{Style Expert} Shorts for FOFs: The long and short of it

It’s the question that’s vexed us all summer (and every summer). Now that we’re FOF, should we wear shorts? Or are thigh-revealing garments better left to twenty-somethings? Our FOF style gurus give us the long and short of it.

FOF Sandra Soich: “On my last trip to NYC, I saw lots of young girls wearing short shorts with tasteful tees, thick belts, light scarves and perfect ballet flats. How adorable! If you’re FOF, swap in a wonderfully-safe bermuda short and a thin belt instead of a thick one. The bermuda, after all, is about the same length as a skirt. If you can wear skirts, you can wear shorts.”

pictured: shorts: gap, $14.99 // tee: jcrew, $27.60 // belt: felder felder, £82.50

Sandra Soich is wardrobe stylist to the stars and founder of YourFashionTherapist.com.

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FOF Donna Perone: “This summer, I’m loving two short alternatives: a beautiful print skirt, shortened to just above the knee and cropped pants. They can both be casual, worn with flats, or dressed up with a high-heel strappy sandal. But, let’s not rule out shorts entirely — a beautiful knee-length Italian denim short (with no holes or fading, please!) or simple knee-length cotton or linen shorts would work too.”

pictured: jean shorts: doncaster, $225 // cropped pants: doncaster, $215 // skirt: doncaster, $250

Donna Perone is the founder of Living Fit with Style, a New York-based personal training and styling company. 

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FOF Lovey Dash: “Like Peter Pan, I thought I’d never ever grow up. But, shorts gave me a reality check this year. Regardless of how gorgeous your legs look, short shorts should not leave the house when you’re FOF. I fell in love with a pair of cotton shorts from Billy Blues collection. They come in lots of colors, flatten your tummy, and the flare is not too wide. I wear them with ballet slippers but, they would also look good with thongs or a cute sneaker.”

pictured: shorts: billy blues, $174 // ballet flats: london sole, $215

Lovey Dash is a Beverly Hills-based stylist. She was formerly in VIP sales for Louis Vuitton on Rodeo Drive.

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FOF Terry Gibralter: “FOFs can definitely pull off shorts! We’re not talking short shorts or hot pants here, but a nice fitting tailored short can be worn at just about any age.  The key is choosing a pair that works with your body type — the right length, the right fabric and also what you pair with them is important. That said, I still feel the best option for hot weather is a lightweight flowy skirt— there’s nothing cooler than that!”

pictured: black shorts: express, $29.99 // checkered shorts: jones new york, $35.40 // khaki shorts: not your daughter’s jeans, $74

Terry Gibralter is the founder of Bespoke Custom Shopping Tours, carefully-crafted shopping “vacations” and a self-proclaimed, “fashion-obsessed” FOF.

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FOF Susan Grant: “I’m definitely of the opinion that short shorts should be left to young, toned women. For FOFs, a loose, lightweight cotton dress or separates care more comfortable in hot weather than binding shorts. Ann DeMeulemeester makes loose, edgy tops, skirts and dresses which are easy to accessorize. Issey Miyake makes cotton knits that are comfortable and hand washable. For full figured women I always recommend pieces by Eskandar which create a very simple, chic, flattering line.”

pictured: black pants: ann demeulemeester, £515 // white pants: eskandar, $156

Susan Grant is merchandise manager for Muse, a full-service jewelry showroom.

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FOF Susan Hersh: “There is no reason for women to forgo wearing shorts. They are a staple for many sports such as hiking, golf and trekking. There are also ‘dressy-casual’ options. I like the Vince Silk-Contrast shorts that hit mid-thigh.”

pictured: khaki shorts: vince, $178 // black shorts: vince, $135

Susan Hersh is a Ford model and the host and executive producer of Meet The Experts.

  • Mel

    I actually have on short, booty lifting shorts but also do lots of legwork and have great legs. I found this post ? by checking opinions on this subject. I’ll be 55 in November but people often think I’m in my late 30s.

    My pic is old and before my recent transformation.

  • gaypinder

    And thanks Susan Hersh for getting off the BORING Bermuda shorts track. I’m 55, not a nun.

  • gaypinder

    Turn off the caps!

  • Gina Johnson

    Very interesting. The best online store for women clothes for me is http://www.missholly.com.au/shorts/
    I have bought most of my clothes from there. Greetings!

  • Carla Arnaldos

    Muchas gracias, me ha servido para un trabajo que tengo que entregar en el colegio. Besos!

