How to wear denim shorts

Q. I’ve seen lots of adorable denim shorts in magazines and on celebrities lately, and I love the look – both the ragged-edge cut-offs and cute cuffed styles. What style is most flattering on those of us that aren’t model-skinny?

Any tips for doing it myself and cutting off a pair? I have several drawers full of old jeans at home (it’s an addiction), many of which I rarely wear because they are either no longer in style or don’t fit perfectly. I’d love to transform an unused pair into cute shorts!

And how can I wear them without looking sloppy? Somehow all the magazines make jean shorts look like part of a purposeful outfit rather than bummy weekend wear – what’s the secret?

A. Denim shorts are indeed a big trend this season, available in long knee-grazing lengths and short “Daisy Duke” lengths, with or without cuffs and in all washes ranging from dark to super distressed. In other words, when it comes to denim shorts, practically anything goes.

When it comes to finding the most flattering style for your figure, it’s all about your thighs. If your thighs are slim and toned, you’re one of the lucky few who can wear most styles. For the rest of us, we recommend choosing a length that covers the widest (or bumpiest) part of your thighs. Petite women look best in lengths that hit mid-thigh or above to help lengthen legs. Below are some styles in varying lengths and washes:

Denim shorts can also be quite versatile: wear them with tank tops and t-shirts with beachy sandals, or feminine blouses and boyfriend blazers with heels and wedges. Below are some looks for inspiration (first 2 images: shopbop.com; image at right: freepeople.com):

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If you have piles full of old jeans, we absolutely encourage a DIY approach to this trend, especially since designer pairs can cost $200 or more. To figure out what length you want your shorts to be, start by trying on your jeans and marking with a pen where you would like to begin cutting. Remember, you can always cut more off, so it’s better to start with a longer length to be safe. If you plan to cuff your shorts, be sure to leave ample length for a double cuff (this will hide the raw edge). For a neater cuffed look, iron your cuffs and secure them with a stitch or two to keep them from unrolling. For a messy frayed edge, wash and dry your shorts a few times and the edges will begin to unravel.
If you want to distress your shorts, check out this article for tips. Good luck!

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