the bathroom issue. But if you’re reticent to wear shorts and want to mix it up a bit, a jumpsuit could give you some variety. Plus they look oh so summery. Especially short rompers are a cool alternative, but longer jumpsuits can still be a breathable and fun option to wear instead of shorts.

Halter Neck Gingham Jumpsuit
See this post for more details. Photo from two years ago.

And of course, you can find jumpers and rompers in all styles these days. I recently purchased this Flyweight Jumpsuit with Core Temp Technology from Banana Republic. This particular collection rarely if ever goes on sale. I really debated on this purchase, but the quality and coolness of this fabric just really impressed me. I’m all about staying cool in the summer!

This past week I wore this new Outerknown S.E.A. Jumpsuit one day as we were moving. It was amazingly comfortable and cool. I’ve ordered the short length, too.

Outerknown S.E.A. Jumpsuit // Also in short length

I haven’t worn a lot of jumpsuits or rompers, honestly. But the day I wore this one I really enjoyed it. Readers always ask about the restroom situation. Yes, you do have to slip the whole thing down each time you use the facilities. But hey, I’m only wearing it occasionally, not daily. It really just didn’t bother me. And that included using the facilities once at a public place. Granted, it was Hobby Lobby, which usually has very clean and private restrooms. I’ll admit it felt a little odd, but it was a minute out of my day.

Here’s a shopping widget with lots of modern varieties to choose from if you’re interested in a romper or jumpsuit for the summer. The Outerknown jumpsuits are not included because they’re not part of my affiliate program. So use the links above for those.


I realize that if you don’t want to bare your legs, this isn’t really a viable option. But if you’re just looking for a variety of things to wear instead of shorts, a skort is a fun and sporty alternative. And of course they’re especially appropriate for activities such as golf, tennis or hiking. The photo below is from a couple of years ago, but I’ve found lots of great skort options in the shopping widget below.

Golf Clothes for Spring & Summer
See this post from two years ago for more details. Updated links: similar skort // top option // ECCO leather sandals // similar nylon tote bag 

Well there you have it! Eleven alternatives to wear instead of shorts this summer. Which do you enjoy wearing already? And which will you consider adding to your summer line-up?

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You might be interested in this video, too. I’ve got lots of ideas – besides shorts! – for looking chic in the heat!

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Blessed for My Day

Today I pray that you, dear reader, would know how much you are loved and accepted by the One who truly matters. The One who gets the final say has already professed His love to you. His love never fails. And it’s deeper, wider and more prevailing than you can ever imagine.

Does that matter to you? It should. The more you experience the fullness of Christ’s love for you, the healthier you will be in mind and heart and soul. When we are filled with the love of God we are then able to love others without strings and without unrealistic expectations. Allow God’s love to fill you today so that you can pour into others’ lives freely.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ~ Ephesians 3:17-19

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xoxo, Kay
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37 thoughts on “Instead of Shorts? Wear These 11 Alternatives

  1. Thank you for all you do especially your daily devotional! You have beautiful style and the love of Jesus radiates through your smile! Praying you get to feeling better today.

  2. Kay, I am so sorry that you are not feeling good today. I pray that you will feel much better tomorrow. You shared some great options for us today. Fabulous DFMD!

  3. So sorry you’re not feeling well today Kay. Praying you bounce back quickly. I love wearing skorts more than shorts. They can be dressed down or elevated depending on the top and shoes you wear with them. Plus they’re cool, comfortable and modest. I used to buy cheap reading glasses and sunglasses many years ago until I decided quality was essential to take good care of my eyesight. I have 3 pair of reading glasses I enjoy changing out with whatever outfit I’m wearing for the day. And in sunglasses I have 2 pair of Maui Jim’s that I love. Once you buy quality eyewear, you’ll never go back to budget choices again, plus they hold up for years, so in the long run, you actually get much better value cost per wear.

    1. I’m with you on the reading and sunglasses. Especially the reading glasses, since I have them on so often…including when I’m standing in front of a group of people speaking. That’s when I realized how important it was to not slap on some ugly reading glasses! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I am on my way to the Loft to pick up the blue flower print shift dress! I have been obsessing over it since you first wore it. When you featured it again today I clicked under your picture and found it on sale with another 40% off and bought it.
    I hope it fits I am getting a regular XS. My closet is overflowing with new things from The Loft.

      1. I like the dress! And I just clicked on your original Post for that dress. In the shopping widget you have a pair of Treasure & Bond Sannibel Leopard Sandals. So I just bought those at Nordstrom through your widget. Now I really must start saving HaHaHa!

  5. I appreciate this post as I no longer wear shorts. This gives me options that accommodate my age and pear-shaped body. I personally enjoy wearing cute cotton skirts with tees or tank tops during the hot summer days…so much cooler than capris. Thank you for your positive posts and Scriptural truths!

