The Most Flattering Shorts For Your Butt

Derrières have long fascinated great tastemakers, from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Jennifer Lopez to many in R29’s HQ. We spend a fair share of our downtime analyzing our bums — specifically, how they look in our trousers. But, just as we scratched the surface of the rarely explored relationship between butt shapes and denim, it got warm out. So warm, we’re reaching the point where it’s officially too hot for jeans. And, while we may be forced to shorten our hemlines now, we refuse to abandon our bumbitions (a new term we just coined for the great future we envision for our behinds). How do we reconcile said bumbitions with the time of year? By revisiting the six butt types and bringing in fresh tips from experts at J Brand, Paige, and Levi’s that are specific to shorts. That’s right: Our comprehensive fit guide gets the summer treatment.

Butt Type: Bubble
A bubble butt is one that’s round from top to bottom. The key to dressing this type of shapely bum is to find a short that gives you enough coverage all around. To achieve this delicate balance between sculpting and not exaggerating your butt’s roundness, you need to bring your attention to the top of your bottom — that’s to say, the waistline.

“I think wearing shorts that fit sort of low on the hip when you have a bubble butt, that hang straight off your hip and come down, is great,” opines Mary Bruno, head of design at J Brand. She suggests styles, like a five-pocket boyfriend or a trouser-fit short, that sit right — if not a little low — on the waist, with more material down the leg to hug your bum more loosely. Jill Guenza, global vice president of design at Levi’s, agrees, but suggests a higher rise to highlight the waist even more.

In terms of color scheme, the same rules of denim apply: If you’re looking to de-emphasize, go dark. Paige Adams-Geller, co-founder and creative director of Paige, recommends going for a simple, darker wash “if you don’t want [your butt] to be so noticeable.” (This applies to anyone who wants to draw attention away from the shape of their butt — regardless of which category they fall under.)

The thing you can play with, then, is the hemline: straight-cut, folded over, or frayed. As a rule of thumb for all butt shapes, though, Guenza gravitates towards “shorts [that] are cut at a slight angle, with the hem edge at your outer thigh slightly higher than the hem edge at your inner thigh. Angled hems elongate the leg by drawing the eye up toward the outer hip.”

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Topshop Moto Joni Shorts, $48, available at Topshop.

7 For All Mankind Relaxed Mid Roll Shorts, $159, available at Shopbop.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, $59.50, available at Levi’s.

Butt Type: Wide
When you’re wide all over in your butt region, our experts agree that a short that is straight at the hip is preferred — although they diverge on where the waist should sit. Bruno believes a medium- or low-rise short that’s “boyish” or more structured around the hip area “counteracts” the wideness of your butt.

Adams-Geller, on the other hand, stands by a high rise: “[It] will cinch at your waist and give you more shape, so you don’t feel like you’re so straight up and down.” She goes on to explain that “usually, wide butts make your body feel like you’re really straight.”

This translates to an A-line short — which then checks out for Bruno’s straight-hip recommendation. Adams-Geller suggests trying a frayed hem with this silhouette, because “the extra volume you have at the bottom of the hem in that A-line shape balances out your hips and makes your waist look smaller.” The rise, then, is up to you, depending on where and how you want to wear the short.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Topshop Pansy And Spot Print Shorts, $55, available at Topshop.

Paige Margot Short, $169, available at Paige.

Sea Pleated-Front Cotton-Blend Canvas Shorts, $275, available at

Butt Type: Flat
A pretty literal description of the shape, a flat butt means there’s less curve to your behind. If you’re looking to enhance the shape of your derrière, the key lies in the details: Adams-Geller recommends seeking out back pockets with stitching or some sort of flap detailing, anything that can fill up the space back there. Bruno concurs on the pocket note.

She also brings up wash, and the almost contour-like effect strategically placed sanding can have on your butt: Much like you’d highlight your cheekbones and other key areas of your face with makeup, a sanding detail on the back of your short creates an illusion of shape on your nether-cheeks. Yes, contouring for your bum: It’s the 21st century, people; we can have it all.

