Sunny days are here again, and that means shorts. High-waisted shorts became a must-have item in 2022, and their popularity is still rising. This flattering style works with all body types because they highlight the slimmest part of the body, giving a longer look for your legs. Another bonus of high shorts — they’re super comfortable!
So how can you rock this style the right way? Let’s talk about everything you need to know about the hottest trend in shorts.
The History of High-Waisted Shorts
High-waist shorts became popular in the 1940s when popular jeans brands started making jeans for women. This was during the era of Rosie the Riveter, and this style was popular with women working on farms and in factories during WWII.
High waists were the dominant style until the late ‘90s when low rise styles came into fashion. High-waisted shorts and jeans were worn with bell-bottoms in the ‘70s and by icons for brands like Guess in the ‘80s and started rising to popularity again around 2015.
High-shorts sit on the hips, and the waistband usually hits around three inches above your navel. This look emphasizes the waist and keeps pants from sliding down when sitting or leaning over.
When is the Best Time to Wear High-Waisted Shorts?
Spring and summer are the best seasons for high-waist shorts, but you can wear this style all year long.
Denim is a great material for high-waist shorts if you’re not sure which look to try first. You can pair distressed high-waisted denim shorts outfits with flip flops or clogs with a wood sole. As the weather heats up, shorts in lighter fabrics like cotton and linen are just right.
Loungewear and khaki shorts will keep you comfy as the weather heats up. These shorts are also perfect with a bathing suit because they emphasize the tightest part of the torso for midriff-baring swimsuits and bandeau tops.
As fall and winter bring cool temperatures, pair your favorite shorts with leggings or colorful tights, a chunky sweater, and boots. Blazers and high-shorts are another great look that is chic for both work and casual for nights out.
Dark denim is another smart option, and fitted denim high-waisted shorts have the same slimming effect as black pants or bicycle shorts.
Types of High-Waisted Shorts to Wear Right Now
The best thing about high-waist shorts is their versatility. You can dress up or down a range of styles depending on your accessories and the occasion. Check out these staples as you start shopping for the perfect shorts.
Whether you like your jeans pale and worn with holes and patches or a traditional indigo blue, high-waisted jean shorts are a major trend you can wear year-round.
These shorts have a paper-bag waist that you can cinch with a tie. This look emphasizes the waist, so it's a great look with fitted womens shirts or a loose tucked-in blouse.
Pleated front shorts were the original cut of these classic shorts. Pleated fronts are a good fit for work styles. They're also a smart selection for vintage looks and pair well with classic blouses and tees.
Utility or Cargo Shorts
Whether you're headed out on a hike or running errands around town, these high-waisted shorts are both attractive and functional. And these pants have pockets!
It all started on the street, but oversized high-shorts quickly took over the runway. This stylish choice of shorts can pair with a tight top or go full force with a head-to-toe oversized look. Try this look with a powerful pop of color to turn heads.
If you're searching for the right black high-waisted shorts outfit, bike shorts are a must-have summer staple. This look is great with any top, but make sure the fit is good for maximum comfort and style.
Speaking of hot looks in black, faux leather is another option to dress up this high-waist style. It’s easy to find shirts to wear with high-waist shorts. Combine your favorite faux leather shorts with a loose white poet shirt or a sexy tank to set yourself up for on-trend style.
Long Shorts or Bermuda Shorts
While many fashionistas favor shorter shorts, high waists look great in all lengths. Pair classic Bermuda shorts with some mid-calf boots or strappy sandals for a chic and stunning change of pace.
If you're wondering how to wear high-waisted shorts for work, look no further than a smart set of dress shorts. Sometimes also called a skort, this style will keep you comfy while presenting a professional style.
Whether you favor a pair of shorts with an overlapping fabric panel that looks like a skirt in the front and shorts in the back or a dress skirt with hidden shorts underneath, this look rocks it.
Easy Styling Tips: How to Wear High-Waisted Shorts
When you're figuring out how to wear high-waist shorts and look your best, start with your body.
Women with a shorter than average torso or larger bust will want shorts that rest just above their hip bones. Your shorts don't have to button at the smallest part of your waist. While a mid-rise cut isn't strictly high rise, it will still give you the right look.
