Definitive Proof That Women of Any Age Can Wear Shorts

I would be a hypocrite if I got up on my 20-something high horse and decreed that everyone should wear shorts, no matter how old they are, without admitting that changes in my own appearance have impacted what I’ve felt like wearing from time to time. I understand completely that even though clothes can sometimes function as armor, they can also trigger vulnerability in spades. I get that when society says don’t wear X if you look like Y, putting your blinders on and doing it anyway can be the stuff of emotional rollercoasters. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering!

Quite the opposite, in fact. I will always, always, always advocate against limiting one’s fashion choices based on arbitrary rules, because any time I’ve challenged an insecurity inside my own head, I’ve been better for it. Today I’m here to advocate — out loud — for the conviction that wearing shorts and aging need not be mutually exclusive. To prove it, I styled five women of different ages from the Man Repeller community in shorts. Scroll down to see how great they look and read about their relationships with this particular summer staple. And if you want to wear shorts but are under the impression that you’re “too old” — or “too anything,” for that matter — think of this story as an electronic hug wrapped around the gentle invitation to reassess.

Ekama, 25

Ekama is a graduate student studying theology. You can follow her on Instagram here.

How would you describe your current relationship with shorts?

I’m a Texan and former athlete, so shorts have always been a big part of my wardrobe. I have a pretty good relationship with my legs, so I really do enjoy having them out. However, I probably only wear shorts on the weekends and to “lounge.”

Has your age had any impact on this relationship?

I probably wear shorts less now since I often have interviews, go to conferences, work in offices, etc. As someone who’s moving into a role where women’s bodies are often hidden/highly policed (many ministers in my denomination wear robes and other clerical wear), I hesitate to wear shorts in a professional capacity. However, I think people who believe women should tailor their clothes to their age are party poopers. If you look good in something, and it’s weather-appropriate, wear it! No matter how old you are.

What was your experience like being styled in shorts by Man Repeller? 

I’m super into PJs as day-wear, so I was definitely into the outfit. If anything, I felt a renewed desire to do more with my short repertoire.

Tracy, 34

Tracy works in People Operations at a tech company. You can follow her on Instagram here.

How do you currently feel about shorts? 

I feel pretty ambivalent about shorts. I don’t hate them, but rarely wear them. I own three pairs: Levi’s denim cut-offs from a decade ago, a pair of Adidas soccer shorts that I wear around my apartment and a pair of black biker shorts I bought for like $13 on Amazon last year. When I really think about it (I mean, this is the first time I’ve really thought about my relationship with shorts), I guess I just don’t find shorts very practical. I can’t wear them year-round or to work (our dress code is super casual, but something about strolling into my office in a pair of cut-offs seems wrong). They’re great for extended outdoor summer fun, but most of the week I’m sitting indoors with the AC blasting. And from a cost perspective, shorts just aren’t worth it to me. My favorite denim brand, AGOLDE, has denim shorts for $128.00. Not worth it, in my opinion. I’d rather spend $50 more dollars on a pair of their jeans that I can wear year-round! (On second thought, I think I actually hate shorts?)

Has your age had any impact on this relationship?

Definitely, but not in a “I’m getting older and therefore should not be wearing shorts” kind of way. My 30s have been a time for me to purchase investment pieces that are both practical and timeless. Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE me a trend (I walked into the Man Repeller photo shoot in a tie-dye shirt), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less impulsive and more thoughtful about the clothing I buy. And when I think about shorts, it has honestly not once crossed my mind to go out and buy some investment shorts. Are investment shorts even a thing?

What was your experience like being styled in shorts by Man Repeller?

I was secretly hoping I was going to get to wear an outfit that was way out of my comfort zone. Well, it happened. And I loved it. Harling put me in a matching lime green crop top and Bermuda shorts set from Staud with a white Theory blazer on top. I felt like a modern-day Rose from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. So despite my general feelings about shorts, I would 100% buy this outfit. While I’m all about being practical about my wardrobe choices these days, I also feel more confident than ever when it comes to wearing pieces that are a bit more unexpected and different – something I never would have said in my twenties.

Vanessa, 40

Vanessa works in investment banking. You can follow her on Instagram here

How would you describe your current relationship with shorts? 

I grew up in Cancun, so shorts were the only option as a kid (although we had to wear them with big, black orthopedic shoes, which I didn’t like). Things improved when I was a teenager in the 90s — I felt so cool wearing Bongo denim shorts and Reebok sneakers with tall white socks. Then I moved to a colder city in Mexico for college, and I had to change my whole wardrobe because shorts were not “socially acceptable.” Thank God I eventually moved to New York after that, and I finally felt free again! I love living in a city where nobody judges you if you look weird because confidence is what matters most. Now I love to wear shorts with a fancy top and fun boots or heels. I think that makes for a fun and classy look.

Has your age had any impact on this relationship?

Age is not a factor in picking my outfits so far. Maybe when I get wrinkled knees, I’ll feel differently, but as of now I still enjoy wearing shorts. If I feel confident and beautiful in my outfit, I know it’s appropriate.

What was your experience like being styled in shorts by Man Repeller?

I thought the photo shoot would be hard for me because I always feel very awkward posing, but I ended up loving the outfit and that helped me feel comfortable and confident. It also made me consider other colors besides black and white for this summer….

Nichole, 50

Nichole is the Creative Director of Mrs. Jones. You can follow her on Instagram here

How would you describe your current relationship with shorts? 

Love/hate for sure. I love the idea of wearing them and always think of ways to style them, but when it comes time to leave the house, I never make it past the front door. When I was younger, I thought of aging happening from the neck up — face wrinkles, gray hair, etc. No one talks about body aging. Knees do wrinkle, and cellulite happens.

Has your age had any impact on this relationship?

Absolutely, when I was younger, I loved my legs. As I have gotten older I definitely feel like society says a “woman of a certain age” shouldn’t wear anything too short or too tight or too revealing, and I’m always thinking about what is age-appropriate especially since I have a 32-year-old daughter who is way more stylish and cool than I could ever be. I don’t want to look like the older woman who is trying to hold onto her youth through fashion. I’m always trying to avoid the dreaded “you’re too old to wear that” vibe while still maintaining a strong sense of personal style. I am not ready for a uniform just yet.

What was your experience like being styled in shorts by Man Repeller?

It was really fun and eye-opening, and helped me overcome the self-imposed stigma I’ve put upon myself. In terms of style, it was like a buffet of fun being able to see the options laid out. Knowing it was for Man Repeller helped me tap into more emotional freedom than I normally would in my everyday life. After the shoot, I went out and bought a pair of knee-length shorts. Baby steps.

Mary, 77

Mary is a retired school teacher.

How would you describe your current relationship with shorts?

I love long shorts that ride just above my knees. I wear them all summer. They are so comfortable and keep me cool while going from place to place in the city.

Has your age had any impact on this relationship?

Well, I have not worn short shorts for years, since my 30s. There is no stigma to wearing long shorts and I am lucky that my legs from the knee down are still in fighting form.

What was your experience like being styled in shorts by Man Repeller?

The young women at the shoot were just as nice as they could be. They styled me in a longer pair of shorts since that’s what I’m most comfortable with. I came away feeling only good about the beautiful shorts I was asked to wear.

Photographed by Edith Young; Styled by Harling Ross; Market Assistance by Elizabeth Tamkin; Makeup by Whitney Ray; Quilts by Gina Rockenwagner.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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