BASICS

How to Wear Denim Shorts at ANY Age and Look AMAZING! Everything You *Need* To Know

& My Favorite Denim Shorts Over 40

One of the most common questions I get around the spring and summer is about whether or not women over 40 can wear denim shorts! Whether you think they’re too short, you don’t like your legs, or you just don’t know how to style them…it’s completely up to you! I am on Team Denim Shorts! And before you dismiss them, I have a few tips for finding the perfect pair of age-appropriate jean shorts that won’t make you feel like you’re dressing like your teenage daughter!

Find more do’s and don’ts for wearing shorts over 40 here.

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How To Find The Perfect Denim Shorts

  • Check The Rise – The shorts above have an 11” rise, so they’re very high-waisted, which is quite flattering. Anywhere from 9” to 12” inches is considered high rise. I prefer high waist shorts because they make my legs look longer!
  • Check The Inseam – I usually like to wear shorts with an inseam between 3” and 5”. 3 inches is pretty short, but if you are petite like me, you can get away with it. If you are taller (think 5’7″+) I wouldn’t go shorter than 5″.
  • Size Up – With denim shorts, it’s best to size up one size. You don’t want anything too tight in the waist creating a muffin top.
  • Think About Fit & Fabric – Give yourself some breathing room in the leg area (sizing up helps here). If the leg holes are a bit wider, it will make your thighs look smaller! Denim is traditionally more structured which helps with hiding lumps and bumps. If the fit is tight around the legs, they are not the right shorts, send them back and try again.
  • Bend Over – “Moon River. Hey doc, you ever serve time?” Anyone know that quote?? 😉 For REAL, when you put on the shorts, turn around in the mirror and bend over. I would also drop something and pick it up off the ground. If you can see your bum in that process, they are not the right fit. This is likely due to the rise.
  • Fingertip Test – How short is too short?? When in doubt, you can try the fingertip test. Put your arms down by your sides. If your shorts are WAY shorter than the end of your fingertips, you might want to opt for a longer inseam. If they are close or even below the fingertips, you are good! Longer arms? Be sure to add that into your calculation here. And, remember this is just a guideline. You do not have to adhere to this rule.

Find my two favorite pairs of denim shorts below…

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SHORTS | MORE SIZES | MORE SIZES

#1 | Moussy Vintage Jean Shorts

I LOVE Moussy Vintage jeans and have quite a few pairs. So when I saw that they had denim shorts, I knew I had to try them! And…I love them! They’re comfortable but the denim is stiff enough to make you feel secure. The length (3” inseam) and high rise (10”) are great! And I love the distressing and raw hem! They also have plenty of room around the leg so that they have that looser-looking fit!

Shop more by Moussy Vintage here.

Age Appropriate Denim Shorts, Fashion blogger over 40 Erin Busbee of BusbeeStyle.com wearing AGOLDE denim shorts and a black tee and panama hat at Lake Powell, age appropriate denim shortsAge Appropriate Denim Shorts, Fashion blogger over 40 Erin Busbee of BusbeeStyle.com wearing AGOLDE denim shorts and a black tee with white Superga sneakers at Lake Powell, age appropriate denim shorts

SHORTS

#2 | Agolde Jean Shorts

These were my go-to denim shorts last summer and I will definitely keep wearing them this summer! This brand, Agolde, is a line by the same designer as 7 For All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity…both amazing denim brands! These shorts give me a 90s vibe I love, but with a twist. I love the minimal distressing, raw hem, and high waist. These are not your average high waist shorts…they have a 12.25” rise! So you feel very secure and tucked in. The inseam is 4” so they’re not too short and completely cover your bum. The shorts I’m wearing are the Dee Shorts but our editor, Susan also loves the Parker Long Shorts if you want to check those out too!

More AGOLDE shorts here.
Shop more denim shorts here.

Have you found a pair of denim shorts you love?? Don’t keep that to yourself! Please share in the comments below!

