25 Pairs of High-Waist Shorts to Wear All Summer Long

Plus, a stylist's take on how to wear them

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Come summertime, the name of the fashion game is to wear as little as possible. How else do you beat the sweltering heat? From breezy linen to lightweight cotton and elegant silk that makes you feel like Shiv Roy, the best summer pieces make you forget you're wearing them, while still being ultra-flattering. Enter: high-waist shorts. Praised by fashion stylists like Rachel Newman for their versatility, this wardrobe stable can really do it all. From a stylish plus-size pick by Nina Parker at Macy’s to Madewell’s Patch Pocket Shorts, the style truly works for any body and so many occasions. Here, two fashion experts discuss how to wear high-waist shorts, plus 25 pairs we’re eyeing this season.

Our Favorite High-Waist Shorts at a Glance

Meet the Experts

  • Nina Parker is an Emmy nominated television host, designer and content creator. Parker has a plus-size clothing collection designed exclusively for Macy’s. Launched in May 2021 and created in partnership with Reunited Clothing, the collection features multipurpose pieces that customers can mix and match. Parker's Nina Parker Collection made her the first first Black woman-owned brand to design a plus-size collection for Macy’s.
  • Rachel Newman is a New York City-based fashion stylist, wardrobe consultant and trend forecaster. She has lent her expertise to publications such as Bustle, USA Today and Insider. Newman’s work has also been featured in The Hollywood Reporter.  

What to Wear with High-Waist Shorts

Newman praises high-waist shorts’ versatility. “For a more casual look, you can wear a pair of linen or denim high-waist shorts with a simple T-shirt,” she says. “I love this look with the tee tucked in, a white sneaker or flat sandal, a raffia tote and sunnies.” If you want to elevate the look for a night out, Newman recommends choosing a pair in satin or silk, and styling with a cami and blazer. Parker would throw on a set of strappy heels and a duster to complete the look. Accessorize with a clutch or top-handle bag.

Are High-Waist Shorts Flattering?

“High-waist shorts are amazing because they highlight such a sweet spot on your body,” Parker says. “They elongate your legs!” Newman adds that the style will work well for most body types (including petites!), because in addition to giving the appearance of longer legs, high-waist shorts also cinch your middle for an extra flattering boost.

How We Chose the Best High-Waist Shorts

To curate this list of the best high-waist shorts, we asked fashion experts to recommend their favorite pairs, polled PureWow editors on what they’re wearing and loving and scoured our list of favorite brands—taking buyer reviews into account. We also sifted through data in Google Trends to see which high-waist shorts were taking off in popularity.

The 13 Best High-Waisted Bikinis to Wear This Summer

The Cool-Girl Pick

1. AGOLDE Vintage Shorts


  • What We Like: lots of pockets, raw hem
  • What We Don’t Like: does not stretch
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 23 to 34
  • Return Policy: 30 days (free if within 15 days)

You know the piece is going to be good when the review headline exclaims, “WOW, the PERFECT Denim Shorts.” This particular reviewer praises these cotton AGOLDE shorts for working well with their curvier frame, but notes that the shorts run large. “The length is perfect and I am beyond happy with my purchase. I highly recommend to the girlies who want longer coverage and like a looser/more relaxed fit.” With plenty of pockets, a raw hem and slightly distressed look, these shorts scream “cool girl.”

Best High-Waist Denim Shorts

2. Madewell Patch-Pocket Shorts


  • What We Like: plus and curvy size available, patch pockets, stretchy, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: stretchiness can vary between washes, may need to size up
  • Material: cotton, elastane
  • Size Range: 23 to 33
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Madewell’s legendary denim translates well to their shorts. This pair has unconventional patch pockets, and stretch for comfort—but will still make you feel supported. “I have a little tummy and found the front pockets to be really flattering/smooth over my lumps,” one reviewer notes. “The butt fits snug with a little flare out at the bottom. Very happy with this purchase.” We also love that there are plus-size options. When shopping, keep in mind that you may need to size up.

Plus-Size Pick

3. Nina Parker Cargo Shorts

Nina Parker

  • What We Like: plus sizing, cargo pockets, button and zipper closure
  • What We Don’t Like: minimal color selection
  • Material: polyester, spandex
  • Size Range: 0X to 4X
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Nina Parker’s plus-size clothing collab with Macy’s brings us these fun, high-waist cargo shorts in three summery colors: a neutral oat latte, daquiri green and pink yarrow. The button and zipper closure make these shorts acceptable for lunch dates and garden parties, while generous pockets easily fit your phone and cards. To style, throw on a tank and sneakers to keep it casual or, if you’re feeling fancy, opt for an organza top and heels. Spandex gives the shorts a little stretch, and you’ll find them in sizes up to 4X.

