In Defense Of Jorts

Lucas wears the Garment-Dyed Henley Tee, Allday Crewneck Tee in Glenmont Stripe, 9" Denim Shorts, Veja™ sneakers and the Madewell x Topo Designs® Light Pack.

Have you ever looked at the edge-curled pictures of yourself as a kid and thought, “Hey, I wear that same outfit now”? Recently I revisited a few childhood photos and noticed in each of them I was sporting what is still my most foundational piece of clothing: jorts.

jorts (noun): jeans that have been cut in half, jean shorts. “In the summer, my mom turns my jeans into jorts and I love her for it.”

I was raised in the blue-collar city of Cumberland, Maryland. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, it’s the type of place where the locals call creeks “cricks.” It’s also the type of place where words are fused together out of convenience. For example, “over” and “there” become “overder.” As in, “Let’s go overder and wade in the crick.”

“Jorts” is the ultimate sartorial portmanteau, combining the classic look of jeans with the comfort of shorts. The word is just fun to say, while the actual item of clothing almost begs you to imagine how it came to be. Maybe a farmer needed a shorter scarecrow and took a few feet off the legs? Or maybe an old-timey blacksmith found his jeans on fire during a smelting mishap, finally putting it out as the scorch reached his knees. You can almost hear him blurting, “Eureka! JORTS! Jeans that are shorts!”


Yes, jorts are funny, but they’re no joke. They’ve quite literally been cut in half and lived to tell the tale. There’s no other item in my wardrobe that embodies resilience quite like them. And being of mountain lineage, my wardrobe is more or less defined by persistence. Everything must fit three simple criteria: An item should withstand extreme movement, get better with age and look effortless. And with their rugged never-look-less-than-accidentally-perfectness, jorts do just that.

Also, the more you wear them the better they look. More fade? More fray? More jortsier jorts. In the spring and summer, I live in jorts for precisely this reason. They do battle and then show up for dinner. I wear them on my bike during the day and then out with friends in the evening. Plus, they’re easy to dress. Pair them with a worn-in T-shirt and off you go.

Say it with me—JORTS! Jeans that are shorts.

Ready to jorts it up? Shop cutoffs and more in the Denim Bar.
Lucas Owens is a writer and creative director living in Brooklyn.

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