Cutoff shorts are a summer staple. It’s hard to imagine a time when you wouldn’t see cutoffs, or shorts at all, on a hot summer day. Shorts were taboo through the 1950s, and some cities even fined men and women for wearing them.
In the 60s and 70s, denim shorts became popular. Cutoffs offered a way to make a statement, and it was easy for even the DIY adverse to get the look with an old pair of blue jeans and a pair of scissors.
Throughout their history, these shorts have been a way to support reusing items, show your individual personality, and, for several decades, a way to give the establishment a one-finger salute. Perhaps the controversy surrounding their early popularity is one of the reasons they are still loved today.
Types of Cutoff Shorts for Women
Denim cutoffs are likely what comes to mind when you think about cutoff shorts, but there are many different types.
The types can be broadly broken down into:
The great thing about shorts is the ability to choose to clothe that reflects your individual style, personality, or occasion. Cutoffs also allow you to get creative. You can make your own or customize an existing pair for a unique look.
Frayed shorts are the classic style for cutoffs. They have a frayed hem on the bottom of each leg. The fray can look uniform or ragged, depending on your preference. This classic style works with nearly any fabric.
Ripped Women’s Shorts
These shorts are exactly what they sound like. They have rips, usually in the body of the shorts, with a frayed edge on the legs. They often have strings left in the holes that are ripped for an edgy appearance.
Distressed shorts are similar to ripped shorts, with a few differences. Ripped shorts can look new or worn, other than the rips and frayed edges. Distressed denim shorts will have a worn appearance. They may include worn areas or bleach spots. Instead of rips, the holes in distressed shorts will be frayed. This style looks unintentional, while ripped shorts look purposefully designed.
This is the most extreme look for cutoff shorts. Shredded shorts often have a large rip on each leg that acts as a slit in a skirt, revealing more of the thigh. Shorts with the entire front of each leg ripped are also considered shredded. Lastly, frayed shorts with long strings can also be shredded. Basically, if they look like they’ve had a fight with a lawnmower, consider them shredded shorts.
Fabric is a big consideration when it comes to style and comfort. While jean shorts still reign supreme, they aren’t your only option this summer.
Cutoff short fabric includes:
Jean shorts are the classic cutoff. You really can’t go wrong with a pair of denim shorts. Wear them to the beach paired with a tank top or pair it with a graphic tee for rock and roll chic. There are so many fits and styles that there’s sure to be a pair (or two) that you love.
Khakis are beloved for their classic casual style. Khaki shorts look great with a polo, and allow you to be comfortable while still looking classy. If you want to up the formality, chino shorts are a great option. Pleated or flat front chino shorts are great for everything from coffee to a company picnic. Cutoffs with a frayed edge give the shorts a little attitude while still looking respectable.
Cutoff cotton shorts can be found with a frayed edge or a clean one. This is the pair to reach for when you just want to lounge around the house or just want to be comfortable. The soft fabric can have a loose fit on the hips and buttocks, and it generally has a loose fit around the thighs.
You can find these shorts with a drawstring waist or elastic waist. It’s important to note that this style can be too revealing when you sit down due to the loose fit around the legs, so wearer beware when donning this style in public.
Fit and Rise
Just like your favorite pair of pants, the fit of your shorts has a big impact on how they look and feel when you wear them. Fit refers to the way the shorts fit, while the rise is where the top of the shorts hit your waist.
- Slim fit
- Loose fit
- High rise
Finding a pair of shorts that fit well isn’t always an easy task. There are four basic fits that can work for nearly anyone if you know how to wear them.
Slim fit shorts aren’t just for slim figures. They can make larger hips, buttocks, and thighs look smaller. Stretch denim shorts look great in a slim fit. If you opt for this fit, you may want to choose a mid-length short to balance it.
Classic fit is a little roomier than a slim fit. This style should skim your body instead of hugging it. This fit works well for everyone, and it’s a great choice if you have difficulty deciding what’s the most flattering for your figure. It also works well with all types of cutoff shorts.
