On one end of the distressed jeans continuum, the distressing is mild. Jeans are stone-washed, whiskered, and faded to look weathered but they don’t have holes, rips or tears. On the other end, jeans are distressed in the extreme. They are ripped, torn, frayed, threadbare, and shredded to create holes. The distressing is deliberate, and you can purchase them brand new looking like they’ve been through a post-apocalyptic dystopia.
Here’s an assortment that shows the range:
The distressed jeans trend was adopted from street style, where jeans that distressed naturally with age became edgy, tough, daring and hip. Designers and retailers artificially manufactured distressed jeans to create the same vibe for the masses. It found a market, and there’s no stopping the trend.
Distressed jeans add texture to an outfit. They create a unique juxtaposition when combined with dressier pieces like pumps, blazers, glitzy jewellery and a structured bag. They do a great job of dressing down more formal wardrobe items so that you can wear them more frequently.
It’s easy to get philosophical about what distressed jeans might represent. They can symbolize that we are flawed, that there is beauty in imperfection, that we are weathered by life, that our path is not a perfectly pretty one, that we come from humble beginnings, and that we can weather a storm. They can also symbolize that we are polished, but not precious. That we have a down-to-earth and relatable component to our persona, despite the formality that we project from the outside.
Visually, highly distressed jeans are not my cup of tea. I prefer to project a polished and professional appearance. That said, I’ll wear very faded blue jeans — and skirts and jackets for that matter — and I don’t mind a frayed hem as long as there are no rips, tears and holes or shredding in the denim. I enjoy wearing faded denim because it’s the easiest way to dress down my dressy pieces so that I can wear them more often. I also like the colour of very faded blue denim.
What are your thoughts on distressed jeans?