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My Favorite Comfortable Pull-On Summer Shorts (An Honest Review … But Mostly My Favorites)

Like our kids, I only want to wear “play clothes” this summer. Sure I have all my Levi’s shorts uniform that I wear in public or to BBQs, but for the most part, I’m either sitting and writing, working out/walking dogs, or playing with the kids (in water). We are down in Lake Arrowhead, and I thought I packed well but every day I find myself not wanting to wear any of my “hard shorts” (jean shorts), opting for my one pair of running shorts (that are excellent). It’s hot. I want to be comfortable. I’m either sitting at a desk or super active. And while I could just size up and buy new Levi’s shorts so they aren’t so tight (look, mom! I’m still growing!! ) I just want cute but highly comfortable right now. So I went online and found a few, reached out to a brand that I’ve wanted to try, and then Mal from my team brought some up when we had a different shoot here earlier this week. I kissed A LOT of frogs, y’all. While doing so I realized that there are some clear requirements that I was looking for, and not settling.

So here are my requirements:
1. They can’t cut in at the waist. Shorts should fit so that they don’t create a bulge at the top. C’MON. This is both really unflattering and highly uncomfortable. They should sit nicely on your waist or hips. Full Stop. I’m SHOCKED by some of these companies that clearly did not ever put them on a real person.
2. They must fall or drape nicely – i.e. don’t bunch in the crotch or butt. If they are cheaply made, the seam placement can become a problem. The right seam placement can make it super flattering and the wrong can give you all sorts of embarrassing bulges. NO thank you. I want a flat front, not adding volume in the front, duh.
3. I want to look cute, like I care, or have some sense of style. I like looking/feeling sporty, not schlubby. There are a lot of cotton drawstring shorts out there, of which I tried but many looked more like cheap pajama shorts to me and I felt really frumpy in them. Many were super see-through. I already have my favorite summer pajama shorts. I want shorts that still feel like could be part of a stylish outfit – even if it’s just at the beach or on a workout.

I didn’t have the time nor the energy to show you all the ones that I didn’t like (also I’m not down to denigrate brands, some of which I typically like), so here are all my winning pull-on shorts that I LEGIT LOVE and hit all three of those categories.

Here’s a fun little video we put together of some of the shorts I tired on – just wait for the ad to play 🙂

Delight Shorts

When I first got these I thought they were pretty expensive for how simple and lightweight they are. They are virtually weightless. Then I put them on and, y’all, I love how they sat – flat on the front, with a little flare out (making legs look slimmer) and they are loose but don’t fall off. I have worn these frequently with my swimsuit on the boat or at the beach, acting as a cute easy cover-up. The slit up the side is cute/sexy and I even swim in them which is just wonderful. I really try to be that mom that doesn’t dread swimming/playing with my kids out of self-consciousness but sometimes the full crotch reveal is a lot to strangers or, like, your brother-in-law. These shorts don’t feel like a middle-aged cover-up – they just feel cool, sporty, and dare I say “hip”. I wear it with my sculpting suit and feel pretty great about jumping in with my kids. I’m between a 4- 6 right now, and these are a size small.

Onzie Rib Biker Shorts

I tried on 5 biker shorts and liked 2, with these being by far my favorite. They are SO comfortable (I sized up and got the M/L and highly recommend it). They are high-waisted, don’t cut in and the busyness makes them VERY forgiving – nary a lump, roll or bump in sight! I wear these with a sports bra to work out or with a sweatshirt and my sneakers by the fire at night. I could live in these shorts. I feel cute, fun, and comfortable.

Invigorate Colorblock Shorts

Oh, these are so cute. They have a wide waistband that does NOT cut in at all and sits nicely low on the hips. There are cute buttons on the side that unbutton to give it a little flair, and undershorts for a cute look that is also sporty and modest. These are on the shorter side and have a short inseam, so might not be awesome for all my long-torsoed friends out there. But I love them (see below my friend wearing them). I think the colors make them fun but am aware that this color palette might not be for everyone. I also wear these over a swimsuit with this mesh pullover and my leopard Teva-like sandals (similar) and feel cute/confident at the beach (if not totally 80s).

