Made of 97% cotton; the 3% spandex give them a nice amount of stretch. Pull-on shorts with a flattering feel and fit. Many colors available.
"Nonfunctional" pockets may be a deal-breaker for some.
Made from cotton and spandex. Covered elastic waistband. Pull-on closure. Flattering fit. Heavy fabric isn't see-through. Allows mobility. Machine washable. Comes in black and gray. Sizes range from S to 2XL.
Legs flare out and are baggy.
Slim-fit, high-rise shorts. Made from recycled polyester. Has inner briefs. Stretchable. Climacool ventilation for breathability. Allows mobility. Includes adjustable drawcord on waistband. Sold in 3- or 4-inch inseam lengths. Sizes range from 2XS to XL.
Sizes run big. Buyers recommend purchasing 1 size down.
Made from recycled polyester. Regular fit. Machine washable. 5-inch inseam length. Breathable fabric. Moisture-wicking material. Adjustable drawcord waistband. Allows mobility. Sizes range from 2XS to 2XL.
Length may be too short for some.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
The comfort of an elastic waistband cannot be denied. If you’re in search of a pair of shorts that will look stylish, keep you comfortable, and allow you to move easily, you have come to the right place. In this buying guide, we explore the many elastic shorts for women on the market today.
People seek elastic waistbands for a number of reasons. Perhaps you are an athlete or weekend warrior who wants a comfy pair of shorts to pursue your sport. Perhaps you are simply looking to escape the tight, constricting fit of a zipper or button fly. Whatever your reasoning, a world of options awaits you.
Elastic shorts for women come in a wide array of styles.
Breathable cotton is a top choice for elastic shorts. If you buy shorts made of 100% cotton, however, note the care instructions before washing them. Often these items must be hand-washed to avoid shrinkage. Those who like to iron their shorts may find that the lowest heat setting is recommended.
For shorts designed for physical activity, a cotton blend is more practical than pure cotton. Pure cotton will easily become drenched in sweat, whereas a blend will help keep you cool and dry. Polyester, nylon, or spandex may be blended with cotton in bike shorts, gym shorts, and yoga shorts, to name a few styles.
Denim is actually a form of cotton, but it’s such a popular shorts material that it merits its own category. Elastic-waist denim shorts go with just about everything. Wear them with a casual T-shirt or tank, a blouse, or a sweatshirt on cooler days. Distressed and frayed styles with a cut-off hem are common, and you are likely to have your choice of at least a few washes and colors.
How long shorts appear is determined by several factors, including the style of the shorts and the length of the wearer’s legs.
Length is sometimes identified by an inseam measurement, which is the length from crotch to hem. Short shorts tend to have an inseam length of around 5 inches. Mid-length shorts tend to have an inseam measurement of 6 to 7 inches. Longer shorts, including Bermudas, may have an inseam anywhere from 8 to 12 inches.
Most elastic shorts for women do not come in numerical sizes. Instead, they are sold in sizes that can range from XXS to 5X. Each manufacturer has its own sizing chart, which should be available for you to reference as you shop online.
A common complaint about women’s clothing is the lack of functional pockets. To an extent, that trend is changing, but buyers who want pockets in their elastic shorts should remain vigilant when shopping. Sometimes a pair of shorts will have a “faux pocket” that doesn’t really go anywhere. This non-functional pocket is designed purely for looks.
That said, because just about everyone carries a smartphone these days, some manufacturers have gone out of their way to create pockets large enough (and deep enough) to securely carry your phone. If this appeals to you, check the product specs before ordering to be sure the shorts have roomy pockets.
Pleated shorts are gathered at the waist. Box pleats, also known as kick pleats, gather at the front of the shorts, and only at the front of the shorts, to create a flat-front look. Accordion pleats travel all the way around the waist. To the dismay of some, this type of pleat can add a lot of bulk.
While some elastic shorts have a simple waist with an integrated band of elastic, others have a drawstring or belt. If you will be tucking in your shirt, a belt that ties in the front or on the side can add a nice tailored touch. If you prefer baggy or untucked shirts, however, such a belt might create unwanted bulk in your midsection.
Heavyweight cotton such as canvas, denim, and corduroy is more durable and less likely to wrinkle than thinner, lighter cotton. However, shorts made of heavy cotton hold heat in and have a stiffer feel, at least until they are broken in.
Inexpensive: For $7 to $12, you can get a pair of solid-colored, pocket-less elastic shorts. Many of these are considered gym shorts based on their athletic look and cut. The shorts may be short or mid-length, but you are unlikely to find Bermudas or pedal pushers in this range.
Mid-range: In the $12 to $22 range, elastic shorts can be found in all lengths. They may have a slim or loose fit, pleats or flat fronts, belts or no belts. If you’re looking for something affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and of good quality, this price range is a great place to begin your search.
Expensive: Shorts that cost over $22 may be made of cotton, polyester, or a pricier material like linen or even leather. They may be engineered for specific physical activities, such as playing volleyball or practicing yoga. If you’re looking for shorts that are comfortable, functional, and fashionable, look in this price range.
A. This measurement refers to the length of the inseam. The inseam is the length from the crotch to the hem of the shorts. Common inseam lengths for women’s shorts are 5, 7, and 9 inches. However, inseam length is not always provided by the manufacturer.
A. Compression shorts can be very comfortable, so we understand the urge. But it’s important to understand that compression shorts are designed to increase the flow of oxygen to your leg muscles during physical activity. After intense exercise, they can also be worn for a short period to help reduce swelling. However, it is not advisable to wear compression shorts as everyday shorts for hours on end.
A. Paper bag shorts have extra cinched fabric around the midsection. (There are paper bag pants, too.) These shorts usually come with a matching cloth belt and tend to look good with a tucked-in tank, T-shirt, or blouse.