Distressed Jeans and Saying No to Frayed Hems

So you know how “distressed” jeans are a thing?  Very much in vogue amongst style bloggers.

As my friend Sheena likes to say, this might be controversial, but…ripped jeans ain’t my cup of tea.  Let me rephrase: intentionally ripped jeans ain’t my cup of tea.  I have a pair of Gap jeans I bought 8 years ago at a consignment shop in Mississippi already cut off and rolled at the knee, and they have unravelled quite a bit more and are starting to thread on the pockets and side seams because I have worn them so. dang. much.  I wore them through Katrina rebuilding and took engagement pictures in them and made long, comfy road trips with them and they were roomy enough to be the first jeans I wore after I had my child.  The distress on these jeans tell a story–my story.  Jeans shipped to the store “pre-” distressed?  Jeans I artfully cut with scissors to give them that “authentic” distressed look?  Not so much.



Exhibit A, from Denim Therapy – which has tips on denim care and actually repairs your busted jeans, too


BUT, I get that the distressed element can de-formalize what might otherwise come off as a “fussy” ensemble, keeping it from looking too put together.  I get that deconstructed jeans bring texture and interest to an outfit.  Stylistically speaking, I could probably even pull them off.  But since I work in a business casual environment and spend the weekends it’s not too hot for jeans in the one pair I love*–a pair which I also use for casual Fridays–I’m going to stay content with jeans that look a bit more polished.  You don’t have to chase every trend just because it shows up at the thrift store or it’s popular amongst people whose style you admire.


And now on to the difference between intentionally distressed denim and neglected denim.

When my spouse and I stopped by the thrift store on the way home from work last week (other thrifted finds: $18 quality subwoofer, handpainted photoframe, 3-hole-punch for work, and shoes for the kiddo), he went looking for men’s clothes and came out of the dressing room with a sweet-fitting pair of Gap jeans…with frayed hems.  The kind you get when your hems are too long and the fray slowly eats up the back of your pants like your dog’s been mouthing them on the sly.  My spouse is not really a distressed-on-purpose kind of guy–his is more an “I’ve owned this Phish shirt since 1998 so it has holes in it” kind of distressed.  Not to mention that having only raggedy hems made these jeans look more sad and neglected than intentionally trendy.


Like this, but on steroids.


I pulled out my best Nancy Reagan and told him to “just say no” to the frayage.  It made me sad to do it because he so rarely finds things he wants to buy at the thrift store –I take that back, he rarely finds clothes he wants to buy; he often finds electronic stuff he wants to bring home!

He replied they’d be good jeans to bum around in–to which I responded with a (what I hope was gentle) reminder that he already has jeans with other strategically placed rips at home for bumming around.  With a sigh he put them back.

Y’all, it ain’t easy to say no to things that alllllmost work.  But I could already hear the disappointment in his voice when, tired of wearing khakis, he looks hopefully to these jeans, only to decide they just aren’t polished enough to wear to work or to a family event.  And I’m all about avoiding thrift store purchases that leave you feeling less than satisfied.


What do you think about deconstructed jeans?  Do you agree that fraying hems on otherwise undistressed jeans look tacky, or do you think they can add a little insouciance to your look?
More importantly, should you ever weigh in on your significant other’s (or family or friend’s) thrift choices??

Comment below!

*Yes I only own one pair of jeans.  Well three if you count jeans for maternity wear.


2 thoughts on “Distressed Jeans and Saying No to Frayed Hems

  1. I like distressed jeans, especially the ones you make yourself over years of wear. But I absolutely refuse to pay their unholy asking price for something that has holes in it already. Won’t it fall apart after a few wears? Then *poof* $150 is gone forever. Plus I couldn’t wear them at work.

    I never weigh in on my spouse’s purchases because he’s an adult… especially if they’re only $4. Then again we aren’t good at keeping closets small, and he can see colors. ;)

    1. Hahahaha…I agree re: distressed jeans. If you want some for weekend wear, go thrift a pair and cut ’em up to your heart’s content!
      Spouse usually checks in due to his partial color-blindness, but also because he gets stressed out by having a bunch of clothes that aren’t work-ready so I try to help ward off that eventuality. I’ll do a post on it soon!

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