The 9 Best Non-Denim Shorts of 2022

We’re definitely packing LMND The Chiara Short for our next getaway

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Best Non-Denim Shorts of 2022

HM / Mango / LMND

Blending the breeziness of a skirt with the comfort and support of pants, shorts are the answer to your warm-weather styling needs. What’s more, they come in a pleasingly diverse range of styles, lengths, and colors. Of course, this makes finding your perfect pair that bit trickier, which is why InStyle sought the advice of the experts to bring you a curated edit of the hottest non-jeans shorts. 

Countless reviews have been read, the internet has been scoured, and we’ve interviewed experts from styling, modeling, buying, and beyond — so you’re in safe hands. We’re currently all about boxer shorts, which is why LMND’s lightweight cotton poplin pair is our top pick. Buyer Sophie Adams opts for the full look, teaming hers with the matching shirt while It Girl Camille Charrie dared to bare in a pair of micro mini shorts. For the more modest among us, Bermuda shorts are enjoying a revival, and fashion's love for the classic (faux) leather city shorts shows no signs of abating. Jump on in for the shortlist. 

These are the best non-jeans shorts to buy.

Best Overall: LMND The Chiara Short - Ink Blue

LMND The Chiara Short - Ink Blue

LMND

What We Love: They have pockets, begging the question, why don’t more shorts have pockets?

What We Don’t Love: They kind of look like PJs, but that’s part of their charm.

Vacation packing just got easier thanks to this comfy trend—the boxer short. It exudes a “borrowed from the boys” cool, think Kate Moss in what appeared to be Pete Doherty’s boxer shorts circa Glastonbury 2005, but slicker and without the Hunter boots. “LMND is a brand that has nailed the short and shirt co-ord look, offering cotton-poplin sets in an array of rainbow brights that can be mixed and matched," says Sophie Adams, contemporary and beachwear buyer at Harvey Nichols. This ink-blue iteration is super lightweight, saving you precious suitcase space, and the styling options are endless. We like it with the matching shirt worn slightly oversized, à la Kendal Jenner.

Price at time of publish: $88

Size: XS-XL | Material: Cotton Poplin | Color Choices: Multicolored

Best Splurge: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini Faux Leather Shorts

Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini Faux Leather Shorts

Luisaviaroma

What We Love: They look like real leather.

What We Don’t Love: The sizing is limited.

An expertly tailored pair of shorts is the cornerstone of any self-respecting wardrobe and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s pair are a classic. Crafted from buttery faux leather, they draw inspiration from London’s punk scene while being polished enough for the office. “Flared shorts are breezy and create a more skirted appearance,” says plus-size model Kara “Juicy” Johnson. “They also give the illusion of a smaller waist when they are high rise.” 

The stacked waistband and topstitched pockets provide a subtle point of difference that doesn't jeopardize their trendless appeal. We love how Hailey Bieber styled her leather shorts for the Met Gala after-party, but you can easily reign in the drama by tucking in an oversized shirt or tee and pairing it with your favorite sneakers.

Price at time of publish: $605 

Size: US0-US12 | Material: Faux Leather | Color Choices: Black

Best Value: Mango Pockets Cotton Shorts

Mango Pockets Cotton Shorts

Mango

What We Love: They’ve been produced using sustainable fibers or processes.

What We Don’t Love: Free delivery is only available on orders over $50.

Sitting somewhere between safari shorts and tailored pants, Mango’s minimalist pair will never go out of style. “I look for comfort. I like a pair that is fitted, comfy enough to work in all day, and has enough space for a big lunch,” says Liz Power, owner of Brookyn’s Awoke Vintage. This pair has all the makings of a 9-to-9 style. They’ll take you from brunch to the boardroom and the bar. Plus, you can team them with slides and you’re ready to hit the beach. Mango’s stylists added a simple leather back to amplify the slick silhouette and you can accentuate the formal tones by working yours with a crisp cotton shirt. As part of the label’s Conscious collection, they also have a lower environmental impact. Win, win.

Price at time of publish: $46

Size: XS-XL | Material: Cotton | Color Choices: Beige, Dark Blue

Best Plus-Size: H&M Linen-Blend Bermuda Shorts

H&M Linen-Blend Bermuda Shorts

H&M

What We Love: The fabric is super airy.

What We Don’t Love: There’s no stretch in the waistband.