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  • Angela

    I couldn’t believe my eyes, when I saw the question, “SHOULD WOMEN OVER 50 WEAR SHORTS”? WTH…….WHY WOULDN’T THEY? AND WHY ASK ANYONE? IF YOU CAN LOOK IN THE MIRROR, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU FEEL GOOD IN. PERSONALLY, I HAVE BEEN VERY BLESSED WITH GOOD LEGS, MY 16 YEAR OLD NIECE SAYS SHE WISHES SHE HAD LEGS LIKE HALF AS GOOD AS MINE. I REALIZE THAT EVERYONE IS NOT SO BLESSED, BUT WHO GIVES A “HOOT”, WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE BECAUSE GOD GAVE IT TO US. BUT TO BE TOLD THAT YOU SHOULDN’T WEAR SHORTS AT ALL JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE OVER 50, OMG!!!!! THAT’S RIDICULOUS! I DON’T WEAR “BOOTY SHORTS” OBVIOUSLY, BUT I DO WEAR A LENGTH HALF WAY BETWEEN KNEE & UPPER THIGH, I AM 6 FT. TALL I HAVE A 36 INCH INSEAM, AND OMG!!!!! THAT’S NOT SHORT, I’VE EVEN WORN SHORTS A FEW INCHES ABOVE THE KNEE, AND PEOPLE CONTINUE TO STARE, SO I KNOW IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LENGTH, I GUESS THEY THINK I SHOULD HAVE MY LONG GORGEOUS LEGS COVERED OR AMPUTATED. WOMEN GIVE ME AN AWFUL DISGUSTING LOOK, IT REALLY PISSES MY MOM & GRANDMOTHER OFF! LOL! I PERSONALL LOVE IT! ON A SERIOUS NOTE, LADIES, PLEASE, PLEASE, WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT TO, JUST TAKE A QUICK LOOK IN THE MIRROR, AND BE SMART, YOU KNOW IF SOMETHING DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT, OR IF YOU DON’T FEEL RIGHT! ONE DAY WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE DUST, DO WHAT YOU THINK FEELS GOOD, DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS SAY, BECAUSE THEY’RE PROBABLY JUST “JELLY” (JEALOUS)! LOL! ALSO REMEMBER PEOPLE TALKED BAD ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, SO WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THEY WON’T TALK ABOUT YOU! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

  • privilege

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  • loveshorties

    I am 45 and I wear short shorts (the spandex ones that barely cover the butt).

    I am a mid distance runner (40-50 miles per week) and my legs, while thick (I have 15 inch calf which is solidly toned), have no hanging flab on them. My butt is tiny, however, and looks outstanding in fold over waist spandex pants. My overall physique is athletic – though I would like to drop 15 pounds.

    So there is NO rule on shorts over 40 – there’s only your rule, your body shape, your ultimate goals / desires.

    I’ll wear shorties and shorts until it is not “me” anymore. But for now, IT”S ALL ME! lOL

  • Alison McGowan

    What a crazy question. Of course you can wear shorts if you look OK in them and feel OK in them. I have just turned 60 and I wear shorts everyday as I live in a hot climate (Brazil) and work in tourism where this is absolutely appropriate attire. It definitely wouldn’t be appropriate in the corporate world but then that is a very good reason why I am not still in it!!

  • Diane Bilis

    If you have the legs, workout, and use selftanner than OF COURSE

  • Lisa

    I love my J. Crew bermudas. I gave up short shorts this year, at 54. So far I don’t miss them.

  • Patricia Assanowicz

    Are you kidding me???? I have alot of FOF’s and boy oh boy do they look awesome in shorts, now they do not do the short shorts, some are just above the knee and some are what we call the stopping line!! half way up from the knee, of course show those great muscels you have worked hard on, I strongly believe any FOF’s that has sexy legs and for those FOF’s that feel they do not compete with the women that have strong muscels, you are a beautiful woman inside and out, if you feel good in your own skin, then OWN IT, and wear your shorts and feel good about yourself. We all come in different shapes and sizes, be proud of what ever shape and size you are, my friends and I talked about this yesterday and then we all looked around and said, “Wait a minute here, look at us talking about this short subject and we All have shorts on, that gave us a good laugh, and when we were on my deck, it suddenly turned into our own runway, people walking and driving by, alot of them know me from growing up here and the ones that did not know me or my friends, loved it, one man stopped and asked us, excuse me ladies, is this a fashion show??? My friend responded by saying, no, it is just a group of women that are proud to be 50 and over and wearing shorts, he loved it and said, go for it ladies, you are all beautiful. That pretty much proved our point and the best thing was it put confidence back in our friend that was totally unsure about shorts and her weight, now she loves herself and her shorts. So go for it ladies, be proud of who you are and wear those shorts, show off your beautiful legs, we had a fun day, and we got two applauses, yes, two standing O’s!!!