Hiking Shorts

These feel like you are naked – they are so lightweight. They are 100% polyester so you can really throw them on and are so cooling on hot days and don’t wrinkle so they are very packable. They are a good length for the days that I don’t want to go super short. They have cute pockets and a buckle, which is unnecessary but cute! My MIL wore these when I forced them all to do my morning workout/jump in the lake routine and she was able to swim in them comfortably. These are a small, which might run big because Free People has that weird sizing where there are like xxxs, xxxxs, xxxxxxxxs, etc. So again, I’m between a 4-6 and I went with the small. I’m also just generally sizing up with these because again, the whole point is comfort and baggy shorts are “in”. These look cute rolled a little like the kids are doing 🙂

Dark Ribbed Bike Shorts

Mal brought these up for me to try in a few different color-ways and styles and these were the only ones I felt were both flattering and comfortable. Y’all a lot of cheap trendy biker shorts show EVERYTHING. If they are too thin or light colored you can see every lump, every bulge, and it can be a LOT OF CROTCH, no thank you. These are thick but didn’t constrict at the waist (they are super high-waisted), and the ribbing is super forgiving. I love the pockets on both sides. I bike a lot up here so I actually do want/need biker shorts (Skypark here we come!). These are on the more expensive side, but worth it to me, because buying cheap clothes that you hate wearing and make you feel gross is dumb.

Vuori Dash Short

I’ve wanted to try these Vuori shorts for a long time, so they sent a few for me to try. I really, really liked them for their fit, quality, drape, and softness. Next time I’ll size up to a medium. I liked all the pockets, the wide waistband, and how lightweight they were, but just want a bit more space and length. GREAT for swimming or using as a sporty swim bottom. They are tiny, too snug on me but wanted to give them some love because for the sportier types out there I think they are great to work out in and long-lasting. (I LOVE their famous joggers, too, which I finally ordered and don’t need to size up in).

Vuori Halo Performance Short

These are almost the exact same review as the nylon running shorts. Excellent quality, great features (zipper, wide waistband), and flattering. I just want to size up to give myself a little more “post-burrito” room. They do have longer inseams on their site, I just chose the short shorts, but am switching these out for mediums.

Madewell Pull-On Denim Shorts

I tried on these a few weeks ago when I had a partnership with Madewell but didn’t buy as they were supposed to send them to me to shoot. They sold out and I never got them, but they are back in stock. When I tried them on in the dressing room I loved them and had I not thought they were on their way I would have bought them. These are a small. My only beef with these is that I like to do a little tuck and the elastic waist didn’t tuck too well – the fabric is thin at the elastic waist and showed the T-shirt too much underneath – looking bunchy. I like a really flat front tuck. But if you wear a shorter top or don’t need to tuck these are super comfortable, cute, and definitely wearable in public (but not workout or swim).

Affordable Mid Rise Knit Shorts

Coming in at $14.99 I was skeptical about these, but they are so comfortable and soft. These are great for around the house, on walks (not for workouts or swimming as they are thicker) but legit so soft and cozy. Mal has these and convinced me to try them. For sizing, I asked her to grab a medium for me but could have probably worn a small.

Target Stretch Woven Shorts

These are GREAT. They rival my Lululemons you’ll see next. These are $25 and have a cute boxy cut, pockets with a zipper (which I use every day for my ID, but a phone would be too heavy), and a wide waistband. The waistband is a bit stiffer (i.e. I have to push it down on my hips so that it doesn’t gape at the top) but for the budget price, it’s GREAT. And yes, you can totally swim in them. Again I’m loving this sportier swimsuit with nylon baggier short look for the beach. It’s a hipper alternative to the tankini – spoken like a true mom! I’m still cool I promise!!

Lululemon High Rise Lined Short

These are my go-to’s that I wear many mornings for my morning routine. The waistband sits nicely and stays put (but zero cutting in as it sits higher). There is a little flair which I find flattering, has pockets for my beach card, and after I work out, I jump in the lake and swim around and they are GREAT swim bottoms. Oh, and it has built-in red underwear (sounds weird, but excellent for being active). Again, I feel like these shorts with a swim top or tank would look cool and sporty at the beach, and just feels less exposed for daytime swimming with the kids. I wear them with my red swimsuit, mesh pullovers, and Tevas, and not to sound like quite the dorky mom, but I do feel like it looks cool while secretly I’m VERY comfortable and confident.

Last weekend we had some houseguests that I forced to do my morning routine with me (because I feel like the luckiest person on the planet and want people to start their vacation days like this, too). They didn’t bring “workout/swim shorts” so let them borrow all of the new ones that I love and they were a HIT.

