Benched

Do you ever feel like Angie is in your head?

How did she know I was asking myself that very question all last week? 

Currently, I own 3 pairs of shorts: one dressy knee length sarong short, and two bermuda-ish white denim shorts. I don't think shorts flatter me much but I wear them anyway for practicality's sake. 

I far prefer skirts for coolness but casual ones can be tough to find. So I only own a couple of summer skirts. My beloved J. Crew full skirt in Liberty cotton and a very old worn but trusty VC knit tube skirt that I can't seem to get rid of due to its use value.

Add to these two pair of wide leg culotte type summer pants. One (the Aritzia) is like a skirt (fabrication, lining -- it feels "dressier" although still casual.) The other (the J. Crew chambray) is more like a long short (or, truthfully, pajamas!!) -- much more casual. I wear those pants really only as at home loungewear. Or I might pull them over a swimsuit at the beach. Useful, but not really "fashion" wear, if you know what I mean. 

Lo. New house, new location, new lifestyle. Remember I told you I would need a "gardening" capsule? Well, I do need one. I have pulled an old pair of old jeans into commission and am using those for now, but in summer's heat, I might want something less heavy, and white shorts are not going to cut it!! :) 

Meanwhile, I've also discovered I need a true hiking capsule. In addition to suburban road and pathway walking, I'm doing a lot of trail walking. Again, optic white shorts might not be the best idea in these circumstances! 

Meanwhile, I am also strongly feeling the need for an addition to my very limited skirt capsule, since summer skirts and dresses are my favourite! 

So I've put in an order to a few places. For shorts, I am looking at a few -- one for at home and regular wear and two for gardening/ hiking. 

And for a skirt, I've put in an order to my fave Canadian designer, Comrags, for a summer skirt. You'll recall I bought a fab 2 piece dress from them on super sale this winter. Well, this item is from their summer sale. The original price of $270 came down to $70 and I could not resist for a pure cotton-linen skirt with an A-line shape and arty asymmetric pleats that will not date.

Incidentally, they were signatories to the letter that slim cat alerted us to. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

34 Comments

  • JAileen replied 5 months ago

    I prefer the look of a skirt on me, but shorts just work better for my ultra casual life - dog walking, birding, gardening, bicycling, etc.  I get too sweaty and dirty for anything nice.  

    I really love the two piece Liberty dress you have.  I would wear something like that to dinner, to a concert, or to church.  It seems too nice for day to day activities.  

  • Joy replied 5 months ago

    I have not owned shorts for decades even though my legs have long been my best feature. I do own some wide midi skirt length summer culottes that are breezy.

  • FashIntern replied 5 months ago

    I'm sure you can find shorts that highlight your assets well. For gardening though, why not just chop the legs off some of those old jeans when it gets warm out?

  • Sal replied 5 months ago

    Hope some work out for you. I agree white is not the best gardening choice! You could try cut offs - I have had mixed success with cutting my jeans off.

    I find skirts are mostly an easy fit for me and flattering whereas shorts are much harder. I own two pairs that I like (aside from athletic running shorts) and they were hard to come by!

  • Suz replied 5 months ago

    Sal, I agree. Shorts are super hard to fit. When I find a pair that works, I treasure them and baby them. I have one pair I've owned since my first season on YLF!!! They are tighter now than they used to be, but they still fit (with a bit of stretch). And I can't let them go. 

    Fashintern, shorts truly don't do me favours but they are undeniably useful. I don't currently have any jeans I'm ready to cut off. Like Sal, I've had mixed results with cut off jeans. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. 

    Joy, I think you look great in your culottes and your capris and if you want to wear shorts (and can find any you like!) go for it!

    JAileen, the Liberty print 2 piece dress/ skirt and top is fabulous. I wouldn't wear it gardening (well, except maybe snipping flowers for a vase or something, ha!) but I definitely wear it casually around for groceries, a pub (when we did that sort of thing), a walk in town. I also wore it to meet Angie last summer! It's easy on/ easy off so great for shopping in! :)  

    UPDATE -- the Icebreaker shorts arrived and they are total winners!! I sized up one size because of reviews and glad I did. But they're quite adjustable and will work at this size if I lose a bit or gain a bit of weight. Not too tight on my thighs (a frequent issue) and high enough in the rise (not ultra high rise, but to my navel). Lots of pockets, quick dry fabric, nice enough to wear into town and practical enough for hiking and the garden. 