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How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of nearly 700,000 dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
Join the Conversation

17 thoughts on “How to Wear Denim Shorts at ANY Age and Look AMAZING! Everything You *Need* To Know

  1. Hi Erin! I’m a tall curvy women over 50 and I don’t really like to show much leg, so I was wondering if would 7” or 9” would ok? Do you have any brand suggestions? Thank you for always having such great content. Love everything you put in your newsletters!
    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle! Agolde has some great options in longer lengths including a 9.5″ inseam: https://rstyle.me/+EfxB5X4f2OK78tocxTNKdQ. These have a longer 5.5″ inseam but the legs are a looser fit and have a fun crisscross waist: https://rstyle.me/+CxOWTrBqckVI5maloxzAkQ. These also have a longer inseam (8.5″) but we have not tried them: https://rstyle.me/+J63snIB44AHOOg8oEeL9mA. Hope this helps! Please let us know if we can help you find something else. Thanks so much for stopping by! ~Team Busbee

  2. This is such a great post, because it shows there doesn’t need to be any “age limit” on denim shorts; they can be youthful and cool, without ever going into that dreaded “I-look-like-a-teenager” place! (And here in SoCal, they’re absolutely a must-have staple.)

    My trick? If you’ve recently (or not-so-recently, depending on how long you keep your clothes, lol) lost a little weight and gone down a size or two, choose a previously-favorite pair you no longer wear (in that one-larger size), grab a pair of fabric shears, and create your own cut-offs! (Always remember to measure and mark the length you want, first, though–that old “measure twice, cut once” came about for a good reason!) It’s completely eco-conscious, giving a whole new life to something you’d otherwise be giving away or consigning… and costs you absolutely nothing. To me, that’s a win-win!

  3. Brilliant post, Erin. Denim shorts can be tricky but these tips are fabulous and shows they aren’t “off limits” if you pay attention to how to wear them in a flattering way. Thank you!

  4. Love it! I am having a jean transformation! High rise for me now… I got “Good American” destrcutive faded shorts but love what you have. It takes a while to get used to it. It’s so hot here that I will wear that with a fancy top to a restaurant. thanks for all you do! It’s difficult to stay caught up with all you do!

  5. I love your chanel, and your news letter! Its one of the few emails i ACTUALLY open! Love Seeing colorado. Makes me want to move from California. Keep doing what your doing, you make a big DIFFERENCE in womens lives. May God CONTINUE to bless you.
    Irene

    1. Aw, thanks, Irene!! I love the newsletter too. I love sharing in that way. California is pretty amazing too! Come visit CO!! xoxo

  6. Erin, I’Ve been RECEIVING your emails foR quite a while now. I happenend upon your site when i was searching for age appropriate/non-frumpy clothes. Now that I just turned 60, i am not ready to join the baggy capri look. I am a high school physical education teacher that wears gym clothes to work everyday. I’ve struggled over the years in my professIon of Trying to dress like a girl, over dressing masculine, as some other colleagues in my profession do. My husband Tells me there is no way i Can look like a boy(so sweet!) . I enjoy Wearing “normal clothes” on the weekends, for teacher meetings, Etc. i identify with your struggles of trying to stay fit while working full time. I am about The same size as you, but struggle with the saggy skin of 30+ years of southern californiA sun. (Back in the day, sunscreen was not emphasized) my work shorts have gotten longer, as have my sleeves;) i want you to know, i really enjoy your Seeming AUTHENTICITY and humbleness. Your Shared struggles of feeling down and reaching out is so endearing. I also truly enjoy your tips on trends and Style. Some of the styles you wear, i never would have considered, but you alWays manage to make it look so cute With style and not “stuffy.” Even lOw cut items, look cute and not trashy(i hate that word, but for lack of a better one) 🙂 i also enjoy your travEl tips, as my husband and i travel light to Europe for a few weeks every summer. i want to encourage you to continue with your clasS, style and humbleness. You are a True gem. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write my first ever Note to someone in the media. 🙂 may God bless you.

  7. I especially like the belt and the bracelet. Can you list those also??? Thanks Erin. I’ve gone for a lot of your recs these past few years.

  8. Hey erin! Cant wait to order those shorts! Question – with such a high rise, how do shorter ladies woth bogger boobs make that outfit work?

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