Cutoff jean shorts are an iconic summer symbol loaded with carefree indulgence and nonchalant sexuality. The relentless onslaught of cheaply manufactured low-rise jeans threatened to kill classic cutoff jean shorts for me. As a woman with a high waist and a high butt, modern stretchy low-waisted jeans with their short crotch, unflattering waistband cutting at the widest breadth of hip and poorly placed back pockets just won’t do.
It is increasingly difficult to find actual vintage jeans in thrift shops, but they are superior for cutoffs in all ways. Old school women's Levi’s from the 1980s and prior are a great standard and I’ve been compiling samples of the best cuts. Levi’s mammoth history leaves a muddled numerology of styles both confusing and somewhat mysterious. You might find a certain fit and never have it surface anywhere again. In the past I made cutoffs from Levi’s 619 Orange Tabs in stonewash blue but I have never found another pair. I lucked out in a small town recently and discovered two incredible fits : 531 Trim and 521 Tapered Petite.
The two pairs must have belonged to the same woman as they are both washed out, pale blue summer denim and both have a 24-inch waist. Although I was looking specifically for jeans to cut into shorts, I decided to keep one of them as pants because they are such a perfect specimen. These are fitted, tapered jeans from the pre-lycra era and you really can’t tell, when they’re hanging, how well they look on the body. They have a high, tight waist, long fly, and a fitted rear and thighs breaking towards a gently tapered leg that nips in right at the ankle. The pockets are angled slightly and sit high on the butt. I chose to cut the 531 as they had a slightly wider ankle than the 521. I cut them very short and on a slight angle so as to reveal just a glimpse of flesh where thigh meets ass.The sturdy cotton twill is built to last and to gently conform to your body over time. Though some women find stiff, thick denim difficult - particularly when cycling - I personally enjoy the ride.