I was an eighth-grade cheerleader — and I didn’t enjoy the experience. I was slow to pick up choreography, stood five inches taller than everyone else, and found the hand-me-down uniforms unbreathable and scratchy. But our practice gear was a different story. Along with the hip Nike Cortezes, our “squad” wore these royal blue cotton Soffe short-shorts. They were nondescript, but, to me, signaled “cool-girl” far more the two-tone Umbros I had been wearing up until them. You could find them at any local sporting-goods store in a wide variety of shades, turning those round garment racks into a color wheel.
Last summer, when I needed something last-minute to go over my one-piece for a tubing trip in Oklahoma, I went straight to Academy Sports — and there was the Soffe station, a perfectly preserved relic that brought back routines set to “Let Me Clear My Throat.” We’ve both since expanded our range. The Soffe site now lists 44 colors, including a heather-y coral, a shockingly bright lime, and, perhaps your safest bet, a classic navy. They’ve raised their prices, but not gratuitously; a pair still goes for an eminently reasonable $9.
Too cheap and flimsy to wear to anywhere that might involve a subway trip, Soffe shorts are great for straightening up the house, cooking breakfast (or dinner), lounging on the couch, or weathering steamy summer days when even denim cut-offs are too much fabric. They’re also, I feel, an acceptable (though obviously not identical) dupe for Patagonia Baggies or the Outdoor Voices Relay Short, and you can wear them to do active things, too. Instead of triple-rolling the waistband down like 14-year-old me — I leave them unrolled for a high-waisted fit. Less early Aughts thot, more Dazed and Confused.
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