For ‘90s Nostalgia

4. Abercrombie ‘90s Cutoff Shorts


  • What We Like: wide range of sizes, fits true to size, frayed hem
  • What We Don’t Like: only available in two washes
  • Material: cotton, polyester, elastane
  • Size Range: 23 to 37
  • Return Policy: 30 days

It’s no secret that the ‘90s are back. So, if you’re still in search of a trendy pair of shorts that nod to the decade, this Abercrombie pair will fit the bill. It’s got a frayed hem and loose fit through the hips—great to pair with a simple T-shirt or going out top, if you want to get fancy. Reviewers have proclaimed these the “perfect summer shorts,” noting that the length and level of stretch are both ideal. Sounds like this is a pair you can live in all summer long.

Most Versatile Shorts

5. Hill House Livie Shorts

Hill House

  • What We Like: machine washable, multiple colors and patterns
  • What We Don’t Like: shorter return policy
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: XS to XXL
  • Return Policy: 15 days

In case you missed it, the makers of the Nap Dress do shorts, too, and this pair is perfect for a quick afternoon snooze, coffee run or sunset cocktails. There are plenty of patterns and colors to choose from, including dainty eyelet and charming gingham. Made from 100 percent cotton, these versatile shorts are easy to care for. The brand advises washing them less frequently, but when you do, the washing machine or the dry cleaner will do the trick.

High-Waist Yoga Shorts

6. Fabletics Oasis Shorts


  • What We Like: wide range of colors and patterns, lots of sizes available, pockets, ultra-soft fabric
  • What We Don’t Like: may lack a little compression, some patterns may distort when stretched
  • Material: polyester, elastane
  • Size Range: XXS to 4X
  • Return Policy: 90 days

Fabletics’ Oasis shorts come in tons of fun colors and have quite a few features: Their buttery PureLuxe fabric is lightweight and moisture wicking, in addition to providing UPF protection. They’re also chafe resistant, making them an easy go-to in the summer—even worn under dresses for extra coverage. The pair has nearly 5,000 reviews with a five-star average rating. Oh, and did we mention that there are pockets?

Most Elegant

7. Abercrombie Tailored Shorts


  • What We Like: fits true to size, machine washable, tailoring gives an elevated feel
  • What We Don’t Like: size range isn’t broad, white can be see-through
  • Material: polyester, viscose, elastane
  • Size Range: XXS to XL
  • Return Policy: 30 days

These elegant shorts pair well with a blouse and blazer as easily they do your favorite sneakers and T-shirt. They come in a bevy of pretty summer colors and have generous pockets and front pleats. Buyers praise the shorts for being flattering, well-fitting and classy. “Perfect for summertime at the office,” one reviewer writes. “A very chic vibe. I always receive tons of compliments on these.”

Eco-Friendly Pick

8. Everlane Drape Shorts


  • What We Like: made from TENCEL, machine washable, side pockets, front pleat
  • What We Don’t Like: some reviewers found them baggy
  • Material: TENCEL, cotton
  • Size Range: 00 to 16
  • Return Policy: 30 days

TENCEL makes up the majority of this pair of Everlane shorts. A cotton alternative, it requires less water and energy to produce than standard cotton, while still being light and durable. These shorts have side pockets and sharp front pleats that make them a good pick for the weekend or a day in the office. A variation on the brand’s Way-High Drape Pant, the shorts offer the same flattering silhouette. “I love a [high-waist] draped look, so I had hopes for these shorts! I was pleased to find that they fit really well, true to size and long enough to make them appropriate for any occasion,” writes a reviewer. “The material is soft and cool to the touch.”

Pay-It-Forward Pick

9. UpWest Hemp Shorts


  • What We Like: drawstring waist, side pockets
  • What We Don’t Like: size range isn’t comprehensive
  • Material: hemp, recycled polyester, spandex
  • Size Range: XS to XL
  • Return Policy: 60 days

“I'm all about comfort when it comes to shorts and I love this high-waist pair I just bought from UpWest for their lightweight and eco-friendly materials and stretchy but adjustable waistband,” notes PureWow assistant commerce editor Natalie La Barbera. The shorts are made from hemp and recycled polyester and have a relaxed fit. With every order, UpWest also provides a mental health screening for someone in need through Mental Health America.

