13 Great Ways to Style Denim Shorts

There are fewer items of clothing more classic than denim shorts. The perfect pair for warmer weather keeps you cool and comfy as the temperature rises, but that doesn’t mean your outfit needs to be practical first. Denim shorts are unique in how easy they are to style with any number of shirts, shoes, and accessories. Ready to try something new? Read on for our ideas for styling plus size denim shorts.

What are the different styles of denim shorts?

You’ll find many options in varying inseam lengths, anywhere from as short as 3” to as long as 11” or longer. Here are some of the main inseam lengths you’ll find while shopping for plus size denim shorts.

  • Bermuda shorts: Bermuda shorts are longer shorts, typically to your knees, that may also be called “walking shorts” or “dress shorts.” The inseam of Bermuda shorts is typically around 11”, but may be a bit shorter or longer. If the shorts reach your knees, they are bermuda shorts.
  • 7” inseam: These slightly-longer shorts provide more coverage without reaching your knees.
  • 5” inseam: This is a typical inseam for many types of denim shorts. Depending on your height, they may hit high up on your thigh or be a tad longer. The best way to know for sure is to try on and see how you feel!

In addition to the length of your shorts, you’ll get to choose from a range of washes and treatments that can help you nail the look you want. Just like skinny jeans and other denim, denim shorts are available in dark and light washes, including black, indigo, and lighter blue. Sandblasted treatment lends to a more faded casual look, and so does intentional distressing along the hem and on the legs. If you want to dress up your denim shorts, steer clear of distressed styles.

What are the different styles of denim shorts?

This may sound like an obvious question — after all, denim shorts are great for hot weather. But your options for tops go beyond a spaghetti strap tank or a tankini top while strolling the beach. Here are six ideas, some expected and some out of the box, for tops you can wear with your denim shorts.

Tank tops

Whether you love a good flowy tank or prefer a more tailored fit, nothing says “summer” quite like bare shoulders and denim shorts. Select from a huge range of necklines and strap lengths; V-necks, round necks, spaghetti straps, and thicker straps all go together with denim shorts like peanut butter and jelly. Just don’t forget sunblock!

Easy tees

Nothing says lazy summer Saturday like an easy t-shirt. Your imagination is the limit when selecting your T-shirt, whether you love a basic striped round neck t-shirt or a unique graphic like a plus size Beatles t-shirt. Denim shorts are super easy to match with any design, color, and style of easy tee, so let your mood guide you as you get ready.

Cold shoulder tops

These shirts put your shoulders and collarbone front and center. They’re available in many styles, including full sleeve styles that expose your entire collarbone and shoulder area, and short sleeve versions that put slits in the sleeves to show just a little skin.

Crop tops

Talk about cute! Crop tops show just a peek of skin between the waistband of your denim shorts and the hem of your shirt. Crop tops come in varying lengths and styles, but the key here is to ensure that it’s showing the amount of skin you want to peer out. You may not be comfortable with a full-on belly shirt, but you also want to make sure a little bit of skin actually shows. Try on your crop top and denim shorts combo in the mirror to make sure it’s hitting precisely where you want it to.

Long sleeve shirts

For when the weather isn’t quite hot enough for a tank but not cool enough for long pants or more layers, a long sleeve shirt is a surprisingly great option! The options are truly endless: A tie-waist button front shirt looks absolutely adorable with your favorite denim shorts, or opt for a mock turtleneck in a wild animal pattern.


It may sound contradictory to be cold on top and warm on bottom (or vice versa, depending on your point of view), but pairing a sweatshirt with shorts is actually a great look. Whether you’re tossing on a zip-up hoodie when it gets chilly or you’re embracing a crew neck sweater, the sweatshirt-denim shorts combo is excellent for a cozy evening around a fire pit roasting marshmallows. Opt for a lighter weight sweatshirt when you put together this look — after all, it’s still warm out if you’re wearing shorts.

7 more ideas for styling denim shorts

Now that you know your denim short options and the shirts that look great with these bottoms, it’s time to pull together your outfit. Don’t just reach for any old t-shirt — these seven ideas can help you find a combination that’s creative and memorable.

1. With a white shirt

Talk about effortlessly summer fresh! A classic plus size white tee is the ideal in warm weather wear that pairs perfectly with denim shorts. You can even experiment with more flowy, peasant-inspired white tops or a simple white tank for those extremely hot days. Leave your white shirt untucked from your plus size denim shorts, or tuck it in for a streamlined look. Complete your outfit with a straw sun hat and your favorite sunglasses.

2. Go bold on top

Denim shorts are a blank slate that makes it easy to experiment with bold colors and patterns. Curious about neon? A neon pink top is just the right match with your denim shorts. If patterns are more your style, try a bold floral short sleeve tee. If you’re opting for a statement on top, though, keep the rest of your outfit more muted so your accessories aren’t competing for attention.

3. Layered with stockings

Yes, shorts can be all-weather clothing when you pair them with colorful tights. This unique look showcases this warm weather staple in a way that truly stands out. To pull off this look successfully, be sure to pick a color that matches your denim shorts, and think funky colors and patterns like herringbone instead of standard, run-of-the-mill drugstore pantyhose.

4. Style with a blazer

Blazers aren’t just for the office: They effortlessly dress up denim shorts for lunch with friends or an outdoor concert. Take this look to the next level by pairing it with peep toe heels, a high ponytail, and a cute crop top. In an instant, your denim shorts go from lounge around to a head-turning look!

5. Try a contrasting belt

Have a cool belt in a bright color or unique style that deserves to be shown off? Denim shorts and crop top looks are a great way to break out this unique accessory. The denim shorts provide a great backdrop so your belt really pops, while the crop top lifts the hem of the shirt so the belt can be the focal point of your outfit.

6. With a cool cardigan

A gentle breeze may bring a break from the heat, but once the sun goes down, you may need a bit more to help keep you comfortable. Cute fringe, classic button-down, and even sheer cardigans bring flair to this practical-yet-still-stylish layering piece. When shopping for summer cardigans, consider opting for lightweight fabric that provides just enough coverage without heavy layering.

7. Pair with bright sandals

If you’re a shoe lover, denim shirts are the perfect bottoms to showcase your favorite pair of sandals. Cagey gladiators, strappy espadrille wedges, or cherry red slides are all great summer footwear that become the star of your outfit when paired with denim shorts. That’s because denim shorts won’t detract from whatever item of clothing you want to make the focal point of your outfit.

Be warm weather ready with Ulla Popken’s plus size denim shorts

You don’t have to wait for the heat to break out denim shorts — when styled right, these bottoms bring the heat! Whether you want to impress at an outdoor dinner, you’re hanging out at the beach at night, or simply want to be comfy while walking around the zoo, denim shorts are effortless to style and oh-so versatile. Visit the Ulla Popken website to explore our many options for plus size denim shorts, and take home the pair that inspires you!

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