A vintage-y wash can have the same highlighting effect, says Adams-Geller. In terms of silhouettes, she recommends a more fitted, high-rise short, because when the waist “go[es] into the small of your back…it creates more of an illusion of a curve.” Bruno suggests finding a high-rise style that “has a little kick to the leg,” which creates more room — and, hence, more volume — around your cheeks. Alternatively, you could try a longer short, something like a Bermuda length.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Madewell High-Rise Denim Boyshorts, $69.50, available at Madewell.

Reformation Memphis Short, $158 $47, available at Reformation.

Citizens Of Humanity Liya High Rise Shorts, $228, available at Shopbop.

Butt Type: Triangle
If a small waist opens up to wider cheeks down at the intersection of hip and thigh, you’ve got yourself a triangle butt. You can either exaggerate the contrast between waist and cheeks with a high-rise short; or, you can fall back on a boyfriend short, which would make you look straighter. Adams-Geller explains that the latter “won’t be emphasizing how exaggerated the smaller waist is compared to the lower, saddlebag part.”

Alternatively, she suggests a relaxed Bermuda: The longer inseam, paired with looser-fitting, baggier fabric, de-emphasizes the saddlebags, she argues, so it “makes you look straighter.”

Because of the dramatic difference in proportions, you’ll also want to pay attention to fit. “You should find the size that fits your seat best, then tailor the waist down if need be,” Guenza advises.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Butt Type: Low

We’re still not over the concept of a “butt bra” that Paige shared last time around. Luckily for us, it still applies to shorts. The goal for low-butted individuals — to perk up the cheeks — remains the same, despite the shortened hemline. To achieve the derrière bustier, Adams-Geller recommends picking out a fitted, classic-rise short and wearing it with a belt. “It’ll help keep the short higher and give that butt-bra effect,” she explains, “because you’re wearing something that’s holding you up almost like a bra strap would.”

A fitted knee style would work here, as the longer inseam makes the butt look higher than it naturally sits. Alternatively, Bruno suggests a baggier short — again, a boyfriend-style bottom “that’s kind of full and sits at your waist and kind of hangs off.” In the same vein as Adams-Geller, she advises finding a longer inseam (four or five inches) to create the illusion of a higher cheek.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

Whistles Cargo Pocket Short, $210, available at Whistles.

Acne Studios Othella Linen Short, $360, available at Otte New York.

Butt Type: No Butt
Here’s a well-kept secret: Having no butt is actually kind of awesome when it comes to shorts, because there’s a wide variety of styles and silhouettes that’ll make your derrière look good. You’ll want to highlight other parts of your body that you like, says Bruno, “whether it’s your waist or your legs.” (You can do so with a high-rise short for the former, a boyfriend short for the latter.) As with a flat butt, details like zippers, pockets, and flaps around the pockets help add volume out back.

For summer, paper-bag and drawstring-waist shorts are great. Adams-Geller praises the “drape effect” the fabric on these styles has, which fills out the back. “Nothing clings, yet you’re getting the cinch at the waist to add the extra volume…[which] can give you the illusion of a butt,” she explains. Guenza agrees, adding that “slouchy shorts will camouflage the size and shape of your butt by blurring the contours of your body.”

Non-butted folk, then, are more likely to venture outside of the denim realm. While a classic jean cutoff offers support and structure, linen styles have “a great drape for more flowy, girly styles,” says Guenza. They do, however, wrinkle more easily. She recommends “blends with other, less wrinkle-prone fibers, like cotton/linen and viscose/linen.” Another thing to note about wrinkle-prone materials is the inseam: “If it already looks kind of short, and [it’s] linen or cotton, when you put those on and it’s hot, they’re going to wrinkle up and look shorter on your body,” advises Adams-Geller. Knits, she says, grow when it’s hot, so they may look baggier after wear.

Zeus + Dione Leon Two-Tone Silk Crepe de Chine Shorts, $255, available at Net-a-Porter.

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