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How to Distress a Pair of Jeans

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woman showing in jeans and showing how to distress a pair of jeans

I’m due for a major closet clean-out. We moved in and I threw everything in my closet and I’ve barely gone through it since then! One area I did recently comb through were my jeans. I have probably 12 pairs and I wear maybe 5 of them regularly.

I came across one pair that fit great in the waist and legs, but the length was a little funny and I prefer some distressing, so I thought, why not distress them and see if I wear them more often. Better than tossing them, right?!

I did some googling on the best methods, tried them out and I am so pleased with the result. If you have a pair of jeans that’s hanging around your closet, give this a try and give them new life!

Watch the video here >

How to Distress a Pair of Jeans

Step 1: Take Measurements from a Pair You Love

I have one pair of ankle jeans that are the perfect length for me. I laid these on top of the others and triple checked to make sure they were lined up evenly and cut the hems.

Step 2: Decide Where You Want the Distressed Spots to Be

You can use pencil or tailor’s chalk to lightly mark where you want your distressing to be. If you’re not sure, look on sites like Abercrombie to see how they’ve distressed their jeans to give you some ideas—that’s what I did!

Step 3: Start Distressing

You’ll need:

  • sharp scissors
  • tweezers

At the top and bottom of where you want your hole to be, cut horizontally. Then take your tweezers and pull the blue threads out. The first few threads will be harder to get out, but as more come out, it gets easier. This leaves the white strings that run vertically and give your jeans that natural distressed look.

Worn Areas

For smaller, worn areas that aren’t actual holes, do the same thing as above, just in a much smaller area.


Take your finger, or the edge of the scissors and run it over the edges to roughen them a bit and loosen the strings so it looks more naural.

Step 4: Assess

Try them on and see what you think. Do they need more? It’s always better to start small because you can always distress more, but once they’re distressed, you can’t go back. Once you’ve got them to a place you’re happy wiht, move onto the next step.

Step 5: Wash Them

Washing them helps fray the edges and give your jeans that worn in look.

Step 6: Adjust If Needed

If you feel like it needs a little more, go for it and wash again! Otherwise, enjoy your new pair of jeans!

BTW, every day capsule wardrobe, and Free People activewear I’m loving.



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