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What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Shorts

If shorts are on your “do not wear list,” you are not alone.

I hear from readers daily asking for alternatives to shorts in the warm weather. 

Personally, I don’t mind wearing shorts. 

They are a practical, sporty option for long, hot days between working at home and raising three kids. 

But lately, as they have been getting shorter (and shorter and shorter) and I’ve been getting older, they are only sometimes my first choice, especially when there are so many other options. 

So let’s talk about What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Shorts.  

And because the internet is sometimes the worst, let’s be clear, the advice below is for anyone who feels uncomfortable in shorts, or a little insecure about their legs, or maybe just wants a more modest alternative but still needs to deal with the heat.

What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Shorts 

Before we dive in, a few things before the comments go crazy, lol. 

Like Jen who took time out of her busy day to comment that she is 49 and “would ONLY wear these if she were a nun.”

She seems like a real girls girl.

Just so we are clear: WEAR SHORTS IF YOU LIKE THEM!

I like them.

When thoughtfully styled, they can be super chic. 

And if you think your “knees are ugly” and that’s why you don’t wear them, I would gently remind you that no one has “pretty” knees. 😉

The most important part of getting dressed is being comfortable and confident. 

Don’t let jackasses like Jen make you feel like there is something wrong with you because you need to make some adjustments to feel your best.

Style is personal, so if shorts just aren’t your thing let’s explore some different options.

Tee Shirt Dress

A maxi or mid-length tee shirt dress is fantastic if you want a light and breezy option with some coverage.

I prefer one with a slit on the side so you can easily move around.

Pair with flat sandals, or make it sporty with sneakers.

Featured below is from Amazon Essentials (formally called Daily Ritual).

Available in eight colors in XS – XXL for around $25.

Another option is the tee shirt dress from Amazon’s the Drop, it has more sizes (up to a 5X) but less color choices.

I also featured it in an Outfit Formula a few weeks ago,


Short-Sleeve Crewneck Side Slit Maxi Dress



If you don’t like the crew neck or maxi length, I really like this sleeveless v – neck style a lot, also from Amazon.

The cut of the skirt will help give your leg a long look while still covering your knees.


Women’s Jersey Standard-Fit Sleeveless V-Neck Midi Dress




High/Low Hemmed Dress

A high/low dress is just that, the front hem is shorter than the back.

This shows some leg, which helps create a flowly look without fabric weighing you down, while covering your knee.

This one, again, is from Amazon; I have a few of them.

You can dress it up with strappy heels or wear a cute pair of white sneakers.


Floral V Neck Wrap Dress



Shirt Dress

A shirt dress will provide some shape and structure to your look.

It’s more polished and can be dressed up or down.

Like this belted option from Uniqlo, available in XXS – XL in off white, black or tan.

I would consider having the hem hit right below your knee so you may need an alteration, but it’s worth the extra effort to have it fit well.


Long-Sleeve Shirt Dress



Wide Leg Linen Pants

If covering up your legs while staying cool is your goal, than linen pants are a fantastic alternative.

I’m so excited that these wide leg linen pants from Old Navy are back in stock.

They were the number one selling pant in spring and summer 2022.

Available in regular, petite and tall, from XS – 4X, in four colors.

Currently 30% off at checkout. These will sell out so grab them early. : )


Wide Leg Linen Pants

Old Navy


And if you like the “Seaside” collection from J.Crew, they have another linen bottom, also in a full size range with more colors. If you wanted to do a vibrant color, their “Rich Spruce” is stunning.


Wide Leg Seaside Pant



What about Capris? 

You likely already know my opinion on capris.

They are the only piece of clothing I truly despise.

Because of their flawed design and cheap quality, they are unflattering on just about everyone.

And they are often over-embellished and hit at the worst possible place on your leg.

I recently read somewhere that they make it look like you are standing in a ditch, and I couldn’t agree more.

Any options listed above are a practical alternative to shorts and capris. 

