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What are Skorts?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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A skort is a garment that may slightly resemble a skirt, but has divided legs that give you the ability to be more active. The skort is a combination, or portmanteau word that brings together the two terms short and skirt. Traditionally the skort is fairly short, offering the coolness of wearing either garment, but the benefits of more modest coverage provided by shorts.

There are two types of skorts popular today. The first has a layer of fabric covering the front of the short section of the garment. From the back this type of skort looks like a regular pair of shorts. You might find this style on swimsuit bottoms, in tennis dresses, or simply in regular clothing stores.

The second type of skort looks much more like a skirt from back and front. It has a layer of fabric or a skirt that surrounds a pair of shorts. This style again might be seen in swimsuits, tennis dresses or in school and cheerleader uniforms. The skirt fabric on this skort is really merely for show, while the short coverage underneath the skirt ensures that great activity will not accidentally show off any undergarments.

Sometimes people may refer to any wide legged shorts, or short pants that are above the knee as skorts. Usually there is enough extra fabric in these styles to make them appear more like a skirt than a pair of shorts. Wide-legged pants that look like a skirt are more properly called culottes or palazzo pants.

The early inspiration for the skort was likely of two sources. Culottes were initially designed for men’s military uniforms. They were worn with high knee socks or leggings, and knee-length boots. In the 19th century, women began to want skirts that were divided so they could ride astride instead of sidesaddle. Divided skirts were greatly similar to a regular skirt in length and quantity of fabric. They did give women a little more freedom and especially gave them the chance to retain their modesty while participating in activities. Gradually divided skirts began to use less fabric, becoming the modern pants worn by women today.

Many women like the ease and freedom of the skort, and the fact that it reveals less of the figure than does a pair of shorts. The skort can hide any perceived figure faults, and remains slightly dressier than shorts.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Mykol — On Jul 17, 2012

My daughter is a high school cheerleader and a skort is part of their uniform. They wouldn't be able to do many of their routines if they weren't wearing something like this.

The skirt part makes them look like they are wearing a short skirt, but with the divided legs, they can kick and jump without worrying about what someone might see.

I also have a swimsuit that has a skort bottom. I like this because it covers more of my legs than a traditional swimsuit bottom does.

By SarahSon — On Jul 17, 2012

I have a denim skort that I like to wear. This looks more feminine than a pair of shorts and makes climbing in and out of the car a lot easier than it would be if I was wearing a skirt.

Since this is a blue jean skort it goes with everything, but just looks nicer than wearing a pair of shorts. It seems like skorts go in and out of style.

I bought this skort several years ago, but don't seem them very often in the stores where I shop anymore.

By honeybees — On Jul 16, 2012

When I go out to play a game of tennis, I just wear a pair of shorts, but can see why many of the female professional tennis players you see on TV wear a tennis skort.

This gives them a little bit dressier look, but they still have the freedom to move around like they would if the had on a pair of shorts. I have never worn a skort so don't know what it would feel like to have one on.

It might take some getting used to having the front look like a skirt, but still feel like a pair of shorts.

By eidetic — On Jul 16, 2012

I think skorts are great for sports when women traditionally wear skirts, like golf or tennis. I learned to golf a few years ago, and now when I golf I usually wear a golf skort. I still look cute, but I don't have to worry about anyone seeing anything they shouldn't see!

By Ted41 — On Jul 15, 2012

@Pharoah - I wore womens skorts a lot when I was in middle school too. I went to a private school, and our uniform was a polo shirt and either a pair of pants or a skort (not a skirt.)

As an adult, I don't really wear skorts very often. I don't wear short skirts, so I'm comfortable not having shorts under my long skirts, because they're pretty modest anyway.

By Pharoah — On Jul 15, 2012

I used to wear women's skorts a lot when I was in middle school and high school. My mom didn't wouldn't let me wear a skirt that was above my knees, but she was OK with shorter skorts.

I would usually get the ones that looked like skirts, with a layer of fabric on the outside, but shorts on the inside. That way I still looked stylish, but my mom was satisfied too.

Looking back, I think it's probably a good thing I wore skorts so often, because I was very active. Skorts probably saved me some embarrassment over the years for sure.

By healthy4life — On Jul 14, 2012

A cotton skort can be so comfortable. I feel kind of vulnerable and exposed when I wear actual skirts, but skorts give me that extra feeling of security when I have to bend over.

I like the kind of skort that has skirt material all the way around. That way, no one can tell it's not an actual skirt. I can get away with wearing it to work, and no one says anything about me dressing too casually.

I also have a denim skort that I wear while grocery shopping. I have to bend over or squat down to get items off the shelves, and I don't feel self-conscious at all when I'm wearing one.

By Kristee — On Jul 13, 2012

@giddion – I have a swimsuit bottom that is a stretch skort. I know what you mean about weight fluctuation. I generally gain weight over the winter, yet my swimsuit will still fit in the summer because of the elastic in the waist.

I have cellulite on my upper thighs, so I won't wear a bikini bottom or even one with ultra short shorts. I will only wear skort bottoms, because the extra material hides my dimpled skin.

I think that many women feel this way. I always see plenty of skort bottoms available for sale in department stores when they put their swimsuits on display.

By giddion — On Jul 12, 2012

@kylee07drg – Wow! Yeah, I wouldn't wear one made totally of spandex either.

I do have a couple of stretch skorts, but the stretchiness is in the waistline and not all over. This way, if I put on a few pounds, I can still fit into the skort, and my extra weight won't show.

In fact, my weight fluctuates so much that I actually prefer stretch skorts and pants. Past a certain point, the waistline will start to dig into my skin, but as long as I stay within a five-pound range, they fit just fine.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 12, 2012

I saw a spandex skort in a sporting goods store. It seemed weird to me, because I always thought the point of a skort was to hide a flawed figure.

Spandex is probably the material that reveals your shape the most. It will cling to every fat lump and curve. I would never be seen publicly in one of these skorts.

I am sure that they are probably designed for people playing sports who need something that will fit closely but will also cover more than shorts. This type of skort may have extra fabric that covers the front and back, but you still have the problem of it showing if you have any fat whatsoever.

By yntern — On Jul 06, 2009

I'm always self-conscious in skirts or shorts, but somehow don't mind skorts. I guess I like the relatively dressiness implied by the skirt aspects, while preferring the coverage of the shorts element.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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