  • Angie replied 5 months ago

    Fun to be in your head, sweet Suz :)

    YES to the gardening capsule, hiking capsule, and pretty skirt capsule. 

    I'm with the others - cut an old pair of jeans and pants into shorts for gardening. Not too short! Gardening legs need protection against bugs and scrapes. Can you wear old gear to garden in, perhaps? 

    Casual skirts ARE harder to find. I LOVE the Comrags Summer skirt! Hope it works out. 

  • suntiger replied 5 months ago

    I just posted on Janet's thread, but skorts have been a great solution for my most casual activities. Mine have pockets so good for hiking. Too bad you don't have Athleta in Canada!
    Eta- I love the garden pics!

  • Style Fan replied 5 months ago

    I love the skirt from Comrags.  Great that the icebreaker shorts worked out.

    I also find shorts extremely hard to fit.  I am going to make yet another attempt this year to find a pair of denim cut off shorts.  For me, mid-thigh is the best length.  I would not wear them in a city!

  • Preppy Pear replied 5 months ago

    That Comrags skirt is gorgeous! Swoon! I’ve always loved your Liberty set. I think you have a great shorts collection.

  • lisa p replied 5 months ago

    That Comrags skirt is a you piece . Can’t wait to see it on you ? Don’t you own athletic shorts for biking and walking , gym workouts etc? That’s what I wear a lot of for working in the yard , well , when I used it have a yard that is . Also , bike shorts are trending right now - those are great with a longer t or tank ...and then topped with a sweatshirt when it cools off . I just purchased a pair from adidas and am in love with them !

  • shevia replied 5 months ago

    Love the Comrags skirt! Agree with Angie that gardening of all things means coverage to me. Bugs and sun are better on some linen or light cotton than my skin. I am not a gardener but would probably look for linen joggers (elastic to keep out bugs). (We have lots of mosquitoes here.)

  • Suz replied 5 months ago

    Shevia, bugs are not a major problem here, remarkably. At least not compared to Ontario, where they were legion. I do have an infestation of tent caterpillars, eeew. But otherwise, not much to worry about. 

    I have a pair of lightweight jogger pants I can pull into work if need be. But I don't want to wreck them with dirt. They are super comfy as lounge pants in cool summer weather.  

    Lisa, I do own a few athletic shorts but really really really dislike them for anything except a full on workout, and would never wear them anywhere outside the gym. I don't even like to wear them while running! I own one bike-length pair and a couple of shorter ones.

    I'm okay with my body, for the most part -- but any lingering insecurity is focused mainly on my legs, which are on the short side with a tendency to cellulite and fleshy knees. What can I say? My mother had a lot to say about my thighs and I haven't forgotten her words -- I am sure you will understand!

    It is what it is, and I'm grateful that for all their "flaws" those legs are also strong and relatively shapely and they have taken me so many miles (oh, how grateful I am for that!!) -- but at the same time, for figure flattery I try to cover them when I can. I feel too exposed in gym shorts. Or really, any shorts! Proportionally, I look better in mid-thigh length shorts, not long ones, but I don't like how they look in other ways.

    Suntiger, skorts could be a great solution if long enough... hmmm. You're right -- it's too bad we don't have Athleta. And why don't we, I wonder? (Scratches head...)

  • Bijou replied 5 months ago

    Suz, I completely understand your thoughts about shorts which is pretty much how I feel about workout gear. I wear it to the gym and it is functional - but there is NO WAY that I am going to wear it all day every day even if it is a sensible option for my lifestyle because I don't feel fab wearing it and I have other clothes that I much prefer to wear. These are the only shorts that I have that I wear out and about.

    Your new skirt is such a great find!

