2021 Denim Short Guide (Best Jean Shorts At Different Price Points)

Real talk: I HATED denim shorts. 

So much so that I decided to buy 41302183109831 pairs of denim shorts to try on for you guys. I actually ended up being pleasantly surprised. VERY pleasantly surprised. This year, I was definitely in the market for new denim shorts. In the past, I’ve made purchases from American Eagle, Topshop, and One Teaspoon. While they were fantastic shorts, I realized they were just a taaaaaad too short and tight for what I wanted in my closet. (Is this me getting old?!)

I did some research…made some purchases…and let’s get into it!

*This post has been updated on June 11, 2021*

agolde parker denim short

I mean, we might as well start with the pair of shorts that completely blew me away.

I don’t live under a rock. I know pretty much everyone on the planet raves about AGolde. For whatever reason, I never took the plunge to try their denim or shorts (I’m more of a 7FAM, Paige, or Rag & Bone kinda gal for premium denim). So I asked about the Parker denim shorts on Instagram, and WHOA. The amount of people who told me to buy them was insane. So I bought them. And oh my god. They are SO good. 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: THE PRICE. The $128 price ticket is quite high for a pair of denim shorts. I typically look to spend $128-$178 on my premium denim. Once I got over the price point, I realized these are a great, well-made pair of denim shorts. I justified it as my go-to denim shorts that I can easily wear 5 days a week in the summer.

So yes, while they’re an investment piece, I think they’re totally worth it. I know I’m not the only one who struggled finding that perfect denim short that they felt good in. The fit of the Parker denim shorts is SO flattering. They can sit higher on the waist or at your natural waist. They feel perfectly worn in from the second you take them out of the box, and have a good amount of distressing.

I really love the relaxed, effortless look of these shorts. Typically, it’s hard to find this look without having your entire butt hanging out. That was actually the real selling point for me. They’re still a shorter length, but provides full coverage — so totally appropriate for a gal my age.

Personal Sizing: Ok, so I had a few mixed reviews in regards to sizing. At first, I purchased a size 26 and 27. Last year, I was around a size 27 in denim, but now I think I’m closer to a 26. I didn’t even bother trying on the 27, and went right for the 26. I noticed there was a lot of room in the waist. I’m curvier in the butt, hip, and thigh areas, but have a small waist. So I figured this was going to be an issue. If I wore them lower on my hips, the inseam was a liiiittle too long (I’m 5’2). I ended up returning both sizes, and “sized down” to a 25. It’s weird, there’s still some room in my waist, but definitely fit A LOT better. Since I’m a bit more self conscious about my hips and thighs, I think what REALLY sold me is how they flare out at the thigh, making them super flattering without having a huge gap at the waist.

Verdict: If you want to splurge, buy these shorts. ASAP. I have them in colors: Rock Steady & Swapmeet. Also, size down.

levi’s 501 high rise short

I love a good high rise. So naturally, I really liked these jean shorts. Again, I think I could have went down a size, but overall, they fit well. I love the 69.50 price point, which makes them the perfect denim short when you don’t want to splurge. If you’re into distressing, then you’ll love these!

Verdict: These are a good pair of “chill beach denim shorts”. Since I liked other pairs more, these will be going back.

madewell perfect jean short

I think these were the first pair of shorts I tried on. Initially, I really liked them (Spoiler alert: I ended up liking some other pairs more). I didn’t love the way they made my booty look, but overall, a good hang out short. The more I wore them, the less I liked the way I looked in them – something was off. These were pretty high rise, they came to my belly button (which I’m into), but still gave you good thigh and butt coverage.

Verdict: Great quality, fit nicely, but something was “meh” about them. Returning these, but actually recommend them if you’re looking for a well-priced short.

abercrombie ultra high rise mom denim short

Ok I’m so sad these are sold out in this style (exposed button fly and ultra high rise). BRING THEM BACK!!!!

Abercrombie honestly crushes the denim game in the most low key way ever. I first fell in love with these wide leg denim last summer – I styled the distressed pair here and the black pair here. While doing my research on denim shorts, I knew I had to pick up some pairs from Abercrombie because I’ve been so impressed by the quality…and the price!

While they’re shorter, they still give you great coverage in the back. Since I already knew I was keeping both pairs of Parker denim shorts, I had to justify these somehow. And in my head, the exposed button fly was enough for me to keep these babies. I love the vibe they give off and they’re super comfortable!

Verdict: Keeping these! The price point is too good not to! I got a size 27/4. *UPDATE* After owning for a year, I would definitely size down if the style has stretch!

abercrombie curve love high rise mom

Since I would describe my frame as curvy, I wanted to try Abercrombie’s Curve Love line. I thought I was for SURE going to love these. Finally…a pair of shorts that don’t suffocate my thighs, but also don’t leave a gap in my waist. These ended up being what I like to call, “fine”. And it’s probably because I REALLY love the Parker denim shorts from AGolde.

I noticed the inseam was a little longer than I wanted it to be. I’m sure that could have been fixed if I sized down. But since I didn’t love the wash as much as some other shorts, I decided to not even bother trying a new size. Generally speaking, I think these are a solid pair of shorts for curvy gals. They give you some additional room in the hips! They also come in a non-curve option.

Verdict: I didn’t end up keeping them, but they are a great pair of shorts.

abercrombie mid rise boyfriend shorts

This pair really reminded me of a pair of Rag & Bone denim shorts that I was OBSESSED with a couple of summers ago (here and here). When I put this pair on, again, I wasn’t love what was happening with the inseam situation. I think since I had so many shorts to compare it to, I was being extra nit-picky.

Verdict: I thought the distressing was cool, but didn’t love the fit for my body. I got a 4, and think I probably could have fixed the issue with a 0 or 2.

If you made it this far, HEY! I hope I could help you navigate the Internet to find the best pair of denim shorts that work for you. Remember, if you love ’em, you’re ALREADY rockin’ them!

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  1. 5.27.20
    Lisa Autumn said:

    Girl you look amazing in all of them! Honestly wish I could pull denim shorts off like you do x

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com

    • 5.27.20

      Oh gosh, this is such a nice compliment. GIRL YOU DEF CAN ROCK THEM!!!

  2. 5.27.20
    Caroline said:

    OK seriously LOVE this post! Denim shorts are honestly the hardest thing to buy, like wayyyy worse than jeans and I’m always like WHY????

    I think I have to try those abercrombie ones you loved!!

    xx Caroline

    • 5.27.20

      THANK YOU! I worked hard on it so I really appreciate that! I agree, they are SOOOOOO hard to shop for.
      Can’t wait to hear what you think about the A&F ones, they’re SO good.

  3. 5.27.20
    Laura Leigh said:

    YAY agolde! LOVING the ultra high rise dee pair but you’re convincing me I need to try the Parker style as well. LOVED this post – you totally rocked it!

    xo Laura Leigh

    • 5.27.20

      I think I need to try the Dee too! Thanks for the love, my friend! x

  4. 5.27.20
    Alissa said:

    Ahhh this is SO HELPFUL! I HATE denim shorts and shorts and well denim so like this is my hell but I am determined to change that this year!

  5. 5.28.20
    Kate said:

    I’ve been dyingggggg over where to buy jean shorts as of late, this blog was SO helpful!!! Thank youuuu for doing the work for the rest of us