Once upon time jeans were strictly worn by cowboys and miners due to durability. Then the early 1950’s came rollin’ around and the uber-cool James Dean was rocking denim in the film Rebel without a Cause and suddenly jeans were booming in the “greaser” subculture and manifested into a symbol of youth rebellion, oh the horrors! They became banned from theaters, restaurants and schools. Eventually, jeans became more socially acceptable, in the 70s you were crazy if you didn’t have a pair of groovy bell bottoms and now, jeans are an absolutely necessary staple. Although you probably won’t be rumbling with any soc’s or hanging out in a mine while you wear them there is one pair of jeans that I think truly epitomizes the history of denim in one fit and that is distressed boyfriend jeans. They’re a melting pot of heavy-duty durability, bad-ass rebellion, casual cool, boho chic, feminism and fashion. They have a manly silhouette that women “shouldn’t be able to wear” and yet, here we are making them totally sexy. They’re versatile, comfortable and have the power to be dressed up or dressed down. Which brings me to my point, if you don’t have a pair, you should and now’s your chance to whip some up.
Time Constraint: Varies on the amount of distressing but definitely should be done throughout the course of a few days unless you have a lot of spare time.
Tools: Scissors, tweezers, loose fitting “boyfriend” style jeans and optional white crayon or fabric pen
Note: The jeans I used were from H&M and they were under 20 dollars, you could buy boyfriend jeans or search thrift stores for a nice loose fitting pair or you may even have luck in men’s sections as well!
Step 1: Try on the pair of jeans and figure out where you want your distressing to occur. Thighs? Knees? All over? This is where you may want to use a crayon or fabric pen to mark where you want to distress if you’re not comfortable eyeballing it.
Step 2: Cut horizontal slits anywhere between 1/4 of an inch to 1 inch apart this does not have to be exact measurements at all, this is a very go with the flow DIY. in the areas you’re distressing. I feel like this part gives you some freedom to individualize your distressing. The more slits you cut (the more time consuming) and the more distressed the jeans will be in that area. You could also do long cut slits, short slits or a combination.
Step 3: Get your tweezers ready! And not for brow plucking. Take one of your slits and use your tweezers to pull out the “vertical indigo threads” these are the darker threads that are woven vertically through the horizontal white threads in the denim. The white threads are what are going to be left leaving the distressed vibe. Do this on all the slits you cut. Be gentle but if you pull out some of the horizontal white threads on accident, don’t worry! It’ll look more authentic.
Step 4: Toss ‘em in the washer and dryer as you normally would any of your denim. When you pull them out they will be funky, frayed, and distressed to perfection! Remember, don’t worry about “messing up” or the washer and dryer ruining anything, there’s no such thing.
And voila! Just like that you have killer jeans and you’ve saved yourself money buying store bought distressed denim. Ways you can style your grunge-glam boyfriends? Try with heels and a long blazer for a dressed up look or rock with converse sneakers and a leather jacket for a casual look. This denim also looks extra grunge paired with a flannel, but just like the history of denim, these jeans are not confined to looking or being one way so styling is fun and easy to play around with, good luck, and happy DIY-ing!