From low-rise and high-rise to boot-cut and straight-leg, denim jeans come in a variety of styles. Over the past few decades, however, one of the most popular styles has been distressed. Also known as stonewashed, distressed jeans offer a natural worn and faded appearance. It’s a unique style that’s weathered the hands of time to become a popular fashion statement. Unless you’ve owned and worn distressed jeans, though, you may feel lost and confused when shopping for a pair.
History and Origins of Distressed Jeans
Contrary to popular belief, distressed jeans didn’t emerge during the early 2000s. They’ve actually been around since the 1970s, during which punk bands would intentionally shred and damage their denim jeans as a statement against society. According to some reports, English rock-and-roll musician Johnny Rotten was largely responsible for pushing the idea of distressed jeans.
At first, it was only rock bands — along with their following of fans — who created distressed jeans. As denim manufacturers noticed the demand for distressed jeans, though, they began to make and sell their own jeans in this style. In the 1980s and going forward, denim manufacturers have continued to produce and sell distressed jeans.
Advantages of Distressed Jeans
There’s a reason distressed jeans have become so popular — well, several reasons actually. For starters, they offer a unique style that’s characterized by fading, uneven wearing of the denim fabric, frayed edges and other more. Some people may view these features as flaws, but others view them as stylish elements. If you agree with the latter crowd, perhaps distressed denim jeans are right choice. They’ll allow you to create a unique style that’s not possible with new, non-distressed jeans.
Many people will also agree that distressed jeans are more comfortable than non-distressed jeans. This is because distressed jeans are intentionally worn and degraded during production. They are often exposed to pumice stones that essentially shred the surface of the denim fabric. The stones don’t cause any significant damage to the jeans, but they do add unique marks of wearing that aren’t found in other styles of jeans while also making the jeans softer and more comfortable.
Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that denim jeans are easier to care for since they’ve already been worn and degraded. If you happen to catch the bottom of your jeans on something and accidentally tear the denim fabric, it won’t look bad. It will look like a feature that was intentionally added by the manufacturer.
Here’s a breakdown of the most notable advantages of distressed denim jeans:
- Unique style
- Superior comfort
- Easy to care for
- Resistant to fading
- Easy to match with other garments
Disadvantages of Distressed Jeans
Distressed jeans are also highly casual. There’s really no way to “dress up” a pair of distressed jeans. Sure, wearing a button-up shirt — or a blouse if you’re a woman — can help, but you’ll still be left with a casual outfit. And if you’re getting dressed for a formal event or occasion, distressed jeans won’t cut it.
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages of distressed jeans that you should know. Since they are intentionally worn and degraded during the production process, you may have to replace them sooner than traditional, non-distressed jeans. The good news is that you can avoid this problem by choosing high-quality distressed jeans. If they are well made and contain high-quality denim fabric, a pair of distressed jeans shouldn’t wear down any quicker than a pair of non-distressed jeans.
Choosing the Right Pair of Distressed Jeans
After reading about their benefits, you’re probably eager to get your hands (or legs) on a pair of distressed jeans. The unique style and superior comfort makes them a popular choice among men and women of all backgrounds, but it’s important to choose the right type.
To get started, consider the cut in which the jeans are made. Even if they are distressed, they should still feature a specific cut, such as straight-leg, boot-cut, skinny, wide-leg, relaxed, loose-fit, etc. No two cuts are the same, but they’ll have a significant impact on the overall appearance as well as comfort of your distressed jeans.
In addition to the cut, you should consider the color of the distressed jeans. Distressed jeans have traditionally been faded light blue. While faded light blue jeans are still around, you can now find them in other colors like white, dark blue, green, red, yellow and more. Alternative colors such as these are a fun way to brighten your outfit.
Can I Make My Own Distressed Jeans?
It’s certainly possible to make your own distressed jeans, but it’s not easy as it sounds. Denim manufacturers have access to large machines in which they tumble around their jeans with heavy pumice stones. Unless you own or can otherwise use one of these machines, you won’t be able to create a traditional, genuine pair of distressed jeans — not without spending a lot of work and time on it, at least.
To turn a pair of regular jeans into distressed jeans, you’ll need to wear them down by exposing them to stress. Placing them in the washing machine on the “heavy” cycle using hot water can help, but it often takes months of regular, washing, drying and wearing to create a pair of even semi-distressed jeans.
Are Distressed Jeans Right For Me?
You really won’t know whether distressed jeans are right for you until you own and wear a pair. With that said, it’s hard to go wrong with a high-quality pair of distressed jeans. They are super soft, uniquely stylish and easy to wear. Just remember to choose the right type for your preferences.
Maybe you prefer straight-leg distressed jeans, or perhaps you prefer relaxed distressed jeans. Regardless, start your journey for the perfect pair of distressed jeans today. Who knows, it may become your go-to choice of pants in the morning?