Jean Cutoffs


If there is one fashion trend of the late 80’s and 90’s that I fully embraced it was jean cutoffs and I like to think that I embraced this trend long before it was truly mainstream. Maybe I enjoyed wearing jean cutoffs so much because I grew up in Alaska and wearing shorts was tantamount to rebelling against both Mother Nature and my parents who had a rule that I could not leave the house in my beloved cutoffs unless it was above 32 degrees outside. Yes, the cutoff for my cutoffs was freezing and below. But, like all ingenious teenagers I mastered the art of sneaking my shorts into my bag and changing at school.

Personally, I liked pairing my jean cutoffs with a big baggy sweatshirt preferably


from a college I never intended on attending. I remember being perplexed when a yuppie asked me in the mid 90’s if I had attended Stanford; until I looked down at my favorite outfit of the decade – a big, white and red Stanford sweatshirt and baggy jean cutoffs.

A person could, if they so desired, also dress up their jean cutoffs. On the bus ride to school one day I remember a popular girl being teased because she had on a beautiful, thick, turtleneck sweater . . . and jean cutoffs. Even the other kids weren’t going to let the irony of wearing a warm, heavy sweater and shorts pass them by.

While jean cutoffs usually appear raggedy, worn and casual, there is a lot of work that goes into making them. Finding, buying, wearing, and washing the right jeans until they are sufficiently worn enough to merit being turned into cutoffs. Once cut, they have to be washed multiple times to obtain the perfect fringe; rubbing the ends with a knife or scissors never worked for me like a half a dozen washing machine runs did. In this day and age of eco-friendly conservation it would be difficult to justify the many washings required, especially since back in the 1990’s, my impatience to wear my ‘new’ jean cutoffs led me to wash and dry them by themselves several times in a row.

  Adam Sandler dons cutoffs in You Don't Mess with the Zohan   Mary Kate Olsen shows jean cutoffs are still fashionable

Ok, so maybe I occasionally skipped the steps of finding, buying, and wearing just the right jeans. There was that time I ‘borrowed’ an ex-boyfriend’s old jeans or the time I found a perfectly worn pair at Goodwill. But at least I did the cutting and subsequent multiple washings. Was that cheating? I dare say not!

My love affair with jean cutoffs came to an end toward the end of the 90’s when I was walking through the mall and saw them being sold in clothing stores already cut, fringed, and looking worn. The audacity! I had worked so hard to obtain just the right look in my jean cutoffs and here were some right off the rack ready for wear. That was cheating! My jean cutoffs were forever more regulated to the Goodwill bin.


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