Cool, Not Trashy: A Shopping Guide for Ripped Jeans

Many people are still pretty torn up about whether or not ripped jeans are an appropriate choice of clothing for certain situations and places. In workplaces where there are strict dress codes, wearing ripped jeans would make you stick out like a sore thumb. In other situations and places, however, wearing a distressed pair is perfectly fine, depending on how ripped the pair of jeans are and how the overall outfit looks.

From Anti-fashion to a Statement of Style: The Rise of Ripped Jeans

Cool, Not Trashy: A Shopping Guide for Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans as we know them now are a fairly new invention. After all, it was only in the late 19th century when the working man’s first pair of blue jeans was first created and patented. To be exact, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained a patent for their now-iconic invention on May 20, 1873. It took about a century more before people started intentionally ripping their denim jeans in the name of fashion and personal style.

The trend started in the 1970s as a manifestation of the cultural punk movement. To represent the anger they felt towards society, early punks ripped their jeans and other common goods. Ideologies were expressed in denim, and people were walking around wearing distressed or torn jeans, jackets, and other articles of clothing, with pieces of ripped clothes being held together by pins. It was an expression of individuality at the time, and the people who dared express their dissatisfaction were looked up to for their bravery and willingness to stand out.

In the 1990s, distressed jeans were revived as a part of the grunge look. From counter-culture, the distressed jeans look was incorporated into the reigning style of the decade. This, in turn, slowly but surely transformed the article of clothing into a fashionable trend that we know today. Denim jeans are no longer the only garments that are stylishly ripped. People are also shopping for ripped leggings, shorts, and skirts. It’s much easier to find distressed articles of clothing today so there’s no real need to make the rips yourself and risk making a mistake. You can easily shop for ripped jeans at your favorite boutique or simply order a pair online. 

What to Look For When Shopping for Ripped Jeans

The rips in today’s ripped jeans are carefully designed and applied to the fabric with precision. Classy pairs of ripped jeans are intended to look that way, and it’s too easy to mess up the balance between classy and edgy if the reins are handed to an inexperienced person. If you’re in the market for a pair of classy ripped jeans, here are a few pointers you should look out for while shopping:

A pair of ripped jeans can have 3 types of blemishes: scrape, shred, and hole

First off, it’s worth knowing that ripped jeans can have 3 types of blemishes or rips. A scrape refers to a small abrasion on the surface of the fabric. It often does not leave behind a visible hole from which skin can be seen. A shred, the second type of damage, may or may not show skin depending on how deep it goes into the fabric. Often, though, this only damages the top layer of the denim and leaves behind intact or damaged threads that cover up the skin. Finally, the biggest type of damage on a pair of distressed jeans is a hole, which showcases a bit of skin. 

Scrapes and shreds on ripped jeans are fine to wear at most casual events. However, ripped jeans with holes in them need a bit more scrutiny before being considered appropriate to wear to events. As a rule, horizontal holes are frowned upon if they’re wider than the width of the leg pant. Also, the hole should be no more than an inch high when you’re standing up or when the pants are stretched out. 

Cool, Not Trashy: A Shopping Guide for Ripped Jeans

The placement of the blemish can be in the thigh, knee, or shin area

Ripped jeans usually have blemishes on one of 3 locations. These are the thigh, knee, and shin areas of the pants. While distressed and ripped jeans are mostly made in factories, some wearers are not willing to compromise the realistic look of the tears and rips in their pants. If a hole looks unnatural or if there’s no practical reason for it to form in such a location, then it just won’t do. This is why holes are often placed around the knee area while scrapes and shreds are often positioned in the thigh and shin area. These rips shouldn’t be placed too high or low on the pants, else they’ll look misplaced. Remember that ripped jeans are an art form for many, and that means that they should be designed in such a way that the rips imitate actual wear and tear. 

There is a limit to the number of rips that a pair of classy jeans can have

Less is more when it comes to rips in a pair of ripped jeans. You don’t want to overdo it and make it look like you’re pants are barely hanging onto your legs. There’s no defined number of acceptable rips and holes in a pair of jeans, but somewhere around 2 regular rips and a small rip should do the job well. Any more than this would make your pants look too intentional or like they’re actually falling apart, which can be detrimental to your overall look. 

How Are Ripped Jeans Made? 

Let’s say you have a perfectly fine and intact pair of jeans that needs a bit of imperfection to make it look more trendy. If you’re keen on doing it the old-school way, you can just get a pair of fabric shears and cut unwanted parts away. If you’re aiming for a less dramatic look, you can also use a blade to carefully create breaks in the textile and then a fabric picker to complete the project. A pumice stone or other abrasives can also be used to give fabrics a distressed look. 

Cool, Not Trashy: A Shopping Guide for Ripped Jeans

Modern fashion houses, on the other hand, use cutting-edge technology to accomplish the same goal in a much shorter amount of time. Depending on the intended look, a company can use a laser to etch the design on the fabric and then subject the pair to sandblasting to get the desired look. This gives them more control over the degree of damage they inflict on the fabric, thereby producing classy ripped jeans that are hard to recreate at home. 

Ripped jeans have stood for different things over the years: a symbol of a movement, a growing trend, and a fashion staple. Use this article of clothing to your advantage and leave a good impression on the people around you. Choose ripped jeans to reflect your sense of style and appreciation for what they stood for in the past and the changing sensibilities that shaped their present form.

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