Suz, My MIL

Suz, here, is working the longer nylon hiking shorts. She loved them and said she would even wear them golfing and wanted a pair. Who thinks Suz needs to do a fashion post?? ME!!!!

Crystal, My Brother In Law’s Girlfriend

Crystal went for the color-blocked shorts and also loved them. Worked out and swam in them. It’s the sisterhood of the traveling shorts and we all agreed these are GREAT for the sportier type.

Ella (who is 14 and I didn’t want to succumb her to modeling on the blog) wore the patterned biker shorts and a workout sports bra/tank which looked so cute! Again, comfortable, and stretchy but not cheap. And she swam in them just great both in the morning and on the boat later in the day. All of these dried relatively fast (whereas cotton or denim obviously wouldn’t have) so I feel good recommending them for fun/mellow water sports, too.

I think you can sense my passion for these. I think wearing any of these with sneakers, a graphic T-shirt and, a baseball hat is also an acceptable “running errands” outfit. Now I’m on the hunt for bralettes for larger ladies, because I can’t seem to wear an underwire anymore but still want the support and the cheap ones I have bought are simply not cutting it. I’m living in this sports bra right now which is super comfortable (not supportive enough for running or jumping if you have big boobs), so if you have any supportive non-underwire bras leave them in the comments. I’m desperate 🙂

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KSG
30 days ago

My bra size is 30FF/32F and I’ve tried on aaallll the sports bras. The bra I reach for the most is from Amazon (!) it’s cheap and get the job done: SYROKAN Women’s Sports Bra Front Adjustable High Impact Support Lightly Padded Wireless Racerback. I have this in 32F and it’s true to size. I also have the SYROKAN Women’s Wirefree Front Adjustable High Impact No Bounce Full Support Sports Bra and wear it around the house if I want a wire-free day. In second place, I wear the Panache NON WIRED Sports Bra in 30FF. I tend to wear this around the house or walking than I do for high impact exercise. I recently found an excellent swim top and light sports bra top that I wear for swimming and walking from Dicks Sporting goods. It’s from the Calia line and it’s the Women’s Sculpt High Neck Swim Top. Online they have a D/DD version–but I bought mine in-store and was surprised that a M hoisted up my girls. On the shorts front, I also found that the Calia line at Dick’s has a great high-waisted dupe for the Free People high-waisted shorts– Calia Step Up Shorts. Runs a smidge… Read more »

🥰 Rusty
30 days ago
Reply to  KSG

KSG … THANK YOOOU!!!!💞
Fabulous info. Just what I need.

Lisa
29 days ago
Reply to  KSG

KSG, this is AMAZING… thank you!!!!

Annie
30 days ago

I mostly wear dresses in the summer, but if I’m wearing shorts to work out or to hang out in, they are Nike running shorts, the ones with the piping on the side and the built-in “runderwear.” I’ve worn them forever, and I just always feel cute in them.

Emily
30 days ago

Big fan of the Harbour shorts from Pact. So comfy but look nicer than workout shorts so you can get away with wearing them more places.

I’m always on the hunt for good wireless supportive bras. My current favorite is the Enbliss wireless bra from Soma. Definitely supportive enough for my C cup, so worth a try for those with larger ladies.

Suzanne
30 days ago
Reply to  Emily

I just ordered some Pact Harbour shorts on sale a couple days ago. I’m excited to see you like them.

Kelly
30 days ago

I’m sooooo happy that Cool Moms are wearing shorts to swim in. I’ve been waiting for this day. 😉

Sarah
30 days ago

I’d love to see you do the crisp pull on short with matching sane color button up collared shirt look.

🥰 Rusty
30 days ago

My fav’s are the Madewell ones and the hiking shorts with the obvious pockets.😏

Suz … You rock! 😉

I don’t think “bralettes” are for women with large breasts. Full stop. 🏃‍♀️
Not saying you need underwire, though I personally still do wear underwire.
I’m interested in wire-free sports bras! Maybe that’s the answer for you, too??
My sister who lives in the US is a verrrry good racquet ball player and she swears by them for support and comfort (tried to contact her for brands, but haven’t heard back yet).

Katherine
30 days ago

Bravado makes amazing non-underwire bras. I found them for nursing bras and just kept wearing them. Amazing shape, great support (especially for the bigger bust) but not always low cut enough for all shirts. They have many styles, but the seamless silk style is fantastic and super flattering.

