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Why I’m Living In Athletic Shorts Right Now

Sporty and chic.

Originally Published: 
Maggie Haddad
A woman wearing a white shirt top and black athletic shorts
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Growing up as a year-round swimmer, nylon shorts were always a staple in my wardrobe. They carried me through long school days after morning practices, countless weight-lifting sessions, all the way to when I hung up my cap and goggles after my last race. In the years since my retirement, though, the slouchy silhouette has been collecting dust in my drawers, losing out to biker shorts and athletic skirts. Well — until recently, that is. Lately, I’ve found myself saving countless images on Pinterest of It-girls pairing gym shorts with blazers, button-downs, and dainty tops. And while my old grade school styles definitely don’t fit the same anymore, I’ve become inspired to invest in a few new pairs and try this athletic-chic look myself.

What draws me to the style? A mix of ease, versatility, and utility. Brands like Girlfriend Collective and Lululemon have (thankfully) started producing high-rise athletic shorts, making the style much more comfortable than the hip-skimming version I used to wear. Additionally, they can be worn in so many ways. When experimenting in my own closet, I’ve found that they look cute with far more shirts than I expected. One of my current favorite combos even includes an oversized blazer!

And when it comes to durability, athletic shorts also get top marks. I wore this trend to one of TZR’s photoshoots, and it was much easier to crouch and get my video shots in the relaxed material versus a less-forgiving fabric.

All said and done, I’ll most definitely be wearing this look for the remainder of the summer — and as far into fall as long as I can. If you’re on the hunt for new ways to style your gym shorts, keep scrolling for outfit ideas. And if you’re a bit skeptical? Stick around, and let me change your mind.

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Big Blazers FTW

You know when you put on an outfit and feel 100% like yourself? That’s how I felt when I paired my athletic shorts with a tee, oversized blazer, and neutral sneakers. The limit does not exist on the ways you can spice up this combination, whether you add a brightly colored shoulder bag or swap out sneakers for socks and loafers.

Cardi Party

Pairing athletic shorts with a cropped sweater is a great way to transition this look from summer into early fall. This orange and brown color combo is absolute fall perfection, and I’ll probably try to recreate this one before the weather actually cools down (fashion over comfort sometimes, right?).

Quilted Combo

Here’s another transitional summer-to-fall option to show off the versatility of this trend. I’ve been dying to invest in a quilted jacket, and I think it’s finally time. I’d pair the topper with a simple white tank in case it gets super hot in the middle of the day and I need to shed layers. For shoes, I’d try these Jil Sander x Birkenstock clogs, since I’ve been loving the Boston clog trend.

Mixed Materials

This outfit screams August, when it’s too hot for sleeves, but you want to start wearing some sort of sweater. Enter: sweater tank tops. I love the mix-and-match energy of a knit tank top with nylon shorts, leather sneakers, and a logo shoulder bag.

Preppy Button-Down

Stylist Emili Sindlev is a color-mixing icon in my book. I wouldn’t have thought to pair red shorts with a green striped button-down, but she just makes it look SO cool. I love the rope sandals with this look as well.


When in doubt, an all-black outfit is always chic. I’d keep the color scheme cohesive with a simple black sunglasses and matching sneakers.

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