Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Cocktail Shorts

The cocktail short is a huge trend for spring. I can’t seem to convince myself that the look is appropriate for a grown woman. Should I bother?

Dear Gloria:


I find your question both intriguing and a little amusing: Before I answer, let me ask you: What do you mean by a “grown” woman? Do you mean an “older” woman? And if so, how much older? The very fact that these trendy garments are called “cocktail” shorts might have one thinking that the woman wearing them should at least be drinking age! But of course, by now, most of us are on board with the notion of dressing mostly for our spirit and our body type rather than our chronological age. Still, first and foremost, the style of a garment has to appeal to you. Many women make the mistake of falling in love with the concept of something being a hot trend, rather than really taking an objective look at the “trend” in question and being truthful about whether they have the aplomb—or the body—to really carry it off. I must admit, there are such a multitude of ways of sporting just about every trend—including the “cocktail short”—that if you’re really dead set on incorporating a trend into your wardrobe in a way that makes sense for you, you’ll find it.


These dressy shorts that are currently all over the catwalks and red carpets certainly aren’t new. I remember first wearing them in the late ‘60s, and we called them “hot pants”. My mother made me a beautiful pair in maroon velvet that I wish I still had today! But, as much as I adore my legs—actually, one of my best features—I doubt I’d wear them the same way I did when I was 16. If I were to wear those shorts today, I’d likely make sure I let the hems down a couple of inches. And I’d probably team them with opaque or textured hose. I recently saw a pair of loose black leather cocktail shorts on a model that were teamed with a pair of leather leggings. It made for an interesting layered look, and though a bit hard and edgy, provided the kind of modesty a “grown woman” might want.


Remember that if you’re going “skimpy” from the waist down, you won’t want go too skimpy from the waist up. These shorts could look very chic with the right tailored jacket or long-sleeved shirt or sweater. No one wants to bare all after all! And with the warmer weather ahead, most of us would be inclined to go the bare leg route when wearing these shorts. And that’s okay. But keep in mind that, just as with mini skirts, one of the keys to wearing the cocktail short well is what you’ve got on your feet. A flat, strappy evening sandal or a wedge could work well for an outdoor garden party. And the new, streamlined pointy-toed shoe with a small thin heel would also look hot for evening. Ditto for a little pair of dressy booties. But a honking platform stiletto paired with cocktail pants could give off more sizzle that you’d like. Another key is the actual cut of these shorts. I’d go for something that has a looser fit, and not too short. So if you’re a “grown” woman with gorgeous gams, I’d say go for it! Life’s too short to start feeling “too old” to strut it.