Relaxed fit is also known as a boyfriend fit. This fit is roomy without being baggy. If you prefer feeling unconstricted or have larger hips or buttocks, a relaxed fit will work well. Relaxed fit can add a little bulk, which is good if you have narrow hips and wider shoulders.
Loose fit is often found on cargo shorts. These shorts offer plenty of room which makes them very comfortable. Generally, loose fit clothing can make you look larger. However, cargo shorts can offset this effect by drawing the eye away from your waist or hips to the pockets on the shorts.
Which pant rise is in style fluctuates, but it’s better to focus on the rise that’s best for your body instead of what’s hot on the runway. You’ll look much more stylish in a pair of shorts that work for you rather than following the latest trends.
High Rise Shorts
High rise shorts are one of the most flattering types. They should sit at or slightly below your belly button. This style adds definition to your waist, which can have a slimming effect. They also make your legs look longer.
Mid Rise Shorts
The #1 rule of fashion: When you are unsure, go for the middle choice. Mid-rise is a classic example of this rule. It’s flattering for every figure and every shorts style. These shorts hit about an inch below your belly button, and provide full coverage for your hips.
This style is great for women with a shorter torso, because low rise shorts make your waist look longer. If you have a few extra pounds in the midsection, you might find this style to be unflattering. It can cause your stomach to hang over the waist of the shorts.
The other fashion faux pas with low rise is it can expose the top of your butt. When considering a pair of low rise shorts, be sure to check the view in the back when you bend over. Low rise shorts can be sexy, but they aren’t for everyone.
There’s a short for nearly any occasion and body type, and the length of the short is one of the defining features. The length of the shorts is determined by the inseam.
There are three basic short lengths:
- Short (3 ½-4 inches)
- Mid Length (5-7 inches)
- Long (9-11 inches)
It must be said. Short shorts are not appropriate for all body types or all occasions. We’ve all seen someone in a pair that is too tight and too short. It’s not pretty. Don’t be that girl.
So who should wear short shorts? If you are petite or have shorter legs, this style will make them look longer. If you have shapely long legs and want to make your friends jealous of those gorgeous thighs, they work for that too. If you are self-conscious about your height or leg length, this style isn’t for you.
When searching for the perfect pair, find one that’s not too tight. Slim or classic fit is fine, as long as you aren’t sporting a pair that’s two sizes too small. If you want to add some balance, a mid or high rise is the way to go.
Lastly, there are places that these shorts are not appropriate for. They should be reserved for very casual occasions. Longer shorts can be dressed up or down. A short pair of shorts paired with a heel might look great if you are hitting the club, but don’t attempt to wear them to work. Unless you are a lifeguard.
Types of Short Shorts:
- Daisy dukes
- Booty shorts
- Boy shorts
Daisy Duke was one of the main characters in the show Dukes of Hazzard. She was the pin-up girl of the 80s. The girl next door sex appeal she possessed can’t be overstated. While she didn’t invent the style associated with Daisy Duke shorts, she certainly made a style into a household name that is still worn 30 years later. It doesn’t get more iconic than that.
Daisy dukes are a style of very short cutoff jean shorts. In fact, in the original show, the actress had to wear panty hose to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions on air. Today, any short denim cutoffs are referred to as Daisy dukes.
Booty shorts are basically what they sound like. Booty shorts barely cover the booty, and some styles even show the area where the buttocks meet the thigh. They are often made from cotton or spandex, and usually have an elastic waistband.
Cutoff booty shorts are every bit as short as Daisy Dukes. The main difference, other than the material, is that booty shorts are designed to accentuate the butt. The cut of the shorts can make the butt look bigger or draw the eye to the butt.
Boy shorts are a type of short and a style of underwear similar to boxers. The double meaning of the term can be a bit confusing. Boy shorts as a style of clothing are similar to booty shorts with a bit more length.
They usually have an elastic or drawstring waist and are made from cotton or jogging pant material. When they are cutoffs, they don’t have the classic fray found on denim shorts.
