Living in one of the greenest places on America (in my opinion), summer usually brings the hippie out of everyone. For me, that means taking my long winter pants and hacking them shorter. I’ve gotten pretty good at it — I even shortened a layered skirt to bring it up to knee length the other day! But if you’re (forgive the pun) coming up short in achieving this classic summer look, here’s a quick guide to making cutoffs.
1. Make Sure The Pants (Or Whatever You’re Shortening) Are Clean.
I see this all the time: People want cutoff jeans so badly, they’ll just whip them right off and start slicing away. But that’s a really bad idea. The fabric is probably stretched from whatever you were just doing, not to mention the dust and grass that have gotten into the fibers throughout your day are probably warping its shape. Shortening clean garments makes for a much truer, cleaner shape.
2. Start At Knee Length.
This is a good length to start from, just because it’s so hard to fail. Find where your knees hit in the jeans (look for scuffs or where the fabric draws in, if you’re dealing with bell bottoms), snip one leg, fold the jeans in half lengthwise, and cut the other leg along the line of the other one. Easy as pie.
3. Try Them On. And Keep Trying Them On.
This is where you put the jeans back onto you and see how much is cut off. You have to keep doing this throughout the process. You must, because you absolutely have to know where your pants look like at different lengths. You don’t want to slip them on at the end and find they’re unwearably short.
4. Shorten Only 2-3 Inches At A Time.
Now that you know where your pants are at, hack away! You can do the folding technique like the one we used for the knees, but feel free to go freehand if you’re a real expert. And I’m not above cutting the pants while you’re wearing them! As a rule though, only cut off about 2-3 inches (the width of four fingers together to the width of a palm and thumb together) at a time. You don’t want any nasty surprises later on.
5. Watch The Butt!
Your butt naturally pulls fabric away from its normal flat-laying behavior, and so jean designers usually sneak extra fabric back there so it’s all the same length at the bottom. This is yet another reason why you need to keep trying the jeans on throughout this process, to make sure you don’t end up with booty poppers.
6. Don’t Force The Fray.
It’s tempting to just destroy your newly-shortened pants to make them more like the worn-to-shreds jeans we see in magazines. But really, all you have to do is wear them a lot. It’s okay if you want to rough them up a little with a pumice stone, or start a little patch of fray with a disposable razor blade. But natural wear is definitely much better looking than artificial destruction. And ruining up your beautifully shortened jeans with an overenthusiastic fray job is a total fail.
Do you wear cutoffs? What’s your favorite thing to wear with this summer clothing staple?