A High-Rise Compromise

10. Zara Mid-Rise Shorts


  • What We Like: mid-rise is a good in-between, comes in several different washes, can cuff or leave long, slightly frayed hem, lots of pockets
  • What We Don’t Like: sizing is limited
  • Material: cotton, lyocell
  • Size Range: 0 to 14
  • Return Policy:

“These are really great if you want the high-waist look but don't have any butt/hips, because they sort of puff out on the sides while nipping in at the waist,” says PureWow editor-in-chief Jillian Quint. “You can also cuff them or leave them long, depending on the look you're going for.” They’re available in four washes and feature a classic, five-pocket design for stashing your essentials. 

Most Affordable

11. Cider Button Roll Shorts


  • What We Like: double button detail, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: no stretch, few colorways
  • Material: polyester, spandex
  • Size Range: XS to XL
  • Return Policy: 14 days

For less than $25, you can snag a stylish pair of high-waist shorts from Cider. This pair features a double button detail with a wide-leg trouser cut. In addition to pink, the shorts are also available in powder blue and black. One reviewer writes, “The quality of these shorts is great, the material is a perfect weight for spring, not too heavy for summer, and they can be dressed up or down easily.”

Stylish Beach Pick

12. ASOS Beach Shorts


  • What We Like: elastic waistband, machine washable, has a coordinating top
  • What We Don’t Like: reviewers have noted material can be thin
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 0 to 14
  • Return Policy: 28 days

Looking for a lightweight cover-up for a day at the beach? Enter these breezy shorts with an elastic waistband. The gathered cotton fabric feels chic and summery. Plus, you can also pick up a matching top if you fancy. Wear it over your bathing suit or on its own as a relaxed seaside look.

Great Shapewear Pick

13. Skims Smoothing Shorts


  • What We Like: inclusive sizing, can be worn as is or under clothing, comes in range of neutral colors, smoothing
  • What We Don’t Like: support is light, hand wash only
  • Material: nylon, spandex
  • Size Range: XXS to 4X
  • Return Policy: 30 days

With an average of 4.5 stars over nearly 400 ratings, these shapewear shorts from Skims are doing something right. The ultra-stretchy fabric promises to smooth things over and they can be worn under clothing or on their own. While the shorts do provide some support, do note that some reviewers say that it can be on the lighter side.

Fun Spin on Cargo Shorts

14. Pac Sun Cargo Shorts


  • What We Like: asymmetrical waistband, cargo side pockets (five pockets total), machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: size range is narrow, only comes in one wash
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 23 to 30
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Those who appreciate the asymmetrical look will like these cargo shorts. Two side cargo pockets add to the trendy design—and give you a little more room to stash small essentials. The shorts are 100 percent cotton with a rolled cuff hem and are machine washable. Style with your favorite tank or throw on a blouse to dress it up.

An Ode to Chanel

15. Veronica Beard Tweed Shorts

Veronica Beard

  • What We Like: office and off-duty appropriate, textured, pockets with silver button accents
  • What We Don’t Like: hand wash only, sizing not extensive  
  • Material: cotton, acrylic
  • Size Range: 00 to 14
  • Return Policy: case-by-case basis

If you watched the Met Gala, then you know it’s highly possible tweed will be coming back around. We wouldn’t be surprised, then, if these colorful tweed shorts from Veronica Beard become a warm-weather closet staple, with their pastel colors, stylish pockets and versatility. It’s a piece you can confidently wear to work and then take straight to happy hour. If you’re feeling matchy-matchy, there’s a coordinating blazer available, too.

Linen Pick

16. J.Crew Linen Shorts


  • What We Like: comes in neutral colors, pull-on, gathered waist
  • What We Don’t Like: can run large
  • Material: linen
  • Size Range: XXX to 3X
  • Return Policy: 30 days

For the sweltering summer days when you feel like wearing nothing at all, pull on (literally) these linen shorts from J.Crew. The gathered waist will make your outfit feel elevated, while the linen keeps things cool. The shorts come in white, flax and black—neutral colors that you can pair with fun tops, shoes and accessories. “Do yourself a favor and buy at least two pairs of these shorts,” one reviewer raves. “You can literally go from a day to the beach to a night out by just changing your flip flops and T-shirt with some sandals and a dressier top.”

If You Love the Paper Bag Waist

17. Zara Paper Bag Shorts


  • What We Like: comes with a statement belt, elastic waistband, pockets, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: limited colorways and sizing
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 0 to 12
  • Return Policy: 30 days

You can’t go wrong with a paper bag waist, and these shorts also include a belt to cinch things even further with a tortoiseshell-inspired buckle. There are double welt pockets on the front and patch pockets in the back. The fabric is 100 percent cotton, and the shorts are machine washable for easy cleaning and care.

