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8 Different Types of Jean Shorts

Jean shorts on white background

Jeans shorts are the go-to summer items for many people. Men, women and children wear jeans shorts to go everywhere through the season. They’re the perfect item for going to the beach or to a poolside party, an afternoon of shopping or a day of sightseeing. They can be worn for day or night activities and they’re the perfect casual item for your summer wardrobe. But when it comes to jean shorts, there’s more than what meets the eye. There are many types of jean shorts that create different styles and different looks for your body. Do you know them all?

What types of jean shorts should you be wearing? Which ones are going to flatter your body the most? Do you know how to tell the difference in jean short styles or what the differences are? Get to know everything you need to know about all the different jean short styles available to you and find out which ones are going to make you look your best for summer and any other time you want to wear your jean shorts.

Where Did Shorts Come From?

Shorts are actually even older than jeans, older than denim fabric itself. Shorts seem like a pretty modern piece of fashion because for a long time, men mostly only wore suits and women mostly only wore dresses. But actually, shorts date all the way back to the reign of King Henry VIII of England in the 1500s.

Henry VIII is famous for having a lot of wives, two of which he beheaded. He was a very colorful historical figure who has been portrayed often in television shows and movies. But he was also a bit of a tyrant. Henry put a lot of laws into place that displayed his absolute control over the people of England. This included strict laws about the types of clothing people were allowed to wear. Talk about micro-managing.

Fashion Rules

Wearing jean shorts in a field of flowers

For centuries, European kings and nobles wore short pants, while the working classes and merchant classes wore long pants. Thanks to rulers like Henry VIII, this was actually the law. Shorter pants were a sign of nobility and regality for a long time.

It wasn’t until late in the 1700s that all men began wearing long pants as part of their everyday fashion. At that time, short pants became associated with boys and young men. Long pants became a symbol of adulthood, almost a rite of passage. Once a boy began wearing long pants, it was a signal to all that he was now a grown man.

For decades, that’s the way it was. Shorts were worn only by young boys while adult men wore long pants. Women of the era, of course, wore skirts and dresses, with only the most daring attempting to wear pants. In some countries, it was illegal for women to wear pants even into the 1940s. Clothing laws are not something just for kings from centuries ago!

An Officer and a Gentleman

During WWI in the 1910s, England established a headquarters in North America on the island of Bermuda. The island had a little tea shop on it, which became a big hit with the British soldiers because it reminded them of home. British people are well-known for having tea time and for drinking tea. The Bermuda tea shop suddenly became incredibly popular. Filled with steaming tea and soldiers and baking all day in the Bermuda sun, the tea shop got miserably hot.

Nathaniel Coxton, the owner of the shop, saw that his employees were suffering. With the added strain of waiting on all the soldiers and the heat of the shop, they were losing energy. So he took their uniform pants to a tailor and told the tailor to cut the pants off just above the knee. Soon, the employees of the tea shop were buzzing around the place feeling cool and working more effectively.

Rear Admiral Mason Berridge of the Royal British Navy often had tea in the shop and he noticed the employees moving around with more pep in their step. He saw the shortened pants and immediately decided to copy the style for his own men. The standard British khaki naval uniform was adapted with the shortened pants.

Other British naval officers and British army officers in the area noticed and also copied the look. The shortened pants became the unofficial uniform for British soldiers in more tropical regions until ultimately, the official clothing designer for the British military made shorts an official part of the uniforms.

By the 1920s, it was common throughout Bermuda for servicemembers and civilians to wear shortened pants. The island was a popular vacation destination with Americans at the time and soon, the shortened pants had spread around the world. They were known as Bermuda shorts.

From there, shorts style exploded. Different styles appeared and fashion designers experimented with ways to create new designs. Longer hemlines, shorter hemlines and different silhouettes appeared. Denim shorts, or jean shorts, appeared early on the fashion scene. They were already being worn by the 1930 and they’ve never been out of style since.

There are many types of jeans shorts now. And to think, it all started because one business owner saw this his employees were suffering in the heat. Jean shorts are still a good way to beat the heat.

