Our Top 5 Tips for DIY Distressed Denim

Distressed denim is arguably one of the fashion world's stranger trends. After all, who would want to pay extra for clothing that's already covered in holes?

Well, the fact is that everyone does, for one simple reason: those jeans are just SO COOL.

Of course, you don't necessarily HAVE to spend an arm and a leg to get that shabby chic, broken-in look on your jeans. There are plenty of easy ways to DIY your distressed denim look! Here are a few of our favorite tips, so you can look like a million bucks in your jeans without breaking the bank.

Bleach Those Babies

Do you have a pair of dark jeans that you think need some dressing down? Sure, you COULD wear them until they fade naturally over time… but you can also speed up the process by using a little bleach.

Mix together one part water with one part bleach (it should be a 50/50 split). Once the liquid is all combined, use a paintbrush to paint the bleach onto the areas where jeans are most likely to fade: the knees, the seams, the back pockets, etc. Let that mixture sit as long as you'd like (overnight will give you the greatest results), then put your jeans through the wash before you wear them again. Presto! DIY distressed denim in just a few hours flat.

Sand Down Your Seams

The quickest way to make your DIY distressed denim look natural is to focus on areas that would fray over time. These include the edge of your pockets, the waistband (especially belt loops), the zipper area, and the seams along the legs. How do you give these spots the worn-down look quickly and easily? Simple: sandpaper.

Pick up some sandpaper at your local hardware store. The roughness is up to you, depending on how distressed you want these jeans to be. Simply press the sandpaper against these common wear spots and rub them down until you've achieved the desired look. It might take some elbow grease, but the finished look is totally worth it.

Use Different Tools for Varied Frays

One of the biggest differences between store-bought distressed jeans and DIY distressed denim is the variety in frayed patches. Most DIYers simply grab a pair of scissors and make a few cuts — but clothing manufacturers use a variety of tools to get a more natural look.

If you want your jeans to look as good as the experts’, you'll have to play their game. Grab a few different tools and use them to make holes and tears of different sizes. A box cutter can make large holes. Bobby pins or safety pins can create small fray lines. Your trusty sandpaper can create frayed patches! Mix it up and you'll have a more interesting and stylish finished product.

woman in forest surrounded by autumn leaves wearing DIY distressed jeans and black sneakers

Add Some Edge with Visible Mending

DIY distressed denim isn't JUST about holes and frays. It's also about creating a unique, edgy look on your own — and one great way to do that is with visible mending.

This term is pretty self-explanatory: it's a spot where you mended the jeans but didn't bother to hide the mending! It gives your look an instant grunge or punk rock edge.

Grab a bold-colored thread or a patch from your favorite band, get a sewing kit, and stitch that puppy on! Don't worry if the stitches aren't perfect — in fact, the DIY look might even add to the overall vibe.

Wear Your DIY Distressed Denim with Confidence

Finally, let's discuss the most important part of any DIY fashion project: rocking your finished look! If you decide to DIY your distressed denim, make sure you wear those jeans with so much confidence that you exude cool. If you do, it won't matter if your stitching is imperfect or your bleach job wasn't exactly right — everyone will be impressed with your unique energy.

And if you need something to wear with your DIY distressed denim, The Swank Company has tons of cute pieces you can pair with your jeans. Check out our essentials today — and contact our team if you have any questions.

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