Like the summertime version of your little black dress, a pair of denim shorts never really goes out of style. Case in point: images of Daisy Duke from the late '70s and early '80s in her signature cut-offs still feel totally relevant. Throwing on denim shorts for barbecues, beach days, and weekend adventures is a no-brainer—but what about dressier occasions? No, we’re not saying to show up to your best friend's wedding in a pair of cut-offs and a tank, but with the proper styling and accessories, you can totally elevate your everyday denim-centric outfit.
The key is to start with a pair of "dressier" shorts. That means, one with a darker wash and a longer inseam (and possibly a cuffed hem). A darker denim is more versatile and is easily kicked up a notch when paired with sophisticated pieces, like a black blazer, structured tote, and a white Oxford shirt. Below, we took one pair of denim shorts, (AG shorts, $158; agjeans.com) and styled them three different ways for polished summer outfits.
1. Throw On a Blazer
When paired with a blazer, your denim shorts instantly look more polished. Step into a tiny block heel and tie your look together with a super structured tote.
2. Tie Together With a Belt
Wear your shorts with a crisp white button-down shirt. Tuck it in and belt it for a more sophisticated look. For the finishing touch, step into a pair of all-black loafers.
Shop the look: AG shorts, $158; agjeans.com. Theory shirt, $245; net-a-porter.com. Lands' End belt, $39; landsend.com. Etienne Aigner bag, $295; etienneaigner.com. Jack Rogers shoes, $148; jackrogersusa.com.
3. Add Playful Hues
A short-sleeve knit is the perfect thing for a cooler summer day. Pick a shade from the sweater, like pink, and play it up with your accessories.
Shop the look: AG shorts, $158; agjeans.com. Lands' End sweater, $35 (originally $59); landsend.com. Rebecca Minkoff bag, $130 (originally $195); rebeccaminkoff.com. Rebecca Taylor sunglasses, $290; rebeccataylor.com. Repetto flats, $325; repetto.com.