Jeans and Shorts

Wearing jean shorts enjoying a view

Jeans also found their first life in North America, though it was a French fabric that would make them famous. Jeans were patented by a tailor named Jacob Davis and a retailer named Levi Strauss. The two men filed a patent for riveted work pants after creating the design together using Davis’s idea of reinforcing weak areas of the pants with copper rivets. Strauss ultimately picked the fabric that would make jeans famous: denim.

Dyed with indigo blue coloring and woven together in a crisscrossing pattern that creates an incredibly strong garment, denim was a mistake. It was created by French textile makers in the 1700s but they were actually attempting to make another material. There was a blue fabric that came from Genoa, Italy that had become very popular with sailors and other workers in France. The pants were known as “genes” because they were made from fabric that came from Genoa.

The French textile makers wanted to reproduce the fabric so they could save money on creating their own material rather than exporting it. But they didn’t get the fabric quite right. Instead, they accidentally invented denim. The fabric soon took the world by storm and became the material of choice for the new work pants patented by Strauss and Davis in the 1870s. It was the perfect combination of fabric and design and it created one of the most iconic and recognizable pieces of fashion ever created.

Jeans became the work pants of choice in America, becoming extremely popular with cowboys, ranchers, miners and other rugged types who did tough jobs. Over the decades, jeans spread around the world and into all classes of people. Today, everyone wears jeans and owns jeans and has jeans hanging in their closet.

Jeans can be shortened to become shorts but there are also dedicated jean shorts styles that are made to have their own features and silhouettes. Now, jean shorts are just as varied and have just as many styles as jeans.

Different Types of Jean Shorts

Though jean shorts have only been on the style scene for less than 100 years, they are everywhere in the summer. How many different types of jean shorts have you worn and are you wearing the styles that are going to flatter you the best? Get to know more about these types of shorts and how to wear them well.

501 Shorts

Levi's Men's 501 Hemmed, Blacklist Short - Stretch, 33

Made by Levi’s, the 501 shorts are a classic men’s shorts style. Made to look like a shortened version of the famous 501 jeans, these shorts have a regular fit through the seat and thigh and a straight leg opening. They end slightly above the knee. This is a clean and classic silhouette that will look great for any casual occasion and pair well with anything else you might want to wear. A pair of 501 shorts, sneakers and a T shirt will look great anywhere you go during summer or spring.

Bermuda

Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Women's Mid-Rise Bermuda Shorts, Stormy Sky, 12

The first official short style for adults was Bermuda shorts. Originally made with khaki fabric and worn by the British military, Bermuda shorts are about one inch above the knee and they fit just under the natural waist. Since those first early pairs, Bermuda shorts have been made in all types of fabrics, including denim. In denim designs, Bermuda shorts often end with a cuff at the bottom but they can have a clean or frayed edge as well.

Longer Bermuda shorts look great for evening activities and places where you don’t want to show too much skin.

Cargo

Wrangler Authentics mens Classic Stretch Cargo Shorts, Medium Tint Denim, 36 US

Though also made with many other types of fabric, cargo shorts are a popular look in jean shorts varieties. Cargo shorts are knee-length to calf-length and they’re notable for the large patch pockets on the thighs. These large pockets are made for storing tools and gear. Cargo shorts were created by the military and they’re still associated with tough work and hard jobs, which makes denim a perfect material for cargo short designs.

Jean cargo shorts are the perfect choice for when you have to work on summer days or when you’re working around the house. However, they’re also a great casual style for daytime summer gatherings.

Cut-Offs

MINGALONDON Denim Shorts for Women Casual Mid Waist Cutoff Frayed Hem Stretchy Jean Shorts Light Blue S

Though denim shorts had been around since the 1930s, cutting the legs off jeans to create cutoffs didn’t become popular until the 1960s. The look was associated with youth culture. The distinct feature of cutoffs is the frayed edge. Cutoffs became so popular as a homemade look that clothing makers began to sell manufactured versions of them to get in on the trend, though people still make their own cutoff shorts using their jeans. After all, you only need a pair of scissors to create this style.

Cutoff shorts can be cut across in a straight design or angled to show off more of the thigh. They are made in all lengths and all styles. Jeans can be cut off at any length you want to resemble just about any style of jean shorts you like.