Mid Length Shorts
The fashion rule of moderation shows up again. Mid-length shorts work for anyone. Everyone should have a pair in their closet. They allow you to stay cool and comfortable or show off your legs without being too revealing.
They are appropriate for any casual situation, and they can easily be dressed up or down.
Cutoffs are a more casual style, but pairing them with an oxford shirt provides an interesting contrast. This look can easily go from daytime to nighttime.
Mid-length shorts are also known as walking shorts, Jamaican shorts, or simply shorts. Boyfriend shorts are a popular take on this style. They have a relaxed fit and are usually about mid-thigh length. As the name suggests, they look like your boyfriend’s shorts, only more flattering.
Long shorts are ideal for most body types. If you are short, long shorts will make you look shorter, because they cut the body off around the knee. If you are average or tall, long shorts will look great on you.
If you are self-conscious about your thighs, these shorts provide coverage while still showing some skin. Long shorts generally bring the attention away from your legs, so if you don’t feel your legs are your best feature, pants aren’t your only option.
Knee-length shorts come to your knee. Cut off knee-length shorts can bring attention to your calves, depending on how they are styled. Denim knee-length or chino shorts are a great option when you prefer some modesty.
Cargo shorts and Bermuda shorts are also long shorts, but they are rarely found as cutoff shorts. These styles will fall around your knee or lower.
Still have questions about women’s cutoff shorts? Find the answers here!
What are shorts that look like a skirt called?
Shorts that look like a skirt are skorts. They have the legs of shorts with material around the short that makes them look like a skirt. Wrap-around skirts are popular, so many skorts look like a wrap-around skirt.
What type of shorts should I wear?
This is dependent on your personal style, body shape, and the occasion. If you want to add a little edge to a casual style, wear cutoff chinos. If you want southern girl chic, Daisy Dukes are the way to go. If you want to go with a streetwear trend, go with booty or jogging shorts.
What to wear with cutoff denim shorts?
It really depends on the look you are going for. You can accentuate the feminine aspect with a flowing sleeveless or short sleeve blouse. You can beat the heat with a fitted tank top. You can pair them with a lightweight sweater for an interesting contrast perfect for summer nights.
What shoes go with cutoff shorts?
Again, it depends on the look you want. Sandals look great. Add a heel to lengthen your legs or choose a strappy flat sandal for comfort. Ballet flats are great for something unique, and sneakers always work for a casual style. If you are going for a grunge look, wear your favorite pair with combat boots.
How can I make cutoff shorts?
The basic concept is easy, but it can be a little harder in practice. First, choose a pair of pants or longer shorts that aren’t too tight in the leg. You’ll want to put them on. Mark the outer seam where you want the shorts to hit your leg. Keep in mind that the fraying process can take a little away from the length. An extra half inch is a lot of real estate with short shorts.
Cut about two inches below the mark first. Try them on again and make any needed adjustments to the cut line. Make sure the line matches on each side. Then cut them at an angle so that the inseam is 1-1 ½ inches longer than the outer seam.
But how do I get frayed edges?
The easiest way is to wash them. It may require a few cycles to get them to fray properly. You can also use scissors or tweezers and remove the white threads. This basically unravels the jeans.
What length of shorts is best for women over 40?
Mid-length shorts are usually best for women over 40. 4-5 inch shorts are a middle ground between short and mid-length. These work well if you are comfortable and find them flattering for your legs.
To balance out the look, don’t wear a tight shirt with a shorter pair. If you choose a longer mid-length or long short, wear a tight shirt. Either of these looks will give you a classy and age-appropriate style without looking frumpy.
Should women wear cargo shorts?
Cargo shorts are something everyone seems to passionately love or hate. Bulkier styles of cargo shorts (I’m looking at you 1990s) can slip down, or even off, your hips. They also make you look bigger.
Today’s style has a slimmer fit, which is more flattering than those of decades gone by. The material is very comfortable and can help keep you cool. They have enough pockets that you might be able to leave your purse at home.
If you are looking for comfort or practicality, you can definitely wear them. If you want a relaxed, I just woke up looking this great style, you can wear them as well.