For the Mom Jean Enthusiast

18. Madewell Momjean Shorts


  • What We Like: A-line shape, raw hems, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: size range is narrow
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 24 to 32
  • Return Policy: 40 days

“I love these shorts I grabbed from Nordstrom Rack last year,” says PureWow commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. “The brand in general holds shape so nicely and the raw hem doesn't fall apart into a frayed mess after a turn in the washing machine, either.”

Best High-Waist Workout Shorts

19. lululemon High-Rise Shorts


  • What We Like: zippered side pocket, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: some reviewers have noted the white shorts can be see-through
  • Material: polyester, elastane
  • Size Range: 0 to 20
  • Return Policy: 30 days

These high-waist workout shorts from lululemon were made to please. “These shorts are the GREATEST,” one buyer raves. “Perfect length, perfect rise, perfect fit.” The shorts feature a handy, zippered side pocket to keep essentials secure. The material is moisture-wicking and quick-drying, making them a smart pick for your next sweat sesh.

For Your Next Caribbean Cruise

20. Banana Republic Bermuda Shorts

Banana Republic

  • What We Like: neutral color selection, petite sizing, pleated front and darted waist
  • What We Don’t Like: can run large, dry clean only
  • Material: linen
  • Size Range: 0 to 20
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Get your summer on with these breezy linen Bermuda shorts from Banana Republic. With a fitted waist, relaxed straight-leg and pleated front, these shorts do lunch dates as well as they do errands. They come in several neutral colors and petite sizing, too. “Fantastic linen shorts—material is heavy enough to not look like you slept in them,” one reviewer notes. “Combined with a black linen shirt, it's the LBD of shorts!”

The Statement Shorts

21. Citizens of Humanity Long Cargo Shorts

Citizens of Humanity

  • What We Like: large pockets, falls to knee, contrasting button closure, elastic waist machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: few colors and sizes
  • Material: cotton, elastane
  • Size Range: 24 to 33
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Make a statement with these bold cargo shorts, available in white and papaya hues. Six pockets, including two generous cargo ones, will hold everything you need, but don’t let that stop you from accessorizing. Throw on some strappy sandals and carry a clutch for a night out or grab your favorite pair of comfy sandals and a tank top for a day running errands.

The Best-Seller

22. AGOLDE Long Shorts


  • What We Like: raw hem, slight flare, machine washable
  • What We Don’t Like: only available in one wash
  • Material: organic cotton
  • Size Range: 23 to 34
  • Return Policy: 60 days (90 days for exchange)

This pair of AGOLDE high-waist shorts is a Revolve best seller. With a slightly distressed look, these shorts pair well with your favorite black T-shirt for a casual afternoon. Headed out for the evening? Throw on a leather jacket and a belt to make it a bit edgier.

The Splurge

23. Ulla Johnson The Charlotte Shorts

Ulla Johnson

  • What We Like: double button detailing, frayed edges, large pockets
  • What We Don’t Like: only available in one wash
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 24 to 31
  • Return Policy: 30 days (free in 15 days)

With a gold double-button closure, frayed edges and unconventional side pockets, these Ulla Johnson shorts give the high-waist style a little boho treatment. Style them with a braided belt (or other TikTok belt hack of your choice), throw on your favorite blouse or sweater to dress it up a little bit and tie the look together with a pair of heeled sandals.

The Sportswear-Inspired Pick

24. Tory Burch Canvas Shorts

Tory Burch

  • What We Like: fun summer colors, versatile, comfortable, stylish
  • What We Don’t Like: limited sizing
  • Material: polyester
  • Size Range: XS to XL
  • Return Policy: 30 days

Trust that one of America’s reigning queens of fashion would churn out a good pair of high-waist shorts. Available in three summery colors, this pair is the definition of versatile. Pair them with the matching, sporty cropped jacket or a simple white tee or tank, then finish your look with the TikTok-loved Ella tote and a pair of sandals or sleek white sneakers.

The Classic Pair

25. Levi’s 501 Original Shorts


  • What We Like: iconic, distressed look, machine washable, heavyweight denim
  • What We Don’t Like: only available in one wash
  • Material: cotton
  • Size Range: 24 to 32
  • Return Policy: 30 days (free within 15 days)

If you had to pick just one pair of high-waist shorts, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with a classic pair of Levi’s 501s. Billed as the original shorts, they bring the iconic, distressed look many have loved, with heavyweight denim that ensures they’ll be sticking in your closet for the foreseeable future.

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Marissa Wu is a PureWow Associate Editor with a focus on SEO. She covers everything from fashion and home trends to travel, beauty, wellness, family and food. Her work has also appeared in Southern Living, Martha Stewart and Forbes Vetted.

PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.

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