Daisy Dukes

Govc Women Casual Summer Mid Waist Stretchy Denim Jean Shorts Junior Short Jeans(Light Blue,L)

Daisy Dukes are extremely short shorts. The term can refer to any very short shorts but originally it applied to short cutoff shorts. This shorts style is named for a pop culture character. Daisy Duke, a recurring character on the show “Dukes of Hazzard,” always wore very short shorts. Short shorts are flattering on women with all leg types, from curvy to skinny, because the excessive amount of skin just automatically draws the eye and creates a long sweep of leg that looks slim and sleek.

Daisy Dukes are not appropriate for all summer wear because of the short length, however. Casual gatherings, particularly beach or poolside events, are perfect for these super short shorts. You can also wear these shorts for outdoor activities during summertime.

Mom

SweatyRocks Women's High Waist Straight Leg Denim Shorts Solid Jean Shorts Summer Hot Pants with Pockets Light Wash S

Mom jean shorts are a high-waisted style that sits at or a little above the natural waist. Mom jean shorts are made to have a straight design with wide leg openings. This creates a loose, comfortable fit. The high-waisted design emphasizes the waist and helps give you the appearance of an hourglass figure, which makes these jeans very flattering on all body types.

Mom jeans were a bit of a joke in the 2000s when low-waisted styles ruled the day but high-waisted looks have since come back in fashion because they’re so flattering to the female shape. The high waistband of mom jean shorts flattens the belly a bit and helps create a slimmer waist and torso. Who doesn’t want that, right? These shorts are also stylish enough for any casual summer gathering, day or night.

Dad

Lee Women's High-Rise Cut Off Dad Jean Short, Gold Swim, 8

Dad shorts are made in a straight, high-waisted style that comes straight down from the hips to the hem in a clean, continuous line. This creates a somewhat boxy silhouette that is more like a man’s clothing style than a woman’s, but dad jean shorts are actually made for women.

This style is meant to mimic a man’s style but it’s made to fit the female body. Dad shorts have slightly less wide leg openings than mom jean shorts and a somewhat boxier silhouette. This creates a comfortable fit that looks good for casual daytime wear. Dad shorts are not flattering to the hip and rear end areas but they do show off the legs and they are a comfortable fit.

Pedal Pushers

Roamans Women's Plus Size Pull-On Stretch Bermuda Jean Short - 20 W, Medium Stonewash

Pedal pushers are long short styles that are wide legged, going straight down from the hips and taper slightly in a clean, long line. These shorts end about two inches below the knee. Pedal pushers are a female style of shorts that usually sit in a low-rise or mid-rise style. Long pedal pushers are great for more dressed up summer looks, such as going to more semi-casual or smart casual daytime gatherings. These work well as casual summer workwear, too.

The slightly narrow leg style and long length of pedal pushers means they pair well with all sorts of other clothing items and they look great with multiple summer looks. Pedal pushes are made in all fabrics but they are a popular jean shorts style, too.

Shorts Rise

There are many different styles of shorts that have distinct lengths and features, such as cargo shorts. But many shorts are simply made in standard styles in relaxed fit to form-fitting designs. The way your jeans fit and look on your body is really determined by whether the shorts fit loosely or tightly, how long they are and, of course, where they sit on your waist. Knowing the different rises of your shorts and how they’re going to affect the way your body looks is key to wearing any shorts well.

Low Rise

SHOPESSA Women's Shorts Ripped Folded Hem Short Jeans Low Rise Shorts for Juniors Women Blue

Low-rise shorts will have a waistline that falls well below your natural waistline, a couple of inches or more below your belly button. This rise style elongates the torso, which can help shorter women appear taller. It also helps the torso look a little longer and leaner, so it has a slimming effect. Low-rise shorts may also be called hip-huggers.

Mid Rise

Silver Jeans Co. Women's Suki Mid Rise Short, Distressed Dark Indigo, 28

Mid-rise shorts sit just under your natural waistline, slightly under the belly button itself. This helps to emphasize your natural waistline, which can in turn emphasize your curves, because the waistband fits around the waist. This creates clear separation between your upper and lower halves, which visually makes your waist look smaller and your curves even curvier.

High Rise

Haola Women's Juniors Vintage Denim High Waisted Folded Hem Jeans Shorts Light Blue S

High-rise shorts are going to sit above your natural waistline, about an inch or two above your belly button. This has a flattening and slimming effect on the lower stomach, hips and rear end. It creates a long line, so it makes these areas appear slimmer.