StephanieZ
28 days ago
Reply to  Katherine

I love the Bravado Sculpt, but it definitely isn’t low cut enough for some of my tops. The muse, which is lower cute, some how doesn’t fit me properly. I’ve tried 2 different sizes and neither work well.

Allison C
30 days ago

Fun post, thanks! I always enjoy the fashion posts.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw that a sports bra was $170! I didn’t know that was possible. Old Navy activewear/sports bras have worked well for me.

Angela
30 days ago

Not sure it’s exactly a bralette, but I LOVE the Embrace bra from Athleta. It’s comfy, super hot and offers enough support for a yoga class or walk. (But you could still sleep in it, if you wanted.) It comes in an A-C version and a D/DD version. (I’m an F and that one works for me.)

Lisa
30 days ago

Hi Emily, thank you for the awesome review; I’m a big FP fan so super pumped to try all of those. What size did you take in the Zella high wasted biker shorts?

Deb
30 days ago

I liked it when Suz gave suggestions for gifts .
Now I can put a face with the author. Definitely would love a fashion post from her. However she doesn’t look
old enough to be your MIL. Does she have any skin care
secrets she would like to share?

Elle
30 days ago

Evelyn Bobbie makes awesome wireless bras for gals with smaller bands and larger cup sizes! Plus, the bands don’t stretch out and become unwearable like so many others tend to. I’m partial to the ‘Beyond’ style myself because I like the back closure, but they have pullover styles as well. Small, woman-owned Portland-based brand even! https://evelynbobbie.com/products/beyond-bra

Jillian
30 days ago

Love this! Great addition to that lady on TikTok who tries out athletic shorts that thighs won’t eat 🙂 I am dying for a bralette for larger boobs as well. I will say, as a larger-boob lady, I’m fine with underwire but I simply cannot do a lined bra anymore- unlined cups all the way! The mesh lets the volume of the boob fill out, instead of being smushed in a lined cup particular way, you know what I mean? I wear a 34DDD and I’m telling you it’s life changing.
I am loving this Curvy Couture one that I bought on Target, but you can also get on their own site: https://curvycouture.com/products/sheer-mesh-full-coverage-unlined-underwire-bra-lavender-mist?gclid=CjwKCAjww8mWBhABEiwAl6-2RRclCfQByDLT29wdXxY96Rrwsf4l_A0K4sU0jCtsFdvcjqe_2lu7XhoCKj0QAvD_BwE

Geraldine
29 days ago

Love the shorts review – so helpful. How about a sports bra post soon? I’ve made a lot of expensive sports bra mistakes! Enell Bras are, hands-down, the most bounce-eliminating bras I have ever worn – not cute whatsoever, but highly effective. https://enell.com/products/enell-sport. My current favorite bra for running is the Lululemon AirSupport Bra, but I have to size up a band size and a cup size. It has replaced my Enlite and Run Times bras. https://shop.lululemon.com/p/women-sports-bras/AirSupport-Bra-MD/_/prod10720034?color=54637

Lauren
29 days ago

Did you go with a small or medium in those cute Target shorts?

Lisa
29 days ago

Hi Emily, thank you for the awesome review; I’m a big FP fan so super pumped to try all of those. What size did you take in the Zella high wasted biker shorts; I’m curious because I don’t know how this brand’s sizes run?

HH
28 days ago

Not cheap, but the best bra I have ever bought
Wacoal “How Perfect Wire Free”
https://www.wacoal-america.com/bras/wire-free-bras/how-perfect-wire-free-t-shirt-bra-852189

Megan
27 days ago

The Under Armor sports bra that zips up the middle is SO GOOD! Super supportive and bonus points it’s great for breastfeeding for those that are still in that stage.

Virginia
27 days ago

I have tried EVERY wire-free bra for my 34D ladies and my favorite for everyday that still feels a little cuter than a sports bra is the Natori Bliss Perfection Bra (https://www.nordstrom.com/s/natori-bliss-perfection-bralette/5025413 – on sale for Anniversary Sale right now!). I have it in 5 colors and love it so much.

For lounge & workout, I like Girlfriend Collective – varying levels of support for whatever you’re looking for!

rachael
27 days ago

Where is the purple pull over from? I’m looking for lightweight sleeved tops for sun protection outside when it’s hot! Thank you!

Annie
27 days ago

but wait, what is this “morning routine” you speak of? I’m so intrigued 🙂

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