Express Lane Style Tips: How to Crop Your Jeans Without Losing the Hem

Welcome to Express Lane Style Tips, the quick and easy way to make clothes you already own and love feel like they just drank three shots of espresso. 

When I was a kid and my mom bought me pants that were too long on me, she would always sew them inwards until I grew tall enough to wear them at their full length. At that point, she’d pull the thread out like a sort of victory dance, congratulating the bones in my legs for expanding vertically. I hated how they looked (the jeans, not my bones) when they were sewn in–unfinished like a wood table that had not yet been sanded. This is a weird metaphor, I don’t know why it came to me, but recently I’ve been thinking that no pants are worse served by a hacking or hemming or inward-cuffing job that loses the hem of your jeans. That’s like, the best part of jeans. Particularly when they’re of the vintage variety, or at very least treated as if non-stretch Japanese denim, creating this wash that looks like a teeny tiny barcode flirting with the floor, or your ankles, depending on your height.

And to this point, a lot of you have asked what the right length of pants for shoes should be. It’s a subjective question, answer contingent on height and quality of pants to be sure, but I’d say there’s a sweet spot between the front bone of your foot and the top of your ankle where most shoes are served comfortably. Sometimes, though, you want them shorter or longer, which is why a formal hack job doesn’t always make sense. Cuffing them inward from the bottom up eliminates the hem (particularly of jeans, which for the purpose of this post, we’ll use as the synonym for pants) and hacking them completely is just so… permanent. What if you change your mind and want them longer a year from now, a month from now, tomorrow? And so I present the best revocable hack for cropping your jeans without losing the hem.


Now let me break this down step by step for you, because what you see happening is simple but there is a science behind it.

As a Step 1, you’re being asked to pick a spot along your shin where you’d like to start your crop. To be clear, this is not where your jeans will crop until, but it is the point at which you will create a cuff either thick or thin enough to meet the hem of your jeans. (This, btw, is the other reason this trick is so great, you can trial and error until the cows come home, or your finger tips fall off!)

As a Step 2, you start folding in. Just imagine you’re cropping inward from the bottom, but with the added baggage of the actual bottom remaining in tact. You know?

As a Step 3, you’re going to want to line up the cuff with the hem. Imagine the cuff pressed like a freshly dry cleaned shirt and use that grand vision to fold it in. Now grab at the actual hem, smoothing it out from the inside circumference of the bottom of the pants. My photos don’t present the perfect version of this solution, but I’m pretty impatient, therefore kind of messy, and generally prefer an IMPERFECTION but you can do this as neatly, or not neatly, as you want.

Step 4: Repeat and modify depending on the heel height and style of shoes you’re wearing.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s one that works. Try it! Tell me how it goes! Or don’t. That’s fine too. But please, I beg, drop more express lane style tip-tips below.

Photos by Beth Sacca.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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