Let’s not skirt around this — skorts seem to be back from the aughts again, joining the likes of low-rise jeans and velour tracksuits. A staple of the tennis court, it’s not entirely unsurprising to see popular athleisure labels like Athleta, Adidas, Outdoor Voices and Girlfriend Collective currently carrying them. But, nowadays, brands including Spanx, Anthropologie and Tory Burch also offer their own versions of the style — with more literal frills in the case of the latter two.
SKIP AHEAD Best skorts to shop in 2021
The skort, a portmanteau of skirt and short, has a long and somewhat scandalous history — as Atlas Obsura chronicled way back in 2017 — providing women the chance at modesty and movement. It also popped up as a trend before the beginning of the pandemic. For example, Refinery29 ran a slideshow on skorts in 2018 and Jezebel argued for bringing skorts back in 2019. During the early months of the pandemic last year, Google searches for skorts rose, too —and then did so again in the past couple of months.
It might be an admittedly strange time to shop for clothes — store shelves are empty as some retailers focused more on online orders and faced supply chain challenges during the pandemic while other companies are trying to anticipate what shoppers will want as we move towards normalcy — whether that means dressing up or dressing down. Add to this the reappearance of Y2K fashion (with some trends of the decade repeatedly referred to as mistakes by older millennials), especially thanks to TikTok, and it could be confusing to understand why the skort, out of all things, is making a comeback right now. So we turned to experts to learn more about the skort and why it’s so popular ahead of this summer.
Skorts: A very brief history
As mentioned above, while skorts are usually associated with the aughts, they’ve been around a lot longer than a couple of decades. When it comes to modern-day skorts, you’ll usually see two kinds of styles. “A skort marries the coverage of a skirt (usually with a panel of fabric draped over the front of the garment) with a shorts silhouette. Sometimes the shorts are covered by the skirt draping, sometimes they are exposed in the back,” explained Jessica Richards, who runs trend forecasting firm JMR Design Consulting.
The skort as we know it became popular back in the late 1950s and 1960s as “sport and outdoor leisure pursuits had become common recreation for women,” explained Monica Sklar, assistant professor and coordinator of the Historic Clothing and Textiles Collection at the University of Georgia. Then the skort became especially trendy again in the 1990s, alongside biker shorts (another trend that’s recently reappeared) and as women participated more in sports, Sklar added. The trend didn’t die down in the 2000s — and like many trends, the skort is having a revival right now.
Why skorts have made a comeback now
You can think of skorts as a sort of mini trend connected to two much larger and concurrent movements — one of them is the popularity of athleisure, according to the experts we talked to. While athleisure was around prior to the pandemic (think of the prevalence of sports bras and sweat shorts outside of gyms), the demand during the pandemic was different — it wasn’t just an option, it was the only option that made sense for many, with some shedding their pants for sweatpants. As comfort triumphed over almost anything else, there was even what was dubbed an “athleisure boom.” This could change, of course — shoppers seem to be seeking styles to be seen in these days.
But that might not mean athleisure will disappear. “It would be near impossible to expect consumers to just bounce back into more tailored dressing,” Richards explained. “As a result, we're seeing a lot of hybrid styling to help ease the transition: Elements of comfort married back to more sophisticated items and silhouettes.”
Let's be real: Aughts fashion is flashy and not necessarily aspirational or even flattering, but it has the spirit of a good time.
Jessica Richards, trend forecaster, JMR Design Consulting
Part of this blend of styles includes socks with sandals, which give us “a bit of comfort as we ease back into platforms and heels,” pants and jeans with “fits that are a little more forgiving” and skorts for “when we're not yet ready to abandon the comfort of shorts but need to feel updated and more dressed up,” Richards said. Alongside this, another reason skorts are back might be simple — they’re better. Nowadays, skorts have been “improved upon'' with more options that look consistent from the front to the back, making the short part of a skort less noticeable, according to Michal Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at Saint Mary’s College of California who focuses on consumer psychology. Richards seconded this sentiment, saying that the skorts of today feel more elevated, sophisticated and wearable — offered in both longer or shorter lengths and made of a range of materials from denim to jacquards.
The other larger trend is fashion from the 2000s. Generally, “era-specific trends do normally cycle around 20-ish years unless something in the zeitgeist inspires them back a bit sooner,” Richards pointed out. So the timing was on track for a comeback. But more deeply, the pandemic did change the lives of many of us — and it’s hard to say exactly what we’ll feel post-pandemic. “There’s a general feeling that we've experienced a ‘lost’ year. As a result, we're seeing a lot of trends across accessories and ready-to-wear that give us a sense of youthfulness,” Richards told us. “Bright beaded jewelry, smiley faces, bucket hats as we prepare for a summer more in the world than we've been, there's so many elements of fun and adolescence in our dressing. The skort naturally lends itself to this trend.” And the nostalgia for pre-pandemic times transcends generations — Generation X and millennials lived through the trend before and Generation Z can find it to be fresh, Richards said.
