The Cuffed Short Is Your New Best Friend
When it comes to summer staples, can anything truly top a great pair of shorts? Probably not! Keeping cutoffs, bikers, and Bermudas in regular rotation should be a no-brainer for any shorts-lover this season. But what about when you’re looking for something just a little different? Ideally a style that can be dressed up or down, and one that comes in multiple cuts, fabrics, and patterns? Enter summer’s official MVP: the cuffed short.
Of all the women’s shorts styles out there right now, cuffed shorts are easily some of the most popular and truly versatile. For summer 2022, they’ve made a major comeback owing to the fact that they’re polished, functional, and kind of perfect for anyone in need of an abbreviated hem once warm weather hits. We’ll break down what qualifies as a cuffed short, what kinds of colors and materials they come in, how to style them, and more below.
What are cuffed shorts?
Cuffed shorts come in a number of styles—we’ll get to that!—but simply put, they’re shorts that feature a turned-up or “cuffed” bottom, just like with pants. And while it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when people started wearing cuffed shorts, we do have a little more background on their lengthier siblings. Back in the 1890s, it’s believed that King Edward VII began cuffing his pants in order to avoid dirtying them with mud when crossing the street. Men began following the fashionable monarch’s lead, and cuffed pants became both stylish and widely popular.
Into the 20th century, most cuffed pants were of the dressier, trouser-style variety. By the 1950s, with style icons like Marlon Brando and James Dean in the picture, cuffs got casual, often appearing on jeans. It was around that time that cuffs also began appearing on an increasingly popular style of clothing for young women—shorts. While not every pair featured this detail, styles like the trendy Bermuda and classic denim cutoffs often did.
Popular types of cuffed shorts
As mentioned, cuffed shorts come in a wide range of patterns, colors, cuts, and fabrics. For summer 2022, higher-waisted, sporty, and pull-on styles are especially of the moment. And while denim remains one of the most perennial of cuffed shorts materials, it’s hardly the only one out there these days. Lightweight materials like cotton, linen, and nylon are go-tos for warm-weather shorts, particularly more casual and outdoorsy variations.
Many, but certainly not all, cuffed shorts come in solid colors like olive, navy, black, cream, and tan. Prints are less common with cuffs, but there are great camo and floral options out there. When it comes to cut, there’s a wide variety in terms of length and silhouette. Cuffs up the elegant factor on longer Bermuda styles, while they add extra polish to denim cutoffs, classic short-shorts and even hiker styles. Cuffs are also a sought-after detail on higher-waisted shorts, lending them a refined finish.
How to style cuffed shorts
As is true of any number of shorts styles, there’s no one way to wear cuffed cuts. Of course, a few general rules of thumb still apply. Because the cuff often gives the shorts a hint of polish, consider where they fall on the waist and how long they are. Cuffed Bermuda styles, for example, can easily pair with silky blouses or cotton button-ups and a jacket for a work or date-night look. With a higher waist, tuck in your top and cinch your shorts with a belt; or, you might try a French tuck, which best with looser-fitting, billowy shirts.
Casual, everyday cuffed styles like hiker, utility, and denim varieties work with everything from tees and tanks to cropped tops and sweatshirts. Also worth remembering: You can create a cuffed short yourself by simply rolling the hem, using fabric glue, or getting handy with a needle and thread. Having a favorite pair of shorts professionally tailored is also an option!
Depending upon the width of the cuff and where it hits, cuffed shorts can be incredibly flattering and give your overall appearance a longer, leaner look. Up the ante with a heeled sandal or platforms, especially for dressier or professional outings. Or, simply add an elegant, pared-back sandal for an effortless daytime look.
What to consider before buying cuffed shorts
While cuffed shorts are definitely on trend this summer, it doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes on bottoms with a little longevity. This could mean a couple different things: firstly, do you plan on wearing these shorts for more than one season? (Ideally, you do!) Secondly, do they come in a classic, durable material and/or a tried-and-true neutral hue? Either a pair of cuffed shorts in black linen, or tan cotton, for example, would probably be smart investments. Neither style is in danger of falling out of fashion anytime soon, and both could be teamed with everything from a white tee to a pinstriped button-up.
Another consideration is where you might wear these shorts. Do you need something that might work on a hike? Something casual for weekend errands and lounging? Or would you like to build a going-out look around these bottoms? This can all influence not only what color or cut of cuffed shorts you buy, but how much you’re looking to spend, and whether you want something extra special or ultra versatile.
Sanctuary’s guide to cuffed shorts
Are you sold on cuffed shorts yet? (We hope so.) If you’re looking for a new pair, or even just a little inspo, here are some of our top picks, including where to wear them. For every day, including perhaps, the occasional hike, we love the Trail Blazer, a cuffed, four-pocket style made from cotton with a hint of stretch. It’s available in a range of versatile, flattering neutral, plus a bold print. For a slightly leaner-cut, button-waisted variant, we also recommend the forever-cool Switchback cuffed short. Lastly, if you’re a denim-lover, check out the ‘90s-inspired Touring pull-on or the Frolic paperbag shorts.