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Ask CF: How Do I Wear Shorts and Tights in Winter?


Girl wearing shorts with tights
Photo Credit

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask CF! Every two weeks, we select a reader fashion question and answer it here on the site. Do you have a specific fashion question for us? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to send it our way!

Ask CF Question

Dear CF,

I’ve always loved incorporating summer and spring clothes into winter-ready ensembles and I’d love to try adding shorts into the mix, but I’m worried they’ll look awkward. Do you have any tips for how to pull the look off? Thanks!



Our Response

Dear Short-y,

Thank you for your question! Wearing shorts and tights in the winter is a great way to expand your winter wardrobe as well as stand out from the crowd. However, like any new style, this look can be a little intimidating at first.

There are many different ways you can wear tights and shorts together. A popular way to wear this look is to try a denim pair. I especially like the ones with a cuff at the bottom (see example below). Black tights are a common and classic pick, but don’t be afraid to get more creative with a print or unexpected color. I also recommend trying shorts that are made of more durable fabrics, like tweed or leather, since they already have that wintery feel to them.

Another thing that may sway some from trying out this trend is the cold. A way to combat this issue is to layer up with two pairs of tights or even wear a pair of leggings (or 2!) underneath. Another option is to add on a longer coat that gives your legs a little more coverage.

But overall I think the main challenge of wearing shorts and tights is having the confidence to try out this trend. So if you’re hesitant, my advice is to take the plunge, rock with confidence, and see how it goes — they’re only clothes, right? If you don’t love something you don’t have to wear it again — that’s what’s so great about fashion!

To help get you started, I have created a few outfits featuring shorts and tights that you can check out below. I hope you find them helpful and I hope you enjoy trying out the look for yourself!



Outfit #1

Ask CF-Winter Shorts-Black
Product Information: CapeSweater, BraceletsTights, NecklaceShoesShorts

For this outfit I chose a pair of simple black shorts that act as a backdrop to the more standout pieces like this dramatic cape and suspender tights. If you aren’t a fan of these tights, any other black pair (either opaque, sheer, or patterned) would work just as well. As the saying goes, fashion rules are made to be broken, so forget the outdated “rule” that navy can’t be worn with black and try out a navy sweater. Accessorize with some bracelets and a statement necklace. Finally, ankle strap ballet flats complete the look.

Outfit #2

Ask CF-Winter Shorts-Green
Product Information: Jacket, Tights, Top, Sweater, Shorts, Shoes, Earrings, Scarf

Colored pants are so hot right now — so carrying this trend over to shorts makes sense. Here I’ve paired these green shorts with a polka-dotted tank and black cardigan. Again, this look can be worn with black tights, but it would look even cooler with a pair of grey cable-knit tights like the ones above. One of the best ways to keep warm is to layer, layer, layer. To do this, add on a parka jacket and chunky knit scarf. Finish the look off with simple heart studs and black penny-loafers.

Outfit #3

Ask CF-Winter Shorts-Denim
Product Information: CoatSweaterTightsEarrings, RingShortsBoots

For this last look, I knew I had to use cuffed denim shorts, since they’re something most girls already have in their closets. To make them winter appropriate, pair them with a knit sweater and a long black coat. (I’d probably wear it open so you could see the shorts beneath, but it works buttoned-up, too.) For a unique look, try a pair of maroon tights underneath. Simple blue studs add a touch of glam to the look while this spike ring and these studded boots channel a more edgy look.

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If you have a question you want to see answered in this column, just send it on over via email to askcf @ and one day you might see your question answered right here on the site!

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What do you think?

Have you ever worn tights with shorts before? Do you think you’ll try this look? How would you like to style this trend? What’s your favorite outfit? Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Posted on on January 29, 2012 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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39 Responses to “Ask CF: How Do I Wear Shorts and Tights in Winter?”

  1. 1
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Haha I love how this is not at all relevant right now at UCLA… I’m wearing shorts without tights today. :) Nice outfits as always though, I’ll keep it in mind if ever winter comes back.

  2. 2
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I really wanted to try the look last year but I never got around to trying the trend because it’s really not the most practical of looks. First, the look is best done with tweed or another winter fabric for the shorts, which is no help when you want to extend the life of your summer shorts. Second, shorts tend to be so much shorter than any skirt, so the windchill is going to get to you more. Doubling up on tights/leggings underneath a pair of shorts sounds uncomfortable, correct me if that’s not the case at all.

    It’s a cute look, but for me, it’s a little too much effort to make it work. Maybe one day.

