diy denim.

Is it just me or does anyone else find it nearly impossible to find a decent pair of denim shorts from a retailer that FIT? Purchasing shorts has always been my greatest shopping dilemma, but especially since the colossal takeover of high-waisted shorts. My waist and hips have never seemed to perfectly align to any pair of shorts from a typical retailer. Ultimately, I either have to size down in which the shorts become inappropriately short, or I size up causing the waistband to have a gap. I tell ya, it NEVER works.

So when the warm weather took over this past May, I anxiously pulled out my summer wardrobe totes to only be disappointed in uncovering a collection of mediocre denim shorts. I tried them each on with unrealistically high hopes that perhaps a year later at least one pair would fit, but there I was again pulling at the bottom of them or wrapping a belt around my waist to make the needed adjustments.

Finally I decided to get creative with my apparent summer wardrobe crisis and headed to the thrift store in search of the perfect pair of Levi’s jeans to customize into shorts. This way I had the ability to decide EXACTLY how short the front and back of the shorts should be for my body shape. Nonetheless, I’ve always had a soft spot for vintage denim and was happily surprised to find aisles of these classic jeans at nothing higher than $10. There’s something so appealing about the old-school feel of Levi’s denim that modern retailer’s just haven’t been able to fully capture yet.

Although short’s season may not be in full bloom anymore, I’ve always been an advocate for layering shorts with sweaters, boots and long sleeves for the Fall (hint: keep an eye out for fashion posts like this coming soon!) So if you’re in the same boat as me and struggle with denim shorts, try your local thrift store! After years of gruelling over finding the perfect pair of high waisted shorts, I can finally confirm I own multiple pairs of vintage denim that fit me FLAWLESSLY and I didn’t spend any more than $10 on each pair. Throughout my experience cutting jeans into shorts, I definitely have had my fair share of successful and unsuccessful trials. Below I curated a list of all the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Give them a try and let me know how it goes!

Tips & Tricks for Customized Denim Shorts

– Begin by cutting the jeans at the knees. I’ve learned from experience that my head seems to believe I have a greater knack for eying where shorts should be cut than I actually have. Trust me in this, start with them long and then go from there. You can always go shorter but you can’t add material back once they’re too short! The amount of wasted shorts I have from jumping the gun and cutting them too short right away….

-Once the shorts are on, use a sharpie to mark the absolute shortest the shorts can go to set a limit you know you can’t break.

-Try the jeans back on and little by little snip small rows off the bottom until completely satisfied. Keep in mind that as you walk often the shorts will ride up, so be generous in the length you leave.

– For the distressed effect at the bottom of the shorts, open a pair of scissors up completely and run the sharp side along the edges to create a fringe. Pull at the white strings that naturally appear as well to make them appear even more distressed.

– For an added worn-in effect, throw the shorts into the wash. This is a foolproof way to make the edges of the shorts to appear lived-in and natural rather than an obvious giveaway that the shorts were once pants.

-Keep in mind that naturally the back of the shorts should be longer than the front. Don’t try to cut evenly across both the front and back of the leg. Typically, I form a diagonal line from the front across the side seam and into the back.

-If you check-in at a similarly petite height to myself, try the Boys section for jeans rather than Women’s or Men’s. That’s where I scored the shorts featured in my photos and they fit my waist better than any pair I’ve ever purchased from a retailer!

Have you ever cut your own denim shorts?! Let me know about your experience or tips you’ve learned along the way!

  • Chei

    I’ve been doing the same thing. πŸ™‚

    • That’s great Chei! Hopefully some of these tips help you out πŸ™‚

  • Jessica Hughes

    I love DIY denim shorts, mine never look this great though, you did a good job!

    • Thanks so much Jessica! Hopefully these tips help you for next time around πŸ˜‰ Let me know if you have any questions!

  • I’ve tried doing this as a teen and it didn’t look as nice. Love the tips in this, one of my shorts that are above the knee got ruined by the thigh. I might have to cut them to this length.

    • You definitely should! I am so surprised about how much I wear these compared to any other shorts I own. Thanks so much for reading xo

  • These look soon great on you!!! πŸ™‚

  • I’ve always wanted to cut my own shorts, but I’ve been too scared of messing a perfectly good pair of jeans up aha. Great tip about cutting at the knees first! It seems so common sense now that I’ve read it, but I wouldn’t have thought of it myself aha.

    Christie’s Take on Life. xx

    • Haha so glad I could help! You totally should give it a try, just be generous with the length you leave and you can always go shorter if you’re not happy. Thanks for reading Christie! xo

  • I haven’t cut my own shorts but now I feel like I can! Time to hit up the thrift stores before summer is over!

    • Totally girl! It’s definitely worth a shot. Thanks so much for reading! xo