The 12 Best Denim Shorts for Spring & Summer

by Lisa Fogarty

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — OK, the second most wonderful time of the year. As temperatures begin to soar, picnic party invitations start rolling in, and spring bathing suit trends occupy a large space in our minds, there's a solid chance you'll find yourself, yet again, searching for the best denim shorts to wear all spring and summer long.

If you're thinking: no, please, anything but that, I promise you that shopping for spring and summer denim is going to be totally different this year. Among the sea of too clingy, too short, too pocket-y, and too high-and low-waisted denim catastrophes exists your perfect pair of denim shorts.

There are so many options — from jean shorts designed specially for plus-size people to shorts for petite sizes — it's easier than ever to score denim shorts so fab you'll never want to take them off. But there's more to it than just fit: with so many styles, colors, cuts, and lengths, deciding which jean shorts to let into your life (and which get to share your limited drawer space) can be a challenge that requires a lot more time than your packed schedule will allow.

And that's why I'm delighted to help simplify the process. Maybe denim shorts shopping isn’t as fun as lounging by the pool or kicking back in a beer garden, but it needn’t be torture, either. Here are 12 pairs of denim shorts that look chic and are as comfortable as they are cute.


These Rock 'n' Roll Roll-Up Shorts In Classic Blue Denim

H&M Denim Shorts (Sizes 2-16), $10, H&M

These 5-pocket shorts in washed denim are perfect for anyone who prefers a regular waist to high-waisted styles. They fall to the thigh, are folded and sewn at the hem, and come in two shades: denim blue (pictured here) and dark denim blue.


Classic Levi's Dark-Wash Jean Shorts

Levi's Women's 501 Short (Sizes 27-32), $35-40, Amazon

Why limit yourself to blue denim? Play with darker colors this spring and summer and add these classic Levi's 501 shorts in Black Abyss to your wardrobe. They're made with 90 percent cotton and 2 percent elastane for a flexible fit. Offset a rebellious frayed hemline with an understated white blouse and sandals.


White-Hot Distressed Mom Jean Shorts

MOTO High-Waisted White Mom Shorts (Sizes 0-14), $58, Topshop

These distressed white shorts have a raw hem detail and an extreme high waist. Tuck in a blouse, throw on flat sandals, and you're ready to go anywhere.


Posh Pinstriped Denim Shorts

Pinstriped Denim Shorts (Sizes 12-20), $9, Forever 21

Say "hello" to the posh pinstriped shorts you need when you're looking to step up your game and ultra short denim cutoffs aren't going to cut it. These shorts work for both friend meet-ups and romantic dates, and depending on your work environment, wouldn't look out of place on Casual Friday. They're made from 100 percent cotton, have five pockets, a zip fly, and cuffed hems.


The Knee Shorts You'll Have Forever

Amelia Rolled Knee Shorts, Blue Moon (Sizes 24-32), $135, Hudson Jeans

Sometimes it's worth biting the bullet and investing more in a pair of quality denim shorts that can be worn every day, all day, dressed up, dressed down, and brought out from storage each spring for the rest of eternity (or, uh, close to it). These mid-rise shorts fit like skinny jeans and are the perfect length for any occasion.


Festival-Friendly Embroidered Denim Shorts

Tengo High Waist Embroidered Denim Shorts (Sizes 32-42), $20, Amazon

Embroidered denim in bold colors and charming floral prints is continuing to enjoy its moment in the sun this season — and for a very good reason: Few denim styles come close to capturing the easy, breezy mood of spring and summer. This high-waisted pair from Tengo features cute '60s-style flowers on the front and back.


The Perfect Pair of Denim Jean Overall Shorts

Denim Jean Overall Shorts (Sizes small-large), $33, Amazon

You need these jean overall shorts in your life because you can wear them with a teeny tiny crop top and still feel totally covered up; You need these because they boast the perfect number of rips and tears without going overboard; But the number one reason you need these denim overall shorts right this minute is because they're so darn cute you'll pine over them for the rest of time.


These Fab High-Waisted Destroyed Bermuda Shorts

Dokotoo Women's Casual Denim Destroyed Bermuda Shorts (Sizes 4-20), $16-19, Amazon

These trendy knee-length shorts are a hit because their high waist, narrow fit, and all of those sexy rips and tears prove itty bitty short shorts aren't the only hot summer staple. This style is a cotton-polyester blend with a little elastane for extra stretch.


Fun Denim Lace Shorts

Sunward High Waisted Tassel Hole Denim Lace Shorts (Sizes S-XXL), $14, Amazon

If you dislike feeling overexposed, but love the look of shorter shorts, the high waist and lace detail on this adorable pair will make you feel more covered up. And they're the perfect complement to your crochet or lace crop top.


Comfortable Acid-Washed Jean Shorts

Simplicity Acid Washed Denim Shorts (Sizes Small-X-Large), $14.99, Amazon

Who knew you could score mid-rise shorts that feature a black distressed acid-washed print, are made from 100 percent cotton, and — oh, yes, the best part — have a drawstring waistband? I'll take two, please.


These Groovy Super-Short Curvy Belted Shorts

WallFlower Women's Curvy Belted Short (Sizes 0-17), $20-38, Amazon

For all the bargain hunters out there, these jean shorts are for you. Not only are you getting a classic wear-with-all pair of denim shorts, the belt is included! Available in eight different denim washes (pictured here Camila), each with it's own belt.


These Hot Hip-Hugging Shorts

Levanta Cola High-Waist Denim Shorts (Sizes 12-26 Plus), $22, Amazon

Your butt is perfectly perfect just the way it is. But if you're in the mood to maximize your backside without compromising on fit and comfort, Levata Cole's plus-size denim shorts are famous for their butt-lifting effect. These shorts are made from a blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex for comfort and feature additional stitching on the back, as well as three crystal buttons on a wide waistband.

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