this thing's incredible

I Own 3 Pairs of These $14 Linen Shorts

The author in her three pairs of Old Navy linen shorts. Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Sophie Vershbow

At 33, I have a dog, a skin-care routine, and a 401(k), but until recently I still did not have a good pair of shorts. After decades of reluctantly wearing ill-fitted denim cutoffs and four-inch colorful J.Crew stretch chino shorts that would make Gen Z gag, I was determined to make this the summer I found a pair of shorts I actually wanted to wear.

While on the Old Navy website searching for a pair of jean shorts I’d magically love more than all my other jean shorts, I spotted the Old Navy Extra High-Waisted Taylor Linen-Blend Trouser Shorts and added them to my cart on impulse. They arrived, and you know that feeling when you try on an item of clothing and immediately know that it’s going to become a staple of your closet? That’s how I felt when I first slipped on these shorts in my bedroom, in complete shock that a $36 garment I’d gotten on sale for $22 (now $14) both looked and felt so expensive. The potential outfits started materializing in my head, and I immediately went online to order the same pair in two more colors (tan and striped).

The cut of these trouser shorts is extremely flattering, hitting at the natural waist and falling midway down the thigh. The six-inch inseam is comfortable without veering into Bermuda shorts territory, and while a few years ago I’d have scoffed at the idea of buying any short with an inseam longer than four inches, now I can’t imagine going back to the days of skin-to-skin upper-thigh contact on the NYC subway. Unlike so many of the trouser shorts currently on the market, the pleating is moderate, and the leg fit is comfortably loose rather than comically oversize.

Beyond their comfort, these trouser shorts have elevated my summer style from “extra in Wet Hot American Summer” to “young Parisian mom taking her kids to lunch on Saturday.” Over Memorial Day weekend, I swapped my jean shorts and a white tee for the black linen Old Navy shorts with a cream-and-black knit collared top, decked out in all my favorite accessories, and set out on a beautiful afternoon with nowhere to be, full of the enthusiasm for life that can only come from wearing an outfit you feel great in on a perfect New York City summer day.

I often struggle in the shopping limbo between young adulthood and middle age, but these shorts elevate my style without making me feel like I’m trying to be 22 (no thank you!) or on my way to the early-bird special down in Boca. They make me feel like I’m dressing my age in the best way, where I know my younger self wouldn’t have been confident enough to dress or feel this good.

My favorite thing is that these shorts are partially elasticized in the back, allowing them to stay up at your natural waistline when you’re moving without jamming into your organs when you sit down — the common burden of high-waisted-pants wearers everywhere. I am currently wearing The Shorts as I type this while sitting like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in front of my computer, and I’m not at all inclined to unbutton their top button for comfort.

Speaking of comfort, these shorts are lightweight and perfect for the high heat of summer we’re currently barreling toward. They’re made of 55 percent linen and 45 percent rayon, which means they’re easy-breezy while still feeling soft against your skin. I can’t believe I ever made fun of my mom for shopping at Eileen Fisher when I was a kid — LINEN IS THE ANSWER. When I go to Tampa in mid-August to see Beyoncé on her tour, these shorts will keep me alive in the ungodly heat and humidity (I won’t actually wear them to the concert; I need a sequined gown for that).

And the pockets! These shorts have not one, not two, but three pockets, all of which are big enough to hold my cell phone. Experiencing pockets this spacious reminds me of when I stopped getting my period after having an IUD inserted and was like, “Wait a second, men just don’t go through hell every month?” With these shorts, I can now know the joy of having pockets big enough to hold my phone, wallet, and keys while running a brief errand. Another glass ceiling shattered for women!

I better go buy another pair.

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I Own 3 Pairs of These $14 Linen Shorts