How To Wear Denim Shorts Without Looking Schlubby

Elle UK has huge trend news for you: Everyone is wearing denim shorts right now! Umm, yeah, because it’s summer. And people wear denim shorts pretty much every summer. Know what else people do with denim shorts on an annual basis? Look terrible in them. Too often, the styling is off and they’re either too wannabe sexy (with pointy pumps and a corset, for example, blech) or the thought process seems to be “Hell, this is denim, who cares if I look homeless?” Well, we care. So we’re going to help you get denim shorts right. “Sloppy”
And by “sloppy,” we really mean pseudo-sloppy, not your-boyfriend’s-tee-shirt and three-year-old flip-flops sloppy. (Yeah, we’re talking to you, lady.)

  • Cutoffs are essential for this look. Just don’t make them too skanky short and tight — that’s really not terribly cute. And the level of distressing should be reasonable (see above), as opposed to an entire ass cheek’s worth of fabric being missing. [$100, Paige Premium Denim, Anthropologie]
  • A simple, slouchy top will do you just fine for day. Toss a leather vest over said top at night and you’re good to go. (Bonus points for a chain necklace.)
  • Your shoes should be as rough as the rest of your look. These booties are rather fun, no? [$420, Betsey Johnson,]

Office to Dinner

  • Unless your office is uber-casual, you’re probably not going to want all that thigh hanging all over the place. Get a just-above-the-knee denim walking short in dark wash. You’ll be comfortable but still look like a grownup. [$100, Paige Premium Denim, Nordstrom]
  • Because it’s sweltering, an airy shirt never hurts. We like this one because it’s got a bit of a boho thing going on while still looking tailored. [$98, Floreat, Anthropologie]
  • With shorts this length, you’re going to want a heel if possible. A standard pump is too dressy. Something a little chunkier and more casual works best. [$210, Report Signature,]
  • As for accessories, a simple, pretty headband to tie the shoes and embroidery in the top together is an easy addition. [$58, Deppa Gurnani,]


  • First of all, these particular shorts are basically the ideal. The cuff gives a casual sort of vibe but they still look sharp. And your ass will not be offending the general population. [$55, Topshop]
  • Step up a standard daytime denim shorts outfit by ditching the tee for a sleeveless blouse. Get one that’s not super tight and you may even get a bit of a breeze going all up in there. [$88, J.Crew]
  • Go with flats but try a fun color or white instead of standard black. [$40, Steve Madden]
  • We just really liked these bangles. They’re super cute. [$16, Topshop]