Bermuda Shorts for women
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I Wore Bermuda Shorts for a Week

Long. Often baggy. A little bit contentious. Bermuda shorts are everywhere as of late — but can they really be a staple of a cute summer wardrobe? I tested them out.

When you think of Bermuda shorts, what comes to mind? Your cruise-going, Aloha-shirt-wearing uncle? The dark days of strict knee-length dress codes in elementary school? Literally any outfit worn by Adam Sandler? For a garment with such visceral visual connotations, Bermuda shorts for women are a surprisingly à la mode right now.

Bella Hadid wearing Bermuda shorts for women
Photo by Gotham/GC Images

Look no further than street style tastemakers like Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk and Simone Ashley, who have been spotted sporting these breezy bottoms on hot summer strolls. What’s more, the Spring 2024 runways were brimming with Bermuda shorts for women, from Jil Sander’s polished pleated iterations to Ottolinger’s baggy cargos to Miu Miu’s low-slung belted offerings (below).

Miu Miu bermuda shorts for women
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

So what are Bermuda shorts, exactly? The definition — like the pant itself — is pretty lax. Stylist Jaclyn Patterson recently told FASHION that Bermuda shorts have longer inseams that hit one to two inches above the knee. Towing the line between chic comfort and full-on dowdiness is tough, but when done right, these shorts blur those boundaries beautifully.

Jil Sander bermuda shorts for women
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

Worn by tourists with practical sneakers and front-row figures alike, Bermuda shorts have magically managed to become both a staple of fatherly fashion and an unlikely in-the-know style symbol. But how does a regular person achieve the latter and avoid the former? That’s where I come in.

Determined to demystify these polarizing pants, I spent six days styling different pairs of Bermuda shorts for women. I had some trepidations: Would knee-length bottoms make my legs look shorter? Would I be drowning in an excess of fabric? Would my proportions look all out of whack? Read on for my findings.

Day 1: Uniqlo

uniqlo bermuda shorts for women

Not yet ready to bask in blatant Bermuda glory, I opted for an easy entrance point into the trend, donning a pair of breezy Uniqlo linen shorts that fall a few inches higher than typical Bermuda territory. Despite the relaxed fit that cascades out at the legs, they provided the possibility for a snatched waist, thanks to their hidden fastener at the front.

Channelling my inner Alexa Chung on a brisk Friday night, I paired these shorts with sheer tights and a vest from COS. To dress things up, I slipped on my favourite pair of chunky Sorel heeled sandals. Heading to an elevated pink-lit Karaoke bar with friends, I wondered if I might stick out like a sore thumb. On the contrary, I felt cool and confident. One pal, wearing a skin-tight slinky mini dress, even said my ensemble inspired her to reconsider the flowy, forgiving going-out ‘fit in the future. Things are looking bright in Bermuda land.

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Day 2: Frank and Oak

frank and oak bermuda shorts for women

One fashion hack I consistently come back to? When nervous about a particular style or silhouette, default to a fun colour for instant confidence. Such was the case with these flowy green shorts by Canadian brand Frank and Oak. With an unapologetic high-rise fit and a just-above-the-knee length, I did worry about crossing over into paternal vacation wear. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how flattering they were.

Heading to preview the new spring menu for health food cafe Nutbar, I stuck to the seasonal theme with a green cropped baby tee and crisp white Reeboks. Made of a ​​cotton and Tencel Lyocell blend, these shorts felt similar to linen with slightly more stretch and weight. The natural pleats provided some polish and their slightly wrinkled finish added to the effortless effect. All in all, they proved to be the perfect pants for tasting chia pudding.

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Day 3: Reformation

reformation bermuda shorts for women

Choosing to wear all-white for a 12-hour outing? What can I say — I’m a thrill seeker. For a day in the office followed by a dinner party, I wore Reformation’s Liam linen Bermuda shorts with a coordinating linen shirt and a pair of Sézane ballerina pumps. Despite painstakingly steaming my pants just that morning, it was wrinkle city after 10 minutes of sitting at my desk. A colleague commiserated with me on my crinkled cut-offs, assuring me that this is an unavoidable reality of loose linen bottoms. Then and there, I resolved to care less about the things I can’t control, like rumpled pants.

