DIY Projects

DIY Denim Cutoffs

I leave for Miami in just over two weeks. And I’m already semi-packed.

…Excited, much?

I spent yesterday pulling together wardrobe for the segments we’ll be shooting…and jumping the gun on my annual denim do-over so I have something to wear in my downtime (which, just so we’re clear, will be spent spread-eagled on the beach).

Every year, usually around April, I go through my embarrassingly overstuffed jeans drawer and pull out a couple of pairs to be sacrificed to the Shorts Gods. It’s not about hacking up pairs I don’t like, because if I don’t like the way the waist and thighs fit as jeans, I’m probably not going to like them as shorts, either. Instead, I choose pairs that fit really well in the important spots, but that have either seen better days (i.e. are shredded in not-cute ways), or that I just don’t wear for whatever reason. I used to not cut up expensive pairs, but I figure if something cost me upwards of a hundred bucks I’d rather be…wearing it.

Let’s talk tips!

1. Always always always put the jeans on first and make sure you really would like them better as shorts before you pick up the scissors. The pair of Paige jeans pictured above used to be my favorites, and I’ve held onto them despite the fact that I don’t really wear them anymore because I have a sad/fond memory of finding them in a very expensive boutique in Santa Barbara during the Lonely Road Trip Years and excitedly buying them despite the fact that I really couldn’t afford them at all…but now they have a big coffee stain down one leg and look like Virgil ate the cuffs. Which he might have. And cutting them into shorts lets me keep the cute parts and get rid of the Virgil-eaten parts, which means I can actually wear them more. Done.

2. With the jeans on, use a pen to make a little dot where you want the shorts to end (I usually cut right around where my fingertips hit my leg).

3. Err on the side of making them longer – you can always cut more off later – and remember that if you’re planning on cuffing them or letting them fray, you’ll lose a little length that way.

4. Remove the jeans, and cut the leg that you’ve marked, angling slightly down towards the inner seam (that is not a spot where you want to accidentally remove too much fabric). Fold the jeans in half, then cut the second leg to match the first.

5. If you’re looking for a frayed effect, run over the edges (and any additional areas you’d like to have a “worn” look) with a steak knife, and then throw them in the wash.

6. Think outside-the-box. If you’re not into the short-shorts thing, try cutting a pair so that they hit at the knee, then rolling them to make a cute retro style.

  • Rain Mikajlo

    eee! i was just browsing jetsetter for miami trips. im going to live vicariously through you! eat lots of cubans drink lots of icy drinks and maybe smoke a cigar or two for me. ps- 38 weeks!

    • jordanreid

      yes ma’am!
      so close!!! so excited for you 🙂

  • joy

    most important when wearing shorts: make sure your legs look supermodelish. or forget it. there are lots of other things to wear that will be more curve-kissing.

  • Sarah Arnold

    Ya! I just did this. I had ordered a crazy expensive pair that came and when I looked at them I thought, ” I have these jeans already and don’t wear them.” So I just layed the new ones on top, cut my jeans and sent back the $188 pair. The best part is I like mine even better.

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