I can remember my mom saying things like, “Why would I spend good money on a pair of jeans that have holes in them?” Distressed denim has been going in and out of style since the 1980s, but it is back with a vengeance these days. You can’t look at a celebrity gossip magazine or fashion publication without seeing at least one pair of distressed jeans. So, if you want to get in on this trend, let’s talk about what we mean by distressed.
Distressed jeans are jeans that have rips, fraying, and holes in them. The number, size, and type of distressed areas varies from pair to pair. If you are just starting out with this trend of denim then you might want to start with a pair with only one or two minor flaws. You can gradually work your way up to a pair like the ones below. Distressing can come in any kind of jeans including skinny jeans, mom jeans, boyfriend jeans, cropped jeans, and straight-legged jeans. There really aren’t any restrictions. However, it is worth noting that skinny jeans generally are paired with a top or jacket that kind of dresses up the outfit so you can wear it out and about during the day or even into the evening while boyfriend or straight-legged jeans are usually paired with T-shirts and very casual items for a more lazy weekend look.
Let’s talk a little more about the different types of distressing that can be done to denim so that you are better equipped to purchase a pair of distressed jeans that will look good. There are three basic types of distressing and they are:
- Scrapes – These are small abrasions that are usually between the size of a dime and a quarter. These areas just look really worn, but you cannot see through them to the skin underneath. One key to making distressed denim look good is making it look natural. Scrapes can really occur anywhere, but they are often found near the pockets or fasteners because that is where you are most likely to scrape something against your jeans. You can see examples of scrapes in the products below.
- Holes – Holes are just what they sound like. These are areas of the jeans that are completely open to the skin underneath. Placement of the holes depends on whether you are a woman or a man. Men generally find holes in their jeans at or around the knee. Holes that show a big patch of man-thigh are not very flattering Kanye West very well knows. You want to make sure that the holes in men’s jeans are never wider than the leg and no more than an inch high when standing. The holes in women’s jeans are a different story. You can find pairs of jeans with holes all the way from the top of the thing to the middle of the shin. However, I still feel like holes belong at the knee because that is what looks most natural. You can see examples of holes in the products below.
- Shred – Shreds are areas of the jeans that are more distressed than scrapes, but not quite holes. There are holes, but they are usually covered up by a few strings or pieces of denim left in place. Shreds should also be found mostly around the knee. If you are looking for a pair of distressed jeans to start out with a good rule of thumb to follow is that they should have no more than 2 shreds or holes and 1-2 scrapes. You can see some examples of shreds in the products below.
If you are not willing to shell out top dollar for a pair of jeans that someone has basically destroyed, then you can try to make your own pair of distressed jeans. If you want the jeans to look really worn then you can start out by washing them several times in hot water with a little bit of bleach. The next step is to actually distress the area where you want your hole, shred, or scrape. To do this rub something like sandpaper, steel wool, or a pumice stone on the denim until it starts to soften up. You can stop here if you only want scrapes. Next, take a very sharp pair of scissors and use the edge to scrape at the denim until it starts to wear through. You can stop here if you are trying to get a shredded look. If you want to go all the way, the last step is to actually cut the denim to get your hole.