Everything You Need To Know About Distressed Denim

Categories Fashion

Washed, ragged, ripped denim is a trend that returns again and again and is currently in revival once more… it might be for Kanye but is it for you?

Should you?

Um, yes. Ripped, faded jeans are a staple of edgy streetwear and a versatile ingredient of most bloke’s casual wear wardrobe. Lighter washes are on-trend and pale stonewash jeans are the perfect foundation for knee slashes, patchwork, and general rips and tears, as well as frayed, unfinished hems that are cropped a little higher around the ankle — a trend that has migrated from women’s denim. Skinny denim is still popular but the wider leg has also made a comeback — both styles work well distressed — but you should keep your body shape in mind when choosing your jeans. Light washes and wider cuts suit more athletic guys, whereas larger blokes should stick to darker shades and slimmer cuts to avoid looking like they’re wearing their dad’s denim.

How to distress denim

All the major labels are returning to the authentic faded washes and grungy detailing with a vintage vibe, but it’s possible to do a DIY job on your old jeans, too. A cup of bleach and a spin in the washing machine is the easiest way to guarantee an even fade, or the hottest possible wash and an afternoon on the clothesline in the sun provides a chemical-free option. To create raw hems, make a small cut with a pair of scissors and rip by hand — using the scissors for the whole job looks like a craft project gone wrong. Same story with knee slashes — use a pencil to mark out where you want to open up, make a finger-sized cut with scissors, then tug away at the threads — the fabric will tear in straight lines, and ripping by hand makes the tear look more natural. You can distress the denim even more with bleach or sandpaper, which is a good way of wearing down denim elsewhere, too.

How to style it

If it wasn’t obvious, distressed denim is about as close you can get to the informal end of the fashion spectrum until you fall into the realm of sweatpants and hand-me-down polar fleeces — you’re not going to walk into your office on casual Friday with raw denim jeans with holes on the knees and a frayed raw hem above the ankle, but paired with a longline tee and canvas sneakers or work boots on the weekend, absolutely. This is a grungy look — think graphic tees, oversized jumpers, military-inspired jackets, sneakers like Vans. The key is to look effortless (and disguise the fact you’ve just spent hours painstakingly ripping your jeans with a pair of scissors and a sheet of sandpaper) so nothing too dressy, which wouldn’t match the edgy aesthetic, either.