I left the sides open six and a half inches so that the shirt would sit flat over my hips. On this green shirt, I left the side seams uncut and only recut and resewed the armholes, sleeves, and neckline. Then I slit the sides and sewed some stay stitches at the apex. This gives me a slightly less fitted shirt than the black one below where I cut and sewed the side seams, but I don't know if the difference is visual.
I have gotten so many compliments on the side openings, maybe there is a business opportunity there!