this thing’s incredible

I Wear These Dollar Store-Shorts Everywhere

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

The coolest anyone has ever looked doing anything is Carrie Bradshaw losing Aidan’s dog because she is cheating on him. Walking Pete as cover to meet Big, wearing navy dolphin shorts, a gauzy white blouse, and stiletto sandals, she is perfect in this moment — casually hot, barreling toward self-sabotage, uninterested in animals. The dolphin short may have been invented for athletic teenagers, but it was perfected by a relapsed smoker-adulterer in her 30s.

The impression was lasting, and I started wearing the Soffe cheer short with a slightly structured top — a light button down, a linen crop — in homage. But lean the wrong way in a Soffe and you’re showing cheek, which is not what I’m looking for in my current stage of life (parenting a toddler while trying to distinguish myself at the playground as cool). I needed options.

My discovery of Emme Jordan, an unmemorable trademark held by a company that seems to specialize in unmemorable trademarks (Love 2 Sleep, Yes No Maybe LOL, Emily Stacy), was accidental and on a delay. I bought a pair in green on a whim two years ago at a discount store in Greenpoint because they were $2.99. I wore them throughout my third trimester — they stretch — with the same crop tops and button-downs I wore with the Soffes, albeit unbuttoned.

They still fit throughout my first postpartum summer, and still still fit now, two years later, nearly unchanged in their unsettling poly-blend sturdiness. But I didn’t even register the brand until, realizing they offered the higher rise and longer inseam I was looking for, I found myself trying to make out the laundry-faded tag earlier this summer. I bought another pair, this time in black. (Size up, as these run quite small. Also: no pockets. Sorry.) They’re cheap synthetic shorts (and the orange-and-yellow pairs in the four-pack listed on Amazon appear to be semi-sheer, so buyer beware), but they’re perfect for all three stages of what I think of as the Hey, I’m really doing it! weekend: morning at the playground, afternoon yoga, seeing friends in the neighborhood post-bedtime.

There are other versions of the modest-ish hotpant out there — I have a pair of the currently sold-out Uniqlo “Easy Short” that I love, and Alo sells a slightly longer dolphin for $68 — but I’ve been happy with my dollar-store shorts and my new ability to bend down to pick up my kid’s discarded scooter helmet without accidentally exposing myself. Carrie, whose prudish refusal to say the word “vagina” on a sex podcast resulted in everyone she worked with getting fired, would undoubtedly approve.

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I Wear These Dollar-Store Shorts Everywhere