7 of the Best Paper Bag Shorts That Are Perfect for Summer

Despite the less than flattering name, paper bag shorts are some of the cutest and most stylish types of shorts to keep you cool this summer. Not only do they look amazing, but the high-waist actually creates a flattering silhouette for any body type without being too tight or too baggy. High waisted styles generally come with an attached belt that you can adjust to get a great fit, and they are versatile enough that you can create a look with them that can be as casual or as dressy as you want. We have found some of the best paper bag shorts that are fun, flattering, and, most of all, of comfy that you are going to love to wear all summer long.

Grace Karin Bowknot Tie Waist Summer Casual Shorts

Grace Karin’s Bowknot Tie Waist Summer Casual Shorts are a bestseller on Amazon that a lot of women find work well for them. These are a great option if you want a loose-fitting design for comfort, or you just find regular styles to be too tight in the thigh. The inseam length is quite small, but the looser fit makes them flattering for most women. The fabric is mostly polyester with a touch of spandex for a little bit of stretch. Polyester isn’t the most breathable fabric, but it doesn’t really become a big problem with this pick since the less fitted look allows for airflow so you won’t overheat in them. One of the best features of this design is the elastic waist that comes with an adjustable self-tie belt that gives them an elevated look. The other great thing about this style is that it comes in a wide range of colors and several fun prints, so it makes for an inexpensive yet stylish option. Overall, these shorts have an excellent fit, are super cute, and are stretchy and fashionable.

Available from Amazon

Madewell Paperbag Waist Shorts

The Madewell Paperbag Waist Shorts are a beautiful everyday style that is worth checking out if comfort is what you are after. By far, the greatest thing about these Madewell shorts is the amazingly soft viscose cotton fabric.  The design is pretty standard and similar to other options on this list, but it does come in quite a unique rust color. You can remove the tie waist if you need to as it also has an elastic waistband, and they are a pull-on style.

Available from Nordstrom

Danielle Bernstein Paperbag Waist Shorts


Danielle Bernstein Paperbag Waist Shorts are a simple style that is an excellent option if you love a high waist but don’t want the extra fabric of an attached belt. Currently, they only come in black and white, and they are midrise with a 2.75″ inseam, so they are also another high waisted yet slightly short option.  Fans of this style find them to be well made and flattering without being too tight or too baggy. This pick comes with belt loops so you can add your own belt if you wish, but it doesn’t come with a belt, which is usually the case with longer waist styles. As for the features to be aware of the hem is cuffed, there are two side pockets, and the material is 100% lightweight cotton so they will be breathable and cool in the heat.

Available from Macy’s

Ann Taylor The Marina Tie Waist Short

Ann Taylor’s The Marina Tie Waist Short is a paper bag style that has the flattering silhouette of a paper design look but with less fabric around the waist. It may be comfier for some women who like the look but not extra bulk of material around the midsection. Since they are an Ann Taylor design, they are a slightly more sophisticated and tailored look than some of the more casual high waisted options. They have a front zipper, tie belt with belt loops, and front off-seam and back welt pockets. They are a little bit more fitted than some of the other options on our list, but they do have a high rise, and the inseam length is 4.5 inches so they are long enough that you could wear these in a dressier situation or perhaps to work (depending on where you work and where the hem will fall on your leg). The fabric blend is primarily cotton with a small amount of elastane that will give them a bit of stretch, so they will be breathable and comfortable while still looking super polished.

Available from Ann Taylor

Eloquii Paperbag Waist Short with Belt

Eloquii is an excellent place for flattering comfy styles, and their Paperbag Waist Short is no exception. Some women find this relaxed fit style so comfy that they never want to take them off. The basic design has an elastic waistband, tie belt, two front pockets that are made from a 100% polyester that doesn’t have any stretch.  The inseam is 5.5 inches, so it is one of the longer styles on our list, and it will probably fall just above the knee, depending on your height. You can easily dress these shorts up or down.  At the time of writing this post, they come in a couple of prints, but hopefully, Eloquii will add a few more colors and prints to this design in the future. If you are looking for a comfy, cute, and flattering style, this pick from Elopuii are well worth a look.

Available from Eloquii.com

Banana Republic Paperbag Waist 4″ Short

Banana Republic has a few pretty and flattering options for paper bag shorts this summer (2020). They come in a few different fabric blends that mix cotton, linen, and rayon which are all nice and light for the summer. You can get a few solid colors and they also have a couple of striped patterns that look great. All of the shorts are stylish and have a 4″ inseam. They are high waisted, and the front is a zipper closure.

Available from Banana Republic

J Crew Paper-bag Waist Short in Ribbon Plaid

This J Crew Paper-bag Waist Short in Ribbon Plaid is a wonderful alternative to some of the more everyday options. This design is very high waisted and comes with quite a wide belt, so it may not be for everyone. They are, however, a fun retro option that features pleated styling that makes for a roomy fit that is comfy yet looks polished. If you are so inclined, you can get these shorts with a matching shirt AND matching shoes, which would make for quite the look, I think. The fabric is cotton, and this short is lined for added comfort.

Available from J Crew

Asos Design Linen Shorts with Paperbag Waist and Belt

These Asos Design Linen Shorts with Paperbag Waist are a beautiful classic style that will be flattering for any shape. These are another option that comes with a lining; it can be a little bit difficult to find styles that are lined, so this product may be worth having a look at if you prefer a lining in your shorts. The outer part of the design is a cotton and linen blend; both cotton and linen are excellent fabrics for hot weather since they are breathable and cool. What I love about this style apart for the loose fit and big front pockets is the size of the belt is thin enough to be nice and manageable while still giving you that classic high waisted look.

Available from Asos

What to Look For:

There are many excellent paper bag short styles that are suitable for lots of different body shapes, but when you are shopping, there are few things to think about to ensure you get the perfect shorts to keep you comfy and feeling great all summer long.

Material-Shorts can come in fabrics from 100% cotton to 100% polyester. Cotton is great for the summer since it is so breathable that you won’t overheat. The main issue with cotton bottoms is they may require some ironing. Cotton these days is usually pretty soft to the touch, and most cotton options will be perfectly comfortable. Cotton blends that contain spandex or elastane are also great to provide a little bit of stretch. Polyester styles will generally feel soft to the touch, but if the fit is very tight, you may run into issues with the material not breathing well. Usually, this won’t be a problem with paper bag styles since most are a loose fit.

Inseam Length– You will find that the inseam lengths on most high waisted design go from about 2 to 5 inches.  If you went too long with the inseam, they could perhaps become quite unflattering since you have the extra material at the waist.

Belts– Most of these types of designs come with a belt. Sometimes the belt is attached, sometimes you can remove it. Fabric belts that are sewn in or are detachable can sometimes be a little more high maintenance when you wash the shorts as you will usually have to iron the belt. Belts are wonderful to help get the most custom fit, and they add a beautiful, stylish detail.

Color/Pattern– Currently, there isn’t the biggest range of colors and patterns in paper bag designs; for the most part, the color selection is relatively basic. If you are interested in colorful options, check out the Grace Karin Bowknot Tie Waist Summer Casual Shorts.

Fit– As mentioned, the fit on most high waisted designs is generally loose, making them a suitable option for women who have found regular styles to be too tight around the thigh.

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