Your dad may never understand why you would want to wear pants with holes in them, but you know that a pair of worn-in denim doesn’t just feel comfy but is also the epitome of effortless cool. But we get it—paying for a pair of ripped or frayed jeans is a little crazy. The far more economical (not to mention sustainable) option? Take a pair of jeans you already own—preferably a pair you’ve had for a long time so they’re already faded and aged—and rip them just the way you want them. Here’s how to distress jeans in five easy steps. (And listen up, Dad: We’re not just creating a hole in our jeans here—it’s all about getting that worn patch plus a few frayed edges.)
What you’ll need:
- A piece of chalk
- Scissors or a box cutter
- A pair of tweezers
- A disposable razor
- A pair of jeans that you want to distress (duh)
Step 1: Use the chalk to mark the area where you want to distress the jeans
For best results, put the jeans on first and then use the chalk to outline where you want the holes to be. Pro tip: An inch or two above and below the knee is never a bad look.
Step 2: Cut horizontal strips inside the cutting area
If you’re using scissors, then you can just carefully cut the fabric, making sure to only slash through the front side of the jeans. If using a box cutter, slide a magazine into the leg before slicing so that you don’t accidentally cut both sides of the jeans. Aim for the strips to be approximately half an inch to an inch apart. For a natural look, keep the cuts unequal in length. Start with short slices at the bottom of the hole, long ones in the middle and then a few short cuts on top (think diamond, not perfect rectangle).
Step 3: Use tweezers to pluck out threads
Flip over each individual cut and use the tweezers to carefully tease out each white thread. (FYI: The white threads run horizontally, while the blue threads run vertically.) You want to loosen the white threads without breaking them.
Step 4: Remove the blue threads
Again using your tweezers, pluck out and remove the short blue threads (these should now be easily visible after completing the previous step). Continue until all you’re left with is a band of white horizontal threads. Repeat for each strip to create the hole.
Step 5: Use the razor to fray the denim
Carefully scrape the razor back and forth across the waistband and pockets of the jeans to create a gently worn look.
And that’s it—your distressed jeans are now ready to be worn. See? We told you it was easy.
How to Wear Ripped Jeans
Pair with a loose T-shirt or a chunky knit sweater for a relaxed vibe. Or dress them up with a pair of block heels and a luxe oversize jacket. And if you think you can’t don your new old denim in the winter, think again. The trick to wearing ripped jeans in frigid temps is to layer a pair of tights underneath—here’s how.