- Madewell: 25 inches
- H&M: 26 inches
- American Eagle: 26.5 inches
- Old Navy: 27 inches
- Target: 27.5 inches
1. American Eagle
2. Old Navy
Madewell’s shorts fit a little too big for my liking, despite the fact that they claimed to be the smallest in terms of waist measurement, at 25 inches. This was shocking to me because I’ve always heard how amazing Madewell’s denim is, though I hadn’t yet tried it for myself. I expected its shorts to be the best-fitting, but I found the waist quite loose, and by my tape measure, it’s 30.5 inches (5.5 inches more than advertised). It shifted around when I walked, constantly riding up because it’s so loose, and it stretched out even more as I wore the shorts. However, the legs fit really well—not too tight but not too baggy, either. The shorts are made of cotton, but they didn’t shrink after washing, which is a big plus.
These shorts come in women’s sizes 0 to 24 and two colors. If you have more of a straight shape, they may work for you, but don’t go based on the tape measure to choose your size. Indeed, a lot of reviewers describe the shorts as “massive,” so sizing down may be your best bet.
Get the Relaxed Denim Shorts from Madewell for $39.99
The Target shorts were the largest of the size 4s I tried, which I should’ve expected from them having the largest waist measurement on the size chart, at 27.5 inches. And it measures 30.5 inches in real life, which is a full three inches bigger than the sizing chart. There’s at least an extra inch around my waist and even the leg holes felt too roomy. That’s surprising, given that I have athletic thighs and tend to find that shorts are too tight on my legs, not too loose. I wouldn’t be able to wear these comfortably without a belt, and the material around my legs swishes as I walk because there’s so much of it.
These shorts are made of a cotton/spandex material and come in women’s sizes 00 to 18 and five colors. By my experience, I’d suggest sizing down, unless you like your shorts extra-relaxed. They shrunk ever so slightly in the wash, but not enough to make them noticeably snugger.
Get the Universal Thread High-Rise Jean Shorts from Target for $17.99
The H&M shorts were by far the smallest—and by smallest, I mean I couldn’t even get them up over my thighs. I wasn’t surprised by the fact that they were so little—I’ve never bought bottoms from H&M because I’ve always found them to be cut teensy-tiny when I try them on at the store. But I was surprised that they were so small, considering their waist measurement on the size chart is listed at 26 inches, making them supposedly larger than the actually-way-too-large Madewells and only a half-inch smaller than my faves from American Eagle. Even more interestingly, my tape measure indicates the H&M waist measures 26.5 inches, which is what my waist actually is. The fabric is 100% cotton with no give or stretch, so that didn’t help matters as I struggled—and failed—to pull these on.
These shorts come in women’s sizes 0 to 18 and four colors. If you want to give them a try, go up at least two sizes—or hit the store to try ‘em on in advance.
Get the Denim Shorts from H&M for $24.99
The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.