  • Carol

    Hell yes! Especially if they have great legs like mine – not a varicose vein or cellulite in sight – even after 2 babies. I love shorts, skorts, and short skirts!

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  • Brenda

    If you can rock it, wear it! Over 50 – we are in full bloom!

  • dmnyes

    I don’t think that I will ever give up my shorts. But in moderation, no BOOTY shorts. Rule of thumb if you wore it then Don’t wear it now!!!

  • Alene

    For me, if I had great legs, I would wear shorts. But, I am blessed with my mother’s legs and loose-ish skin. So, at 59, shorts are out due to the knee issue. However, below the knee is fine, I think. And that’s what I do. If I were a Ford model, even at 59, I could probably wear shorts. But I’m not, nor are many over 50 women. Sorry. You know what, though, wear what you want! You’re over 50! There are more important things in life than that to worry about.

  • Mamavalveeta03

    I wear short where I’ll be comfortable in them, which means the park, the beach or at home. I would tend to wear the combos shown by Sandra Soich or Susan Hersch. Attractive, simple and age-friendly!

  • Arlene

    Hey I say if you’ve got the legs and the attitude, wear shorts. I particularly like the ones Lovey picked — they are stylish, flattering, but still age appropriate. Some of the other picks are either too youthfull or too dowdy.

  • Christine Norman

    I agree with Susan Hersh 100%. I am very active outdoors and always wear Cabela’s shorts. Being very petite, I even roll them up twice so they fit better, and I don’t mind showing off the work I do to keep my legs in shape.

  • Lollie

    I completely agree with guru Lovey Dash’s thoughts. I, too, like the longer and tailored walking shorts and they look so sporty and feminine when paired with a ballet flat. In fact, why not leave a little to the imagination and find a way of looking alluring with these more sophisticated, tailored shorts.

    Question… is this guru Lovey Dash the one i remember from years ago as a stylist/costumer for the movie industry? I was in the film industry years ago and briefly worked with a talented designer with the same name, i believe.

  • BlueBear

    Do you have a mirror? Use it and be honest about it! If you have a muffin top or you are out of shape or fat, don’t wear short shorts. Any woman with a toned figure, no matter the age, can wear shorts but leave the short shorts to the kids if you’re FOF. Juggling thighs and butts are not attractive!

  • Laurakb

    After reading more comments I just have to say, I hate “high water” pants otherwise known as capris. Especially in a thin fabric. They look awful on almost everyone, you are cutting off the line of your legs at the ankle. So if you are over weight you are just highlighting that fact. There is so much to choose from, try on everything, rule out anything that is not flattering, and where whatever style you choose!! Life is too short to live according to what is “acceptable”!

  • Laurakb

    I wear my shorts about mid thigh, longer ones look dowdy on me. After spending my 40’s overweight and losing 60 lbs. before my 50th birthday I want to show off my legs! My lifestyle is very casual so they fit right in. I wear skirts more though, more comfortable. Short ones of course.

  • DeloresKenyon

    I have been wearing the city shorts to work this year! First ever for me wearing shorts out in public. I have been spinning for several years now and it has helped firm up my legs enough where I feel Ok about it and tang it- it’s too hot here for pants!

  • tckflow

    I don’t think my comment posted, so here I go again. Sorry if this is redundant…

    I can’t believe this is even a question on here. FOFs should wear shorts or whatever makes them feel good about themselves. Ignore the jerk on the street. He’s the one with the problem. I’m a fitness and wellness pro. Yes, I’m fit, and yes I wear shorts. I have students and clients who are all shapes, sizes, and I encourage them to live life with gusto, appreciate their unique beauty and do whatever gives them joy.

  • pam munro

    There’s a difference between wearing shorts for sports or casual wear & these “City Shorts.” Frankly, I don’t think 98% of all women – no matter the age – can carry off this look! Who has legs like that? (There was a trend years ago for baggy shorts that looked like skirts – that was easier.) So – I wear shorts when it’s hot – & only ones that are longer & baggier – for hanging around a hot house, etc. (The style of British military shorts has always flattered me – long & with some width. ) Make sure that you have tanned your legs – or in my case, use self-tanner – to make sure your legs don’t look like dead fish! For dressier occasions I wear cropped pants or a sun dress!

