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College Fashion Trend: Hot Pants and Tap Shorts


College Fashion Trend - Hot Pants and Tap Shorts

Going to school in Arizona presents many fashion challenges: every Spring, I try to test out all of the new trends, yet by the end of the semester, I always give up and just dress to combat the heat. This year, however, I’ve resolved to keep my outfits fresh and fun, while avoiding a “uniform” look (AKA a dress and sandals every single day). Dressing well AND staying cool has never been easier, though, thanks to a few skin-baring trends that are perfect for hot weather.

While many of you in colder climates will probably gasp at what we’re wearing right now in AZ, the fashion-forward students on my campus are already sporting two of Spring/Summer’s upcoming trends: hot pants and tap shorts.

A Bit About Hot Pants

Over the past 10 years, hemlines have become increasingly shorter, but the “hot pant” takes this notion to a whole to level. Originally a trend from the 1970s, the hot pant has been featured by designers like Dolce and Gabbana this season, while celebs such as Gisele Bundchen and Natalie Portman have already showcased this trend on the covers of Vogue and Elle, respectively.

Hot Pants
Natalie Portman for Elle, Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2010, Gisele Bundchen for Vogue

Hot Pants 101

Liking the trend but not sure if you can pull these off? Here are a few tips.

  • When looking for hot pants, look for a hemline that curves up around the outer thigh for the most flattering and fashion-forward look.
  • Girls with shorter legs should wear heels with hot pants to maximize leg length, whereas longer legged ladies are safe with sandals, wedges, flats, etc. Obviously, short shorts and high heels won’t work for your 9 AM Bio lecture, so save them for a fun night-out look.
  • Have fun with the trend! We’re young, so why not try a leather or colored hot pant if you’re loving the look? You can always tone it town with the right accessories or neutral toned pieces.
  • If you aren’t comfortable showing so much skin but want to try the trend, wear opaque tights underneath! You’ll have coverage but will still be able to sport this style with confidence.

Example Outfit Time!

Here’s a budget-friendly outfit that showcases the hot pant. This look could work for a warm night out, or daytime, depending on the occasion.

How to wear hot pants

Product Information: Heels- Forever 21, Sunglasses- Top Shop, Shorts- Select Fashion, Top- Forever 21

…and a Bit About Tap Shorts

If you aren’t keen on the derriere-hugging look of hot pants, try tap shorts! Tap shorts are like a newspaper boy’s short with a feminine twist. This season’s tap shorts are heavily influenced by lingerie, as exemplified by designers such as John Patrick and brands such as Kimchi Blue.

Tap Shorts

Organic by John Patrick Spring 2010, “Silky Lacy Tap Short” by Kimchi Blue

Hot Pants 101

  • Tap shorts usually have a hem no longer than 2 inches long, which can be either straight or ruffled.
  • The tap short is loose and not exactly figure hugging, so bust out your most flattering tops in order to add shape to your look!
  • Again, if you don’t want to show your whole leg, tights are a great option to wear underneath to help you feel more confident.

Example Outfit Time!

Here’s an example outfit that shows how to wear tap shorts.

How to wear tap shorts

Product Information: Shorts- Urban Outfitters, Oxford Heels-Shop Ruche, Tights- Blouse- Forever 21

A Penny for Your Thoughts…

Do you think hot pants or tap shorts are more wearable for Spring? What are your favorite warm weather looks? Also, if you want to see some more runway inspiration, check out this article by Fashionising!

Posted on on March 29, 2010 / Filed Under: Trends / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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27 Responses to “College Fashion Trend: Hot Pants and Tap Shorts”

  1. 1
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    LOVE the tap shorts look! i especially like them with thigh highs and an oversized top.


  2. 2
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Hmmm, I’m going to have to give these trends a pass. I just can’t see them looking flattering on me.

  3. 3
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    im not soo sure about this…
    those tap pants seem to me to be a liitle too much like panties.
    but i guess it could be alright for a day at the beach
    however i kinda like the tap shorts… for pajamas….
    on another note i like the outfits you put together i would just substitute them for normal shorts =)

  4. 4
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    *hot pants

  5. 5
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t know about the hot pants you featured, they might be a little bit too short for me. But the Tap Shorts you featured definitely caught my eye, i love the lace detailing at the bottom! Great article Kristina, definitely got me thinking about my spring wardrobe!

  6. 6
    March 29th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    LOVE the tap shorts
    i think the ruffled ones are super cute.
    IDK about the hot pants, it makes me nervous just thinking about how much booty and bare leg theyd show. I hope girls who can pull them off try them, though.

  7. 7
    March 29th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    neither!! they both look like underwear!! too much for me

  8. 8
    March 29th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hot pants are a little much for me… I think regular shorts are quite short enough for me, thank you.

    The tap shorts are darling though, I think that I’d like to rock them now with tights, and by themselves later in the summer. They’re very sweet and feminine looking, which I like a lot. I’ll have to consider investing in a pair. :-)

  9. 9
    March 29th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Some trends are really best left to their original inspiration. Maybe that’s just because I’m a dancer, but I would only wear these looks in their original dance studio. I am a huge fan of shorty shorts, minis, and my legs, but these are too Sally Bowles for streetwear.

  10. 10
    March 29th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I’m not so into this. I mean, it looks good on other people – like Rihana and Lady Gaga ;) – but I don’t see myself wearing these.. Too short, I guess. But great post!

  11. 11
    March 29th, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I definitely want to try the hot pants. I don’t know if I will be able to wear them a lot of places because they are so short, but I think they are really cute. I also want to try them with tights! I don’t really like the look of the tap shorts, I don’t think I would be able to wear those.

  12. 12
    March 29th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    love the hotpants!

  13. 13
    March 29th, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I would definitely wear tap shorts but not hot pants. But I can’t imagine someone wearing either with heels without looking really cheap =/

  14. 14
    March 29th, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry, I wouldn’t wear either of these. If you wear heels with them it’d be very hard not to look cheap..

  15. 15
    March 29th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Every since i saw Carrie Bradshaw in hot pants at Samantha’s roof party (in the meat packing district i believe) I’VE ALWAYS WANTED A PAIR!! Carrie made it look classy and stylish. I try desperately to remember which episode that was but i can’t find it for the life of me! They’d be awesome for a day out shopping or a fun party if you ask me. I have to much of a slim figure to pull of the tap shorts though.

  16. 16
    March 30th, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Hot shorts are one of those things I think look great on some people, namely other people, but I don’t think I’d be able to pull it off. Like someone said, unless they’re worn right some of them look too much like panties to me for comfort.

  17. 17
    March 30th, 2010 at 2:50 am

    cant pull it off. i think heels with short shorts are just too… whats the word – cheap. It looks great in a photo but it’s not something I would wear out in the streets.

  18. 18
    March 30th, 2010 at 5:42 am

    I think both types of shorts are just too short for me! I don’t feel comfortable having so much on display :)

  19. 19
    March 30th, 2010 at 6:28 am

    I love my hotpants, but as I live in Scotland D: I can’t ever wear them… Even in summer, I have to wear them with tights. And just as I was getting my spring wardrobe nice and snazzy, a foot of snow has fallen overnight. Woo.

  20. 20
    March 30th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I wish I still had the legs for hotpants!! They are so totally adorable. But if you don’t have stick-legs you may not want to wear them, unless of course you like that attention . I really love the look of the worn jean short shorts with tights and heels soooo cute!

  21. 21
    March 30th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I just finished reading “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” by Karen Karbo and one of the tenants of Chanel’s designs was that fashion should be wearable. You should be able to cross your legs, raise your arms, breathe, etc. She was talking about some of the weird structures of early 1900s fashion (whalebone corsets and the like) but I think this is true of fashion and style today: If you can’t sit in class without flashing your hot lit professor a little glimpse at your personal grooming program, then it isn’t a good idea except for evenings down at The Shanty. Doesn’t matter how cute the little shorts are (and they are wicked cute — don’t get me wrong).

    Also, as a desert dweller myself, I know that the blazing sun overhead coupled with any surface that retains heat? Hot pants are going to be a big problem when you actually try to sit. Anywhere. A little extra fabric and no more burned cheeks!

  22. 22
    March 31st, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Honestly, if I saw someone wearing these–just an ordinary person, not a celebrity or a model on a runway–my first thought would be, “Girl, where are your pants?”

  23. 23
    March 31st, 2010 at 3:19 am

    I bought them myself for this summer, but I didn’t wear them yet, i’m still looking for a classy combination, i think it gets sletty really soon!

  24. 24
    April 13th, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Like the hot pants with tights but I think they are reserved for thin girls. The tap pants are too lingerie for me. Those beige ones look like retro undies.

    LOL @kat G It is definitely not a look for class or work or daytime really.

  25. 25
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    These out fits are soooooooooooooooooooooo cute love it

  26. 26
    February 8th, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Cant wait to get the hotpant’s they are mintt:)<3

  27. 27
    July 17th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Tap shorts are still right on trend this summer. I’ve always loved the look but didn’t think they would work for me. I found a striped vintage pair at a thrift store and they are just fab. They actually flatter my shape quite nicely, highlighting my waist and showing off my legs. Definitely not too lingerie-ish at all. UO has some great options!

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