The Best Denim Shorts, Starting at $20

jean shorts reformation man repeller

As a market strategist whose DMs are full of shopping requests, I can proclaim with near certainty that the most lusted-after summer clothing item is the denim short. My own eyes tell me this too—I see them in all varieties, constantly, on the city streets, at the beach, and during so many of my market appointments.

And yet! They are elusive. When it comes to finding the right pair for yourself, there are so many ways they can go wrong: too-slim leg openings can choke the thighs; the wrong fit can ride up in the worst places; pockets that are too wide or too narrow may do the opposite of justice to your butt. (Justice: We demand it!) The jorts shopping has gotten so bad at times that I even eliminated them from my own wardrobe, until I finally found this pair of vintage ones from Etsy which changed my approach—and also birthed this story. After doing a bunch of denim shorts research for myself and others, I’m ready to share my findings with the world.

Here are a few critical things I look for:

-A tiny flare in the leg opening

-A higher waist, but not too tight, to keep them from riding up

-A tiny bit of stretch or really soft, well-worn denim

-A cut that is a bit higher in the back, so they don’t gap

Please find the spoils of my research below. I’ve called out the sizing options really clearly to make shopping easier for you—both in straight-sized brands (some of which also have great options in their extended sizing) and in plus-sized brands that have incredible options too. And because I am so dedicated to the shorts-searching cause, please feel free to comment below if any questions about sizing or fit remain!

Classic Cut-off

“The greatest classic cut-off of all time” is what most people request. I’ve found that the below shorts universally look really good (and I’ve called in nearly every one of these pairs for Man Repeller shoots over the last few years).

Denim Trouser Short

I looooove a trouser short in any material, and I almost feel like I’m cheating with these denim trouser shorts. I mainly love them because they’re the easiest to dress up. (Wear them with a cami and kitten heel mules and you’re set for a summer din!)

Long Denim Shorts

Board shorts are one of my raisons d’etre in the summer, and these capture that chill, beachy vibe, but with denim. Another bonus: You’re showing less skin, which means you’ve got less square footage to shave, if you’re into that!

Vintage Denim Shorts

This category may be my favorite of all, because their already-storied life on earth has caused the denim to become naturally worn and soft. Hot tip: When shopping on Etsy, you can send sellers your actual measurements so they can make sure they fit exactly how you want them to fit. These picks are actually a gold mine, so be careful, breathe deep, and jump on these before the next Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic does.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again: Got questions? Meet me in the comments!

Feature photos via Reformation

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