Types of Jean Shorts to Wear

Which styles of jean shorts are going to be most flattering on your body type? There are some fashion tricks you can use to ensure that you get a look that’s going to make your figure pop and flatter you in a way that will draw the right kind of attention. Knowing your body type and how to dress it well will make everything you wear look amazing on you.

Wearing long jean shorts on the sand

Pear-shaped bodies that are a little thicker and rounder on the lower half than the upper half should stick to longer shorts. Bermuda shorts are a great fit for this body shape.

Apple shapes that are thicker around the waist will look good in short short styles. Choose a pair that ends at your upper thigh. This draws attention and emphasizes your legs, which has the effect of de-emphasizing your midsection.

If you have shorter legs you want to de-emphasize, look for shorter length shorts. The same is true for longer legs. If you want them to appear a little shorter, stick to longer shorts. Pay attention to the styles that look good on you and the ones that feel the most comfortable on you. With some fashion experimenting, you’ll figure out which types of jean shorts work best on your body.

Dressing for the body you have is essential, no matter what you’re going to wear. Choose jean shorts that flatter your natural shape and you’ll always look stylish and you’ll feel better about what you have on, too.

FAQs

Jean shorts and summer items

Still have questions about jean shorts? There’s a lot to know about this fashion item. We’ve found the most frequently asked questions about jean shorts and we’ve got the answers. Get to know a little more about jean shorts and become more of an expert.

Can jean shorts be business casual?

Can you wear jean shorts to the office? During the hot dog days of summer, it really does feel that dress codes around workplaces should be relaxed, doesn’t it? However, jeans and jean shorts are generally unacceptable as business casual wear everywhere, no matter what the weather is doing. Jeans and shorts usually aren’t allowed except in the most casual of office environments. Save the jean shorts for after work and stick to clothing in lightweight fabrics to stay cool while you’re at the office.

Are jean shorts called jorts?

You can call them jean shorts or denim shorts. You can also call them jorts. This is a slang word that has since made its way into the dictionary, which means it’s official. The word jorts comes from the combination of “jeans” and “shorts” together. In all styles, jean shorts are also jorts, which is kind of a fun word to use.

Can jean shorts go in the dryer?

Though denim is one of those fabrics you aren’t supposed to wash after every time you wear it, you will need to wash your jean shorts sometime. Experts advise washing denim every few times you wear it, as denim actually fits better when you wear it a couple of times and let it conform to your body.

When you do wash your jean shorts, avoid hot water and hot air in the dryer. Denim can shrink in the presence of heat and you don’t want that. Turm jean shorts inside out to wash and dry them. Wash denim separately from other types of fabric on a gentle cycle with cold water and dry denim clothing on low heat. The denim will feel a little stiff coming out of the dryer but the shorts will loosen up again with wear.

How do you make cutoff jean shorts?

To make perfect cutoff jean shorts, start with a pair of jeans that fits the way you want them to fit around the waist, hips and rear end already. The rise of the jeans, how tight or loose they are in the hips and rear, all of this matters. Make sure you start with a good fit. Don’t use a pair of jeans that you don’t already love. If you don’t love the jeans you’re going to cut off, you won’t love the shorts you end up with.

Next, think about the length you want. Remember that you can always cut more but you cannot cut less, so cut shorts off at a longer length first. If you decide you want to make them a little shorter, you can always do this. Put the jeans on and use chalk to mark where you want the shorts to end. Mark across the front of the leg in a straight line. Now, lay the jeans out on a flat surface and use a straight edge to mark the line cleanly across the front of the jeans. Cut through the entire leg of the jeans along the line you marked. Fold the jeans in half, lengthwise, to get the legs at the same length.

Remember that when washed, the frayed edges of the jean shorts will draw up and become a little bit shorter than the length where the shorts end before they were washed. Don’t forget that you can customize your jean shorts. Cut the jeans at an angle if you like that look or cut them off to be a little longer if you plan to cuff the bottoms.

Sources:

Apparel Search – Jean Shorts

Old Bull Lee – History of Shorts

Racked – A Foolproof Guide to Making DIY Cut-Offs

SewGuide – Do you know about these 18 Types of Shorts?

Stitch Fix – Warm weather is on the way. How do I find the perfect shorts for my shape?