The Best Shorts to Wear Under Your Dresses and Skirts
Finding the best shorts to wear under dresses can be a hassle — and you thought just choosing the perfect dress was a mission in and of itself. But shopping for an event often involves purchasing the right undergarments, so knowing which shorts measure up (quite literally) is crucial. Especially during breezy transitional months, when the wind may sweep up your hemline, comfort and coverage are top of mind. Whether you're looking for casual bike shorts that can also be worn alone for running errands and hitting the gym or a specific type of shapewear, there are plenty of shorts to choose from that can be worn under dresses or skirts.
POPSUGAR reached out to major brands on the market — including Commando, Skims, Spanx, Wolford, Honeylove, and Los Angeles Apparel — to identify their top sellers in the under-shorts department. Then, we went the extra mile to curate a list of trustworthy pairings, so you know which outfit to team with our shoppable recommendations. Read up on how to determine the proper length, material, and color, then scroll through for inspiration.
Best Shorts For Under Dresses: Finding the Right Length
Keep a measuring tape on hand when purchasing shapewear. If you know which garment you'll be layering over the shorts, measure it to make sure it's around two inches longer than the shorts you're buying. Since clothing moves when you walk, consider the length of the shorts and how visible they'll be. (And if you don't care if people see the shorts under your dress, then that's OK, too.) Many designs feature a seamless finish around the leg, so you can take the DIY approach and trim as needed, depending on the hemline length you're going for.
Best Shorts For Under Dresses: Choosing the Best Material
The shorts material you choose depends on the dress or skirt you're layering under. Shopping for shorts that can be worn under a ribbed-knit fabric? Look for a cool, sweat-wicking material like nylon. If you're shopping for undershorts that will probably be quite visible, a cotton material usually offers an ideal amount of opaqueness. Search for antichafing and antipilling features when you're shopping for shorts, and follow the care instructions closely to avoid damaging the material.
Best Shorts For Under Dresses: Deciding the Right Color
When your shorts need to be nearly invisible — i.e., when stepping out in a sheer, naked dress — opt for shorts that mimic your skin tone. Buy multiple options in two to three different shades so you can find the best hue in person, and try them under different lighting scenarios (just be sure to read the brand's return policy before bulk ordering). Shopping for shorts that you want to repurpose as athletic shorts and wear to the gym? Select colors you're most comfortable in, though classic black is often a solid standby.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Sheer Dress
For shorts that are close to invisible under your sheer or semisheer dress, shop colors similar to your skin tone. Or you can go the opposite route: with the sheer-apparel trend on the rise, why not consider shorts that are indeed made to be seen?
Commando Classic Control Short
This classic silhouette from Commando has light to moderate compression and raw-cut edges without bulky elastic that would be visible under a lightweight fabric. Available in four different shades, it's also been fit tested by women, with all feedback about design details taken into account during construction.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Backless Dress
There are truly shorts for everything, including shorts with low-rise scooped waistbands that are intended to be worn beneath backless dresses. While some people prefer the visible-thong look, if you're seeking overall coverage, reach for shorts that are completely hidden under your garment.
Skims Sheer Sculpt Low Back Short
This Skims short comes in nine different shades and sizes XXS to 4X. The plunging back and soft-stay boning at the side provide a seamless "no shorts" look while offering compression at the hips and thighs. Many brides who chose low-back wedding dresses weighed in with five-star reviews.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Fitted Dress
Find shorts made with lightweight and breathable fabrics to avoid noticeable panty lines. When shopping for shorts to wear under a fitted dress, carefully read reviews to see if shoppers have reported any issues with the design easily riding up or rolling at the waist. Underneath a fitted dress, comfort is key.
Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 Mid-Thigh Short
This Spanx short is an option to wear under fitted dresses and currently available in sizes XS to 3X and four different shades. The breathable material has a silky, comfortable feel, while the waistband is firm but not overly restricting.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a White Dress
For white dresses, regardless of the material, find shorts similar to your skin tone to avoid any see-through snafus. Consider compression shorts that have sculpting features without being too constricting around the waist.
Spanx OnCore Mid-Thigh Short
This silhouette comes in five different shades and is a bestseller for the shapewear giant that is Spanx. The fully bonded front panels provide a smoothing effect along the front of your silhouette, and the built-in back pockets accentuate your backside.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Short Dress
Compression shorts often run the risk of being too long for some hemlines, especially when it comes to the micro-minidress trend. Search for shorts that can be trimmed after purchase, or better yet, go for a brief silhouette with high coverage that still offers support at the top of the thigh area.
Honeylove SuperPower Brief
Available in seven different colors and sizes XS to 3X, this brief has flexible boning details that prevent roll-down, an issue you definitely don't want to deal with when sporting a minidress. The design also features mesh panels at the booty and sweat-wicking material throughout.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Long Dress
In a long maxi dress, you generally won't have to worry about the length of your shorts, but you do want to ensure they feel less like an added layer underneath your clothes. Look for lightweight, thin shapewear that's also long enough to wear alone as bike shorts for running errands or hitting the gym.
Skims Fits Everybody Bike Short
Skims Fits Everybody Bike Short ($24, originally $46)
This style comes in a total of eight neutral shades, in addition to four limited-edition, seasonal shades that include vibrant pinks like neon and orchid. Style them with an oversize hoodie and a T-shirt for a casual off-duty look.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Skirt
Whether you're wearing a short, midlength, or floor-length skirt, look for light-to-moderate compression that won't add bulk. For transitional months, search for a thicker fabric that acts as a base layer to keep you warm on cooler days. Grab a tape measure, and specify the length of your skirt against the short — unless, of course, you feel comfortable trimming your shorts at home.
TnAction TnaSLICK Tennis Mid-Rise 2" Short
This short smooths from waist to thigh but isn't ultra-high-rise, just in case your skirt is low-slung. It also hits relatively high on the leg, just in case you're trying out the micro-miniskirt trend.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Slitted Dress
Does your dress have a high slit on one side only? Find shapewear that you can easily tweak with a pair of scissors, creating a custom pair of shorts that works with your favorite asymmetrical garment.
Wolford Tulle Control Shorts
Wolford Tulle Control Shorts ($150)
These shorts are made from soft nylon and elastane. They come in black, blush, and nude, and they're lightweight and packable for trips. The leg area is completely seamless, even at the back, so you're able to trim these to your liking, depending upon the shape of your garment.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Knit Dress
Since knit dresses are sometimes thick and hefty, seek out shorts made with cooling materials, like sheer compression panels or nylon. These are also the least likely to run the risk of rolling down your torso.
Honeylove Superpower Short
This is the design that catapulted lingerie brand Honeylove into the shapewear spotlight. It comes with an X-shaped panel that offers compression at the stomach and ensures the piece won't roll down or ride up. The team designed it for people who had been layering traditional shapewear garments and were searching for something sturdier but still lightweight and sweat-wicking.
The Best Shorts to Wear Under a Tunic Dress
Wearing a tunic dress? Then showing off a hint of your shorts may be intentional. Experiment with colors and try styles from mainstay brands like Los Angeles Apparel, Alo Yoga, or Aerie that aren't see-through and won't pill.
LA Apparel Garment Dye Short Shorts
Los Angeles Apparel's signature shorts come in 15 different shades, including unique colors like Celery and French Blue. Made in a heavyweight cotton spandex, these are shrink resistant and machine washable. They stop at the midthigh and feature a 1.5-inch elastic waistband. Reviews suggest they're sturdy enough to wear on their own while working out, too.