My parents probably said the same thing during my teen years that I’m uttering today as an adult. “I DON’T GET IT.”
Back in the day, we worked hard to hand craft a worn out pair of cut-offs. Using the point of a sewing needle I would painstakingly fringe the bottom of each leg. Some of my friends would bring their jeans to the beach for a dunk in salt water and a few thrashings against the rocks to get that lived in look and feel. I even embroidered an occasional flower or ladybug on balding spots, keeping the fabric intact. We wore the same shorts (almost) every day of the summer, like a personal name tag.
On a recent shopping trip with our daughter Margot, she wanted to buy a new pair of machine made distressed cut-offs. I couldn’t do it. It felt like a sacrilege, so she bought the shorts herself. Talk about “built in obsolescence.” These threadbare factory pants hadn’t seen any action, yet were so wrecked, they had little hope of making it through one summer season.
At least home made cut-offs start off intact. Over time, signs of wear and tear add character to the garment in the same way wrinkles show where smiles have been. Clearly the distressed look can be a good thing. Perhaps that’s why so many young girls go to second hand clothing shops looking for a pair of “vintage” shorts that possess unique history.
Personally, I can’t imagine buying someone else’s cut-offs at a consignment store, let alone a machine made knock off. I also can’t imagine trading in my (sometimes frustrating) husband for a different “vintage” model. I’ll keep him, wrinkles and all.
Going forward in life, I would opt for a pair of new snappy jeans (hopefully not mom jeans), and definitely a younger dude if I wasn’t so happy with the one I’ve got. Acquiring someone else’s “distressed look” has just lost its appeal. Maybe I do get it after all.