The Best Denim Cut-offs For A Shorter, Athletic Frame: Levi’s 501 + AGOLDE Parker

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Have I tried on tons of denim shorts? YES. So. Many. But there are none I have loved for years like Levi’s 501 originals and AGOLDE’s Parker shorts. They are somehow magical even for this gal who hasn’t always felt my best in shorts.

And what I’ve realized over the past few years is that shorter shorts are actually flattering on my shorter frame. I’ve also learned over the past (many) years, is wear what you want. I’m 44 and, yep, I still want to rock some denim cutoffs when it’s hot outside.

How I’m Wearing Distressed Denim Shorts As A 44-Year-Old With An Athletic Build

Do I think denim cutoffs look really cute when I’m out and about in the summer, bopping around town or going to and from the river or pool? YES.

Do I have soft skin and cellulite? Yep. Still love the shorts.

I’ve found only two pairs I really love and have sussed out a few styling tips that make me feel good sporting them. AND both pairs happen to be sustainable!

Have I tried on tons of denim shorts? YES. So. Many. But there are none I've loved for years like Levi's 501 originals & AGOLDE's Parker shorts.

Levi’s 501 Originals** (Athens Wash) | AGOLDE Parker** (Swapmeet Wash)

Now listen, am I lounging in short cutoffs, wearing them all day long no matter my activity? No. I don’t know hardly anyone who is doing that. And I feel the same about rigid denim jeans, too. That’s why they make athleisure, my friends. Haha.

My Size Notes: I’m a pretty solid size 6 these days, and usually wear a 28 or 29 in rigid/100% cotton jeans and shorts. These jean shorts do relax with wear so I’ve been happy going just one size up (but I always go up one size, at least.) I’m straighter through the middle and have a booty and thighs, and what I typically refer to as an athletic frame. I’m 5’4″ with a 42″ hip and 25″ thigh measurements.

**Meets our requirements for sustainability


Levi’s 501 Original High-Rise Women’s Shorts

I personally think 100% cotton is where it’s at for denim shorts. Must be the ’90s gal in me whose ultimate goal in college was to find all the best pairs of vintage Levi’s at my local thrift shop to cut off for the summer.

I’ve had these 501 originals (in Athens wash) for two or three years now and I love them (see our whole team try-on from 2020 here.) They break-in with just a couple of wears and are cut in a flattering way…longer in the back and between the legs, and a bit shorter in front. (Something I never quite mastered in my DIY days haha.) This is the pair I wear for my usual bopping around — when I’m feeling sassy and have plenty of self-tanner on hahaha.

ere it's at for denim shorts. Must be the '90s gal in me whose ultimate goal in college was to find all the best pairs of vintage Levi's at my local thrift shop to cut off for the summer.

Shorts (28, Athens Wash) | Top | Sneakers**

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | REVOLVE | Shopbop | Bloomingdale’s (most sizes)

Styling Notes: I love wearing chunky sneakers and a puff sleeve top to balance everything out here.

Fit Notes: The leg opening on these is wide enough to be comfortable on my thighs. While every pair of shorts is going to catch when your thighs touch, these somehow aren’t annoying and fall back into place when I walk. This pair in a 28 were one size up from my previous jean size, but now that’s my typical jean size and they still fit, so they do relax with wear.

Birkenstocks are nice comfy, chunky sandals that I think look great with shorts. Socks optional ;)

Shorts (28, Athens Wash) | Tee | Similar Socks | Birks

Styling Notes: No, not posing with tongs and a grill, but that IS pretty fun…it’s the Birks. They are a nice comfy, chunky sandal that I think look great with shorts. Socks optional 😉

A cover-up or short robe is my favorite topper when I want to feel just slightly more elevated in my cutoffs.

Shorts (28, Athens Wash) | Similar Tee | Cover-up in pink**

Styling Notes: A cover-up or short robe is my favorite topper when I want to feel just slightly more elevated in my cutoffs. It also adds a little more coverage in back on the days I want that (ie. the really hot ones where I might have to sit in a hot car seat!)

Shop More Levi’s 501 Original Jean Shorts


AGOLDE Parker Distressed Denim Shorts

These shorts are the other pair you’ve heard me go on about for a few years now. They offer a bit more length than the 501s above but break in beautifully, as well, and are so comfy to wear. I’ve had the black pair for years and added the light blue wash last year.

The AGOLDE Parker Denim shorts offer a bit more length than the 501s but break in beautifully, as well + are so comfy to wear. I've had the black pair for years and added the light blue wash last year.

Shorts (28, Swapmeet Wash) | Similar Top** | Similar Sneakers | Bag

Where To Buy: Saks Fifth Ave | REVOLVE | Free People | Nordstrom | Net-a-Porter

Styling Notes: I love an oversized breezy top paired with my cutoffs. Simple tan slide sandals would be cute to make this outfit even more feminine.

Fit Notes: Same deal as the Levi’s…I size up a size and with a couple of wears they are perfectly relaxed and awesome.

 I'm all about a long sleeve tee or lightweight sweater paired with short shorts for a cute seaside vibe!

Shorts (28, Vortex Wash) | Top | Slides | Similar Bag

Styling Notes: I’m all about a long sleeve tee or lightweight sweater paired with short shorts for a cute seaside vibe! And let’s be honest, a more practical combo for many days here in the Northwest.

Shop More AGOLDE Parker Distressed Cutoffs


Bonus: I Tried The AGOLDE Parker Long Shorts On A Whim, But…

While I do love the oversized sweatshirt pairing here, my legs appear much shorter in these Parker Long shorts. I think a longer pair of cutoffs would be nice to have for comfy hangs, so I’m going to see if I can come up with some styling combos I like.

I’m thinking a tan, flat sandal or kitten heel sandal with an oversized blazer could be a cool combo with these shorts. Sizing up might also add a cool ’90s vibe. I’ll have to try it out and report back!

My legs appear much shorter in these Parker Long shorts. I think a longer pair of cutoffs would be nice to have for comfy hangs, so I'm going to see if I can come up with some styling combos I like.

Shorts | Similar Hoodie | Sneakers | Socks

Shop More AGOLDE Parker Long Shorts

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I hope, as always, this stuff has been helpful. That’s always my goal! If we have a similar build and you have some jean shorts you love, please do share! I’m thinking of finding a pair of natural or white cutoffs for this year and ooh, those would be so cool with a blazer. Until next time…

xo,

L

Would love for you to say hi over on my Instagram @laurajansenstyle where there are mostly odes to snacks, OOTDs, and everyday mom life stuff in Portland, Oregon. xoxo