On Denim Cut-Offs

Who says they can't be "chic?"

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I was wearing a pair four-year-old vintage Levi’s, high waist denim cut-offs (from those resplendent days when they still clocked in at only $28 at Urban Outfitters) when I received a release that read, “BREAKING: Denim Cut-Offs, Back in Style.”

“BREAKING: There is Weather Outside,” I really wanted to retort.

My shorts were paired with a light green blouse and blue high heeled sandals. Just an hour earlier, I’d selfie’d the shit out of the look for Instagram to which someone replied, “chic.” After that comment, the flood gates opened for an army of angry refuters, stampeding over to correct the previous commenter’s imprudent error. No one even mentioned my camel toe. It was astounding.

“Since when are denim cut-offs chic?” read one. “Finally, someone said it,” read another. “This is awful,” echoed a third, and the dialogue continued.

The conversation had me thinking about three things. First, the age-old, million dollar question: that which defines chic. Second, I wondered when it was that denim cut-offs accrued so much flack and third, why it seemed so damn erroneous to identify denim cut-offs as chic in the first place? In considering the first question, I looked to the most reliable Queen of The Written Word I’ve come upon, Merriam-Webster.

Her definition(s) looked as follows:

1: smart elegance and sophistication especially of dress or manner : style <wears her clothes with superb chic>

2: a distinctive mode of dress or manner associated with a fashionable lifestyle, ideology, or pursuit <wearing the latest in urban chic>

3: a faddishly popular quality or appeal; also : something (as a practice or interest) having such appeal <the transient tides of academic chic — Irving Kristol>

My own interpretation is still circumventing a school of thought that highlights how difficult defining an all-encompassing word can be. When considering Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, I still wonder if the backlash toward his second ready-to-wear collection was essentially a testament to the state of denial we’re in. Maybe people chose to hate the clothes because they did not like the woman he was depicting. The fact of the matter is, though, that plaid-loving, messy-hair-don’t-care, Bowery hotel dwelling, aspiring paladin of rock and roll exists. And in excess. You know what else? She probably really is as cool as she thinks she is.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe chic is a word that adopts new meaning with every style transgression we experience. What was chic, say, five years ago, may not be anymore and what is right now, certainly won’t be ten years from now–which brings me to the chameleonic nature of a pair of denim cut-offs.

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, in matters of our denim cut-offs, chic is in the style of the wearer. Who’s to say that the same pair of, say, some highly elegant white  Celine wide leg pants can’t look absolutely, positively Jane Birkin-esque on one person and violently offensive on another–right? In matters of the shorts, I understand that it’s almost unnatural to consider chic in conjunction with a garment predominantly designed to assuage the effects of grotesque heat but think about this. What you want to do with the shorts is entirely in your style Cosmo. That gives you the power to assign them any adjective you’d like.

Of course, the response to what we wear and how we wear it will never sway unanimously in one, definitive direction but that’s the beauty of fashion and style and taste and all the fuzzy stuff that makes us one of a kind. For this particular look, I wanted to achieve my own most recent interpretation of chic–which I believe is a combination of ubiquitous, every day, utilitarian clothes with outstanding, dramatic, slightly frivolous pieces–case in point: this vintage Isaac Mizrahi blouse. Maybe in that first Instagram shot, the shorts didn’t look as good as they could have but today I submit I feel like I’ve achieved enough “chic” that I can’t wait to beat it out of myself so I can try again.

Wearing Levi’s shorts, an Isaac Mizrahi blouse and L.K. Bennett pumps. Rings by Eddie Borgo and Pamela Love, photographed by Naomi Shon.

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Thoughts?
  • Jennifer Elizabeth

    I rock the cutoffs every Spring – honestly they look great with everything

    • sf_heather

      They look great w anything but a camel toe. Gotta up the rise, Leandra!

      • Leandra Medine

        I don’t think you realize how chubby my vagina is.

  • http://www.lucidnewyork.com HandmadeJewelrybyLucid

    Oh my!!! This is one of the best cut off jean outfits I’ve seen. You totally made them chic!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Anna

    http://www.lucidnewyork.com/blog/

  • http://www.lucidnewyork.com HandmadeJewelrybyLucid

    fabulous

  • Mia

    How about the moon-like necklace?! How can we obtain? Also – there’s no avoiding camel toe in vintage levis, I’m going to take a leap here and just add that not only can denim cut offs be chic, but as a result so is camel toe. Camel toe chic- the legacy of summer 2013…

    • Catie

      hahah you are so right! Why did people have such high crotches in the 80s?

  • Azalia Martinez

    Can you fly with that shirt by just flapping your arms?
    ManRepeller #word

    • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

      Your comment is so funny I nearly peed my pants.

