Though regular length jeans are an easy wardrobe staple you can mix and match with anything, when it comes to wearing cut off jean shorts, if you’re no longer a lithe teenager, the rules become very different. Whenever you plan on wearing a denim short outfit it should always be carefully curated. If not, you might wind up looking like Daisy Duke’s trashy cousin in hot pants. While some fashion editors believe thirty-to-forty-something-moms should avoid those “all-American- cut offs” all together, others view them as the ageless summer versions of denim. In a Vogue interview with Denim Editor Kelly Connor, the advice was simple: “As with jeans, it’s important to find the length that is most flattering for your shape,” said Connor. “A longer or slimmer leg can pull off a longer short, while a more abbreviated style looks best on petit or curvy figures.”
The editors at Glamour suggest the inseams of your shorts should be at least two inches long. “A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to sit cross-legged without worrying about exposing anything.” Which means you should avoid channeling that famous Sharon Stone scene in Basic Instinct. Fashion experts agree that key to keeping denim shorts classy and age-appropriate for moms—who need to bend over and contort constantly— is the manner in which you style them. Whether you prefer a tailored look or a slouchier, boyfriend fit, longer shorts are always age-appropriate. For instance, since a longer short is less revealing, the top you wear with it can show a bit more skin and the shoe’s heel can be higher.
With shorter cut off jean shorts, keep the top modest and the shoe flat. The best way for dressing up short shorts and cut-offs like an adult is to pair them with a preppy, plaid, or basic white button down shirt with a collar, a boxy crop top, or a tunic style blouse. Because, if you throw those shorties on with a T-shirt, tight tank top, and a pair of flip-flops, you’ll look anything but classy, my dear. And be sure to keep the fit a bit baggy, avoid tight. If you can’t seem to find something that fits right at the stores, consider cutting up an old pair of jeans to ensure the best well-loved fit.
Another easy way to add a touch of sophistication and some ying to your yang, is by pairing your denim cut offs with a pair of menswear inspired shoes. Try them on with a pair of chunky loafers, platform slip on sneakers, or some elegant oxford shoes for a bit of summer androgyny. Opting for a rolled-hem style denim short not also gives a more adult vibe, but it gives you more options for varying how much leg you want to show according to how hot your date night is.
When it comes down to it, ladies, keep problem areas covered and carry yourself like a lady in your denim jean shorts. If you can pull off a shorter cutoff with class and confidence, then all the power to you, mama, you wear them well.