What to Wear When You Don\'t Wear Shorts

Related Posts

 Join Megan Kristel for a comprehensive, 3 hour long, LIVE Virtual Workshop sharing personal style and shopping tips for women over 40 on March 31, 2023.


Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Saturday 18th of March 2023

Way to go, Girlfriend, I love this article and your spunk. The black linen pants were one of the best purchases I made last year, and I never would have found them without your recommendation. I forwarded this week’s article to my 39 year old daughter who would prefer not to wear shorts, and she placed an order with Old Navy within minutes! Thanks for appealing to all age groups and preferences.


Saturday 18th of March 2023

I rarely post comments, but I don't like nasty comments... if dressing like a nun means looking classy, sign me up. You curated beautiful and inspirational options. Well done. Thank you for all the inspiration you provide for us. xo

Karen Marie

Saturday 18th of March 2023

Some of us are cursed with hereditary varicose veins and these are great suggestions. Keep up the good work!


Saturday 18th of March 2023

I actually love all of these! At 59 I ‘could’ still wear shorts but choose not to, so I appreciate you putting in the effort to show us great options. I especially love easy breezy dresses and sneakers. Thank you, thank you!


Friday 17th of March 2023

I'm sorry but I'm 49 & would never consider any of these unless I were a nun.

Megan Kristel

Saturday 18th of March 2023

You are so rude. Way to shame other women. How is it hard to understand that this advice is specifically for women who feel uncomfortable in shorts and other shorter-length bottoms. Which is A LOT considering how popular this post is. You might look great in a mini but you sound miserable. Jeez.


Friday 17th of March 2023

Thank you Megan for this well written article. These are great options for those of us that would rather look classy than “oh God NO!” I so appreciate you sharing your gifts with the rest of us—-super helpful! …by the way, I TOTALLY agree with your opinion of capris—who started that trend anyway??? Ewww….


Monday 13th of March 2023

I will wear shorts but I do prefer cute summer dresses that look good and are comfortable!

Ruth K.

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

I don't like to wear shorts because the backs of my legs stick to whatever I am sitting on! I find it much cooler to wear something long enough so that I am sitting on my clothes, instead of the metal/plastic/wood seat. Thanks for all the helpful suggestions, Megan!


Wednesday 8th of March 2023

I like to wear shorts but not too short. I guess the length is a personal choice for every woman. Talbot’s offers different inseam measurements so there may be an acceptable length although those knees will still show! I have two long scars from knee replacements but I still wear shorts!


Sunday 19th of June 2022

I’m in my 70’s and don’t wear shorts as such. I alter my trousers and shorten them to just below my knee, and I find these look better as I have thin legs. Shorter than Capris. I also feel comfortable wearing them.

Dawn Wrich

Sunday 29th of May 2022

Your articles have helped me in so many situations. And thank you for showing me where I can finally find the ever elusive petite sized maxi dress. I don't wear anything that shows my legs, due to scarring from a traumatic incident years ago. However, I have a 27" inseam and I am shrinking (osteoporosis). So, I was wondering if you know where to find more of these pant options in petites, or as I like to call us, super petites. Peace and love. 🥰


Tuesday 17th of May 2022

What do you recommend wearing when you have a large hang down stomach. I'm not comfortable in high waist tops or dresses. I usually wear tunics or longer type shirts. I'm also 72 and don't go in for some types of clothes. I like to dress a little younger than my age sounds but I don't like frumpy or too baggy


Sunday 24th of April 2022

I love your site and find your articles to be VERY helpful. I particularly like your "How to Wear____" articles. They always make me relook at clothes in my closet and help me break out of wearing the same pieces together over and over. I am now more conscious of making sure an item will work with multiple pieces in my existing wardrobe before I buy it. This article on alternatives to shorts gives great suggestions and helpful ways to wear them. I would love it if you would include an article about different ways to wear skorts in an upcoming article. I generally wear skorts when I play golf, but would love some different ways to style them so I don't look like I am on my way to the golf course.


Thursday 21st of April 2022

I love the options shown. I am petite and wear size 6. The problem is my thighs are not as thin as I'd like. How do I wear wide leg pants, without looking short and squat?

