So you haven't worn shorts since 1992? Me neither, though our reasons may differ. Some women age 50+ blame flabby, dimpled thighs, weight gain, leg veins and brown spots. Others secretly love shorts but reject them as age inappropriate. Lately I've been challenging myself to get over it or find a feel-good solution for those everyone-else-is-in-shorts situations. Here are five ways to shake a leg.
1. Give Bermudas another chance
Listen, if you bare-leg it all summer in dresses, clearly your lower legs are still in show-off shape. Tapered Bermudas — that lean in toward the hem like a good pencil skirt, are one or two inches above the knees (a 9- to 11-inch inseam, depending your leg length) with a mid- or high-rise waist, flat front (no pleats) in a woven fabric with 2 percent spandex — may help change your mind. Sleekly tailored versions at Lands' End, Talbots and the So Slimming Brigitte Collection at Chico's dress up fast with ballet flats or loafers, and dress down with sandals or slip-on sneakers.
2. Skorts make multitasking sense
These style hybrids — an outer A-line-ish skirt with attached shorts hidden beneath — are not so different from wearing Spanx biker shorts under a skirt, except if they show ... it's OK. Feel free to squat, bend over and hike with that extra coverage topcoat. Length varies, but midthigh to a couple of inches above the knees is flattering. (Skip the mini-length.) Light performance stretch fabrics in nylon or rayon spandex blends make those by Eddie Bauer, Charter Club at Macy's and Croft & Barrow at Kohl's durable and washable.
3. White cropped wide-leg pants feel shorts-y
Choose a loose cut in a breathable lightweight woven fabric such as linen, rayon or cotton poplin so perspiration can evaporate quickly. Then pair your airy crops — like those from Eileen Fisher, Banana Republic and J. Jill — with equally breezy white tunics or popover tops. The combo of breezy full proportions and head-to-toe white makes city, suburban or urban days feel like a resort vacation ... with no more leg showing than slim ankles.
4. Try midi skirts for no chub rub
These full skirts in a below-the-knees length are refreshing — even on steamy sweltering days. They're casual enough for a picnic, Sunday barbecue or a pool party (over a bodysuit for nondippers or a swimsuit), but have a South-of-France vibe. Look for floral prints in light cotton blends that team perfectly with any white tee or shirt (sleeves rolled, tied at the waist), add espadrilles and a straw tote, and just chill. If you're hot-flashing or just perspiration prone, don't worry about sweat stains you know where.
5. There's a new breed of leg makeup
For those braving Nos. 1, 2 or 4 and still worried about revealing skin texture and discolorations (this includes me), there's no need to stress out or even self-tan. Sweat- and transfer-resistant leg makeup in a variety of skin tones (by Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs and Dermablend Leg and Body Cover) disguises all and removes with soap and water.
But in your own yard, on your own deck or if you're lazing around the house, why not slip on those vintage Daisy Dukes? If Jennifer Aniston can do it, so can you.
For more beauty and style tips for women 50+, check out The Women's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love After 50 by Lois Joy Johnson and AARP's Beauty & Style issue