At the age of 34, most people would say I’m a full-fledged adult (well most people, besides my parents). I’ve voted in the last four presidential elections, been responsibly imbibing for 13 years or so, and paid taxes since 2006. Still, each summer, I somehow manage to feel too teenage-like — and not in a good, school’s finally out kind of way. When faced with the inevitable New York City heat, I just don’t know how to dress. And that's largely due to the fact that I just can't find shorts. And when I say I can't find shorts, I don't mean there aren't a bevy available — there are in theory — but there aren't any that mutually fit me, are comfortable, are on-trend, and manage to look age-appropriate.
Growing up in sweltering Laredo, Texas — the high there today is a balmy 101 degrees — shorts were as common as saying y’all. In order to survive the weather, your daily uniform consisted of cut-offs, flip-flops, and tied tank tops. I have many fond memories throwing on a colored Soffe pair for school or dance practice, or lounging in them by my pool. But, there is a big difference between wearing said bottoms when you’re 16 and when you're 34 — I feel like I could never wear Soffes today, much less the vintage Wranglers I purchased from Soho pop-up The Vintage Twin just two summers ago.
While summer dresses, tops, and even skirts have matured with me, shorts, just don’t seem to be made for adult women. They are often cut too short, showing off far too much thigh than I find necessary (more often than not they resemble briefs), and are oftentimes so narrow in the hips that having curves, which I do, prove to be completely undesirable. Throw in said thighs rubbing together and sweat gathering in your crotch, and it’s a veritable disaster. Don’t believe me? A quick search on Net-A-Porter, a site for stylish grown-ups with purchasing power, yields just 50 options — only two pairs are remotely near mid-thigh and seem to avoid the aforementioned issues: a floral, cotton-poplin Dolce & Gabbana short retailing for $675, and a pom pom-bedecked, tiger palm print style from Matthew Williamson that costs $310. A colleague of mine, Caroline, felt similarly when discussing a recent excursion to Zara. When sucked into the Spanish retailer’s semi-annual sale, not one pair of the dozens she tried yielded a buyable option.
No, I don’t think we're being prude. It’s not like I need to wear shorts every day, nor would I, but rather, I just want to feel good and comfortable traipsing around Manhattan in them. You see, unlike my boss Christene, who is solidly, resolutely not a fan of shorts, I am! But somehow, I feel like I’m no longer allowed to be a member of a club that I once was a a part of. While I get that I’m not the first woman to feel like they’ve aged out of certain clothing (for example, I’m happily no longer wearing halter tops), fashion is supposed to be inclusive to all, especially those who want to participate. And this category of clothing doesn’t have me beat just yet.
Shorts, it’s on — my hunt continues.