We’re not shy about our intellectual side on Peaceful Dumpling, but now that the mercury is rising, all I can think about is how to look good in a pair of shorts. But is “Can I look good in shorts?” not an equally urgent personal inquiry, at least during summer? Of course it is.
For a long time, my thighs were my least favorite body part (sorry, legs!). I thought they needed to be thin, like my sister’s, in order to look good. She has worn size 0 or 00 all her life, and can wear hot pants and still not look like she’s over-exposing. My legs didn’t look like that, so I preferred to wear more floaty skirts that I believed minimized my thighs. But after I’ve become more comfortable with my body (just from getting older, I think), I’ve come to realize that legs look good in different shapes and sizes, and that muscular thighs like mine are sexy and gorgeous in a different way than thin thighs. (Seriously, all great!) Also, no suitor will care if your thighs are too big for your hips, or some such minuscule fault you notice in the mirror, if you feel cool, confident / temperature-controlled because you’re letting your legs breathe. 🙂 What they see is, “Oh look she’s showing her legs–NICE.”
Of course it helps to have a few tricks to make sure your look comes together flawlessly. (Looking effortless isn’t the same thing as not putting in effort!) Here are my tips to looking your best in shorts.
1. Tone your thighs.
Obviously, you’re not going to workout your thighs specifically each time you have to wear shorts. But say you have a rooftop cocktail party coming up where you want to wear scallop-edged dress shorts with your best heels. (Or some such). Doing a 20-minute workout will firm up your legs for the rest of the day so that you feel confident. Try this one or this one.
2. Shave, scrub, self-tan, moisturize.
The difference between doing the whole routine and not doing it, is night and day. You’ll look toned and gorgeous just from having beautiful skin!
Start by giving yourself a great shave, making sure to get your upper legs as well. After you rinse off, use a body scrub (I like natural ones that just contain sugar/salt and pure oils–you can also make your own) to get rid of any flakiness. Then the fun part: pick a natural, vegan self-tanning lotion and apply to your legs, using a little less on your knees (which are often naturally a little darker).
Disclaimer: I haven’t done self-tanning in about 10 years, mostly due to not having enough time. I love the look of shiny legs though, so I like to apply shimmery body lotion / oil when wearing shorts.
Apres Soleil Exotic Shimmer Body Oil, $56
This body oil is all natural, vegan, and formulated without any of the nasty chemicals. What it does have: argan oil, rosehip oil, rosemary extract, and green tea extract to help your skin recover from any oxidative damage, plus shimmer and a hint of bronze for that sun-kissed look. Another favorite trick of mine is just plain coconut oil. It’s particularly effortless and beach-y, don’t you think?
3. Pick the right shorts.
The key to finding the right shorts isn’t just about picking the right length and shape (though obviously, that’s crucial). It’s also about finding something that complements the rest of your style. This was the part that most threw me off in my teens-early twenties, because I was just focused on finding whatever shorts that “made my thighs look okay.” For example, if the rest of your closet isn’t very sporty (except for actual workout clothes), you shouldn’t buy track shorts.
Once you figure out the shorts type that fits your usual style, you can consider the right length and shape.
ASOS Geo Tribal Print Shorts, $27
If your style is bohemian and romantic, printed shorts like these are a must.
J. Crew Broken-in Boyfriend Shorts in Mackie Wash, $59.50
If you live in jeans normally, the only right thing to do during summer is wear denim shorts. Go for slouchy, boyfriend-style shorts and pair with more polished tops for a grown-up appropriate look.
Ted Baker canvas shorts in tropical toucan print, $162
Bold tropical patterns matched with bright whites look so crisp, modern, and look-at-me gorgeous.
–The most universally flattering length will be within 1-3 inches of your fingertips: still fun and flirty, but not immodest. Shorts with inseam of at least 3″ is best if you’re over the age of 18. 🙂 Also, counter-intuitively, too long shorts such as Bermuda shorts are not really that helpful, either.
–Slightly (but not too) baggy legs will be the most slenderizing.
–Softer fabrics like linen or washed cotton are also more forgiving. Crisp fabrics like chinos tend to emphasize hips and thighs unnecessarily in my opinion. 🙂
–Slight diagonal or rounded hemline is more flattering than one that is straight across.
4. Wear shorts intentionally.
Instead of treating shorts like something you throw on with a ratty T-shirt when it’s too hot to even contemplate pants, think of them more intentionally. For instance, treat a pair of dress shorts like you would a mini-skirt, with a floaty cami and jewelry. Or think about a mood you want to project: boho-glam like going to a music festival, or preppy and nautical like you stay at the beach all summer. Or, with a blazer for a more pulled together, city-appropriate look.
5. As with any other outfits, shoes can make or break.
Unless you’re really truly just running errands around the block, why not wear intentional footwear to amp up your shorts? Instead of flip flops, try strappy flat sandals, or stacked heels / espadrille wedges, which elongate your legs. I love a little heel action with shorts like these super cute Stella McCartneys. Feel free to wear heels as long as your shorts are not too short, and a little roomy around your legs and hips.
Also see: How to Pick the Right Bikini for Your Body
7 Vegan Beauty and Style Essentials for the Summer
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