ask a cool person

What are the Best Women’s Lounge Shorts?

Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Last month, we dove deep into the world of loungewear, and talked to dozens of stylish men and women about the sweatshirts, T-shirts, and sweatpants (so many sweatpants) they’d been living in lately. Weeks later, loungewear is still top of mind, but as temperatures start to rise, we’ve been thinking about one item in particular: the lounge short. It’s a broad and all-encompassing category — there are gym shorts, pajama shorts, sweatshorts, and even sweatershorts — so to get the lay of the land, we asked women with excellent taste about their personal favorites. The results range from Soffes (“the first cousin of Patagonia Baggies,” per one recommender) to gym-style shorts made out of cotton poplin. And don’t worry: we’ll be back soon with a selection of lounge shorts for men, too.

Patagonia baggies are a favorite of numerous Strategist writers and editors, and several of the women we reached out to for this list. Rilka Noel, e-commerce planner at Kith, said they’re her favorite shorts for both lounging and outdoor activities. “ I just went on a 13 mile hike and camped in these Patagonia shorts,” she says. “But I also have been wearing them everyday around the crib to lounge in.” She says they’re “so comfy” and notes that they’re available in a wide range of colors, from Mellow Melon to Pigeon Blue. “They’re everything,” she says.

For some brighter color options, Sophie Roche Conti, of Conti Communications, recommends (the technically menswear) Patagonia Baggies in bright red. Like the women’s Baggies, they’re made of recycled nylon with a water-repellent finish, making them a particularly sustainable option (and useful if you find yourself near any bodies of water).

From $8

We’d be remiss not to mention the shorts that former Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens dubbed “the first cousin of Patagonia Baggies”: Soffe Authentic Shorts. Kitchens wrote, “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.” As a fellow Soffe shorts enthusiast, I can confirm that the pair of shorts you might have worn every day during summer camp are suddenly a very appealing option for wearing around the house (at about a fifth of the price of Baggies).

Racquet magazine co-founder Caitlin Thompson says she lived in these sweatshorts from RWB for the first few weeks of quarantine. “They’re available in all sorts of colors, and they’re super-flattering,” she says.

Lingerie designer Mary Young says that Aritizia’s Ex-Boyfriend Light Sweatshorts “look effortlessly cool with any sneaker or sandal,” and notes that she loves the high rise. Unfortunately, Young’s favorite Ex-Boyfriend shorts are currently sold out, but this pair of high-rise light sweatshorts from Aritzia are made of the same cozy material, and have a similar fit through the waist and hips (we’re pretty sure they’d look just as cool with sneakers and sandals, too).

There are sweatshorts — and then there are sweatershorts. This pair comes recommended by Heather Andersen, founder of New York Pilates, and are made from a silk and cashmere blend which Andersen describes as “incredibly soft.” Andersen says the natural fibers are especially luxurious feeling, and that she loves the sienna color in particular. “It’s an orange that’s almost a neutral,” she says. “For me, it’s so important to always get dressed - even if I’m just lounging or working from home. I love that with these I can feel like I’m in a full lewk while I’m really just at home in my slippers.”

And then there are shorts that feel like … a shirt. This pair, which come recommended by Araks Yeramyan, are made from washed organic cotton poplin, a.k.a. the material your favorite white button-down is likely made from. The shorts have a slightly retro gym short look, but with an elegant touch and a little structure. “I love the cut of these shorts,” says Yeramyan.

Illustrator Pauline de Roussy de Sales told us about this “very comfortable” pair of shorts from unisex line Industry of All Nations. They’re 100 percent cotton, and at $20, they’re affordable yet still luxurious-feeling. She’s a fan of the line’s other shorts, as well, which include slightly more structured twill drawstring shorts and fleece-lined pairs.

$15

Several of the women we talked to found their favorite loungewear shorts in the boys’ and men’s departments. Designer Susan Alexandra is one such stylish woman, who says these basketball shorts from the boys’ section are her go-to pair. “I happen to think they’re very sexy!” she says.

Another men’s department favorite of the women we talked to about loungewear was boxers and boxer-briefs from Hanes. “I’m pretty much living in Hanes white boxer shorts, day and night,” said Jenni Lee, founder of luxury sock brand Comme Si, who told us that she owns “ten pairs.” Sigh Swoon’s Gabi Abrão prefers the boxer-briefs: “I love how these look on me. They’re slightly high waisted, are a comfy, tagless, soft breathable cotton, and hit me mid-thigh — they’re like biker shorts without the tightness.”

If you’d prefer boxer briefs with a bit more color, consider these, which come in soothing shades of mint and olive. Artist Jacqueline Ashton is a fan: “MARY YOUNG undergarments make me feel comfortable and sexy at the same time,” she says. This pair seems especially practical if you want something very lightweight for lounging at home — and you could easily throw some sweats over them should you need to go out and check the mail or go for a stroll.

It’s no secret that Strategist editors and writers (and people whose taste we trust — from Cup of Jo founder Joanna Goddard to Amanda Freeman, the founder and CEO of fitness brands SLT and Stretch*d, who “lives” in them) are fans of Eberjay’s Gisele pajama set, and the shorts version is a favorite of Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen, too. “The weight and wear of this fabric is spot on,” she says. “They’re light enough to be an easy lounge short, yet soft and weighty to actually be cozy.” Cohen says her Eberjay shorts have “gone through probably hundreds of washes” without looking any worse for the wear. “They’ve still maintained their shape and feel,” she says. “When I’m not wearing Outdoor Voices cloudknit sweats, these are my go-to.”

Another pair of lounge shorts that could be worn alone or in the set from whence they came are these Calvin Klein numbers, which are a favorite of model Aga Wojtasik. “For loungewear, I love something super comfy that’s made out of good quality materials — Calvin Klein cotton sets are great for that,” she says. “If they look cute, even better.” We think this set would come in handy as the nights start to warm up.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What are the Best Women’s Lounge Shorts?