      • Azalia Martinez

        It was meant to. :D

  • monkeyshines
  • http://www.farandwildjewelry.com/ abigail lind

    whoever said denim cutoffs can’t be chic probably also said things like i just don’t really see grunge happening, t-shirts will never be high fashion, and i just don’t get what everyone sees in isabel marant.

    abigail
    http://www.farandwildjewelry.com

  • Bridget

    My favorite post you’ve ever written. You hit the nail right on the head. Thank you

  • Toniann

    Laughed (loudly) at work reading the camel toe comment. hahaha

  • Savannah

    You look amazing, ánd chic! ;-) Is it weird that you remind me of Carrie?

    • CarlotaLMorais

      She does!!

  • nicole blonder

    HOT HOT HOT !

  • Hudson Berry

    Hell yeah, well said.

  • Well. P.

    like a Chanel Resort 2014

    xoxo

    http://apenaxx.blogspot.com.br/

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    Very good article about the definition of Chic. First of all, your legs, those shorts, the shoes, your attitude ooze chic (I’m French, we invented chic, I’m entitled to say it – just kidding!).

    Chic is in the attitude, the personality… Jane Birkin has always been chic (as well as her daughters), because she was never vulgar. And who’s to say what’s chic and what isn’t? Personally, I stopped giving a crap a long time ago.

  • The Style-o-Meter

    Oh the pumps are stunning!

    http://thestyle-o-meter.blogspot.ro/

  • Alba B.

    Leandra can you please share some hints how do you keep your legs so tonic and perfect?
    Kind of jealous here….?!!! Don’t know but I totally like the pictures as well!!!!!!

  • Lindsey

    I love cutoffs. Especially in California, they are such a staple during warmer months. I think you can make them “chic” by styling them just as you have – with refined shoes and a fabulous blouse that bring the denim shorts from poolside to street style worthy! Ignore the haters :)

  • dd

    #toteschic

  • Alexa Curtis

    Cutoffs are the bomb dot com. They are the ideal summer short. Without mine I”d be lost. What else is there to wear when you’re to lazy to get dressed (up) and have to go in public?

    http://www.alifeinthefashionlane.com

    xo

  • Kaylee

    Everything you touch turns to chic.
    -Kaylee
    http://www.theblondielocks.com

  • Oliver Lips

    Fantastic outfit! I really like this top + the heels :)

    http://www.lips2lagerfeld.com
    http://www.lips2lagerfeld.com

  • bethann wagner

    ‘Chic’ seems more like a lifestyle or a state of mind than anything else and you are basically the Queen of Chic. Congratulations! PS your shoes are AMAZING.
    xoxo, BA
    http://www.bethanimalprint,com

  • Reptilia

    Wowww, love this look! it looks vintage!

    http://www.justreptilia.com

    xx

  • Celia

    Sin duda alguna, aquí estás muy chic y sexy

  • Modupe Oloruntoba

    This is why I love MR. :)

  • Baroqueness Monster

    You have the ankles of a baby deer… In the best way of course

  • carolinahellal

    Love this post! Completely agree with the meaning your giving to the word chic . People usually tend to think that saying ¨chic¨is so cliché, and don´t even want to be related to the word, but we are all chic in our own way. Chic is all about style, and since that´s my obsession, that´s why I ended up naming my blog ¨chictalk¨! So glad you wrote a post about this!
    http://www.chictalkch.com

  • Jennifer

    This is so Carrie Bradshaw I love it!

    xo Jennifer

    http://seekingstyleblog.wordpress.com

  • Marina Nápoli
  • Heather

    Just came across your blog and I LOVE your style! Nice pics! I NEED that top!!

    -Heather
    http://baitapparel.bigcartel.com

  • natalie

    love your interpretation of chic!

    gorgeous outfit

    xx

    http://anoddgirl.blogspot.com.au

  • Jordanimal

    jean-ee-yussssss

  • rhodawong

    give me your shoes? please?

    http://www.styleandshades.blogspot.com

  • http://ambersmouthwash.blogspot.com/ Amber

    I loved this post. And, I don’t think it’s really the denim cut-offs that are the core subject here. It’s the same thing that your blog has always been about: dressing the way you want, and dressing in what makes you happy. True personal style is about dressing for yourself and not others.

    Perfectly poised post Leandra.

  • Andrea Encalada

    This look is perfect Leandra. The top? I’m speechless.
    You never fail to surprise me.

    http://thewholeencalada.wordpress.com/

  • Mellenial

    I call this look “The Pterodactyl”

  • antapal.blogspot.gr

    omg!!!Where can I find a pair of legs like these?
    http://antapal.blogspot.gr

  • Emilia Angel

    I earn money heere:

    http://www.learnmoneystrategy.com/JohnTayds/

    I recommend also to you, it is not too complex, and you can earn good ;)

  • MDOT

    Great look! I’m totally in love in those L.K. Bennets!
    M.

    http://mdotonstyle.com

  • CarlotaLMorais

    I have to say you look very Carrie Bradshaw! Love the mix of paterns, love it!