  • torontogirl replied 5 months ago

    Suz, these all look like great pieces and you have such impeccable style judgement that I've no doubt you will look fab! Just adding that the amazing Carla has some very stylishly practical gardening outfits that you might also take inspiration from. Xx

  • Janet replied 5 months ago

    Suz, I could almost have written your exact words about my own legs although mine are long and not exactly shapely (I liken mine to tree trunks and I don’t mean it totally unkindly — they are long and strong but sturdy and not exactly shapely). I share the knee and cellulite issues. But in my climate, I frequently suck up my vanity and just wear the shorts. I have bike shorts that are truly bike shorts — padded butt and NOT in the least attractive. I prefer Capri-length leggings for workout gear.

    I still love those darn sarong shorts, and when they finally give up the ghost, I may have them copied by a local sewist — they are a great refined short option!

    Do you still have those Gap blue camo shorts? Mine were nice and slouchy when I bought them but now fit less like boyfriend cut, but they’re still going strong. I’ve thought about revisiting Gap for shorts, if all the current rises are not too high for me.

    It is too bad you don’t have Athleta there — they cut shorts well for me and I have a pair that’s a good length and cut not too slim on the thighs. I find it tricky to get the right leg cut in shorts — too many are either tight, or they flare out in the leg, which is also a really bad look on me.

    And to Suntiger’s point, I surprised myself last year by liking and buying an athletic skort at Target, of all places.
    I think it’s from the Champion line? And it’s sort of a blue-grey, which is perfect for me. I have been using them for slipping into after a bike ride to get out of sweaty bike shorts for a long drive home, but they’re really useful for around the house, gardening, etc. They look acceptable enough to go run an errand in.

    As for cutoffs, I’ve found that cutting old chino style pants often works better than jeans, at least for me. Chinos tend to be cut a little fuller in the leg. I have some from Anthro’s Pilcro line that I’ve nearly worn out.

  • Liesbeth replied 5 months ago

    Do report back: that j. Crew skirt and the zara sarong shorts are delish!
    I could do with a summer midi skirt but won't wear it probably until I can go out again. At home I always pick shorts because of frequent switching between hanging on the couch, impromptu weeding, and chasing the toddler in the garden ;).

  • lisa p replied 5 months ago

    Suz- I do understand how a mother's unhelpful words can linger forever in your brain. And you're right - it is what it is, and fighting our personal tendencies just because someone else thinks you should is often fruitless.  However.....after all of these threads about shorts, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the most poorly dressed middle-aged woman out there .  No skirts in my closet, happy to wear shorts, bumbling along like I'm 14.  Lol.  Just yesterday , I went out in layered running shorts, a tank and a sports bra to pick up some vintage home things I had ordered .....and people saw me !!  Hoo boy.  

  • Janet replied 5 months ago

    Haha, Lisa, I happily run errands in my workout gear on my way to or from a run or hike, so no judgment here!

  • Suz replied 5 months ago

    Lisa, as you've pointed out, a lot depends on your environmental norm. You come from a town with short, HOT summers, where people really work hard in their gardens for brief periods of time, and where skirts on the street may be less common than they are in the cities/ towns I've lived in. 

    I came of age in steamy Toronto, where a breezy skirt was absolutely the best thing you could wear to stay cool in non-AC apartments (as long as you didn't stand over a subway grate) so wearing a skirt casually in summer is second nature. 

    Also -- I grew up watching my mother, who wore both skirts and shorts and a lot of culottes, and wore shorts in public, too, but typically changed into a skirt or culottes for preference if going anywhere beyond the local garden centre or a family picnic. 

    And your legs are a terrific asset, so why NOT show them off!?! Go for it! 

    Janet, thanks for commiserating and what a great idea to get those sarong shorts copied!! Mine are still going strong. My GAP camo shorts bit the dust last year -- I wore them a lot and they eventually faded out too badly. They were terrific -- so soft! 

    I am strongly considering a skort one of these days if I see one I like! 

  • Windchime replied 5 months ago

    I love that Comrags skirt, Suz, and can see it working superbly with your style.

