DIY: High Side-Split Tee (Over Shorts)



Can I get a big hooray for sunshine and summer temps here in Portland for a few days?! Yes, yes, y’all. And I’m so super excited about this post I have to share with you…my absolute favorite way to wear short shorts or cutoffs…all…summer…long.

You know when it starts getting hot and you have to keep hiking up your maxi dress to stay cool? Or you want to wear your short shorts, but maybe you wanna feel a bit more covered up? This super easy DIY will solve both of those issues. Bam.


Details and Proof I Love This Piece

Last summer I did this little DIY trick to a black maxi dress I hadn’t worn much at all. I was inspired by an Instagram post where a really long knit top was styled with cutoffs. The top was pretty much a hi-low dress/tunic, but it was too bunchy in the front where they had tucked it in, and wasn’t flattering or practical.

When I later saw this maxi in my closet it dawned on me…I can make my own version! And it won’t be tucked, but it’ll be cut high enough to show that I’m wearing shorts. Then the love affair with this combo began and I wore it all summer.

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I love this piece with any cutoffs…with dressier sandals and jewelry OR paired down like the combo above with Birkenstocks, for casual summer daytime.  You can also pair with jeans when the temps drop – like this pin we love.  Pregnant?  This blogger nailed the look using a really flowy maxi dress.

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Here I wore the dress/top again with cutoffs, but this time with my white slip-on sneakers for a sporty vibe. This is a shot from last summer in Yountville, California  – my mom was trying to take a picture of Sienna and I together…and of course, being two, she wasn’t complying. *Also, I want that bag…foods before dudes!!!!

The Simple How-To


There really isn’t much to this DIY at all, but here are a few tips. The trick here is to cut your maxi dress at just the right height.

Choosing A Maxi Dress

-choose a knit maxi for a no-sew, easy DIY (not heavily ribbed knit fabric, though, as it can fray more)

-choose a dress that is somewhat fitted, if you want a similar look to mine. If you’re taller, a more loose fitting dress might look really cool this way.

-avoid dresses with waistlines or empire dresses. Some might work but I think why this style works is because it hangs away from the body, over the shorts.

-avoid dresses with back or front slits. Then you’d look like you have a kilt or armor on and that is not the look we are going for. Stick to dresses with no slits or side slits only.

-stay away from body-con dresses…you would run into the problem of the bumps from the belt loops and the other fabric of your shorts showing through the tighter fitting dress. Best to avoid, I think. Dark colors might possibly work.

-dark colors will probably hide shorts pockets and belt loop bumps best, but as long as you don’t choose a tight fitting dress I think most colors should work.

Now, Measure And Cut Away!

-try on your favorite shorts or cutoffs with the dress

-mark with a safety pin or straight pin (be careful) where you want the side slits to stop on either side. I like just where the waistband meets the rest of the shorts. I don’t want anymore showing. Err on the side of longer. You can always shorten it later if needed. *Make sure you line up both sides so they are the same!

-use good sharp scissors (new or sewing scissors will give best results) and cut right along the seam (just to one side of it, not ON top of the seam, for a clean edge) up to your pin on each side.

-trim any labels that may be hiding in that length of the dress you just cut. I had a tag I needed to remove.

*Also, if your maxi dress is too long to start with, you can just trim off the bottom length while you’re at this! Just take care to cut straight. Knits won’t fray (Be sure you have washed and dried it first to let any shrinkage happen).

-wear all summer long!

Shop DIY Dress Options and Favorite Cutoffs

Also, I ADORE this black and white stripe dress but can’t get the image to show. OMG though. I had to include.
You may not know this about me, unless you follow me on Instagram (@elletrain) but I am a craft and DIY lover. If you have any favorite clothing or summer DIY’s I’d love to hear about them!
Stay cool…


  1. I’m so excited to see a post on this look. I was at Nordstrom recently and thought I was crazy for buying this Equipment ‘Pascal’ Short Sleeve Tunic from Nordstrom: It’s not something I would normally wear but when paired with short cut offs it looks really cool. I even tied the two front pieces into a knot with long ends. There are buttons along the sides so you can adjust how high it shows. And I think it will look great with black cigarette pants and heels for fall.
    Note, that I think the look on this model is too baggy. I got a small when normally I wear a large. It’s one of those things I never would have bought online but once I put it on I knew I’d be wearing it all summer. I especially like that I can wear short shorts while hiding the inner thigh jiggle.

  2. What a fab idea! Perfect for those of us who love the idea of cutoffs and want to wear them, but feel self-conscious about our legs. It’s kinda like a security blanket LOL

  3. I would love to see tutorials on turning a too big boy t shirt into a racerback/tank/anything other than a boy shirt and also how to turn jeans into cut offs. For some reason I just can’t take the plunge.

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