  • Paty

    I loved it!

    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

    http://www.thegavlaks.com

  • Bonnie, Clyde + Marni

    You look amazing!’

    xxx
    Naomi
    http://www.bonnieclydemarni.com

  • http://www.simplyonelove.com/ erica jensen

    Love the heels!!!

    simplyonelove.com

  • All That She Wants

    Great outfit! I’ve just done an eBay wishlist on my blog, including some great denim cut offs for under £10! x

    http://www.allthatshewants.net

  • mdabernardes

    It’s such a relief to see a fashion blog not only focused on the “Look of the day” thing…
    Love the way you write and couldn’t agree more

    http://www.becauseshoes.com

  • http://ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com/ Lydia Teo

    I think chic is more appropriate to describe a woman and her behaviour, her personality, character, her quirks, her ways. The way she dresses is just a part of the whole package.

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    Denim shorts are always chic and that top is magnificent.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Taylor

    haha funny post! I love denim cut offs. I am selling a pair with studded pockets Here: http://shoplaviedetaylor.tictail.com

    Blog: http://laviedetaylor.blogspot.com

  • Melissa Kaplan Guarino

    You look absolutely stunning! And your pink lip with the pink-detail on the pumps is perfection! Well done.

  • Melissa @Blog66B

    Pinterest should have a “Great Camel Toe” category…

  • Jessie

    Leandra, you always talk about what you use on your hair. But I want to know how you use what you use, aka how do you style that shit cause I’m trying and I’m failing. Air dry, blow dry, combo?? so many options.

    Thanks,
    Girl with shirt hair and no freakin clue what to do with it

  • Sasha

    A long-winded compliment: I know you’re always making self-deprecating fupa jokes, (and they really do add to the character and the humor of your writing,) but you are, when it comes down to it, very beautiful.

    A straightforward compliment: Sweet gams, girl

  • http://nicola-lynde.blogspot.dk/ nicola lynde

    Chic is an illusive one. Take almost any skimpy outfit Carrie Bradshaw paraded around New York in, put it on any average woman and I strongly suspect the chic factor would be gone. So what is it? I think a certain amount of confidence, an ease with your own style and an inherant knowledge of your how to outfit your figure.

  • Jules Fashion Week

    Love your shorts!!!!

    http://julesfashionweek.com

  • AnneMareeGale

    Love a denim cut-off! They’ll always have a place in my wardrobe.
    Thanks for the post
    Anne-Maree
    http://whateverywomanneeds.com.au/

  • bloomaglow

    I’m really loving the forth pic. Your legs look amazeballs!! very sexy:-)

  • Alyssa Licht

    I think they can be chic depending how you dress them. You are rocking a chic look, but its pretty easy to make cut offs look grungy or more beachy. I love them personally!

    http://www.flowersandgreentea.com

  • Nina V

    I wouldn’t consider cuff off jeans as chic but with the right styling they can definitely get there!

    But I can say, that this shoes are a piece of art. Love them.

    http://frecklesbynina.blogspot.com/

  • alicake

    White hot, girl! Is there a cut off age for wearing cut offs? I just turned 40, very reluctantly, and I’m beginning to ask myself these sorts of questions.

  • Tegan

    To me denim shorts are a basic, a wardrobe staple, in the same category as plain white t-shirts and neutral knits or a classic blazer. Can’t live without em’!

  • Donald

    Don’t listen to them girl. They are just jealous of your “chic” style. I adore your shoes!

    http://www.shopcharmant.com
    http://www.trescharmantxo.com

  • Tessa

    Does the “fuck it if my abs aren’t chiseled – I’m wearing crop tops this summer” notion apply to cutoffs for girls with thicker thighs?

  • Paty

    I loved it!
    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

    http://www.thegavlaks.com

  • Kate Co

    I am a bit on the fence when it comes to cut offs. I find some people take it a bit too far with their butt hanging out, and almost a front row view of their vajayjay. If paired with the right top and not overly short, I am a full supporter of the cut off, especially high waisted.

    http://www.dashofkate.blogspot.com

  • Anna

    great outfit!
    doszafy.pl

  • Helly C

    I loved your post! Thank you for sharing!

    http://theneverfull.blogspot.fr/

  • Siiriliinu

    Great post, I loved your aspect on the chich subject, it is indeed in the eyes of the viewer. P.S. those shoes are to die for!

    http://siiriliinu.blogspot.fi

  • Ciel

    People dislike Heidi’s second round because it was utterly derivative, verging on fraud on the consumer.

