How To Wear Basketball Shorts For A Slam Dunk Summer Outfit

Photo: Zach Dilgard/NBCUniversal/Getty Images..
Jenna Lyons at the 2023 NBC/ Universal upfronts.
Back in May, Jenna Lyons, the former J.Crew designer and new cast member of The Real Housewives of New York, wore an outfit I haven’t stopped thinking about since. At first glance, it was a simple summer outfit idea: a tuxedo-style black blazer, white T-shirt and pumps, and knee-length shorts. But, these weren’t any Bermuda shorts. With a baggy fit, two thick black lines on the sides, and an elastic band, these were, as a friend pointed out when posting the outfit to Instagram stories, reminiscent of basketball shorts. And while, from photos alone, it's unclear if they actually were, their resemblance to the styles spotted at WNBA games was enough to kick-start my summer obsession.
It may have seemed like Lyons’ outfit was unexpected given fashion’s current obsession with lengthy puddle trousers and tailored pantsuits. But did athleisure, one of the biggest trends of the 2010s, really go anywhere? Miu Miu endorsed the hoodie-and-blazer combo in the brand’s f/w 2023 collection, while Gucci’s resort 2024 lineup featured an array of bike shorts and neoprene tops that looked tailor-made for Tour de France. Stella McCartney also got in on the endorphins-fueled trend during the brand’s f/w 2023 showcase with a matching navy-and-red tracksuit.
With summer’s high temperatures upon us, perhaps wearing clothes made to sweat in is the ultimate summer fashion hack. But how do you style basketball shorts if you can barely dribble? I set out to find out. 

How To Wear Basketball Shorts Casually

Photo: Courtesy of Frances Sola-Santiago.
As someone whose sport interests include testing out tennis skirts and owning a ball-shaped handbag, basketball shorts have never been in my sartorial playbook. So, I figured the best way to start experimenting was to take inspiration from their roots. Styled with a white tank top, this basketball shorts outfit didn’t look far from the uniforms you see at a local court. But once I added a jumper and heeled sandals, they took on a more elevated vibe. To complete a look that could take you from running weekend errands to brunch, I added a ball-shaped handbag that drove the whole aesthetic home. 

How To Wear Basketball Shorts Formally

Photo: Courtesy of Frances Solá-Santiago.
While styling basketball shorts for casual outings was a breeze, the office-appropriate, nighttime-friendly look took this non-athlete more than one try. I attempted three different outfits — a white button-up shirt and Oxford shoes was one of them; the second included a vest and loafers; neither looked right for me — before going back to my original inspiration: Lyons. With a T-shirt and blazer, the shorts blended into a more professional look, with the peeking Adidas logo the only nod to the shorts' athletic beginnings. 
With both outfits, the key was to add the basketball shorts to my trusted outfit formulas. I've previously sported jeans and flowy trousers with a tank top and sandals; I have likewise worn a maxi skirt with a blazer and button-down. The result? An outfit slam dunk I will be wearing on repeat until September.
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