When it comes to summer fashion, there’s a lot to love. Breezy dresses! Super cute sandals! Bathing suits that celebrate your awesome curves! And then there are shorts—a garment that after about the age of 12, we kind of just put up with. After all, it’s hard to find comfortable shorts for women that don’t ride up, threatening PH levels and making you do that duck-walk to inconspicuously dislodge them. (Spoiler alert: It’s not inconspicuous.) Also, nothing blesses you with a righteous case of thigh chafe quite like a pair of ill-fitting shorts.

So now that summer temps rival the surface of the sun, what’s a fashion (and temperature) conscious woman to do? Well, a bit of research, that’s what. Don’t have time? I’ve got you. (And if you’re rocking a bump, check out these maternity shorts instead!) 

From my favorite personal recs to top suggestions from internet shoppers, I’ve rounded up a selection of stylish and comfortable shorts that make a solid addition to your summer wardrobe. From summer vacations to backyard BBQs, these styles will keep you cool and looking fresh, no duck-walking required.

Most comfortable shorts for women

Spanx Stretch Twill Shorts



Stretch Twill Shorts

If you’re just learning that Spanx offers more than underwear and leggings, welcome! Now you never have to wear pants with buttons again! These comfortable but classy pull-on shorts are made from a butter-soft stretchy twill with a smooth, flat front that doesn’t bag out after you sit down for too long. (No thank you on that wrinkly crotch look.) They’re garment dyed which means the color is slightly faded and will wear over time, so wash them inside out to preserve the look you love!

Inseam length: 4 inches

Available in sizes XS-XL

Athleta Cabo Linen 4 Short



Cabo Linen 4" Short

A pair of linen shorts you can dress up or down is perfect for summer travels. This pair from Athleta gets rave reviews for their versatility and fit which is comfortable and relaxed without being sloppy. The wide elastic waistband doesn’t roll or fold and according to fans the white isn’t see-through either.

Inseam length: 4 inches

Available in sizes 0-26
Quince Linen Shorts



Linen Shorts

Listen, when it’s as hot as the surface of the sun, linen is the way to go. And if you want a pair of shorts you can fall in love with and then purchase in every color, these are it. From the impressively sustainable and oh-so-affordable Quince, these comfy shorts are soft and lightweight and perfect for travel. They available in five neutral colors and look great with anything from sneakers and tees to button downs and strappy sandals.

Inseam length: 3.25 inches

Available in sizes XS-XL
Madewell Relaxed Denim Shorts



Relaxed Denim Shorts

Madewell does denim right and if I had to pick a favorite this season, these would be it. The whisper fade and just-right level of destruction brings all the vintage lived-in vibes while the relaxed fit doesn’t squeeze your thighs or ride up. Prepare to live in them all summer long. (And every summer because after sixty years, it’s probably safe to say this timeless style isn’t going anywhere.)

Also! Right now Madewell is having their most bonkers sale of the summer with prices up to 70% off. These are 40% off the sale price of 54.50 with code CLASSIFIED until 7/21. So don’t wait! (And check out some of the other steals while you’re there.)

Inseam length: 3 inches

Available in sizes 23-33

J. Crew Seaside Short in Linen Blend

J. Crew


Seaside Short in Linen Blend

Another top-rated linen option, the J. Crew Seaside Short is a stylish way to add a fun color pop to your shorts collection. They’re available in eleven different colors like apple green, lemon zest and pink orchid that look fantastic with chambray tops and fresh kicks. And when you’re feeling a little more refined? No problem. They come in traditional colors like navy, black and white, too.

Inseam length: 3 inches

Available in sizes XXXS-3X

Universal Standard Sunny Swim Shorts

Universal Standard


Sunny Swim Shorts

Don’t be fooled by the name. The stylish and versatile Sunny Swim Short from Universal Standard can go anywhere the wind takes you. Sure, they’re made from a quick-dry fabric that you can pull on over your damp suit, but the casual, cool cut looks good even when you’re not poolside. They’ve got a subtle high-low inseam that keeps them from riding up and even have pockets for your essentials.

Inseam length: Not specified

Available in sizes 00-40

Old Navy High-Waisted OGC Chino Shorts

Old Navy


High-Waisted OGC Chino Shorts

Every summer, Old Navy knocks it out of the park with at least one killer style that everyone can agree on. This year, it’s the OGC chino shorts that shoppers can’t stop raving about. (Seriously, they have almost 2K reviews!) The relaxed fit offers just the right amount of stretch to stay comfortable and wrinkle-free while elastic at the back helps eliminate gaps. Best of all, they come in 12 colors including an olive green that one reviewer says “matches everything. literally.”

Inseam length: 3.5 inch

Available in sizes XS-4X

Pact Denim Chambray Paper Bag Short



Denim Chambray Paper Bag Short

The paper bag style is still rocking this year and I have to say, I’m not mad about it. Not only does the high-waist flatter all shapes and sizes, but it’s also super comfortable while still looking polished. And since this organic pair from Pact is made from denim chambray, they check the jean short box as well (except much more comfortably).

Inseam length: 2.5 inch

Available in sizes XS-XL

Duer Live Light Utility Short



Live Light Utility Short

You may not be headed out on safari, but with these shorts you can be ready for any adventurous plans that crop up. (Brunch mimosas count.) The longer inseam feels sophisticated without being frumpy while a looser fit through the butt and thighs keeps them from riding up. Made from Duer’s proprietary Live Lite fabric–a blend of cotton and eucalyptus-derived TENCEL, they’re not only super breathable, they’re also naturally odor-neutralizing and moisture-resistant as well. Shorts that don’t feel swampy by noon? Yes please.

Inseam length: 5 inch

Available in sizes 24-33 in

Outerknown Seventyseven Stretch Cord Shorts



Seventyseven Stretch Cord Shorts

I may have been born too late (and too uncoordinated) to be a 70’s California surfer girl, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dress like one. The retro-inspired Seventyseven Stretch Cord Shorts from surf-loving brand Outerknown are the perfect pair for laid-back beach days with a flattering rise that’s not too high or too low.

A version of this story was published July 1, 2021. It has been updated.