  • Ivy Pittman

    Over 50, please. you know what you look in shorts. I think anyone can wear bermuda shorts at any age. but short shorts for women over 50 should be saved for the beach or ones back yard no matter how toned and fit one may be.

  • tckflow

    I can’t believe this is even a question. Of course FOFs can wear shorts if they want to. Period! No matter what shape they’re in – or what it provokes from some jerk on the street. That’s the jerks problem. Not the FOF. I’m a wellness and fitness pro. Yes, I’m in good shape, and enjoy wearing shorts when the weather permits. But I have clients and students who are different shapes and sizes. Somer are buff. Some aren’t. Let’s celebrate each womans unique beauty – love your body – do what makes YOU feel good. Live with gusto!

  • Cori Garrett

    I live in Florida where everyone (local & tourist) wears shorts from May through October and beyond. Shorts and knee length capris that are modestly cut are appropriate for 50-somethings and for those with heavier body weight. Tasteful bathing suits are also available. I wore t-shirts with kitties printed on them when I was a kid, short-shorts and midriffs when I was a teenager, mini-skirts and plunging necklines in my 20’s but I don’t wear those things now. Don’t squeeze yourself into age inappropriate clothing.

    “Is this age appropriate and figure flattering?” is the question when appraising an outfit in the mirror. Don’t let yourself become one of the “People of Wal-Mart” and immmortalize your fashion gaff into eternity!

  • Sharon

    At 66 I LOOK great in shorts because I swim and or play tennis 5 days a week, BUT I wouldn’t wear short-shorts anywhere. I think FOF’s need to wear something that looks good on them, but also be mindful of looking appropriate.

  • KAPUMAKA

    Shops are fine as long as they are choosen in good taste. With weather has hot as it get’s we can not
    suffer and wear long pants in the summer.
    I wear the longer style, just because my skin does not appear as youthful as before. But in all said in done, the longer shorts seem to help out .

  • floggingwally

    I love shorts! JCrew has longer shorts in a multitude of colors that not only fit fantastic, but can be mixes with blouses, cardigans or t-shirts! Rugby, by Ralph Lauren, also have a few longer, really cute shorts –
    Personally I think capri pants on FOF ladies can be really unflattering as that length that cuts off the calf can make legs look short….especially when you see ladies wear them with running shoes or those clunky sandals.
    There are some amazing self tanners and fabulous little flats.. go forward, FOF’s and wear shorts!!!!

  • Mary

    I still wear short shorts…at least around the house or out on our boat…I still have nice legs, but if i do go out in public, I do wear a longer short than I used to, just because I am 52…I noticed a look from some other “older” people last summer…made me feel uncomfortable…

  • Janice

    Dress your body not your age applies to FOF and younger. And what occasion are we dressing for? I am fit but also have spider veins and am not into “tanning” or IPL so no shorts or knee length dresses for me. Capri’s are also out because I am short at 5’3″ and they cut off my leg making me look even shorter. Even tho I am thin at 110 lbs but am much more comfy and look better in a long pair of linen slacks than I would ever be exposing my legs. Comfort=Confidence. Out in the back yard gardening-shorts? sure why not?

  • Pinkerbell

    Life is too short to assign ages for clothing. Love what you wear; don’t waste time judging others. You’ll feel a lot happier!

  • Janet L.

    Love to wear shorts in summer! Agree they should come to knee and flatter body type! Go summer girls!

  • faithmm

    I will be 55 late this year. The shorts that I used to wear in my 20’s or 30’s have certainly changed. I just got back from a Florida vacation and wore loose shorts that came down to my knees and were very attractive on. Many people thought I actually had a skirt on. My legs are no longer slim but I believe that anyone can wear shorts that have flair and style; wear what looks good on you and is comfortable!

