Can Denim Cutoffs Look Adult?

As in, can I visit my grandmother in cutoffs?


Imagine the scenario: It’s Monday afternoon. When you got dressed this morning you were absolutely sure — nay positive — that you would have a minute to go home and change before night fell. As fate and a typical Monday would have it, though, you’re moments away from sundown and in this bleary state of remaining day, you’re looking down at your crotch, considering the denim cutoffs you’ve ambitiously worn to work in an attempt (to the chagrin of no one, score!) to pass them off as office apropos.

You’ve been thinking about how in the good name of white slacks you are going to explain to the effusively fancy people you are supposed to meet north of 69th street, south of 87th street, that they have the wrong idea about denim. That they’re not juvenile. They’re not incapable of elegance. They can be classy. You can look polished.

Let me retell a story that never gets old. When I was 17 and my great-grandmother, 91 at the time — may she rest in peace — was in the hospital with pneumonia, I went to visit. And when I went to visit, I sat down beside her, held her by the hand and from under her eyelid emerged the singular glare of her left eye. She looked down at the ripped denim shorts that I was wearing — these ones, as a matter of fact:


Jacket is a secret, coming soon. Vintage Levi’s denim shortsChloé blouse, Topshop sparkle socks, Chanel clogs (similar here)

She said nothing but, “Darling, I know we’re in a recession, but surely your father can afford to buy you shorts without holes in them.” She fell back asleep and that was that.

Well, not that that; she did not die until the impressive, seasoned age of 98 when she had just won $41 at a slot machine at Mohegan Sun. But I digress — my point is this: I am committed to making sure that the stereotype associated with denim cutoffs — that you’re a youth, that you live downtown, that your shit is not at all together — shall be debunked if it is the last thing I do before my slot machine comes a-ringing.

And I’ll start right here, with a cropped tweed jacket (Marc Jacobs, Yoox), a pussy bow blouse (Thakoon) and a pair of pumps (Carolina Herrera) that have been loosely inspired by the Mayflower but still gallivant among graceful toes to the beat of their own cello.

Stay tuned.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis


Get more Personal Style ?
  • DIY cutoff shorts + Pink Pony Hair = Totally Grown Up Look

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Lorraine Forsyth

    I love denim cutoffs though am a wee bit old for the high heels! I’ll stick to converse and flip flops. Loving the clogs and socks combo – very chic!. Lorraine x

  • Natali

    Look at these legs?!! Girl, you’re rocking these cutoffs!!

  • Olivia_Reagan

    Love the story. I agree… Denim cutoffs have a reputation of being an under-dressed phenomenon. I love cut offs and esp with a pump! Nailed it with the Carolina Herrera ones

    Olivia Reagan 🙂



  • I’m excited about the secret jacket!!!

  • Victoria

    i can’t get over your legs o.o

  • There are so many stereotypes concerning denim. My mother, age 56, used to think that women over 40 shouldn’t wear it at all. Even plain, elegant jeans. I convinced her to give them a try, and now she literally lives in denim.

    As far as I’m concerned, you can dress up almost everything. You couldn’t choose better items to wear with your cutoffs, they look really sophisticated now!

  • Hannah Cole

    Anyone who degrades denim cut offs has clearly never worn and felt their beauty.
    I get the same with my ripped jeans ALWAYS. My grandad now has an ongoing joke about my obvious poverty, and people at work like to say I’ve fallen off a bike. But I stick it to them.

  • Brit

    Does anyone else feel uber scandalous when wearing shorts-n-heels?

  • Lua Jane

    Those Carolina Herrera pumps! I love the look of denim cutoffs on others, but have trouble incorporating them into more polished look. I fear I might end up looking like an extra in 90’s hip-hop video. Not the look I aim for.

  • dustUP

    You can make them look adult, but only until you actually become an adult.
    They look great on you because you have them legs, which most of us, ordinary plebs, don’t have, so I think that you need to find a model with different body type to prove the theorem.

  • kline, mara r.

    i *need* that jacket

  • Elisa

    I love this look you’re sporting I’m the pic

  • I live for your humour 🙂 I hope I’ll always be brave enough to wear denim cutoffs.

  • evelynrramos

    ….1=29Now Get this advantage

  • Selina Moses

    That was the funniest grandma story I’ve heard this month. I can just imagine it

  • Manaila Raluca
  • Anca Marr

    Dear Leandra, I am so in love with your blog. You are one of the very first bloggers that I started following many years ago (at least 6)…The name of your blog resonated with me, because, just like you and many other women, I love clothes that do not conform necessarily with what men like, so we, or our outfits become such “Man Repellers”…Anyway, you know what I mean. My husband does not “get” all my clothes, much less some of my shoes…Love your posts!

  • Wow, I never think that denim cutoffs can look remarkably stylish

  • Melanie

    In this 100° temp, i will wear them with glee.

  • Love this jacket..! Wish it would be back in stock!!

  • PJ Flanagan

    I want the jacket that’s a secret,, waiting is cruel. But I will stay posted because if it can rock with cut offs,well it’s just stellar!

  • Her legs looks longer and thats so “lights”. I love it. Thats the different style with

  • Very nice outfit, old fashioned people thinks differently about that. 🙂