How to love denim shorts
How to love denim shorts
Words— Mylène Genty
I’ve been dreading denim shorts for as long as I can remember. As an adept of modest dressing, the idea of exposing half of my body to the outside world often triggers negative reactions in me, which I find...confusing. I, overall, respect and accept my body. But there is a part of me that wishes that my completely functional legs would be somehow more elongated...or thin. If you’re anything like me and are of non-model size you might not be a stranger to this thought. If not, good for you! But what I do when I question my body for the sake of beauty standards, is that I take this thought, metaphorically throw it in the garbage, and put my favourite pair of shorts to prove my mind wrong.
But yet, all shorts are not created equal – denim shorts to be specific. Jorts are often dismissed as a mere trend, but they’ve been a summer staple for more than 40 years. To think they are merely a shorter version of jeans is reductive: they have an irreverent quality that can be traced back to their inception, in the 70s. Their transgressiveness might have faded away now that everybody from your sister to your stepmother probably owns a pair, but they have still managed to their keep easygoing appeal.
Clockwise from top-left: Axl Rose, Kate Moss at Glastonbury, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Anna Wintour's debut Vogue Cover, Debbie Harry at Coney Island, Daisy Duke in her...Daisy Dukes.
Jorts are useful and inherently cool for summer, in both senses of the term. But why exactly do they look so laidback? As with a great number of styles, a little digging shows that once again it’s the music that paved the way. Debbie Harry made quite a commotion when she sported a pair of Levi’s cutoffs on a Coney Island beach in the 70s. Put a pair of revealing shorts on a young punk icon, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a memorable look that’ll make head turns.
From here jorts became emblematic of that disruptive punk scene, which was built upon the idea of conformism as a fraud. Tearing up the denim - an American symbol? Quite provocative. The anti-conformism of jorts reached a peak in the 80s when Motörhead’s frontman Lemmy pulled off a speedo-like pair of denim cutoffs that appeared nothing but badass and inimitable. Axl Rose also contributed to pump up the jort’s reputation with a more conservative length, with a nonetheless daring outfit.
At the same time, on the other side of the spectrum, you had the beloved star of mainstream hit The Dukes of Hazzard Catherine Bach sporting her famous Daisy Duke shorts. Later on, magazines and the mainstream picked up the trend when Anna Wintour cleverly put denim on her debut issue of American Vogue in 1988. From then on, denim entered a new polished era, leaving the realms of the counterculture. Jorts became a festival essential - think of Kate Moss at Glastonbury in 2009 or any festival-goers at Coachella. It’s now an essential of the summer uniform, with good reason. Although more mainstream than ever, they still have this unequivocal casual appeal which forces us to take note of where they’ll be shown off. It’s just common sense.
How to wear
Where some people would see restriction, I see more creative options. While the shortest of short shorts aren’t very appropriate in town, a regular length can take you a long way. I like to rock mine with a blazer, a silk camisole and a pair of casual sneakers - think Vans, Converse or Reebok Classics. The divergence of style between these pieces makes it difficult to box in this look. Fashion guru Leandra Medine likes to dress up her jorts up with a silk blouse and delicate heels for a look that’s it’s chic yet casual. You can also accessorize it a-plenty. A few rings will add a bohemian vibe, especially if you opted for a ruffled blouse.
At the beach
Skip the pareo and put on some shorts. Anything goes at the beach (well, almost anything) so forget about the beach body concept and put on your most comfortable clothes. The one-piece swimsuit is a summer favourite of mine, as it tends to look like an actual outfit. You can also follow the steps of Zoe Kravitz as she never goes wrong, a play with a baseball cap, a loose laid-back t-shirt and comfy stylish flats. We’ll even allow the crocs.
On the weekend
Anything goes. Even an actualized version of the cowboy aesthetic! Leave it to Texas homegirl Erin Wasson to show you the way. A belt is a jort’s best friend, and the fedora will fit in just great in the ensemble. If the heat doesn’t permit a hat, why not try a headband? You’d be surprised by its saviour potential on your bad hair days.
Remember that when searching for jean shorts, there are four major components that can make or break a pair: the wash, the cut, the style, and how you feel in them. While all of this comes down to personal style, the fit should never be compromised as this is the element that is key to comfort.
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