How To Wear Denim Cut-Offs (without looking like a teenager)


P8074066  Whether you call them Daisy Dukes or cut-offs, denim shorts never really go anywhere.  They just hang around, in the background, and just when you think they are over…BAM.  Here they come again.  To illustrate:  Two years ago, I used this pic of my mom as our August 2008 Mom for a casual-chic, 70's beachy look.  This look is even more relevant today.

What has changed, however, is that two years ago, denim shorts were just starting to gain momentum once again.  They were initially accepted as casual-chic beach wear, but are now being seen as a valid clothing option in their own right. Denim shorts can now be found in restaurants.  Out shopping.  At the movies.  All in a cute, fashion-forward way.

Is this trend for moms?  I say YES.

Even pregnant moms, obviously!  In the above photo, I'm wearing Gap Maternity's Denim Shorts(that I cut and destroyed), Isabella Oliver's Fully Ruched Cami, Jessica Simpson Metallic Flats, an old Fifi Tee navy shrug, and Stella & Dot filigree earrings.

While the fit can vary – from short shorts to mid-thigh, all denim cut-offs have a similar sensibility as destroyed denim: instant casual-cool.  With a whole lotta leg showing.  So, to take your denim cut-offs out and about, you need to offset their casual nature by pairing with pieces that are slightly polished, feminine, or modest.  And keep the fit of your denim shorts on the loose side – you want a slouchy-cool fit, not skin-tight.

Pairing Denim Cut-Offs With A Tank


Pick a tank that meets the following criteria:

  • The tank is long – you want it to hit below the waistband of the jeans, below the top part of the pocket.
  • The tank is swingy – empire waist or babydoll styles look the best with short denim cut-offs (Ummmm…postpartum moms?  You can wear this!!)
  • The tank is already embellished – a pretty tank offsets the very casual nature of the shorts

Pair with flat leather sandals and a nice looking diaper bag. The bag doesn't need to be a big, expensive, leather option….this is summer, after all.  But it should at least be clean, with good lines, like the Land's End Tote shown above, currently on sale for $16.

But if you want to wear your denim cut-offs with your everyday hubby-beater? Then try this:


Choose the Fit of Your Tank Carefully

Pairing denim cut-offs with a simple cotton tank, is, in my opinion, the trickiest to pull off.  It's easy to show too much skin, or veer waay off path into teenager-land. 

So first off, choose a tank that is not skin-tight.  Even a hubby-beater can skim, rather than squeeze over your belly and back fat curves. 

Even easier?  Try a swingy babydoll or empire waist tank.  Babydoll tops have a perfect proportion for even the shortest of shorts.  Just be sure that a few inches of shorts peek out below your top.

Add Polish With a Belt, Flat Shoes and Classy Accessories

A cool, simple belt and flat leather sandals are just enough polish to take your denim cut-offs out and about.  To up the style quotient even more, add a few classic accessories with a twist.  I'm loving Lands' End's Chunky Horn Link Bracelet, above.  Don't forget to carry a nice-looking diaper bag. 

Make Your Outfit More Interesting With a Light Summer Layer

Adding a light summer layer over your tank top can take this look in an entirely new direction.  A drapey sleeveless vest in a light knit can look cool (especially with a chunky pendant necklace)…or give the summer crochet trend a try, like Forever 21's Crochet Knit Sweater, shown in the style board above.  This sweater has a cropped fit, so make sure your tank top is nice and long to keep the proportions right (unlike the model on the Forever 21's website.  Ugh). 

To take this look in a casual, sporty direction, try adding a lightweight summer pull-over, like Free People's Hooded Plaid Top, shown above.  This pull-over, (now out of stock, but try this one) is apropros with an easy pair of TOMS.

Pairing Denim Cut-Offs With a T-Shirt


Choosing Your T-Shirt

This is fairly simple:  avoid t-shirts that are too tight or too short.  Drapey t-shirts are best.  T-shirts that skim over curves and have enough length to hit below hipbones also work. 

Bonus points for classic nautical stripes.  They serve as a crisp counterpoint to denim cut-offs.

Add a Cool Vibe with Flat Shoes and Statement Necklaces

Again, stick to flat shoes for daytime.  I can see myself throwing on a pair of killer heels with this outfit for a casual date-night look…but admittedly, it's a bit on the tarty side.  And…uh…I'll probably save "tarty" for when I'm no longer pregnant.     

Tough-girl statement necklaces were made to be worn with drapy t-shirts (am loving Hive and Honey's pictured above for only $42 at piperlime), but any look-at-me necklace would work.  And feel free to layer these on – the t-shirt is a perfect blank canvas for loads of necklaces. 

Pairing Denim Cut-Offs With a Summer Blouse


Yay!  Now for the fun and easy part:  the blouse.  Since blouses tend to have a bit more style, a bit more something-something than either a simple tank or tee…blouses are one of the easiest and coolest ways for moms to pull off denim cut-offs.

The Best Blouse Shape

The best blouse shapes for pairing with denim cut-offs (or really, any shortish short) are the drop waist, empire waist or tunic.  Be sure that there is still a few inches of short showing beneath your top. 

Another classic option is the button-down.  You can pull this off two ways:  a slim-fitting button-down (best for curvy or shorter gals), or something voluminous, if you're already on the thinner or taller side.  In either case, I think button-downs look best when tucked in and belted.  Try a brown woven belt.

Footwear – Anything Goes!

Because your top is carrying the look, footwear can be a bit more casual.  Button-downs, or drop-waist tunics with classic sneakers are an easy summer pairing.  Virtually any of the tops pictured above also work with a cute flip-flop. Or stick with the old standbys of flat metallic sandals – really, they all work.

Dying for a higher heel?  The blouse-and-denim-cut-off combo can be easily taken to date night.  Just keep your top light, breezy, not too tight, not too low-cut.  It's boobs OR legs, remember?  And if you are wearing cut-offs with heels…you are definitely all about the legs.

Lookin' good in those daisy dukes, baby.




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