Distressed Denim Style


Feeling torn over distressed denim? How do you wear it? Where do you wear it? Is it age appropriate? Can I wear it to work? Do I have to have Gigi’s body to pull it off? You are not alone with your questions. But don’t despair and embrace the tear because this look is the hottest ticket in town. Every store you go in will have a version of distressed denim in all the cuts, from the skinniest of jeggings to the baggiest of boyfriend jeans, from just a hint of distressing to full on, blown out knees. Chances are more likely these days that if you pick up a pair of jeans off the shelf that when you open them up they will be torn or not fully intact, in some form or another.

distressed denim street

distressed denim

How can hole-y knees be in?  Well why not? We’ve done it all, we’ve seen it all, we’ve tried it all so why not take a pair of high end premium denim, ruin it and let’s call it fashion.

We haven’t really seen the likes of this trend in past fashion, outside of metal heads, grunge and the punk scene. For mainstream, it’s quite unique that such a destroyed looking garment is sold in retail stores from those that cater to the teen scene and equally available in shops that are intended for the woman who has experienced a bit more in life.

distressed denim street 2

distressed denim blomber and sneaks

distressed denim boyfriend

Let’s start with the questions.

How do you wear it?

Distressed denim comes in the lightest of distressing, to frayed hems, to partial rips and tears to what is referred to as destroyed. And honestly, anything goes with this look. Pull out a pair of Stan Smiths or Chucks and a t-shirt with a bandana tied around your neck and you’ll look so completely on trend for the season. Wear it with a ladylike bow-tie, off the shoulder or ruched blouse and a pair of ankle booties and the look is edgy, but pretty. Throw on a blazer, a vest, a button-down shirt and bowtie, an oversized sweater, brogues, heels, mules, it all works with everything from the lightest of distressing to the destroyed jean.

My favourite way to see distressed denim is when it’s paired with texture like suede (especially in a primary colour), leather, metallics, tweed or lace. It it so beautifully contrasted when it’s done this way. My least favourite way is when there is so much rips and tears that you wonder how the pant is holding itself together. That or it’s creeping its way up to the point of no return.


distressed denim off the shoulder blouse

Is it age appropriate?

I want to reassure you that distressing can and should be embraced by all ages and can suit a variety of styles. Light distressing and frayed hems can be worn by any age, you may just want to adjust the degree of the distressing and how you pair it. A subtle distressed jean that doesn’t go quite all the way through paired with Oxford shoes and an Oxford shirt can look equally great on any age. Or consider a frayed hem on a calf-length denim culotte. Don’t let your age discourage you from trying out this look. Let you eye be your guide more than your age worries. Pairing is everything. Let’s leave the crop tops with the rips to the jeunesse crowd, but adding on bomber jacket over a t-shirt and distressed denim is all-age appropriate.

distressed denim JM

distressed denim sjp

distressed denim mature

Can I wear it to work?

This one really depends on your office. What is acceptable in the workplace is changing constantly and looks are much more casual on Fridays (and sometimes even Tuesdays and Wednesdays) than once upon a time. Fortunately the hose mandatory and closed toe shoe days are ancient history and so to are requiring the daily suit and tie look, but how far should we push the envelope? I’d say that if you work in a creative industry you can probably get away with some very light distressing or a frayed hem, but keep in mind that you are going to work and consider adding a blazer, jewelry, heels and a statement bag. If you work in a law office or the financial industry then I would leave this look to after hours.

distressed office

distressed denim OP

Can any size wear this trend?

Absolutely. You can be hourglass, cello, apple, pear, athletic, petite, plus or pin thin. Try on a variety of jean styles and take your queue from the cut of the jean that looks best on your shape. Next is to determine the colour of the jean that looks best on you. For example a darker jean is going to look better on a petite frame and a lighter jean is great on the skinny girl. Rips, tear, light or full on distressed is really just a matter of preference.

distressed denim

Distressed denim girlfriend jean on plus figure

distressed denim

distressed denim jeans on skinny

distressed denim petite

distressed denim on petite frame

distressed denim on hourglass figure

So let’s tear up the town in this look. All I ask is that we keep the holes south of mid-femur. Let ‘er rip!

Carolyn Bissett



  1. Love the lightly distressed demin look and feel. Found a great pair of Second Skin Yoga jeans that fit like a glove. http://jeanmachine.com/product/jeans/womens/275/yoga-jeans-swp1409-malibu-yoga-high-rse-skinny-ank-malib I may just wear them on Friday! Thanks for the inspiration Fashion Fixer!

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