Megan Kristel

Thursday 21st of April 2022

You're best bet is to just make sure that the pants aren't adding more width where you don't want it. That might mean getting some fullness taken out of the legs by a tailor or just looking for a pair with slimmer leg. Also, pay attention to your shoe and avoid a flat. You want to create some height with a heel that will keep the leg looking long. And finally, play with tucking in which ever top you wear, again, to give you more leg length. :)


Tuesday 19th of April 2022

What about the obvious choice? Skirts of your preferred length!

Tracy Gray

Tuesday 19th of April 2022

I do like wearing shorts but want to change up every so often and I love the short. It is a great style break from shorts and still look good. Thanks for this!


Tuesday 19th of April 2022

Thanks for these suggestions, Megan! T-shirt dresses are unflattering on me (flat chested with few curves so they don’t drape nicely) but skirts with a shirt tucked in might work. I’ve seen some knee-length skirts at J. Crew Factory as well as midi length boho style skirts on Amazon that seem like good options. I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations on casual skirts!


Tuesday 12th of April 2022

I have trouble knowing what footwear to wear with all the various fashions. Can you do a segment on that?


Wednesday 20th of April 2022

@Jan, Same! I feel conspicuous wearing a heel with shorts for a casual day, but I would like something more stylish than tennis shoes or flip flops.


Tuesday 19th of April 2022

@Jan, I'm so glad to know others struggle with this. I do wear some capris in summer, but favorite pants are the Athleta city pants. Still struggling for shoes to wear with both. Would love a fashion expert advice on this.

Tracy Gray

Saturday 24th of July 2021

Love this!!! Thank you. Begin newly retired I felt at first as if my summer wardrobe was constantly shorts and I was tired of wearing them all the time. Your suggestions are perfect.

Megan Kristel

Saturday 24th of July 2021

Thanks Tracy!!!! I'm glad it's helpful :)

Karen Jones

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Please excuse my ignorance, but what is the difference between crop pants and capris? I love your recommendations, Megan even though here in New Zealand we are moving into Autumn.


Sunday 31st of July 2022

@Carey, also known as flood pants! 😁


Saturday 24th of April 2021

Karen, The difference is, mostly, length. Capri’s stop mid-calf & cropped pants go to the ankle, basically just a tiny bit shorter than regular pants.


Tuesday 20th of April 2021

I wear cotton dresses mostly, , and don't like Capri pants either.


Tuesday 7th of July 2020

I love the simplicity of The Old Navy t-shirt dress! Very comfy! I also got their maxi during their Memorial Day sale. Very casual and comfortable. I also recommend Athleta’s City pants. There are now several different styles to choose from, and many are made with recycled polyester/spandex. They are lightweight, breathable, and don’t wrinkle!

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Agreed! And I love that they don't wrinkle - that's a big deal :)

Julie M. Wood

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

Great suggestions, as usual, Megan. I have one more idea to add to your list. Cropped yoga pants or 7/8 length. I am particularly fond of Zella--there's a reason the brand has a cult following. Sizing is pretty inclusive (2XS-2XL) and they're on sale now (some starting at $20) at HauteLook, a Nordstrom company. I especially like the styles that have cell phone pocket. Also, you can size up a bit if you want to wear them all day and through the evening, as opposed to going for maximum compression for a yoga/Pilates class.

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Thanks for the recommendation Julie!!

Karen Pohlmann Miller

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

I am a tour guide and in the spring and summer I will only wear skorts or lightweight pants when I’m working. Even though I work with a lot of school groups, I’ve always felt shorts were too casual. I generally like the breathability and flexibility of golf skorts. Plus they tend to be a little longer, just above my knees.

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

I started golfing and really love skorts - especially for walks in the summer, and working from home.

Tara Davis-Lindlahr

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

My daughter played school golf from middle school all the way to college so skorts are plentiful in my closet. I rarely wear shorts because its hard to find longer ones but I love my skorts. :)

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