H&M’s linen-blend shorts offer a masterclass in effortless elegance. Stylist Kasha Malyckyj, who’s worked on music videos and in film, suggests teaming Bermuda shorts with a strapless tube top and an oversized blazer—thanks to the high waist, this pair is perfect for tucking in a slim-fitting top. Pressed creases run through the straight legs adding a little bit of polish, while the sandy hue makes them vacation ready, too, especially when worn with a raffia bag, tonal tee, and lashings of gold jewelry. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Size: L-4XL | Material: Linen-blend | Color Choices: Light beige

Best Petite: Noisy May Petite Pinstripe Shorts

Noisy May Petite Pinstripe Shorts

ASOS

What We Love: The relaxed fit and elasticated waist.

What We Don’t Love: The pockets stick out on those wider hips.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, boxer-style shorts are *the* shorts trend of the year, seen on the likes of Camille Charriere and Rihanna — who may well have started the trend when she posed in nothing but a silk lilac set and matching jewels back in 2021. “We’ve seen a lot of boxer-inspired shapes in cotton or nylon, and a lot of styles that pair with matching shirts for head-to-toe looks in bold, bright hues,” says Adams.

The candy stripe on Noisy May’s pair gives the boyfriend look a girlish flourish, tempering the oversized fit. Accessorize yours with a slouchy knit and croissants in bed on your next slow morning before switching out for the coordinating shirt and a pair of mules when you're ready to hit the city. Anyone with wider hips, though, might notice that the pockets gap a bit. We suggest sizing up if that’s the case.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: XXS-XL | Material: Cotton | Color Choices: Pink

Best High-Waisted: Zara Pleated High Waist Shorts

Zara Pleated High Waist Shorts

Zara

What We Love: The offbeat sea green shade.

What We Don’t Love: The synthetic fabric.

“Comfort is king when it comes to shorts,” says Adams. “I always look for relaxed, flattering fits in soft fabrics that can work for a number of different occasions, from beach vacations to city breaks.” In short, or rather shorts, Zara’s pleated pair fits the bill, especially when paired with the matching waistcoat. Part of The Green to Wear 2.0 standard, which aims to minimize the environmental impact of textile manufacturing. They’re cut to a louche silhouette with slouchy side pockets and pressed creases through the slightly flared front. Ace the date-night dress code and team yours with strappy sandals and an oversized blazer or waistcoat.

 “To elevate the piece, I would recommend styling with a matching shirt for an effortlessly polished and put-together look,” advises Adams.

Price at time of publish:  $46

 Size: XS-XL | Material: Polyester, ciscose, elastane | Color Choices: Sea Green

Best Embellished: Oseree Paillettes Shorts

Oseree Paillettes Shorts

Revolve

What We Love: They’re saturated in shimmering sequins that cast a spectrum of light with every move.

What We Don’t Love: Sooner or later, you will lose a few sequins.

Echoing the effect of the sun setting on the ocean, Oseree’s shimmering shorts are destined for good times, and by good times, I mean Ibiza and pool parties or better still, a pool party in Ibiza. They’ve been handmade in Italy and scattered with scores of dazzling paillettes. The vibrant satin lining is cool against the skin and stops any agitation from the embellishment. A true party piece, this statement pair is sure to turn heads, especially when styled with the coordinating top, which, in true Y2K fashion, is replete with a bandana hem and skimpy spaghetti straps. There's also a matching bikini top. If that’s not enough to get you booking a flight to the White Isle, I don’t know what is.

Price at time of publish: $350

Size: S-XL | Material: Mesh and Satin| Color Choices: Violet

Best Biker: Tamara Malas Petunia Biker Short

Tamara Malas Petunia Biker Short

Tamara Malas

What We Love: Independent designer Tamara Malas has partnered with GREENSPARK to plant a tree for every order.

What We Don’t Love: Currently, black is the only block color offered.

One of Hamilton’s recommended brands, Tamara Malas is an independent designer and alumna from Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, who started her namesake label out of a desire to make fashion for everyone. With a wide size range, Malas says inclusivity is at the heart of the brand. The label is also taking a slower approach to fashion by ethically hand making their limited run of styles. Utterly joyful, this simple (at least compared to Malas’s exuberant aesthetic) is distinguished by playful ruffled trims. Hamilton also recommends Beyond Yoga or Old Navy for biker shorts and Universal Standard for linen shorts. (And we rounded up a bunch more here for those in a shopping mood.)

Price at time of publish: $68

Size: 2/4 - 34/36 | Material: Cotton and Spandex | Color Choices: Multiple printed versions

Best Micro Shorts: Miaou Booty Shorts

Miaou Booty Shorts

Miaou

What We Love: The specially formulated stretch fabric enhances your natural curves.

What We Don’t Love: They have to be dry cleaned.

