Fashion SOS: Paint-splatted Denim Shorts Edition

A truly amazing look stems from contrast – scruffy and smart, masculine and feminine – which makes things look so much more interesting. This is a wildly pretentious way of saying if you love your paint-splattered cut-offs, then bloody well wear them!
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Phoebe
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A truly amazing look stems from contrast – scruffy and smart, masculine and feminine – which makes things look so much more interesting. This is a wildly pretentious way of saying if you love your paint-splattered cut-offs, then bloody well wear them!

Is it still cool to wear paint-spattered clothing?? I have a pair of shorts that were THRASHED because of a painting project, and I want to find a way to work them into my wardrobe. They're dark denim cutoffs covered in white paint, mostly indistinguishable splatters but some finger shapes. They're also cutoffs, so they have the loose white strands that come with that.

Brit McGinnis

A few years ago there was a trend for denim that was bleached, shredded and generally tormented into increasingly artificial levels of distressed-ness. I must confess I hopped on that particular bandwagon by liberally splashing a homemade denim skirt with toilet bleach – and it actually worked! Silly, perhaps, but far less silly than those who paid over the odds for the same effect. Hah.

Soon the look became passé but distressed denim never entirely faded away – a particular set of editors, stylists and bloggers made baggy, faded boyfriend jeans with artfully rolled-up cuffs the thing to wear – usually with sharp stilettos, a baggy white tee half-tucked in (what? It’s my job to notice these things!) and a mannish blazer with the sleeves scrunched up to the elbows and I actually really like this look.

A Tommy Ton photo of some models showing how to make splattered denim WERK

A Tommy Ton photo of some models showing how to make splattered denim WERK

But to return to the original question, is there any way to rehabilitate paint-splattered, dark denim cutoffs and make them work with the rest of your clothes? Of course! The key is confidence – paint splatters are not the same as yellow sweat stains under an old t-shirt – you can style the former out as deliberate scruffiness, while the latter… just ew. So wear your painty shorts with a ‘so what?’ attitude and no one will question them.

Gasp in awe at my amazing Photoshop skills! Er, not really

Gasp in awe at my amazing Photoshop skills! Er, not really

Then, sharpen up the rest of the outfit – style is all about juxtaposition so keep things clean, crisp and neat – a dazzling white shirt (from the men’s department in Uniqlo to get the requisite oversized, tailored shape) tucked in with the sleeves loosely rolled up. Then maybe try some nice navy tights (grit your teeth and splurge on Falke, those babies last for years) underneath the shorts if you’re planning on wearing them in winter and a pair of classic brown leather brogues (Rebecca has lovely ones from Russell & Bromley).

Or for a more casual option, a crisp white tee with a preppy navy sweater (M&S men’s) and Converse would work equally well. The amazing Tomboy Style blog has been inspiring me recently – there are so many beautiful examples that demonstrate how a truly amazing look stems from contrast – scruffy and smart, masculine and feminine – which makes things look so much more interesting. This is a wildly pretentious way of saying if you love your paint-splattered cut-offs, then bloody well wear them!

Uniqlo shirt, £39.90, uniqlo.com, Falke tights, £29, johnlewis.com, boy's school uniform blazer, £25, johnlewis.com, brogues, £30, topshop.com

And as always, feel free to send me your wardrobe dilemmas in the comments below or by emailing phoebe@xojane.com