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How to Wear Denim Shorts Like a Grown-Up

Ever stared at someone, trying to pinpoint what it is that makes them so chic? When it’s not as obvious as a designer slip-on, it can be hard to decipher exactly what was mixed and matched to create the covetable finish. Enter our new series, Mix Masters, dedicated to cracking the style code of our favorite It girls. We’ve teamed up with 7 for All Mankind to ensure that we address the one thing we all wear on rotation: denim. 

Natalie and Dylana Suarez are all kinds of cool. The L.A. transplants have long lived in the New York neighborhoods of DUMBO and Bushwick, the official homes of chic kids who reside beyond the predictability of Manhattan. Natalie, a model and the editor of Natalie Off Duty, and Dylana, a writer, photographer, and fashion blogger (who, it’s worth mentioning, once auditioned for American Idol), are effortless in their characteristically millennial embrace of multiple job titles.

Affectionately dubbed the Suarez sisters, the pair are three years apart in age but much closer in terms of style. “We definitely overlap,” Dylana tells us. “Natalie really loves the statement pieces, while I usually go for the more understated looks, but we’re both inspired by rock ’n’ roll and vintage California. We just interpret it in our own ways.”

When it comes to denim, both Dylana and Natalie are unapologetic champions of jean shorts. “I remember being inspired by Sienna Miller and Kate Moss when they rocked bohemian denim shorts with cool moto boots or moccasins,” Dylana recalls. “They were both always huge style inspirations; they really elevated that denim-shorts look for me.” Adds Natalie, “The biggest misconception is that they’re too casual, but you can style them so many ways.”

Never ones to miss the opportunity for a style challenge, we asked Dylana and Natalie to prove that cutoffs are as chic as they are wearable. In response? These New Yorkers gave us three perfect ways to wear their edit of 7 for All Mankind’s denim shorts—styled specifically for grown-ups.

RETRO (WITH A MODERN TWIST)

Both Natalie and Dylana need a moment to talk about this 7 for All Mankind jumpsuit. “It feels so vintage and bohemian; I love the high waist,” Dylana smiles. “It’s the perfect summer piece, and layering means it can be interpreted in a bunch of different ways.” Natalie concurs: “It’s super flattering. I’m currently thrashing denim jumpsuits. They’re so easy. They’re my go-to weekend look.”

I could see my mom wearing this denim back in the day, and to me, that is the best thing ever.

For Dylana, ’70s style offers up the ultimate outfit inspiration, and she tells us the trick to nailing this vintage vibe is embracing just the right colors. “The dark, clean denim mixes really well with this sheer pink,” she explains. “It’s a classic combo. The romper needed a soft feminine color to feel retro.”

Determined to prove denim shorts aren’t just for teenage girls on vacation, both sisters elevated their looks with high necklines and chic knitwear. Natalie notes that the right accessories are key when playing with proportions: “I always think a great big belt is the most flattering with shorts.”

CLASSIC ALL-AMERICAN

Double denim? For amateurs, apparently. Natalie proves triple denim is a thing and says we shouldn’t be scared: The dramatic look is really just a lazy girl’s shortcut to flawless layering. “Denim on denim! It never goes out of style; it’s classic California girl,” she tells us from behind cat-eye frames. Her monochromatic look is perfect to punctuate with bold moments, from a bright lip to bright summer sandals and a colorful mini bag. “We love easy ways to layer, and we love tiny pops of color,” Natalie adds.

We're California girls. Denim is in our DNA.

Dylana tells us all-American means rugged blue denim. “I wanted to go all out with red, white, and blue, but in a fun editorial way,” she says, wearing a red bandeau over her long-sleeve white lace top and 7 for All Mankind high-waist shorts. She is 100% on board with adding moments of color to denim-heavy looks. “The added pop of color really made me love this outfit; it added a kick to it,” she notes. “I think when playing with a blue denim look, any pop of color in a small dose is exactly the finishing touch that’s needed.”

WILD, WILD WEST

Dylana says styling is key when it comes to making denim shorts feel chic, modern, and grown-up. “For me, I think it’s a sultry blouse that can be tucked in and worn with a belt. It’s simple, effortless, and pulled together. Throw a contrasting denim jacket or cool oversize blazer on, add some ankle boots, and you’re all set!” The result should be a balanced look, taking care to juxtapose clean tailoring with raw hems, and legs with layers. “It’s all about not showing too much skin—just the right amount,” she adds.

I love the way this denim feels. It's super soft but also feels like it will last forever.

“I love a good leather cowboy hat and destroyed denim shorts,” Natalie shares. “Desert-chic style is super simple. Just pair your shorts with worn-in Western booties and an off-shoulder blouse for long days under the hot sun.”

Her ultimate secret to finding the perfect denim shorts? “I look for the fit on the butt, the waist, and the leg room. I like my denim super relaxed around the leg, but it needs to be really fitted on the butt. 7 for All Mankind completely nails it. It’s what makes these cutoffs so flattering.”

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Courtesy of 7 for All Mankind

Want more ways to wear your denim? See our other favorite It girls share their denim secrets with Mix Masters.