It came as a quirky surprise to me but last fall, during their Men’s Spring 2010 preview party, J. Crew featured a pair of ragged, paint-ravaged shorts that completely tripped my trigger. For the past many months I’d visit their on-line shop with stalker-like frequency, waiting for the super-splotched shorts to appear.
They never ever did, so I called upon the supreme services of one of J. Crew’s online Personal Shoppers and soon learned that the shorts featured in the fall show, and later in GQ, never made it to production, and a similar though not identical design sold out swiftly as a Men’s Shop at the Liquor Store limited edition in New York in early May.
So I had no choice but to take matters and splatters into my own hand, and permanently ruin some shorts myself. It wasn’t exactly rocket science, but here’s the Step-By-Step instructions for my adventures in Self Destruction.
I’d wanted a pair of boot campy green shorts that weren’t too thin, but I couldn’t find a pair I liked anywhere and so after ordering a pair of J. Crew Sun Faded Stanton Shorts in an almost-green color called Canteen, as well as picking up a pair available in stores in a grey-er shade dubbed Bottle, I went for the Bottle, as its buttons matched its fabric better.
I then placed a strip of one inch masking tape above the hem of each leg to provide a fail-safe guide for even, easy-shearing, but for me short is never short enough, and so I hacked off an additional 3/4 of an inch, almost 3 inches total.
I then jacked up my inner Pollock to whip ‘n flick bursts of white, then dusty blue, then creamy sage, then sky blue, then barely pink splotches of wall paint over the front of my shorts, allowing for a bit of natural-looking wraparound on the outer sides. In between each color I’d brush blobs of extra paint onto the sides of my hands and then blot the splotches into the fabric. I wanted the painted stains to look handy-mannish and authentic, not crisp and 80’s like a teen’s Esprit overalls.
Wondering if I had gone a bit overboard with the paint compared to my original inspiration, I washed my shorts twice, holding them up under the washing machine’s gushing water-fall during the fill cycle to erode away half a layer of my thickly caked-on paint.
And that was it.
I thought I had messed up my messing-up at many points during my shorts’ Self Destruction, but in the end they turned out pretty much how I had always envisioned them: Sawed-off and splotched, salvaged from some Dad’s dusty Nantucket shed during the trip I never took there, sometime last summer.
The thing I like most about them is, on the surface, they dress down everything you pair them with. And yet, they’re such a statement piece that they almost dress everything else up in a witty way too.