    I’d never really thought about choosing between skirts and shorts until Angie’s post this week; I’ve always worn and felt comfortable in both. (My mother’s voice is forever in my head about other things than my legs.) 

     I, too, am a gardener, and wear old denim shorts out there all summer long.  I’ve actually been wanting to find more shirts for gardening.  My favorite gardening shirt is just an oversized tee which doesn’t reveal too much when I bend over. It’s so old it has holes in it, but it’s proving surprisingly difficult to replace.  I don’t want something form fitted, but most baggy shirts hang open too much when bending.  It also needs to be long enough in the back—no crop tops for gardening at my age!  

  • Angie replied 5 months ago

    Suz, I'll cut off and create your next pair of gardening jeans :)

    Glad the shorts worked out!

    I'm nodding along with every word Bijou wrote, and what Suz wrote here: 

    "I came of age in steamy Toronto, where a breezy skirt was absolutely the best thing you could wear to stay cool in non-AC apartments (as long as you didn't stand over a subway grate) so wearing a skirt casually in summer is second nature.

    Also -- I grew up watching my mother, who wore both skirts and shorts and a lot of culottes, and wore shorts in public, too, but typically changed into a skirt or culottes for preference if going anywhere beyond the local garden centre or a family picnic".

    I grew up in VERY hot Hong Kong and Africa where the Summers are long - and with lots of insects. Most women wore skirts and dresses for casual everyday life, and shorts were for the pool and beach. This way of dressing has stuck. 

    The US loves to wear shorts and athleisure! It's part of the culture here. If it works for you - I vote milk it. We are so, so, so passed any form of negative judgment, don't you think? 

  • Suz replied 5 months ago

    Angie, absolutely! I judge no one on their fashion choices. Ever! I mean, it's actually a big privilege to make a choice in the first place! So we should all wear what works for us personally and have fun with it. 

    I do understand what LisaP means or what she might be feeling in her environmental norm...so, for example, I could, theoretically, wear a skirt for my hike up the nearby steep hill on trails...as long as it wasn't a trailing maxi -- but it would feel a little weird. So I'm better off in shorts for that. 

  • Sal replied 5 months ago

    I am pleased I checked back in with the thread as there has been some fascinating discussion and views.

    Those sarong shorts are so great on you and Janet - and a bit like a pair I have seen a Brooklyn in as well. I think there could be some good shorts options this year as dressy shorts and suited shorts suits are trending.

  • Roxanna replied 5 months ago

    This is such an interesting discussion. And Suz’s point about weather is so true. In high summer in Toronto, only breezy dresses or skirts make sense - otherwise you feel like a sweltering mess! And it is what you mostly see on the streets.

    I wear plenty of skirts in summer, but for fall and spring I am usually in workout wear. I guess I am in the minority, but honestly, I feel as fab in my coordinated workout wear as I do in my dress clothes for work. I like the way I look in it (shockingly, even when the mirror tells me otherwise lol.) to me is fab and coordinated and I think I associate workout wear with being fit, so it makes me feel good. Odd I know. I have lots of hand ups about many other things, but I don’t mind showing off my arms or my abs or my legs. You are equally as likely to see me floating down Toronto streets in a linen dress or leggings and a tank top!

  • lisa p replied 5 months ago

    Roxanna , with the exception of my abs, I’m right there with you .

    And I judge no one for wearing skirts vs shorts - ever , anywhere . That’s not what this is about . I’m genuinely surprised and thus curious that skirts are the norm for so many women here . For me they require so much more care in styling and fit - and I still can’t wrap my head around it . I grew up on a golf course , in a garden and around a pool . Shorts and skirted shorts it was :) Anyways - all very interesting , and again Angie , there was and is no judgment from me !

  • Murph11 replied 5 months ago

    Shorts, skirts... all good. I JUST WANT THOSE ZARA SARONG SHORTS!

  • Angie replied 5 months ago

    Yay, ladies! I'm GLAD to hear it :)

    YES, those sarong shorts are the bomb! 

