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Am I Too Old to Wear Jeans Shorts? Denim for Women Over 40, 50

can older women wear shorts?

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

If you have to ask, you’re probably too old to wear those uber-trendy, shredded denim shorts. However, I believe you should come up with your own answers based on your own fashion style and body type. So… screw rules! Use your own eyes when evaluating jean shorts, but don’t wear rose-colored glasses when checking out your shorts in the mirror.

My thoughts on the subject:

No. Maybe. Yes.

No. Maybe. Yes.

1. Length: How long are the shorts? If they remind you of hot pants from the 70s or Daisy Dukes from…. whenever… fuhgettaboutit. If the shorts are a longer length, like denim Bermuda shorts that come down to your knees, they’re fine even if you’re 70 or 80. And, if the shorts come down to mid thigh, they are perfect for you if you're over 40, 50, 60 or whatever… as long as the shorts aren't too tight.

My Rule: If a correspondingly high miniskirt would look bad, then shorts of that length are probably too high. (Well, it’s true that women can go slightly higher with shorts because shorts won’t flip up in the breeze, a la Marilyn.)

board shorts

Any Age

2. Style: Denim can be casual or tailored depending on the cut, but jean shorts that have those really stringy, raw edges -- with inner pockets that hang down -- are made for girls in their teens or twenties. Longer denim shorts (especially those with folded cuffs) can look very polished and are often fabulous with a blazer or a button-down blouse… so you can try something like that at any age.

3. Location: Where will you be wearing the shorts?

  • Florida or Disney Theme Parks? Just do your own thing… everyone else does.
  • Paris or Manhattan? Wear a jean skirt instead.
  • Riding your cruiser bike on the beach? You can wear any shorts when you’re on the beach… as long as they’re not distressed jean shorts… what were you thinking?
  • A kiddie birthday party in the backyard? Yes. The best thing about denim is that it doesn’t show dirt or purple frosting, so denim shorts are fine… as long as they meet the length requirements.
  • Dinner in a Restaurant? No. Denim shorts are perfect for dinner in your own home unless you live in Downton Abbey… or if you’re having guests you barely know.
denim shorts or skirts?

Denim Skirts for All Ages

4. Your Body: Do you have a booty to die for? Are your legs shapely… even if you’re chubby? If you can’t answer, “Yes,” to these two questions, be cautious with all shorts and make sure your shorts have made a trip to the tailor before venturing out in public.

Actually, even if you do have a great body, you don’t want to look hot from the back and have people wince when you turn around and they see your sagging face. If that ever happens, you’ll know you’re too old for “that” specific style.

Denim Shorts for Women Over 40?

Smart women can make almost anything look good with the right accessories, so if you must wear denim shorts in a situation that is “iffy”, make sure you add enough other elements so that the shorts are not the highlight (or lowlight) of the outfit.

If you’re a former (or neo) hippie who knows how to pull off rockin’ festival wear… and you’re someone who doesn’t mind standing out from the crowd… trendy denim shorts may be right for you in some instances, even if you’re older.

any age can wear denim

Denim Dresses

Cute Alternatives to Denim Shorts

If you’ve decided that denim shorts are not the right thing for you, here are some cute alternatives with a similar feel.

Denim Skirts: You can wear a denim maxi skirt almost anywhere… no matter how old you are. A denim miniskirt is great during the day when worn with flats or with chunky heels. And, any denim miniskirt can be worn at night with almost any shoe… as long as the skirt’s not more than a few inches above your knee. (Well, you know your body better than I -- and better than any fashion blogger -- so, if you look good with a skirt that's shorter than what I would wear, I'm fine with that.)

Denim Dresses: Denim dresses come in every style from ballgown to shirtwaist to sundress to T-shirt dress. There’s a denim dress out there that’s absolutely perfect for you, even if you’re over 90.

denim shorts and jumpsuits

Jumpsuit, Denim-like, Playsuit

Denim Playsuits: If you must wear shorts, but denim shorts don’t feel right, you should consider a playsuit (romper) made out of denim or some other casual fabric. The right playsuit will give you an outfit that’s more “put together” than an outfit with a top and shorts. (Some playsuits have thin straps. If you like everything else about the playsuit, wear a T-shirt under it.)

Denim Jumpsuits: If you want to wear shorts, but your legs (or your knees) look like crap, a jean jumpsuit with a loose fit in the thighs might be a better option.

Remember that denim comes in different colors, prints, and weights (lighter weights almost always have better drape), and anything made of denim will give you that same dimension of youthful hipness. Alternately, you can find clothes with the same color blue as denim… clothes that will read like denim… and these “denim clones” are sometimes more flattering and more comfortable than heavy jeans fabric. Chambray and Tencel are good examples, but anything in the right color will give the right feel.

No matter what your age, there are denim shorts you can wear. They may not be the trendiest, rocker-chic shorts that are all over Pinterest, but you can come up with your own version. From thrift store finds to designer styles, there's something out there for you. So, look around. However... if you can picture Cher wearing it... well... I guess you'll have to make that decision for yourself.

More Articles for Women Over 40, 50, 60:

Plus Size Clothing With International Shipping

13 Accessories Trends for Spring & Summer: Women Over 50

What Kind of Boots for Boho Dresses?

Plus Size Boho Chic: 16 Essentials for Hippie Women of All Ages 

Resources: All photos courtesy of prshots.com

  • Main Photo: Katie Eary for River Island.
  • No. Maybe. Yes: Asos Denim Hot Pants. House of Holland Denim Shorts Outfit. Asos Curve plus size denim shorts.
  • Any Age: Asos denim tailored Bermuda shorts. Asos pull-on Bermuda shorts.
  • Denim Skirts for All Ages: Paul & Joe Sister patchwork denim skirt. Asos plus size denim skirt. Cheap Monday denim maxi skirt.
  • Denim Dresses: Shift dress from LaRedoute. New Look Inspire plus size tunic. See by Chloe chambray dress.
  • Jumpsuit, Denim-like, Playsuit: Asos Curve plus size. Paul & Joe Sister denim-colored playsuit. Warehouse denim playsuit.

What do you think of this article? Are there clothing "rules" for different ages? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or give us a Google Plus.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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