13 Perfect Pairs of Denim Shorts

Collage by Tilden Bissell for W magazine.

Never do I find myself relating more to Goldilocks than when I’m hunting for the perfect pair of denim shorts. I need a pair that’s just right: not too long, short, loose, ripped up, or trendy. And with the seemingly infinite choices out there, it’s easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed. Rather than throw in the towel on my search for the perfect summer staple, I reached out to the W team to get their thoughts, hoping that someone else had managed to find the holy grail pair. But the more I discussed the subject with my colleagues, the more I realized that everyone’s ideal pair of shorts is a little bit different. Some of us are all about a classic Levi’s cutoff; for others who want something a little more prim and polished, a dark-washed designer pair fits the bill. Then, of course, there’s the question of length: Do you want something cropped and beachy or a knee-skimming Bermuda? Whatever you’re looking for this season, I’ve rounded up our editor’s favorite denim shorts here to aid in your search (and, selfishly, mine).

I used to think APC’s super-French styles were only for the tallest, thinnest, and lankiest (all of which I am not). But I’ve discovered the brand's shorts are actually a great silhouette for a shape like mine: wider hips, larger thighs, and short legs. The high rise accentuates your waist, and a slight flare gives an elongated look. - Maxine Wally

As I get older, the length of my shorts gets longer—and I’m more than okay with that. These dark wash, pleated shorts from Goldsign are definitely more stylish than any booty shorts from my past. - Laura Jackson

I’m into loose and baggy bottoms, so these are my go-to shorts for the summer. They're just as perfect with a proper blouse at the office as they are with a fun crop top on the weekend. Versatility is key! - Tori Lopez

Closed denim shorts are my absolute favorite. They make great washes and are my definition of the perfect length: neither too short nor too long. - Jenna Wojciechowski

You can't go wrong with the classic Levi’s cutoffs. I like to dig through my local vintage store for a good pair of 501s to cut myself, but if you don't have time to thrift and sift, Levi’s is now selling their own vintage versions. Honestly, they’re the best fit and quality in any shorts I’ve ever owned. - Hannah Westbrook

I like to keep a rotation of denim shorts in a variety of lengths and colors. This summer, I’m adding this pair of faded, high waisted black denim to the mix. - Allia Alliata Di Montereale

I love that these shorts are slightly structured, making them a bit more elevated than your everyday pair. - Nora Milch

Another favorite of mine are the denim washes from SLVRLAKE—and they only get better with time. - JW

If you’re looking for something a little more trendy with a print, this moon phase pair from Loewe’s Paula’s Ibiza collaboration is sure to stand out. - Christina Holevas

These are my favorite shorts: the high rise flatters my waist, and they’re just the right length. Plus, the light acid wash goes perfectly with all of my pieces in my closet. - Amanda Pagan

These are great for when you need a slightly longer length—and they can easily be dressed up or down! - Hannah Westbrook

Come summertime, these denim shorts are permanently attached to my body. - Rachel Pincus

My ride or die denim! - Julia McClatchy