Are Shorts Age Appropriate Over 40, 50, 60?

Think you have to give up shorts just because you’re past a certain age? Forget that outdated fashion rule! Shorts are age-appropriate over 40, 50 and 60, and can look especially great when you follow these few simple guidelines. 

1. Choose a Flattering Length

Shorts - White Bermuda

When you’re young, it’s easy to wear any length of shorts you want.  Cheeky denim Daisy Duke cutoffs? -No problem. Short, flimsy boho shorts with pompom trim? – Very Coachella. Skimpy yoga shorts with super stretch? – Hot!

Try wearing the same shorts at 40, 50+, and you’re going to look desperate.  This doesn’t mean the only shorts you can wear are frumpy old lady shorts, but there is a happy medium that will make you look classy and not trashy. An inseam of 4″ or longer is a good starting point. A 5-7″ inseam is midlength- most popular and 9-11 is Bermuda length.

2. Wear Tailored Shorts

If you want to look more like a grown-up gal in shorts, try wearing some shorts with a bit of structure. Shorts that more slightly tailored and less flimsy will help give your softer, rounder 40+ body a nice shape and will make you look more polished and chic.


For example, flat front walking shorts and Bermuda shorts are more tailored and very popular right now. Even a pair of crisp paper bag waist pants can have a more polished look.


3. Balance Short Shorts with the Right Top


Wearing shorts with a skimpy top is fine for suntanning in your backyard, but when you’re going out in public, aim for a classier look. Try shorts with a top that is cool and summery but doesn’t let it all hang out. This cute off-the-shoulder top is a great example of something a little bit sexy, but not tacky.


4. Coordinate your Look

Shorts - Beige Bermuda

A mish-mash look doesn’t help you look chic in shorts. Try to coordinate the colors and the mood of your shorts outfit, or pick a theme and build on that to look pulled together. Fabulous accessories help.

5. Don’t wear High Heels

Shorts - Black Scalloped

Avoid A low to medium wedge or block heel is about as high as you want to go without looking like you’re in a beauty pageant.

6. Grooming is Important

Shorts - Red Pattern Tie


Well-groomed hair and a bit of make-up help dress up shorts and takes you from average to awesome.

For more tips on how to wear shorts, click here.

Join the Conversation

20 thoughts on “Are Shorts Age Appropriate Over 40, 50, 60?

  1. Ugh, I don’t know. I’m 46, but I’m 5’4 and about 108 lbs and I’m very athletic, running/biking etc. I def still run in short running shorts, but I’m not sure what to wear for casual shorts. I don’t think 3 to 4 in above the knee will work on me. I try to get some “grown up” shorts and they look too matronly on me and they usually don’t fit. I have a boy figure with like no hips so I still fit into big girls like size 12 to 16. I also fit into juniors around size 1. I have like a pre-teen figure from the waist down so very long shorts I think make me look oven older, matronly, frumpy etc. I also never had kids and so my stomach is rock solid abs 6 pack. I’m not saying my behind doesn’t sag a bit like anyone else my age, but I think I will maybe have to stick with shorts around 4″ inseam that folks would deem too short. My sister is around 51 and for better or for worse she has never seen fit to wear very long shorts, but she is curvy and would be able to fit into misses shorts. I can’t afford designer shorts that might fit me in 0. If I’m shopping affordably at say JC Penney, I’m pretty much stuck in the juniors and girls dept. I have more of a teen figure when people’s teens honestly usually wear a bigger clothing size than I do. I have nieces in college and then were wearing bigger clothes than me by the time they were 14 so I wonder if being petite and tween/teen like figure may change the rules a bit?

    1. Hi Jen,
      It would be really hard to suggest without seeing you or doing your measurements. All I would say is, have you tried adult petite shorts? I can understand you wanting to wear a shorter short, since you are small. Too much short would swallow you up but I think you may have more luck looking at petite shorts from stores like Banana republic or Jcrew. This will look classy and mature compared to a junior short which is sometimes cheap fabric and too trendy. JC Penny may have petites too. You’d have to check that out. As far as style, have you tried the waist tie shorts that are so popular. See the floral ones in this post: you have a small bottom and waist and boyish figure these will be easy to wear and give you more curves. Have a look at this post to get some ideas, and then try on until you find the perfect pair. Best wishes, Deborah

  2. Shorts on anyone do not need to look like zip up underwear at any age period. Bermudas only work imo if you are a senior citizen or stuck in the 80s. 3-4 inches above knee is adequate. I for one get sickened seeing young girls (and even little girls) in shorts not much longer than their underwear. It sends a message all right and fashionable isn’t it.
    The problem however is finding a short that is length appropriate and not trashy in what message it is sending. Sadly retailers, for the most part, don’t get it. Cutting your own off and hemming from pants only works if 1) the pants fit you right to begin with 2) the legs don’t balloon out if cut off otherwise it looks really bad and. 3) they aren’t too tight after a trim and hem job. Not every pant can work for a cut off situation to repurpose using a secondhand find. Some do.