In this monotone co-ord, I was satisfied by how easily I could transition from officewear to evening attire. The aforementioned dinner party was held by Toronto collective Yu and Mei in celebration of Pandora’s new Essence collection. With pearlescent whites and dreamy under-the-sea imagery being the inspiration of the event, I felt like my Bermuda shorts offered a modern utilitarian take on the classically feminine mermaidcore oeuvre.

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Day 4: Aritzia

aritzia bermuda shorts for women

I will always defend long jean shorts. They never threaten to cut off circulation, they reduce the risk of outfit malfunctions and they are the undeniably cooler, more chill cousin to hot pants. Doubling down on my love for baggy denim, I wore Aritzia’s Bermuda shorts out for dinner in Toronto’s dressier Yorkville neighbourhood. This particular design has a mid-rise fit, so they don’t provide full high-waisted coverage, but they’re loose enough to offer some anonymity.

I’ll admit I had my reservations about the roomy shape. After all, how wide can a part of shorts get before it feels like they are wearing me? To dress them up, I paired them with a Y2K butterfly belt, a thrifted sheer top and chunky heels. Stepping into a trendy sit-down vegan restaurant, I did warrant a few double-takes from those in full-length trousers and traditional maxi skirts, but I didn’t care. Even with ample material encasing my thighs, I felt perfectly put-together. Jorts, you’ve done it again!

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Day 5: Dynamite

dynamite bermuda shorts for women

For a day on-set a FASHION photoshoot, I wanted to look capable (of doing my job and dressing myself). To do so, I opted for a pair of well-priced pleated trouser shorts by Canadian brand Dynamite. A high-waisted no-frills pick, I paired them with Ecco’s trail lace-up sneakers for a functional final look. And let me say — these were a winner.

They’re professional but not over-the-top, loose but not nonchalant enough to be loungewear, and contrary to some other Bermuda shorts for women that I tried, they didn’t wrinkle in the slightest. After a long day of crouching to film content, they came out looking the same way they did when I slipped them on early that morning. Made of recycled polyester, they were super soft and practically crease-proof. While surrounded by famous talent and model-esque figures, I even felt a few nods of approvals from my high-fashion peers. A win for girlies on a budget!

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Day 6: Levi’s

levi's bermuda shorts for women

For my final stop on the bumpy Bermuda train, I went for the ultimate test: skinny jeans. Well, skinny shorts, that is. I knew that if I were to test such a divisive denim design, I had to source it from a reliable retailer: Levi’s. I’ll admit that I viewed the act of wearing these shorts as sort of a necessary evil. This is not generationally motivated slander, but I am anti-skinny jeans. In the name of testing the full range of Bermuda shapes and sizes, though, I gave them a shot.

As I strolled around the city running errands on a sunny afternoon, I was surprised by how pleased I felt with my ensemble. The shorts were soft and stretchy yet satisfyingly structured. When paired with my Adidas Gazelle sneakers, Uniqlo ribbed tank and oversized Levi’s jean jacket, they felt like part of an easy-going outfit, not at all like the knee-length cut-offs I would begrudgingly wear to school in grade eight. At the ripe age of 24, I’m at a time in my life when comfort comes first. And man, these were cozy and actually pretty flattering. Millennials, you may be onto something.

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In conclusion: Bring on the Bermuda shorts

Consider me a convert! They have an interesting androgynous edge. They’re comfortable and spacious. Available in a variety of shapes and silhouettes, they refuse to be boxed in or rigidly defined. Thanks to their wide-spanning target audience, Bermuda shorts for women are less like a frumpy last resort and more of a gender-blurring statement.

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF LAUNCHMETRICS.COM/SPOTLIGHT

At the end of my experience, I felt unmoored by the expectations of “cute” summer bottoms. With my thighs securely covered and my knees feeling breezy, I experienced a certain sense of freedom that comfort-first clothing can bring — and a new understanding of Adam Sandler’s psyche.

Wearing Bermuda shorts for women, I came to realize, is like micro-dosing coziness, non-conformism and self-constructed chicness. What a beautiful thing it is to try something new.

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