Lululemon shorts are a staple in my closet. I wear them nonstop all summer. Their speed shorts are a long-time favorite, but lululemon phased them out in favor of the new speed up shorts. During this transition, they made some big changes in their flagship shorts. Although I wear both styles, they’re not the same shorts at all.
If you shop secondhand on sites like eBay or Poshmark, oftentimes you’ll find items are mislabeled. Since lulu’s transition from speed shorts to the new speed up shorts, I constantly see speeds for sale labeled as speed ups, and vice versa. The problem is, the fit is totally different! So if you like one but not the other, or if you need a different size in the two styles, how can you be confident you’re purchasing the style you want?
Fortunately, there are a couple of simple checks that will steer you in the right direction every time, and they’re really easy to look for.
The differences highlighted in this post are only what you can see from the outside. The inside of the shorts reveal a couple other differences as well. Plus, there’s a whole host of differences in how the two styles fit. If you’re looking for info on those fit and design differences, you’ll find it in this post.
In all the photos below, the pink is the classic speed short. The purple is the newer speed up short. See if you can spot the difference in the photos.
Note: there are several other styles of lululemon shorts out there that are sometimes confused with speed/speed up shorts, such as the turbo run shorts, groovy run shorts, and run times shorts. Since this source of confusion is not as common, this post doesn’t highlight those style differences.
Clue #1: front seam
Looking at the front of the shorts, where are the seams? Speed up shorts have a vertical seam that runs to the hem of the front of the shorts. Speed shorts have a curved seam that ends at the back panel, “connecting” the front and back of the shorts. Notice that the seam on speed ups is much more prominent since it’s closer to the center of the short.
Clue #2: back zipper
If you see the dangly zipper style, they’re speeds. Sometimes the looped zipper accent is missing on older speed shorts, but the style of the zipper base and pull is still different. The speed up zipper pull is a plastic stick that lays flush against the zip pocket. The zipper pull on classic speeds looks similar to a soda can opener and dangles more freely as the photo above shows.
Clue #3: back seam
Take a look at the back of the speed short: the rear seams run past the vent, terminating at the waistband and hem. On the speed up short, the seam terminates at the vent. Above the vent, speed ups do not have seams.
Clue #4: trim style
This difference is subtle, but noticeable if you look at the shorts up close. On classic speed shorts, the trim is a separate piece from the shorts. This makes the trim slightly raised, and you can see a slight edge where the fabric ends. This makes the trim more prominent at both the vent and the hem. On speed up shorts, the trim is totally flush with the rest of the shorts and is made of the same fabric. In that sense, the trim isn’t really trim at all, it’s just an area marked by a very tiny seam. Because of this difference, it’s extremely rare to see speed up shorts with contrasting trim, but it’s a very common styling element for speed shorts.
P.S. You might also like: how to tell the difference between 2-way and 4-way stretch speed shorts.