And thrifting is an especially big part of Gen Z culture. Slow fashion and sustainability movements have helped some “look for more upcycle approaches to things they find,” Sklar explained. “Gen Z has the unique opportunity that most other generations haven't: The ability to research and see old trends cataloged on the internet and to discuss and show their interpretations on social media,” Richards explained. “Other generations have always referenced past eras and trends in their dressing, but the depth of discovery and access to imagery is certainly an advantage for Gen Z.”
And this summer, many of us might be ready to dress up as more than a hundred million Americans are fully vaccinated. During the days of social isolation, “many of us did not pay much attention to what we wore below our Zoom cameras — let's face it: Sweat pants made a major, though hidden, comeback),” Strahilevitz mentioned. As we’re seen head to toe again, it’s “not surprising that skorts are going to be part of what we wear” and they’re fun at a time when many “want to get out and enjoy life,” she said.
“The fun and frivolity of aughts fashion feels good now, when we're finally able to take a bit of a breath after the stress of Covid and an overwhelming 2020," Richards also added. “Let's be real: Aughts fashion is flashy and not necessarily aspirational or even flattering, but it has the spirit of a good time.”
Best skorts to shop right now
Given reader interest in fitness gear and apparel, the following are skorts that you can wear as activewear or athleisure from Shopping reader favorite brands like Outdoor Voices, Patagonia and Athleta.
This skort is made from Outdoor Voices’ Lightspeed fabric, a lightweight performance material that’s made to dry quickly and for movement from running to walking. The shorts inside the skort feature a phone pocket and leg grippers designed to keep the underliner in place when you’re in motion. The skort comes in sizes XS to XL and six colors including Earl Grey and Navy.
Athelta’s skort is built for trail, long and short distance running. It’s made from the brand’s Featherweight Stretch fabric, which uses recycled polyester. It features a back zip pocket and split sides to make it easier to move in. It’s available in sizes XXS to 3X and offered in four colors: Sequoia Blue, Black, Agate Purple and Bright White. Those looking for a little more coverage can also find the skort at a slightly longer length.
This popular high-rise active skort is made from Girlfriend Collective’s compressive fabric that’s sweat-wicking and designed from recycled plastic bottles. The shorts underneath feature mesh pockets for essentials. It currently comes in sizes XXS to 6XL and 11 colors including Plum, Moss and Horizon (a tangerine shade). This skort has over 2,600 reviews — although, Girlfriend Collective doesn’t publicly reveal the average star rating for its products.
This Patagonia skort is made from a recycled polyester and spandex blend. It features a faux wrap front that makes it a little dressier and a drawcord waist, along with two drop-in pockets in the front and a zippered pocket inside one of them. The skort comes in sizes XS to XL and three shades: Kale Green, Black and Upwell Blue. It’s earned an average 4.6-star rating over more than 120 reviews.
Spanx’s skort is designed to be moisture-wicking and quick-drying with four-way stretch. It features a UPF sun protection of 50+, a short liner that the brand says is made to prevent chafing and a double-layered smoothing waistband. You’ll also find a back zippered pocket and perforated side pockets on this skort. It comes in sizes XS to XL and three colors including Black, White and North Atlantic (a blue-green shade).
This skort is made mainly from recycled nylon. It is moisture-wicking, features UPF 50+ sun protection and a water-resistant finish. You’ll find a back zip pocket and an elastic waistband on the skort as well. It currently comes in sizes XS to 3XL and three colors: TNF Black, Agave Green and Misty Jade.
This top rated mid-rise skort features UPF 50 sun protection, along with the brand’s own Omni-Shield advanced water repellency to keep you cool and dry while wearing them.
It boasts an average 4.6-star rating over more than 3,600 reviews on Amazon. It currently comes in sizes XS to 3X, along with colors like Nocturnal (navy), Black and Tusk (khaki).
Vineyard Vines says this skort is “our most popular performance skorts.” This skort is designed from a blend of polyester and spandex — it is moisture-wicking and offers UV protection (the brand doesn’t provide a protection number publicly, however). It also features a scalloped hem and two back pockets with seam zippers. The skort comes in sizes 00 to 16 and three colors currently (the fourth called White Cap is sold out in all but one size): Stone (beige), Deep Bay (navy) and Marlin (periwinkle).
This skort style features the brand’s ReZion fabric, which includes UPF 50+ sun protection and wrinkle resistance while being quick-drying. It also comes with an elastic waist, front and back pockets (there’s a hidden zipper for essentials). You can choose between sizes XS to XL and four colors: Embark Brown (more of a mustard), Dark Iron (a gray), Deep Stellar (a blue-green) and Evergreen.
This a-line skort is meant to sit lower on the waist, according to L.L.Bean. It’s made with both polyester and spandex, which features two-way stretch. The quick-drying, moisture-wicking skort offers UPF 50+ sun protection, adjustable tabs on the inside to customize the fit at the waist and multiple pockets. You can choose between sizes 4 to 20 and three colors: Ash (brown), Black and Iron. It has earned an average 4.4-star rating over more than 200 reviews.
Where to find skorts
If you’re searching for skorts, the following retailers offer a range of styles and sizes to consider, including from Shopping reader favorite retailers like Nordstrom and REI. When shopping for shorts, you might usually find them categorized alongside shorts.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Outdoor Voices
- The North Face