The Best Dress Shorts for Women

Five models wearing the best women's dress shorts

Dressy shorts are a great alternative to skirts or pants if you are looking to stay cool but also want to look polished. There are lots of styles that are available to help you look fashionable and put together in hot weather.

Depending on what tops you pair them with, dress shorts for women can create summer looks that are cool, comfy, yet sophisticated.

What to Look For:

Inseam Length– Inseam length is usually the feature that most women consider first when shopping for shorts. With a dressy style, you can go from a 3-inch inseam anywhere up to over 10 inches. It is a personal preference, and there are popular options in all of those inseam lengths.

Fit– There is no particular fit that is considered more formal when it comes to shorts. Some women love designs that look like skirts while others enjoy a more tailored fit, again it comes down to personal preference.

Color-Dark colors are generally considered the most versatile and are ideal for pairing with almost any kind of top. If you are dressing for an evening out, dark colors are fine as you don’t have to worry about the shorts absorbing heat as they might in the sunshine. If you are looking for a dressy style for the day, lighter colors will be more comfortable than dark colors since they will remain cooler in the hot weather.

Fabric-With a more polished short, you will be looking at luxe cotton that is usually blended with a bit of a stretch fabric. For those looking for a bit of sheen in the material, you may want to look for polyester blends that can also make for a more luxurious or formal-looking fabric.

Belt or No Belt– Belts are a great accent to add a dressy element to any outfit. The tie-waist or paper bag waist is an attractive, fashionable option to consider that usually comes with a tie or strap attached. Some styles come with belt loops but no belt, so you can add a belt of your own to finish off a look.

Pockets– Loose-fitting shorts that have pockets that you can casually place your hands are wonderful to add a comfort element to any style. Some of the more tailored options don’t have any pockets, so you get a trimmer, more streamlined look.

Waist– Currently, the most trendy waist length is still the high waist. A high waist can be very flattering for most body shapes depending on what type of shirt you are wearing and the cut of the design. A high waist can look a little bit more formal than lower waistbands. If you don’t like the higher look, there are still option with a mid-rise that are comfy and look great.

Below is a list of some of the best dress shorts for all different tastes that can make an ideal choice for hot summer nights out.

Read more: 14 of the Most Comfortable Casual Shorts for Women

Ann Taylor The Metro Short

Ann Taylor The Metro Short

The Metro Short from Ann Taylor is an elegant option that is versatile enough to wear almost anywhere. They come in a few lovely colors and are a classic front zip style with belt loops and pockets. They are a flattering midrise waist with an inseam length of 6 inches, making them an ideal length for a lot of women. They are mostly cotton so you can machine wash this style, but they are dressy enough to wear out for fancier occasions.

Available from Ann Taylor

Banana Republic High-Rise 4″ Linen-Cotton Short

Muted color linen shorts

This short from Banana Republic is not only made from a comfy linen-cotton blend, but is also dressy, yet loose-fitting and super comfy. It comes with side pockets, a tie belt, and is available in two subtle colors. The wide legs give the design the look of a skirt, but they maintain the convenience of a short. If you are looking for a feminine, modest, and polished option, this style from Banana Republic may be a suitable style for you.

Available from Banana Republic

Talbots The Perfect Short

Talbots Perfect Shorts

Talbots Perfect Shorts are another somewhat dressy design that is worth having a look at. They come in a variety of lengths and are a style that comes back year after year since they are a favorite of many women.

The fabric is mainly cotton that is relatively thick and has a high quality feel to it, so it looks well-tailored and sharp. You can get it in lengths from 5 to 13 inches, so there is a flattering length for everyone.

Available from Talbots

Vegan Leather Shorts

Vegan Leather Shorts

If you really want to get dressed up, these Vegan Leather Shorts from Eloquii may be the style for you. They have an inseam length of 5.5 inches and are made from a non-stretch vegan faux leather that has a definite formal vibe. The design is a flattering and dressy-looking paper bag style that is comfy and looks sophisticated.

You can wear these year-round with tights if you feel like it. They would work well for a night out, just be aware that they take a little bit of extra care to clean (you have to hand wash them).

Available from Eloquii

Loft Tie Waist Shorts

Loft Tie Waist Shorts

These pretty tied-waist shorts from Loft are a perfect way to dress up your outfit. The tie waist adds an elegant accent that makes them ideal for pairing with a simple top and still looked put together. The inseam is only 4 inches, so they are on the shorter side, so if you like to show a little more leg, they may make a good option for you. Currently, they come in black, olive green, and red in a cotton polyester blend.

Available from Loft

Express Super High Waisted Button Flap Pleated Shorts

Express Super High Waisted Button Flap Pleated Shorts

Express has a few great dress short options, with one of their fanciest options being the Super High Waisted Button Flap Pleated Shorts. The best feature of this design is faux flap front button pockets that give them a dressy element so you can wear a simple shirt and still look put together. The pleats elevate the look to a much more formal level than your average plain pair of shorts. They are also high waisted with a small inseam of only 2.5 inches, but that is long enough to cover your behind and still look cute. The material is polyester that is super soft.

Available from Express

Molly London