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The skinny on spring shorts

Tall or short, curvy or thin, shopping for the right womens shorts is a battle many women face each spring. What length is right for my body type? Are denim shorts in again? Will a geometric print make me look fat? What exactly is chevron? These questions and more are what swirl through the minds of women everywhere when it comes time to shop for shorts.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a seemingly endless sea of options. But knowing what lengths and prints to choose can make your shopping trip significantly easier.

Princess of Prints

Prints, including geometric shapes and florals, are on trend for the Spring 2013 season, according to Shannon Davenport, fashion and media editor at Stylesight. In fact, graphic black and white stripes and checks are an especially hot print this season. For geo print, think Bar III’s chevron-striped cotton shorts. The A-line cut and hidden side zip make these shorts a fun, trendy option for both curvy and slim silhouettes. For a more muted geometric shape, Lucky Brand’s geo-cube shorts add a hint of style without being overwhelming.

“For fashion-forward customers,” Davenport explains, “printed shorts with a matching top look really fresh for spring.”

Floral-print shorts are a fun and flirty way to celebrate the colors of the season. Pair them with a brightly colored tee or tank and multi-strand necklace for a fresh pop of color. Add cowboy boots to Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren ’s floral-print vintage cutoff shorts to play up the romantic country vibe.

Southwest-inspired prints, like Rachel Roy’s diamond-print shorts or Tommy Hilfiger’s pleated ikat-print shorts, provide an alternative to rigid shapes or too-girly floral prints.

On Trend Cut-Offs

Denim is a fashion staple even when it comes to shorts. This season, designers are offering denim in varying lengths and colors. Pastels are very trendy this season, while bright colors continue to be fashionable.

Frayed edges give a hint of trendy casual, but can be rolled for a cleaner edge.

Cut-offs can range in length from Bermuda to super short. If you’re wondering if your shorts are an appropriate length for you, a good rule of thumb is that the hem comes at least to your fingertips when your hands rest casually at your side, according to Nicolle Keogh, fashion editor for

Just remember that denim shorts are at the furthest end of the casual spectrum. While denim is a great fabric choice for the beach, it may be inappropriate for other occasions.

“As always, the material of any garment is important to consider when dressing for a certain occasion,” explains Keogh. “Chino, linen, and khaki shorts are always more formal than denim – not to mention cut-offs.”

Fit Guide

Let’s face it, curvy girls get the short end of the stick when it comes to wearing shorts. Too short and you may feel self-conscious; too long and the areas you’re not happy with may actually be accentuated. The good news is there are a wide range of lengths to accommodate all figures.

“The new higher-rise shorts that are at retail are really flattering for all shapes and sizes,” says Davenport. “They pull you in at all the right places and there's no need to tug on them to keep you covered.”

Pair high-waisted shorts with a matching blazer for a refined spring and summer look. Top your look off with a brightly colored belt for an unexpected burst of color.

For short or curvy women, pay attention to where the hem hits you. Longer shorts can give the illusion of being shorter than you actually are, depending on your height. For those with curves, keep in mind that shorts bring attention to where the hem hits. So if you want diminish the size of your thighs, for example, look for shorts that do not cut off mid-thigh.

Adds Keogh, “Knowing that you are dressed appropriately for a certain occasion or location and feeling comfortable in the fit of your shorts should result in the confidence you need to know you look and feel good to wear shorts whether you’re skinny or curvy.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun