How to Style Paperbag Shorts: 5 Outfit Ideas That Are Perfect for the Heat

how to style paperbag shorts

When it comes to style, there’s something to be said about both comfort and versatility. One clothing item that checks both of those off the list? Paperbag shorts.

While they might not be the first thing you think of when putting together an outfit, they really are such a great staple to have in your closet. I personally love wearing them while on vacation (they’re so lightweight and easy to pack!) but they’re also cute to wear on an everyday basis.

Most have an elastic waistband that makes them appear cinched at the waist. Plus, they typically have a looser fit so they don’t feel so constricting.

And if you need any more convincing that they’re comfortable, it’s also worth noting that paperbag shorts are often high waisted (which is always a major win in my book.)

Below, I’m sharing some tips for styling paperbag shorts — which are truly so much cuter than the “paper bag” name leads them on to be. I’m also including some of my go-to paperbag shorts outfit ideas, which are ideal to wear in the heat.

How to Style Paperbag Shorts

The options for styling paperbag shorts are pretty much endless, but in general, they work best with form fitting tops. Because the shorts have a paperbag waist, they appear tight at the top and looser and the bottom. If you pair them with a shirt that’s too baggy, things can look more sloppy than streamlined.

Another perk is that you can wear paperbag shorts just about anywhere, and for any occasion.

Want a casual look to run errands in? Check.

Need to look put together at a weekend brunch? Check.

Hoping to refresh your travel day look? Check.

What To Wear With Paperbag Shorts

Bathing Suits

As I mentioned above, I always find myself reaching for paperbag shorts while I’m on vacation. They’re ideal to slip into when you’re wearing a bathing suit, and they’re lightweight enough so you won’t get too hot.


Form fitting tops work best with paperbag shorts, and bodysuits seem to be made for them. Regardless of how you want to style your shorts, bodysuits make a great closet staple.

Crop Tops

If you can find a boxy crop top to pair with your paperbag shorts, it can give you a slightly edgy look. Complete the vibe by wearing white sneakers.


It doesn’t get more simple than a good old-fashioned t-shirt, some shorts, and sandals. On chillier days or evenings, go with a top that has long sleeves. You can also add a denim jacket or cardigan if needed.

5 Paperbag Shorts Outfit Ideas

Here, I’m rounding up some of my favorite paperbag shorts outfit ideas. I’ve included collages to give you some inspo, as well as some specific picks I’ve been eyeing!

paperbag shorts with a swimsuit
Bikini Top + Sun Hat + Sunglasses

I pretty much live in paperbag shorts and cover-ups while I’m on a beach vacation. There’s truly no better seaside (or poolside) look. When styling paperbag shorts with a bikini top, opt for high waisted shorts so you gain some coverage. Then, protect your skin by wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat and add all your essentials to a tote bag.

paperbag shorts as a swim coverup
Black Top + Khaki Paperbag Shorts + Gold Jewelry

Wearing paperbag shorts doesn’t have to look casual. If you’re meeting a client for lunch but you want to feel comfortable, slip on a black short sleeve top and some khaki paperbag shorts. Dress things up with gold jewelry, like hoop earrings or a dainty necklace, then complete the look with flat sandals. This outfit would also be perfect for a date night!

paperbag shorts and denim jacket
Square Neck Tank + Denim Paperbag Shorts + Sandals

Let me introduce you to your new, go-to summer outfit. These paperbag denim shorts are a much comfier alternative to traditional denim because they have a looser fit. Just slip into some sandals, throw on a white square neck tank, and add your favorite hat and sunglasses.

paperbag shorts and square neck tank
Green Paperbag Shorts + White Bodysuit + Headband

Sometimes a pop of color is just what’s needed to bring an outfit to life. Light green, navy, and brown are some classic paperbag short colors, but there are also a lot of bright options out there if you want to make more of a statement. Keep things simple on the top with a white bodysuit and a chic headband.

Paperbag shorts outfit idea
Boxy T-Shirt + White Sneakers

If you want an option that doesn’t involve tucking in your shirt, style a boxy crop top with your paperbag shorts. You can also switch things up and try some shorts that have a pattern or texture, like this eyelet pair. Add white sneakers and some sunglasses and you’ve got yourself the perfect casual paperbag shorts outfit.

How To Style Paperbag Shorts

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