    Lisa P, I found a nice dress for you:

  • lisa p replied 5 months ago

    Thank you Angie - it’s lovely :) At almost $500 Cdn though , it’s outside of my comfort zone and budget at this time ! I’ll certainly keep the style in mind though .

  • Roxanna replied 5 months ago

    @lisa, I ordered this $35 version from the gap to try - as well as this linen wrap dresses in case either of those strike your fancy.

    Maybe the reason you are more comfortable in shorts/hear is because you grew up as an athlete, and in athletic settings? My family and I are the furthest thing from sporty (sadly) and I didn’t see a golf course until my 20s, so it never occurred to me to wear golf dresses or shorts until I was working out in them.

  • lisa p replied 5 months ago

    Thanks Roxanna . Yep - we all bring different experiences into choosing our wardrobes ! I’ve seen these and agree they are cute .

  • Runcarla replied 5 months ago

    Late to this, because, well, gardening!

    I believe time in the garden is going to be a much bigger thing (for me) this summer, and possibly going forward, as SAH becomes the norm and gardening an outlet.  Instead of wear and tear on ordinary clothes or demoted clothes, I’m toying with investing in some heavy duty gardening kit that can take the beating of me sitting on rocks and pavement while weeding, snags from thorns and branches, and frequent washing.  Regular jeans, shorts, and even tops can’t stand up to the long term sun exposure, let alone the laundering required to get out ground in dirt or stains from sap, pollen, or dark coloured flowers (crimson day lilies I’m looking at you!)  I’ve been looking at UK and US made workwear with some specific to gardening.  Shorts, heavy duty pants, decent footwear (thick soled for spading), a hat.


    I’m in the habit of washing up before dinner, and switching into a day dress or something else nice for the later part of the day, and wouldn’t wear gardening togs around the house!

    I can see building different capsules as activities change due to changes in habits and activities going forward.  DH and I were talking about what this winter might be like if we don’t have the gym, restaurants, theatre, or travel from November to April.  He thinks we still have two pairs of snow shoes...  It makes sense that you would develop a hiking capsule.  

  • Christina F. replied 5 months ago

    Thanks for a fascinating post (along with the subsequent discussion).
    I'm sure you will figure out what is best for YOU to garden in, though I for one would take Carla's advice to heart on this subject!

    I am benched along with you. I feel there are different times and places for skirts and shorts. I prefer skirts aesthetically, but they are hard for me to walk in, as I've tried multiple solutions to "chub rub" and not found any good ones.

    OTOH, shorts are the first items I size out of, even when my weight just shifts around (a pair that looked fine last summer will still fit but look off the next.) I am seeing a lot of looser shorts this year, since other bottoms are looser too, so I'm wondering if that's a better investment. Heck, this year I can even work in them, since no one will see me.

    Also  - even though I'm sensitive about cellulite too, I find shorter shorts more flattering on me in most cases, which was an interesting discovery a few years ago. I think it's because my legs are long for my height. I won't wear skirts that short, though!

  • Staysfit replied 5 months ago

    Suz, for gardening, I have to wear items with long sleeves and legs.  A herd of deer gathers in my yard every morning and evening to scavenge for tasty foilage. Tick born diseases like Lyme and Rickettsia are highly prevalent in our community.  Our local paper warned that they recently found some Lone Star tics here which carry a disease that causes meat allergies!  In addition to making sure I am well covered, I use a generous amount of insect spray, long socks over my long legged bottoms, and gloves, a hat, etc.  Hmm, it's a bit like PPE!  :-)

  • Suz replied 5 months ago

    Staysfit, it is totally like PPE! WOW!! 

    And Carla, that's a great idea -- will you let me know the companies you are looking at? I wonder if Lee Valley sells gardening clothes? Hmmm. 

    I am still pretty much an amateur at this. We are lucky in that Lyme bearing ticks, while not unheard of, are not a major issue here (despite the occasional deer in the garden). But we do have a lot of brambles and when I start clearing out the English ivy (a MAJOR job I will need help with) I am going to need serious clothing for that. 

    Thanks for your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas, everyone. 

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