paper bag shorts outfit

When we think of shorts, we usually think of them as a basic item of clothing that serves as the foundation for a more interesting shirt. But paper bag shorts elevate the entire notion of what shorts can be. Not sure how to put together a paper bag shorts outfit? Let us walk you through some style inspiration and basic information about this fun, comfortable style of shorts.

What are Paper Bag Shorts?

Paper bag shorts are shorts with a built-in fabric belt that cinches at the waist. These lightweight shorts have extra fabric flared out around the waistline, creating a beautifully curved shape. With loose-fitting leg holes, these shorts are both comfortable and flattering for all body types. If you are bored with your basic shorts and want a more exciting option, look no further than paper bag shorts.

And no, paper bag waist shorts are not made out of paper! Don’t worry; these shorts are not overly delicate. The name stems from the way a paper bag looks when tied at the top: the bag cinches in, with some extra material flared out over the top.

These belted shorts can be made of denim, cotton, or other material. They are often high-waisted and easily create a curvy hourglass figure based on their structure alone. They have come back in style since their emergence onto the fashion scene in the 1980s.

How to Style Paperbag Shorts

At a loss for what to wear with paper bag shorts? Here is your guide to creating ensembles that feature paper bag shorts for everyday, date night, day-to-night, and the office. Our last tip might surprise you!

For Casual Everyday Looks

Our collection of shorts for women contains the ultimate denim paper bag shorts. Pair them with a crop top, a tucked-in T-shirt, or a tank top for running errands or grabbing a bite with friends. To complete the look, throw on a comfy cardigan and the sneakers or shoe of your choice from our women’s shoes collection.

For Date Night

Rock your paper bag shorts with a cute blouse from our collection of women’s tops. High-waisted paper bag shorts go well with a ribbed tank or a stretchy, body-hugging fabric to emphasize the hourglass silhouette created by the paper bag shorts.

A colorful top with white paper bag shorts is the perfect outfit for an outdoor evening concert – especially when paired with a cute hat, sandals, and cross-body purse. For outdoor dates, don’t forget a cute pair of sunglasses. Every style goes well with paper bag shorts, from aviators to wayfarers.

From Day to Night

To transition your outfit from day to night, consider a black paper bag shorts outfit. This ensemble is especially practical if you are traveling and want to save room in your suitcase by not packing a whole separate outfit for evening wear. If you want to keep your shorts on as the sun goes down, or if you just want to dress up a bit for the evening, wear black paper bag shorts with black sandals and a chic blouse.

You can also throw on a classic white denim jacket, cozy cardigan, or oversized blazer. Add a red lip and evening makeup, and you’re ready for a fancy dinner out!

At the Office

If your workplace is on the more relaxed side, you can wear these belted shorts to work. Just make sure they are not denim, as this may be a bit too relaxed for an office setting. Wear a blazer, blouse, and tasteful jewelry to dress them up for the workplace. These shorts look super cute with flats and absolutely killer with heels!

Can I Wear Paper Bag Shorts with Long Sleeves?

Yes! People typically wear long pants with short sleeves, but why not switch it up and wear long sleeves with shorts? You will be equally covered and serving up style either way! A long-sleeved blouse, collared button-down, or sweater elevates any shorts outfit. And if you want a little extra warmth, thigh-high boots pair well with high-waisted shorts. This combination is especially fun for autumn. 

Common Paper Bag Shorts Styling Mistakes

Style is highly personal and subjective, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind if you want to wear these shorts confidently. Avoid these style faux-pas and you’ll be an expert on how to wear paperbag shorts in no time.

A Top That’s Too Busy

Because paper bag shorts have the distinctive belt and waistband, that should be the outfit's focal point. If your top is decked out in bows and ruffles, the outfit will lack balance and focus. Whether it is long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or sleeveless, a simple top is best to let the paper bag shorts shine. However, a subtle pattern is totally okay for your top or cardigan.

Not Tucking in Your Shirt

Always tuck in the shirt! As long as you follow this golden rule, your outfit will look intentional and sophisticated. If you don’t tuck it in, the belt and ruching at the waistline will look bulky and misshapen underneath your top.

Color Clashing

Mix and match colors wisely, and do not mix pastels and neon. If you are concerned about how to mix and match colors, the easiest way is just to pick one piece of clothing to be the pop of color, and have the rest of your outfit be a neutral color. Neutral colors include shades of gray, black, white, brown, and even denim.

For example, pink paperbag shorts won’t pair well with every color top out there. If your shirt includes a hint of the same shade of pink as your shorts, that’s a match made in heaven! But fun color combinations beyond perfect matches are pleasing to the eye as well. Soft pink, for instance, generally goes well with ivory and turquoise. Bright pink goes well with most other bright colors, especially in the summer.

Find the Perfect Paper Bag Shorts with UNIONBAY
Browse UNIONBAY collections for clothing essentials and accessories to complete your paper bag shorts outfit. For the young and the young at heart, our unique and laid-back clothing essentials will have you feeling confident and comfortable. Shop our newest additions or get more bang for your buck with our clearance sale. Start shopping today to see what we’ve got in store for you!

paper bag waist shorts