  3. 3
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    When I was studying abroad in Japan during winter, ALL the Japanese girls wore shorts and tights–jeans are not really a thing there, so I quickly adapted to the trend. I would definitely recommend wearing longer shorts; booty shorts will not do this style justice. This is seriously one of the most comfortable outfits and it’s so easy to just throw on a pair of tights, shorts and a chunky sweater. It looks really cute too!

  4. 4
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Ahhh Jessica, I’m so jealous! I’m not in LA right now (I’m studying abroad in España) & what I would give to have the weather you guys are having right now! I’m having the opposite problem here… it’s too cold for me to wear this trend (although most of the Spanish girls are pulling it off without a problem — my LA bones aren’t accustomed to the cold enough to do it & I don’t have enough tights to layer).

    Melissa, good point on wearing longer shorts. Definitely agree with you on that one!

  5. 5
    January 29th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    If only it wasn’t 80 degrees here in Florida! These outfits are cute :)

  6. 6
    January 29th, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I’m from SoCal as well, but I just love outfit #1! So chic and classy!

  7. 7
    January 29th, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    ohh I love this trend, I’m from Germany and back at home the trend just started, but since I’m studying in the UK now I see girls wearing this everyday, its a huge thing over here. (well, over here its around 35 degree everyday..)
    But british girls would always (!!) combine it with a cute pair of socks, normally in colours like brown or grey. I also love socks in crazy colours or with cute ribbons. And I love this combination with some cool, rugged boots!
    Thanks for the post, I love the outfits :)

  8. 8
    January 29th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    In the UK I’ve been wearing this trend for years!
    It’s such a great way to stretch your wardrobe and showcase all the great patterned tights!
    Plus in rainy wales tights do not stick to you like jeans do :P

  9. 9
    January 29th, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I really love these, normally i only like one or two things form the out fits put together but the last two are awesome! i love tights with shorts! good job guys <3

  10. 10
    January 29th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    in florida, it’s been so hot i’ve been in shorts and a tank for weeks, but yeah, been wearing this for years also like others above, mostly because i hate pants but love shorts :) i actually think some bootie shorts can be worn–i have dark denim ae shorts, really short, but not distressed and really dark, and with sweater tights or lace tights or plain tights they look good. all the outfits here are gorgeous, really well done.

    also, i need those suspender tights oh my god.

  11. 11
    January 29th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I love the trend! I recently wore brown plaid shorts with navy colored pantyhose, accompanied with a White top, a black blazer and black ankle boots! I know the combo sounds weird but it really looked cute! Keep the trend going! I’m student in Texas right now (I’m originally from canada) so the trend is new to me considering being canadian I’m not used to wearing shorts in January (mainly just heavy snow gear) Keep the posts coming! <3 :)

  12. 12
    January 29th, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I also had a question: what are the type of facial products do you recommend for oily skin?

    I am of Jamaican backgroud, and have oily skin. Typically in Jamiaca, when someone has oily skin they are considered lucky beause their skin will age slower than normal, but for me it’s annoying. I know other girls of other nationalities may have this problem as well….so with that being said….what do you recommend for curing oily skin?


    Olive oil

  13. 13
    January 29th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I too like incorporating fall/spring/summer stuff into winter. Personally what I do (more so for dresses than shorts) is layer tights, leggings, leg warmers, and knee socks (what?! I’m in Chicago. You have no idea what its like waiting for the El in the Winter). I think the key is layers (that keep you warm, but don’t look bulky), especially if you’re in really cold temps.

  14. 14
    January 29th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I hate denim shorts with tights.

    I like fancy shorts for winter though. I have a pair of grey tweed ones that I wear with a black sweater, black tights, and bright yellow flats. Or a girly white blouse, red tights, and oxfords.

    I also have a pair of patterned shorts that I wear with leggings and boots.

  15. 15
    January 29th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    My favorite outfit is definitely outfit #2 but I love the tights in outfit #1. I love shorts with tights, I got a pair of tweed grey patterned shorts for winter I call them my “winter shorts”. I usually just wear them with a grey sweater or white v-neck and black tights. Great post!! :)

  16. 16
    January 29th, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Love love this trend, but even my fleece-lined tights do nothing to protect me from this Vancouver winter! Maybe in the spring.

  17. 17
    January 29th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I really apreciate this article!
    we’re experiencing a pretty mild winter this year, and I finally feel confident enough to rock this trend. I especially like the third look because I generally only wear denimn shorts, and I just adore the color palette used for that outfit choice. I also always have a lot of trouble with those transition months,especially winter to spring (but who doesn’t)? I’ll definetly get some wear out of my sweaters, flannels and tights just in time for the warm weather.
    Great post! Thanks for all the ideas :)

  18. 18
    January 30th, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Def. wore an outfit similar to outfit #3!
    Outfit #1, and #2 do seem fun to try, though!
    Thanks for the ideas! So excited to try them out!