“Short shorts” have been plus-size model Kara Johnson’s uniform of choice this summer and with figure-skimming fits like this Azul-print pair from Miaou, it’s not hard to see why. The cult label has been co-opted by everyone from Bella Hadid and Ashley Graham to model Paloma Elsesser, who recently created a capsule collection. Known for body-hugging fits, Miaou draws inspiration from vintage finds, which lends every piece a retro vibe that will still feel fresh for seasons to come. For a Dua Lipa-approved look, pair Miaou’s booty shorts with the matching top and cowboy boots. The street style set will wear theirs with clashing tights once the weather cools for an on-point contrast.

Price at time of publish: $88

Size: XS-XL | Material: Eco-jersey knit | Color Choices: Blue

What to Keep in Mind

Length

Not to state the obvious too much here, but the clue is in the name: shorts. There’s not a huge variation in length: you’ve got booty at the skimpy side of the spectrum and biking at the tail-end. In today’s cycle of endless trends, meaning literally everything is in trend at any given time, you won’t be trolled for sporting a swishy pair that hits just above the knees (in fact, Bermuda shorts are decidedly on-trend right now) and ditto a teeny-tiny pair of boxer shorts. For a failsafe option that’ll work for just about every occasion (including the office), go for shorts that fall mid-calf. If you want to make sure you can bend down without landing yourself an indecent exposure, there’s always the touch-your-toes test (or the bend and snap, if you’re feeling fancy). Hands up if your mom made you do this before hitting up the under-18s disco! (that’s me, I’m raising my hand in grammar school).

Material

Breezy linens were our experts’ go-to, they’re lightweight (ideal for balmy days) and easy to pack for vacation — props go out to wrinkle-free fabrics, because no one in this day and age should have to use an iron, in my humble opinion. Silk is another failsafe, the fabric has natural properties that keep you cool during hot and humid weather and lock in heat on cooler days … it’s fashion magic! It goes without saying, you’re going to want a bit of stretch, especially if you’re opting for a more structured style as opposed to say, a pair of breezy boxers, so keep an eye out for Spandex or elastane in the fabric composition and avoid any weightier materials, like wool or synthetics that tend to get sticky and don’t offer much in the way of breathability. Of course, you’ll have to ask me again come winter when I’ll be hunting down the perfect pair of knitted shorts. I’ve got my hope set on you, Zara. 

Activity

No, this isn’t me trying to say that biking shorts can only be worn when biking (full disclaimer, I can’t even ride a bike — I know, I know). So, that goes someway in explaining my relationship to exercise, but when it comes to buying shorts that’ll serve you and your needs, we all — yes, all of us — have to think about where we’ll actually wear them. Even if you don’t plan on running 5K in your tailored shorts, you might still have to traverse the city and navigate sweaty public transport, which in my experience, isn’t far removed from running a small marathon. As above, breathable fabrics like linen and cotton are key and the same goes for plenty of stretch. For anything hardier than low-impact sports like yoga and pilates, opt for sweat-wicking fabrics and technical materials. Vents and cutouts or mesh inserts are great for enhancing breathability, too.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you style non-denim shorts?

“I think wide-tailored shorts and more relaxed shapes look great teamed with strappy sandals or an open-toe leather flat as it flatters and elongates the leg and makes you look polished but still relaxed,” says stylist Kasha Malyckyj. “I also think adding a tailored blazer instantly transforms any shorts outfit making it look more refined whether you’re wearing heels or sneakers,” she adds.

Jamie Hamilton, who started her #notwaitingformysize campaign out of frustration with the lack of plus-size options, reminds us that ultimately, fashion should be about having fun. “Beginning any project can be overwhelming because we trick ourselves into believing we need to be experts before we even begin. My advice would be to have fun with it!” Like all trends, whether you’re opting for Bermuda or booty, the best thing to do is see what you respond to — what pair makes you feel like the best version of yourself — and then go from there. 

Why Shop With Us

Mischa Smith is a freelance Commerce Writer for InStyle, where she covers fashion, drawing on her experience as a womenswear editor at luxury retailer Harvey Nichols. Here, she profiled designers and covered global Fashion Weeks. Sophie Adams is a contemporary and beachwear buyer at Harvey Nichols, she attends Fashion Weeks across the globe and works with emerging and established designers. Liz Power is the owner of Brooklyn’s Awoke Vintage. A retro fashion expert, she has an extensive edit of shorts. Kasha Malyckyj is a stylist and writer, she’s worked at prestigious retailers, including Selfridges and Net-a-Porter, and she specializes in styling for film and music videos. Kara “Juicy” Johnson is a plus-size model and body diversity advocate. Jamie Hamilton is a digital content creator known for her vibrant retro-tinged fashion and plus-size styling tips.

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