  • Diana

    I would like to know why the designers don’t design cute clothes for women that are FOF, they have such cute tops, capris, sun dresses and such in the junior department but when you go into the womens department all the styles are frump and drab. Just cause we’re older doesn’ t mean that we want to dress that way. Can’t someone design some cute capris for our age that sit properly at the waste or some cute flirty tops and sun dresses. I agree with the poster about women in California, stop wearing the spandex with a crop tank and your huge gut hanging out…really no one wants to see that and it so tacky 🙂

  • Norma Byrd, ASID

    I personally don’t like shorts that are neither short nor long. (Same for longer pants. I have always detested capris. They look like you ran out of fabric or they shrunk in the wash.) I think they look awkward and don’t flatter a woman. I do like the length shown in Susan Hirshe’s comment and they make sense when you’re trying to stay cool. This is of course as Annamarie points out if you’re not way heavy. Then confine wearing them to home! For real coolness—temperature-wise—a skirt just above the knee is really best, but not if you’re hiking, biking, or bending over.

  • donchie

    If you can wear a bathing suit, you can wear shorts.

  • Catherine

    Hard not to….I was raised in the country where cut-offs were my staple and I still have the legs for them,!

  • belindabg

    The important thing here is to be CONSCIOUS of how you look in the shorts BEFORE you take to the streets! I have ‘farm legs’ – stout, heavy German-type legs that don’t look good in anything that doesn’t at least cover them to the ankle – like a nice cropped pant. I also live in the Desert Southwest, and today it will be 118 degrees here. I still DON’T wear shorts, because I don’t want to subject anyone to that sight! I do wear my cropped pants in a nice linen, cool and easy to wear, all Summer long. And I have some decent-looking knit gauchos that look ok as well. Just take a good look in the mirror BEFORE you go out in public – that’s FASHION RULE #1 IN MY BOOK!

  • Sonja Turetsky

    Living in Florida I believe in wearing the long and short of whatever looks good on my 68 year old size 8 body. Very short shorts are best left to my granddaughters, ages 8 and 22 respectively. Staying cool and looking cool are a combination of good taste and an ample wardrobe of light tees and shorts of all lengths.

  • Mary Benko

    I think there are definitely times when you should wear shorts – like working in the garden or around the house. After all, we don’t want to get heat exhaustion.

    However, if you are going out, you may want to cover up a bit, depending on the appearance of your legs. I have veins, so I prefer capris. Look for pants made out of light weight materials to keep you cool.

  • Kay Ray

    I find shorts are more comfortable for me at home. Though I agree with Susan Grant about flattering our FOF figures with loose lightweight clothing.

  • Darlene

    I love what Jodi said!!! I’m 60, not pencil thin like I was in my 20s-30’s but I will still wear shorts, albeit not the daisy dukes we used to wear…lol…And if you shouldn’t wear shorts, what does this leave for swim suits…sorry. I didn’t make it this long to worry about being a total fashion statement… 🙂

  • pjdiva

    I love the tailored look of long shorts but as a petite it is hard to find petite shorts that are not cut way too short (for junior sizes) I wish more designers would address fashion for older petite women that is not too young (or old) but classic taste. Most dept stores carry styles that look like you are ready for the nursing home.

  • Linda Caricofe

    I do not think age is a factor when it comes to wearing anything.
    Wearing shorts at any age, depends on your build.
    Even when I was the perfect weight when very young, I did not wear shorts because I did not look good in them.
    At 5’2″ I am hour glass shape but not nice legs, so, no shorts for me, no matter what.
    I will say, I do wear those wonderful pants they have now that end at the knees..if they are considered shorts, then that’s great.
    The ones shown in Lovely Dash, Terri and Susan’s selections are the kind I wear.
    If you have nice firm legs, and these days, many women over 50 do, then wear those shorts girls…you work hard on your body, so, if you have it, flaunt it ..the legs I mean 🙂
    Best wishes, Linda

  • JG

    I don’t think ANYONE should wear shorts, unless they have decent-looking legs. Although I am a size 4, I’ve never felt comfortable in them, so I don’t wear shorts. I was not blessed with nice legs.

  • Janie Spannagel

    I would never wear shorts, i’m soon to be 57, the longer capris are ok. Heavy women look terrible wearing shorts i think, that’s for the slim older or younger gals, sorry.

  • Jodi

    That is the advantage of being over 50 — you can do whatever feels right to you. If you want to wear shorts wear shorts.

  • paula

    Of course you can wear shorts as long as your legs can carry it off.

  • Annamarie Dodge

    There is nothing wrong with FOF’s wearing shorts assuming they are not morbidly obese and wearing spandex as was so common of a site in california…unless you are in the privacy of your own home…then its better to wear pants or a dress of some sort to flatter yourself and not make yourself the ‘butt’ of someones jokes or bring on horrible comments from some insensitive jerks on the street, or children who were not properly taught manners by equally ignorant adult parents….and trust me I have come across many of them