  6. You inspire me. I have wanted to update my wardrobe for awhile now. It is hard to know what to buy because of what is out there that is not really age appropriate. Thank you for your style and grace.

  7. I would like a post on what to wear when you can’t wear pants. At all. Ever. I’d rather not say why but it’s a medical problem. Thanks.

  8. During the hot humid deep south summer, I wear shorts all the time at home and (depending on the length…) will wear them on a grocery run, but I love skorts! Wearing a skort makes me feel a bit more covered up than a pair of shorts and a tad less casual. I really like cropped pants – yes, just showing that tiny bit of ankle does make me feel cooler! Planning to buy linen crops this summer and would loooove some “long enough” linen shorts. Thanks for keeping us current!!

  9. Hi Kay! I’ve recently started subscribing to your emails and your channel. I get so much inspiration from your insight and photos of your lovely outfits. I was happy to see the lantern pants. I purchased some recently thinking they were straight leg linen pants and not being allowed to try them on in the store. I was surprised when I got home and tried them on, not knowing what to think of this silhouette. Now that I know they are a “thing,” I think they’re very cute and comfy!☺️ Thank you!

    1. Hi Anne. Welcome to Dressed for My Day and thanks so much for subscribing. Yes! Those lantern pants are just so fun to wear. I wore some yesterday. They feel great and look super “cool” ?and modern. Enjoy!

  10. Kay, I love your posts! I’ve gotten my sister hooked on DFMD.
    Hope you are feeling better. I’m sure you are exhausted from moving.

  11. Kay, thank you for publishing this post again with some updated options for us! I actually ordered the Girlfriend Utility Joggers with Washwell from Gap after I saw them in your post. I am going to check out the High Rise Barrel Pants from Gap, since I am interested in trying that style pant in an economical way. While I would like to have one casual maxi dress in my closet, I have not had any luck finding one that I love when I put it on, so I’m just sticking with lightweight pants. For anyone that would like to try an economical pair of linen blend pants, I highly recommend Old Navy. I have a pair in light grey and flax that I am very pleased with. I hope that you’ve had an awesome day!

  12. Excellent suggestions, I buy linen jogger/pants from Old Navy. I’m pretty hard on summer clothes so if these get ruined I don’t feel so bad. On my summer wish list I have a linen wrap skirt from Etsy. It seems this could be dressed up or down and it hits below the knee for more coverage. On a negative note, I’m in camp no pedal pushers pleas.

  13. Kay, I enjoyed reading your suggestions. I am curious where you got the shoes in your first picture. They are a taupe colored sandal. You are wearing them with a pink cardigan and beige linen looking pants. The shoes look very comfortable.

  14. I’m wearing the casual knit “t-shirt” dresses, a denim skirt, and a knee-length camo cargo skirt as shorts alternatives. I like poplin cargo capris that are very light and breathable, and have roll tabs or drawstrings at the bottom so the length can be adjusted. They may not be the most fashion-forward item but when it’s over 90 degrees who cares! I also like wide-leg palazzo pants in gauzy cotton or lightweight cotton/modal blend.

  15. A question about your linen pants. Do you wash them or dry clean them? I have one pair that are hand-me-downs but I like them. I dry-cleaned them after I received them, and I have them in the laundry basket right now–and am debating about whether or not to wash them! They are lined. The tag says they can be hand-washed or dry cleaned. Your suggestions?

    1. Hmm. I wash mine so rarely, I can’t remember. Ha! I really follow labels though. So unless it says dry clean only I almost always wash myself. I would definitely use cold water and a gentle cycle. And I’d definitely hang or lay flat to dry.

      1. Thanks, Kay! I like those suggstions. I, too, like to wash when possible instead of dry-clean, and hang to dry. I’d do that! And if I think of it, I’ll let you know how it comes out. 🙂

  16. I love all your ideas on how to look stylish. I love all the scripture. My husband is a pastor also. My issue is I am heavier on my top part. So this is hard to buy button down tops. Any alternatives.

  17. Just found your website. Love the fact that you are a Christian, me too!!! Like the fact that you are into alternative dressing for older women (or any age for that matter). I don’t wear shorts but like flowing pants and mid-skirts for summer for work.

  18. Kay-Loved this post on what to wear instead of shorts during the summer. You look wonderful in all your suggestions-you have a great figure and definitely wear just about anything and look good. On
    the other hand, I am 74, petite and a little bit overweight. I could get away with most of the fun looks you highlighted, but definitely do not want to wear shorts. I have varicose veins and my legs looK
    awful! I am hopeful I would be able to find similar items even tho I could not afford to buy at Talbots. I’m so glad I looked at your post on fresh summer wear items!