UGH. Everyone has their ‘I hate my…’ body part and mine has always, always, ALWAYS been my thighs. Thigh gap?!? NEVER. I have no idea what that is, or how it would look on me, because it is literally impossible. Therefore, shorts have always been OFF THE MENU. In my teen years, when my lithe, long limbed friends, classmates, and fellow dancers were frolicking in short shorts and looking so cute, I was sweating it out in pants or constantly overdressed in skirts (I got used to being ‘that girl’ in the room after a while) and dreamed of and waited for the day when my thighs would be perfect enough to finally rock the epic cutoffs of my dreams. And I waited. And waited. And all of a sudden, I was 20. And 25. And 30. And every 5 or 10 years, I look back at photos and think WHAT the hell was I complaining about?! Look at that gorgeousness! That hair! That body! DAT ASS! And my next thought is, what am I waiting for? What are we all waiting for? The perfect body that will never come? The diet that will give me the impossible thigh gap or at least parallel thighs? I am DONE. DONE waiting. I look fab now, even if I am not at my ‘ideal weight’ or whatever bullshit negative self talk I’m trying my best not to throw at myself every day, and I am no longer waiting for the day when I will have the Giselle legs of my dreams to rock some KILLER cutoffs this summer.
That being said, I was brunching with my dear Maria a few Sundays ago and after a mimosa or two, we decided to go THRIFTING! YAY! We scooped up a quite a few gems, but on the way out, I spotted the most EPIC pair of acid wash jeans EVER (for $8!) and tossed those babies on the pile, obvi.
We high fived all the way back to the train and then I went about my day, thrifty treasures tucked away safely in my bag until I got home later and spread them all over my bed, SO pumped about all of my finds – and then I saw those jeans. WOOF. WTF did those mimosas have in them, acid?!? They were a high-waisted, tapered leg mom jean nightmare of a pair, with a 20 inch zipper and all – the LEAST flattering thing one could do to a pair of thighs as un-ideal as mine. I mean, LOOK AT THESE.
All I could think of was this:
But positivity got the best of me, and I thought, try them on! Maybe the ironic fit and vintage wash will be epic, you never know! So I did.
NOPE. My legs looked like top heavy triangles wrapped in the 80’s topped with a scoop of sadness. HORRIBLE. The side view was just as scarring.
GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I only post these *eesch* pics of my midsection to give you a clear sense of the ‘before’ look – because something HAD to be done. These bitches were getting cut off, shredded, and torn. ASAP. Having ruined plenty of pairs of jeans in the hopes of creating the perfect pair of cutoffs before, I thought a how-to on distressing jeans in an easy, believable way would be helpful to some of you thrift store fashionistas out there. So, to achieve cutoff nirvana, you will need:
2. Scissors that don’t suck (Mine do. And their handle is broken. Sigh.)
3. A hard surface you don’t mind ruining (like your husband’s completely useless Atari guide he found on the street and SWORE he was going to read and hasn’t touched in 6 months – or a cutting board, or Ann Coulter’s face… it can be anything, really)
4. An XActo knife that doesn’t suck (Mine does. Sensing a trend here? I was on a ‘hollowing books out to use as clutches’ phase for a while and my blade is SUUUUPER dull)
5. A few pins
6. A drink. (Mine happened to be a cold glass of crisp, dry Côtes de Provence rosé, perfect for hot summer days – I highly recommend it!)
So, first and foremost, your jeans have to have NO stretch in them whatsoever – they need to be 100% cotton, or the distressing is never going to look the way you want. Put those bad boys on and place a pin approximately where you think you’d like your shorts to hit the front and side of one of your legs. Then take them off (dancing around in your underwear to Beyoncé for approximately 5 minutes is optional but highly recommended) and fold them together as perfectly as you can, laying them down pin side up.
The pin placement won’t be perfect, but that’s okay, because you should NEVER TRUST YOUR FIRST INSTINCT anyway when it comes to cutting the length of your shorts. Your inner hoochie 13 year old inevitably comes out and thinks Mom totally won’t notice if your ass cheeks are hanging out, right? NOPE. NOT HAPPENING. Wherever you placed those pins, mark with chalk at LEAST three finger widths down. Doesn’t have to be too scientific, just go a good bit longer than you think you want. Remember, you can always cut more off later! Move the pins down from their original places to the new chalk marks, and while you place them lower, pin both legs together to make cutting easier and more even. Use your chalk to connect those pins with a straight (ish) line, angling so it is higher on the side of the leg and lower on the inner thigh, which makes for a more flattering cut.
Now it’s time to cut! Snip those babies off. Don’t be afraid – Peeber believes in you!
The next step is creating all of those awesome tears and holes and fraying that take a pair of cutoffs from good to FUCKIN GREAT. It’s pretty easy – put your hard surface in the leg of your shorts so you don’t accidentally cut through both layers of denim, take your XActo knife, and cut horizontal lines approximately 1/4 inches apart, pressing down firmly to cut through the denim. This is where you can get creative, making the look you want. Obviously, the longer the cuts across, the bigger the hole. They should look something like this:
The placement of your distressing is pretty key, because it’s not going to look believable or authentic if it’s not in places where jeans actually get worn. Obviously, the knees are the #1 spot to wear through, but we’re talking shorts here, so that’s sort of a moot point. Key areas are the tops of the thighs, the pockets (especially the coin pocket), the belt loops, and around the back pocket. If you want less distressing than what cutting into the jeans gives you in some places, take a piece of sandpaper (or in my case, a nail file – hey, it’s what I have!) to the area and rough it up for a bit of texture.
I also let out the seams at the sides for a little extra adorableness, which I put a few stitches in to ensure they didn’t open up any more. Once you’re happy with the distressing, it’s time to toss those babies in the wash. If you’re lucky enough to have a washer and dryer at home, SCREW YOU because I’m super jealous. I have to go to the LAUNDROMAaaaAAAaAAaaaAT, which is the worst place ever. Seriously, go hug your Whirlpool right now, because those things in your laundry room are AWESOME.
Whomp whomp. Oh, and don’t be bummed when they don’t look like you want them to after the first wash and dry, because it takes two full cycles to get them to where they’re going to be, which for my lil pair ended up like THIS:
So now that you have the secrets to a perfectly distressed pair of cutoffs, STOP hating your beautiful body and start embracing the quirks that make you YOU. I am rocking shorts this summer, thighs and all, and I DON’T CARE.