  3. I agree. Bermuda shorts are too long and not becoming at all. Just shortening them a few inches would really change the look yet would still look good on a older woman.

  4. I just got the latest copy of Weight Watchers Magazine and Jessica Simpson is on the cover wearing pink short shorts with a matching jacket. It is adorable. I think older women can pull it off as long as the shorts aren’t too short. I few inches above the knee would be cute and it also depends on the person. I have seen young women who couldn’t pull it off. So again, it depends on the individual.

  5. Eww. Bermuda shorts look good on tall, very lean people. You will note, ladies, that the model has very long thin legs in this picture with no varicose veins, and no chubby knees or ankles.
    The rest of the population looks dumpy and old in Bermudas. The only thing uglier are capris that fall mid calf and the women I have seen wearing those should not call attention to their calves.

    I am 5’4″ and have mid-thigh shorts that do not make me look like a Hobbit because of their length. The fashion people can keep this look, right through the season when they will languish (hopefully) on the 90% off rack.

  6. I wear bermuda shorts all from april till sometimes oct arizona warm weather hangs on longer. i love the fact that it hides a lot of varicous veins with being in my sixties and having had 5 children they work great for me.

  7. Oh dear. The only items in that outfit that I would consider are the watch and sandals. The shorts and sweatshit are way loud. The pocketbook is awful. Women over forty do not need that much color in one outfit. Pops here and there are plenty. Sorry but I would pass this to the younger ladies also.

  8. I agree that Bermuda shorts just don’t look right if you are short………..I am almost 5’3″ and mid-thigh shorts look best on me. Bermuda shorts are great if you are tall & thin

  9. I don’t like Bermuda shorts and gave all mine to charity when I was in my forties. Many of us have a larger hip and thigh area than we used to and Bermuda shorts are, in my opinion, not very flattering unless you are of a slender build, especially when viewed from behind! I also don’t like ballet flats, and prefer pretty sandals with a low heel or wedge. My solution for a similar summery look would be a skirt that is tailored nicely around the hip area and gently flares out, ending around the knee area. I would look for a wide waistband too, because when sitting down, it does not “dig in” as much! I would team it with a tailored blouse worn on the outside – not tucked in and not too long. This, along with a co-ordinating purse and sandals would be my personal choice for a flattering and up to date look for the older woman.

  10. Bermudas can be tricky on shorter women, particularly those who have heavy legs. The proportion just may not be right. Wearing short shorts certainly isn’t the answer but perhaps there’s a happy medium for us shorties.

  11. I love the look of the bermuda shorts but I’m not sure if it’s a good look for us very petite women (barely 5 foot). Any suggestions?

    1. I am 5′ 2″ and very small on the bottom. I wear size 2, sometimes a size 4, depending on the cut. I have slim hips and legs, but am heavy on top – size 8 or 10 top. I really like Bermuda length shorts, as well as mid-thigh shorts. I also like capris and wear them frequently in the summer. Much cooler than pants and more appropriate in some situations than skirts are. Try a few pairs on before you write off the concept totally.

  12. I know your site is focused on looking professional and chic, but I’d also like to think about what kind of shorts to wear for activities outside of the office. And especially for active people over 40 that like to be outdoors, active in sports, hiking, going to the beach etc. It seems like so many things again are too short, too young, or too old. I am just 40, petite, and struggle with finding things in stores that fit my age, and my size (3/5).

    1. I find the best shorts at golf stores, believe it or not. They are a bit more pricey, but you can also shop the sales. The shorts are of excellent quality and there is always a cut to suit everyone. Try looking there. You will find shorts that hit anywhere from mid-thigh to just below the knee, as well as capris and pants. My favourite summer dress pants for work came from the PGA Pro Tour Golf Store.

  13. I am looking forward to seeing more examples of shorts/skirts for Spring/Summer. Will you be sharing the photos sent in? Somehow, it makes a difference seeing it on a real person and why I think so many of the What I Wore Today blogs are so popular. Thanks Ladies for helping us Fab 40+ Gals out! ;)

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