    Chic is not seasonal – its essence is that it is indefinable and personal. It transcends age and ages. It’s the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of style.

    For that reason, you cannot associate it with a single item. How about “cut-offs always look right” – simple, not as aspirational as ‘Chic’.

  • Royal Wang

    With sexy legs,perfect Silhouette plus good sense of taking images together present an impressive issue.

    http://www.fashionculturediary.blogspot.it/

  • Rosy Rubio Fernandez

    I liked it, good job. A greeting
    http://www.laautenticasafari.com

  • NinjaCate

    Does this mean you are in the “leggings are pants” camp? Because if you are then my heart may burst with love for you.

  • lifeonthesquares

    your LK Bennett’s are ah-mazinggggg. literally. love.

    XO, Stefanie
    Life on the Squares

  • Nicole

    Any suggestions for a perfect white tee to go along with denim cut-offs?

  • Catie

    First off, you are a bombshell! Nothing quite as alluring as an off the shoulder blouse! It looks great with the cutoffs and does indeed make them chic!

    Second, I’m not sure why people think they’re gonna like everything you wear. You are obvi not out to please everyone. You wear whatever you want and make me seriously contemplate the things I might not view as chic. For instance, overalls. I had a huge change of heart and have bought 4 pairs in the past month. You are mostly to blame ;)

    Every year I go thru this mental process: 1. Man, I hate shorts. Why do people wear them?2. Ugh, I hate MY legs in shorts. 3. No way sun, you can’t make me wear shorts. 4. Oh. I like how those are styled. 5. Screw you, huge thighs! I WANT CUTOFFS!!

    As always, thanks for the inspiration :)

    Fleur d’Elise

  • bits and bobs jewellery

    I have gorgeous jewellery that would go with this outfit
    http://www.bitsandbobsjewellery.com with 15% off untill JULY code NEWFB xxx

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    I cannot live without denim shorts. All year long I’m in them. lol maybe it’s a bit extreme but I for one think they are damn awesome.

    https://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/

    • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

      Oh, forgot to mention how lovely that blouse looks on yoU! Love the romantic shape of it! :)

  • Megan

    I’m wearing cut offs right now…in my office…and so is my boss. I guess thedreslyn.com has accepted this trend quite well.

  • Breakfast at Cindi’s

    Love these with that top ! So avant-garde/flamenco dancer turned hipster.

    xo,
    Cindi
    Breakfast at Cindi’s

  • Andrew

    A little part of me dies every time I see someone wearing denim cutoffs with the pockets showing.

  • zoe_whip

    Alright, tell the truth…are you spray tanning?

    • Leandra Medine

      Ha–NO!

  • Clara

    I love cutoffs. Denim is fantastic in every day of the year… http://latesttrendfashion.com/

  • http://nomadicsamuel.com Nomadic Samuel

    Such a cool look for the summer!

    http://nomadicsamuel.com

  • Katerina

    Before you went on to explain how you see the word “chic”, I was thinking the exact same thing. I try to believe that you can’t just explain what “chic” means, rather, you have to wear it and show it. Doesn’t come easy with everyone, heck, even I have a hard time pulling it off at moments, but it’s all in you. For those people to get so pissed off when someone called your cut-offs chic, just shows that they clearly have no sense of style (I follow you on instagram and would like to say that I believe the outfit was indeed chic)

    Great post! LOVE the outfit!! Keep on chic-ing

    fashionrealist.com

  • Namrata

    I went through the same feeling when I wanted to buy denim cut-offs. I think denim cut-offs are pretty ‘chic’, the word being totally subjective.

    http://seasoncheck.blogspot.in

  • lemkam

    four-year-old vintage – well, there’s an oxymoron for you!

  • http://www.freakdelafashion.com/ April Fashionreports

    I still need to cut some jeans

    Lots of love,

    April Fashionreports

    http://www.freakdelafashion.com

  • Marusa Repnik

    An outfit that reminds me on Carrie from Sex and the city. You are so great at rocking items that would look beyond ridiculous on most of the other people. I would say that you’re wearing your clothes with your personality (not that I know you, I’m just guessing that you’re probably the same Leandra that we see on youtube clips).

    Keep up the good work of encouraging people to dress up more interesting!(:

    Greeting across the ocean (from Slovenia)
    Maruša

    http://dressforyourselfblog.wordpress.com/

  • Realtee Cheque

    Uh, the look may be chic but your execution was dreadful. Sorry, but the cut on those shorts is unflattering. Look at the last photo where you are turned sideways. See that big paunch created by the waist of the shorts being so high? Not good. Those shorts look like you hacked the legs off a pair of Mom Jeans. Just keeping it real.

  • Alex Hamdan

    Love it when you were a LITTLE makeup!!! Muahhhh