A Complete Guide To Wearing Distressed Jeans

Should you get a ripped jeans or a pair of distressed ones? Here's all you need to know before you shop for one.

Published On Mar 02, 2023 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024

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At one point, using scissors and blades to ruin your perfect new pair of jeans was a trend. A decade ago, distressed jeans  were selling like hotcakes. Everyone wanted to find the best way to style distressed jeans. While it might  never have made sense to your parents why you are shredding something perfect, it does today. Distressed fashion has remarkably swayed the younger generation into creating a laidback and quirky style statement. It breaks free of the boundaries and dress code imposed by society and it does that in style. Whether you can afford to get a pair of distressed jeans or prefer designing your own, here are some ways to own it in style.

Are you unsure about what distressed jeans are? These are generally denim pants with a more worn-in look. This is often achieved by adding in small cuts, rips, frayed edges or a fading dye. The designing can be done during the manufacturing process or at home, on your own. Jeans that are stylised at home tend to look much better than brand-new distressed jeans. They are the perfect style statement for a casual, vintage look. They look old but in a seamlessly stylish way. The key to styling them well is knowing how to wear distressed jeans. But let’s start with how they are different from ripped jeans.

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If you thought the two of them were the same thing, you are mistaken. Ripped jeans go all the way i.e. you cut through the fabric to make a hole. The same can’t be said of distressed knee-jeans. They are cut just enough to give them a frayed look but not enough to make a see-through hole. The idea is to make them look old and worn out, but not torn. Depending on your fashion choices, you can either choose to go for distressed jeans or ripped jeans, or just combine the two to create the jeans’ distressed look.

1. The holes on ripped jeans don’t have a specific location. However, the frays on distressed jeans are usually around the knees or ankles.

2. Ripped jeans often stand out as a fashion statement. Distressed jeans on the other hand seem like they are just old and worn out. However, it is important to pull it off well without making your jeans look too old.

3. Distressed jeans usually have frays and cuts that are on the verge of fading. In ripped jeans, on the other hand, you might see white gashes in a star blue pair. The fading cuts make a pair of distressed denim feel vintage and comfortable.

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You don’t need a lot to create your pair of highly distressed jeans at home. Often, commonly used household tools such as knives and scissors work well. Please make sure to take care while using sharp objects, especially around children.

You obviously need to start out by picking out the unsuspecting victim. Ideally, a new pair of jeans work really well for distressing. Since the fabric is still new and sturdy, the cuts are sharper and easier to make. However, distressing an old pair of jeans is just as magical. Since they are already old, giving them the jeans’ distressed look is much easier. They also look better and are perfect as a practice piece in case things do go south. Baggy boyfriend jeans look the most distressed.

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You can’t just go snipping your jeans wherever you want to. If the cuts are in the wrong place or if there are too many of them, it could affect how the jeans look on you. Put on the jeans and then mark the ideal places to cut them with blackboard chalk. It is better to do this when you are wearing them so you can tell the position right. Ideally, knees and ankles are the best spots, but you can go crazy with your ideas. Keep in mind to start with 2 to 3 cuts, get done with them and then see if you’d like to add more. As they say, too much of anything is not good and wearing distressed jeans should not feel uncomfortable.

There are multiple tools that can be used to create a pair of highly distressed jeans. Each tool contributes to creating a particular effect. For example, thin blades and box cutters don’t make large cuts. They can be used for light accentuations on your jeans. Use scissors if you want to cut through or scratch the surface of the jeans. Designers recommend using cheese graters for a scratched look on smaller surfaces such as pockets.

Before you give your masterpiece the finishing touches, play around a bit more. Use cardboard as a canvas for your pants and tweezers to pull out loose threads. The cardboard will make sure that only the front side of your jeans is getting distressed. A seam ripper can also do the job just as well. Removing these threads really distresses your jeans and will give them the look you dreamt of. The last step here would be to manage the loose threads and smoothen out the frays with sandpaper.  Use harsh sandpaper and sand your jeans for as long as you like. It will help give your pair a clean finish and a stylish look. Trust us, it will make wearing distressed jeans so much cooler.

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Wearing distressed jeans is not a difficult situation. However, you do need to know how to wear your distressed jeans. Start with adding some colour. You can use markers and rubbing alcohol to add colourful stains, fabric paints to add splashes or wax crayons to create pretty patterns. You can even use these hacks as tips for colouring faded black jeans. Whatever your vibe is, go ahead and bring it out.

If you are wearing baggy distressed boyfriend jeans, pair them with cute crop tops in solid colours. If crop tops aren’t your thing, switch them with shirts or baggy t-shirts. Solid colours work best, but you can try pairing them with floral or paisley shirts too. The best way to nail distressed jeans is by pairing solid-coloured tops with wide-leg jeans. Modern Indian fashion trends have also seen kurtas and kurtis paired with ripped jeans. If you pull it off well, it could even be a sangeet or mehendi outfit. Although you might want to stay out of your mom’s sight.

Pair it with some light accessories, tie up your hair in a ponytail and add some chunky shoes. Don on bright lipstick or just go without any makeup. Let your jeans do the talking for you.

Creating distressed jeans is only the first part of it. You need to know how to wear distressed jeans to really pull off the jeans’ distressed look. Design them well and don't go overboard with your creativity. The key to great style is ensuring you have all the women’s and/or men’s wardrobe essentials. Once you have your basics sorted, nothing can stop your outfits from taking over the world.


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