Shorts lengths can run from under three inches to around 12 inches. The most flattering average inseam length is seven inches, but if your height is above or below average, that number isn't so helpful.
Again, the right approach is to start with your body. Do you already have a pair of shorts you love? Measure the inseam, and look for that measurement when you're out shopping.
Another option? Head to the thrift store and grab some jeans on sale. Then, make some DIY cutoffs. Start with the longest-length option, and then slowly shorten them until they're a perfect fit for you.
Balance Your Look
Next, let’s talk about how to style high-waisted shorts. These shorts make a statement, and as you create your full ensemble, you should create a cohesive look. For example, balance tight shorts with a loose flowy shirt. Oversize shorts will usually look best with a fitted shirt.
High-waists give the nod to vintage style, so play with your look and experiment with styles outside of your usual look.
The Right Top
The tops that you pair with your high-waist make a big difference in how you look and feel. Here are a few stunning looks you can try today:
- Tuck in your shirt to emphasize your waist and show the full glory of your new shorts
- Add a blazer to refine your shorts look, especially for dressy events and occasions
- Try a button-down shirt to emphasize the vintage look, or go casual with a classic t-shirt
Highlight Your Legs
Different shorts lengths and styles will have a dramatic impact on your look. Buy shorts in multiple lengths, then mix and match to find the best look.
Shorts don't just highlight your great legs. They make it easier to see your awesome shoes. Grab some trendy sneakers, strappy sandals, or statement heels to pair with your new shorts.
10 Cute Outfits With High-Waisted Shorts
The best part of this trend is how easy it is to style. If you’re wondering what to wear with high-waisted shorts, try one of these outfit ideas, or try them all.
Chic Night Out
Add leather ankle boots to black high-shorts and a silk tank. With powerful accessories like chandelier earrings or a baker's boy hat you'll look original and on-trend.
Beauty and the Beach
Grab a loose transparent caftan and layer it over your favorite bralette and shorts. More high-waisted shorts beach outfits include:
- Add an oversize graphic t-shirt and hi-top sneakers
- Throw on a loose tank with a bright-colored scarf and sandals
- Layer with a transparent dress and gladiator sandals
Add classic black heels to a fitted white shirt tucked into tailored high waist shorts. With a vivid red lip and up-do, you'll look ‘50s fabulous in no time.
An Ode to Grunge
In this ‘90s high-waisted shorts outfit, you’ll tuck your favorite flannel into your shorts for a laid-back look. For another flannel-forward look, add some booties and a baby doll t-shirt, then tie your flannel around your waist.
Denim on Denim
Distressed jean shorts in a short to mid-length with your favorite denim button-down shirt is a simple look that can go casual or glam, depending on your accessories. Add a bold necklace and matching heels for some sparkle or a simple gold strand and nude sandals for beachy first-date style.
Crop Top Season
High-waisted shorts and crop tops make your body look great because this pairing draws attention to the hourglass of your figure. Choose a cropped wrap shirt to emphasize your waist. If you're not ready to go full crop top, layer a cropped sweatshirt and fitted tank top to create the same effect without showing as much skin.
The next best thing to buying men's shirts is to borrow one from your sweetheart. A loose white men's shirt or rock t-shirt is the perfect complement to your new high-waist shorts. Add some flip flops or boots to your outfit for an easy look that's high fashion or pair with heels to turn heads.
Country style combines casual and dressy for a finished look. Pair a cream or white lace top with distressed pale denim shorts and cowboy boots for a perfect weekend date. Or throw rolled denim shorts together with a black crop top and a black womens jean jacket for a more daring look.
Bold Print Pairing
Prints are a perfect addition to outfits with shorts, so mix it up with bold floral prints and geometric patterns. Mix different patterns with similar colors for a mismatched stylish statement.
Add sheer black tights with black denim shorts and a womens knit sweater. Add combat or ankle boots to finish for a look that's casual but sophisticated. For warmer temperatures, wear a distressed black tee or tank instead.
For more stunning outfit ideas that show you how to wear high-waisted shorts, check out UNIONBAY. With a huge range of styles and shorts for women, you’ll be ready for gorgeous looks any time of year.