How To Wear Shorts When You’re Over 40

white bermuda shorts

Keep your shorts sleek and simple over 40.

I’ve recently had a lot of women writing to ask  how to wear shorts after 40.  Here are some Do’s and Dont’s for Wear Shorts Over 40.

    • Do stay away from baggy cargo shorts.  They’re better suited to younger gals, and the pockets add extra bulk around your hips and thighs, which we definitely don’t need!
    • Don’t pick a short with pleats.  Pleats add bulk to your tummy and hips, and it’s hard to wear a longer shirt over them without bunching.
    • Don’t choose a style that is too short. If you have good legs you may be fine to go shorter than above the knee, but remember the shorter, the more casual, so you may want to stick to wearing them around the pool, at the beach, for a family picnic, rather than out shopping, for example.
    • Do choose a more modest top that has some coverage if your shorts are on the shorter side. This balances the look.

  • Don’t choose a style that’s too long.  When your shorts hit you below the knee or lower, it will look like you’re wearing capris that shrunk
  • Don’t buy a short with a cuff around the thigh if you are heavy there.  This draws attention to the widest part of your leg.
  • Don’t wear a kitten heel or mule with a short.  They tend to shorten your leg, and are too formal for this look.

For an age-appropriate way to wear shorts, try these Dos:

  • Do look for a simpler, sleeker line.  A straight leg is best, especially when it fitted perfectly to your body.  You’ll look taller and thinner!
  • Do pick shorts with a flat front.  Most women over 40 look better with a shirt tucked out to camouflage a bulge around the midsection, and flat front shorts is more flattering and less bunchy than pleats under a shirt. Wide waistband also slim.
  • Do wear a chunkier heel, wedge, or flat sandal with your shorts.  It’s a hipper look and the right formality.

More From Fabulous After 40

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  1. Michelle Kay says:


    I want to like your website; I really do, but I keep reading about how us gals, “don’t want extra bulk” at our age and how we may have put on extra weight and all I can think of is, “Well maybe you have, but I am 46, 5’7″ and 125 pounds and I am this weight because I exercise and take care of myself, so this website is not for me. I understand women over 40 come in different shapes and sizes and some are overweight or have issues with their shapes, but I don’t think it’s accurate to put us all in that category and it is a huge turnoff to someone like me and makes me feel like this is an “old lady” site. Please give women like me reasons to feel like this is a hip place to be where we can embrace fashion, break the stereotypes of what “over 40″ looks like and enjoy this phase of our lives!
    Thank you.

    • Rikki Mason says:

      I agree with the gal who is frustrated with this site. You can’t stereo type women in their 40’s. I am 43, I am 5’1 and weigh 102 lbs. I also take care of myself. I do not have “thick” parts of my leg….I also don’t have a “bulge” in my midsection….some of the clothing items suggested are ridiculous for someone of my build. Not everyone in their 40’s is over weight, wrinkly and trying to “hide” areas of their bodies.

  2. I say opt for a skirt instead of shorts! They are so cute- and much cooler (meaning a little more breezy). You can pair a cotton skirt with flip flops and a tank and look stylish! Now that it’s fall- this conversation may be a little late… but had to add my 2 cents!

  3. Go Kim! Whish my husband liked it when I wear sexy…..think he’s more jealous than anything but he sulks the minute I try to look sexy! You wear your shorts and keep looking good,feel good when your man tells you this! Enjoy! I envy you! I look good but hey,this man of mine likes to peep at the other woman,some even far more dam ugly than me but hey, we can sit in a public place and he will make me feel like i’m the ugliest woman alive though I know i get looks from other men, some even younger than me! You go girl!

  4. Hi, i turn 50 this year. I am still in good shape though i never like wearing short skirt or shorts. I need a change, i like to wear fashion items and looks younger than my age, i also like to try out different or new ideas. This winter i bought myself some leggings which i wear only with a long top, jacket or jersey with boots. I must admit,it looks good and i feel good. The other day “something came over me” and i bought myself a short short in denim and also a very short skirt which i tried on with my leggings and boots, it looks really good though i will never go outside because i feel it’s not appropriate for older women. I really want to wear this style though with a long jacket, cover up of course when going outside. You may ask “why do i bother then”? Well, this is to feel good for myself,i don’t want to show my nice legs and sexy clothes out there, i want to know inside, and feel, that i look sexy for me. Am i weird? Hope not but if i do,are there any women out there that does these kind of things? I always try something new,not always proper for my age but hey, what the heck, if i feel good then stuff the rest right? I cover up anyways when outside the home,what does it matter what i look like underneath a pretty coat? I’ve always been a dark head gal,started turning grey the same age most ladies does, i hated it, then started to dye red,black,brown and any other colour one can think of. Recently i started to like the grey fashionable look, decided to go through the whole proccess in turning from red to blond, then to grey eventually. Still reshearching on this but it will come sooner than later. Why do we have to look like a granny if there’s still a lot of spark left in us? I get looks from men and even from woman…..but not good one’s from woman but i also don’t care. My own husband is very old fashioned concerning their woman,just like his father,etc though i see the looks he gives other sexy woman but he turns quiet and sulky when i look good,young and sexy! I hate this and one of the reasons why i feel i need a change,for myself and not even to spite him but just for me and me alone! Careful, thinking of getting a tattoo in a very classy manner,somewhere neat, not tacky and cheap though stylish,small yet still there to make a statement. What do you other gals think of my ideas?

  5. Im just a little bit over 40.My legs are in pretty good shape so I do like to where shorts on the short side. My husband likes me to where high heeels with them so I make him happy.

  6. Nice tip about shorts – Unfortunately in Australia it’s hard to find shorts that are good for over 40 Ladies. Most styles sold are for the very young, unless you want the ‘granny version’ – elasticised waist in pastel colours! Yuk! Any Aussies who know a good place to find over 40’s shorts please let me know.

  7. Shorts at 40, just to or above the knee may be ok, but for me, at 56, that length just highlights what age has done to my knees. Either shorter (several inches above the knee) or covering the kneecap/just to the top of the calf is much better – which technically I guess are not shorts! (I have very long legs, so the longer length works). To wear the shorter look, I’m finding that a skort (with the ‘skirt’ part in front and back, not just the front) is more flattering & just as easy to wear as shorts – & easier to shop for.

  8. Hi Deb, Just had to say Hi and note that it was amazing how my first summer after turning 40, shorts are suddenly an issue! Thanks for your advice. Looks like I have some shopping to do.

    –Amy Tiemann

    • Hi Amy,
      LOL!!! Great to hear from you and to hear your finally old enough to be official! Glad you found my advice helpful. Ie want you to still have your mojo with your wardrobe!

  9. Hi Deborah,

    Just a quick note – I really en-JOY reading your tips over 40! I find them incredibly helpful, practical and inspiring! Keep them coming!!