Cutoff jeans make a sassy comeback

In their 1970s heyday, cutoff jeans were meant for bare feet and a can of beer on the warm hood of an Oldsmobile.

Now they're destined for BCBG stilettos and a Kir Royale on an idling Vespa.

So much for rockin' rebellion, all rolled up in a frayed edge. Sheared denim shorts are making a comeback.

To get True Religion's frayed Zuma shorts — for $172, no less — head to Neiman Marcus or your favorite boutique. Macy's is selling cutoff bermudas by Guess? for $69. And Levi's 501 cutoffs are cool all over again, available at Urban Outfitters for $48.

Cutoff jeans used to signify all that was, ahem, wrong with society. Irregular and unraveling, they cursed formality and celebrated freedom — sexual and social, as much as sartorial.

The ones with baggy bottoms suggested there was room to grow beyond old boundaries.

The tarty “Daisy Duke” style set a generation of male gawkers on fire, proving women could trade discretion for exhibition.

Cutoffs didn't stay home like Mom did, scouring the suburban kitchen with Mr. Clean while time slipped away. These well-worn babies had gone places, done things. Lived.

Some of the new cutoffs are still glorious wrecks, with dangling threads, shaggy hems and occasional holes. Other versions are neatly cleaned up.

But all have back pockets with contemporary designs. Unlike the original versions, waistbands usually sit well below the hips. Stitching is entirely 2008.