  19. 19
    January 30th, 2012 at 4:09 am

    I wear this look all the time! It is such an easy way to change up your wardrobe. The easiest way I do it is wear a top I’d usually wear with a skirt or skinny jeans with the shorts. Easy! I think this look is really nice. Very easy to throw on as well! =D

  20. 20
    January 30th, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Wearing two pairs of tights seems like the most uncomfortable thing in the world.

  21. 21
    January 30th, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Yessssss, just the post I’ve been waiting for! We’ve had an unusually warm winter and I’m feeling uncreative with my outfits. I have a pair of black, flow-y shorts that I’ve been wanting to incorporate but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off.. but I think I’m gonna take the plunge anyway.

  22. 22
    January 30th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Ooh I love the green shorts and MASSIVE scarf in the second outfit! Sadly, when I wear shorts I look like a ten-year-old boy about to go to gym class :/

  23. 23
    January 30th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I agree if you wear shorts and tights the shorts need to be not too short but not to long on you. That will make the outfit look even more beautiful.

  24. 24
    January 31st, 2012 at 3:17 am

    I wore tights and shorts today because of this post! One commenter wrote that it is too cold in Vancouver to try this, but I was fine all day today. I wore black tights, black knee-high boots, olive knee-high socks, olive shorts, and then a gray/muave/pink/olive floral top. To keep me a bit warmer, I wore an extra shirt underneath. I finished everything up with gloves, a pink scarf, and an olive green pea coat. I was warm and I received compliments all day. Thanks CF! I was certainly inspired.

  25. 25
    February 1st, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Haha what are you guys talking about, this is perfect with booty shorts. And wearing two pairs of tights really isn’t that uncomfortable. If you find it uncomfortable try buying tights in the next size up to layer over your normal sized ones.

  26. 26
    February 1st, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I am seeing shorts (about 2-3 inches above the knee) with heavy leggings for college guys where I like (Lakewood, CO).

  27. 27
    February 8th, 2012 at 7:57 am

    love that pair of shoes in black color and that pair of piercing earnings

  28. 28
    May 10th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I know I’m a bit late and its spring already but I really like your sense of winter fashion :)
    I love wearing shorts and miniskirts even in the winter, I have been dressing like this for years and my legs are used to it now. Like my legs are cold but my body doesn’t feel it :) I don’t even wear tights anymore, this way people can see my skin. During the winter, many people look at me weirdly because my legs look very skinny and cold in shorts and I stand out but I don’t mind :)

    wearing a long coat with a colorful scarf and shorts in the winter makes you look very unique and beautiful. everyone should try it! :)

  29. 29
    May 14th, 2012 at 12:47 am

    This is not even an option in Canada… after October, if you wear shorts, everyone will think you’re insane. Not to mention you’ll likely get frost bite on your legs D:

  30. 30
    May 15th, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    This is not a new trend. It’s retro. And now I feel old lol

  31. 31
    July 22nd, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I live in Wales in britain and literally ALL of the girls here wear shorts and tights ;D we love our shorts but its too cold to wear them without tights and jeans are boring sometimes! I wear this look all year round

  32. 32
    July 23rd, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I sometimes wear shorts and tights, but my best friend does it all the time. Literally, she hates trousers and skirts. She wears nude tights (at least 2 pairs) with shorts and always looks great. I mean, she wore shorts and tights in Poland in -15 degree weather. It’s definitely possible. :)

  33. 33
    September 9th, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I recently wore dark brown tights with orange shorts, a multicolored tank, and a nude cardigan style shirt to tie it all together. I also chose a pair of Blowfish boots that can fold down and snap . Well I thought I looked great, but someone told me I looked like a Fall Elf…lol. Am I too old to wear this style maybe? I’m 32. Next time, I think I’m going to go with a more subtle choice of color for my shorts.

  34. 34
    February 11th, 2013 at 10:33 am

    My legs are tto thin to wear shorts, please could you do a post on long skirts, and how to wear them and style them.

  35. 35
    January 29th, 2014 at 1:08 am

    I’m planning on wearing cut off denim shorts with black tights tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure the ‘best way’ to do it, and I’m glad I found this article.
    Thanks to the author!

  36. 36
    May 28th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I wear tights with shorts a lot . I wear tights or sheer pantyhose almost all the time with shorts and short and long skirts. Depending on the weather,it’s either shoes, boots to sandals , I love this look and will continue with it. Loved the article. Thanks

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