Ripped jeans aren’t a new trend. The look’s been recycled on the menswear circuit several times at least since the eighties. But, with celebrity style icons Lewis Hamilton, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West and Scott Disick (not forgetting the Biebs) rocking the ripped jeans every other day, the sliced up denim is forever in our faces, making it a must-master.
From slim fits to relaxed, and blue and black and grey styles too, here’s how to wear ripped jeans and where to buy the best ones. And, rather than forking out hundreds of dollars for a designer pair, we’ve got an easy how-to-make-ripped-jeans-yourself-guide. Snip, rip, shred.
The first denim commandment is fit. And by no means are ripped jeans exempt. Deciding what cut you want — slim, straight or skinny — is more than how tight the leg is.
“Go for fit first,” says stylist, Kim Payne. The fit will affect how much flesh shows as the cut “affects where the rips sit on the body.”
Loose fits should taper from the knee to feel relaxed and comfortable, never sloppy; cigarette styles are designed for a rockstar fit from the thigh to the ankle; and low crotch carrot fit styles — with a short front fly — and slim leg gives a balance of the two.
“Then go for colour,” says Payne. Ripped denim is meant to parlay a distressed denim look. Clean, crisp jeans that have kept their full indigo colour tend to look out of place slashed and trashed across the legs.
“Our jeans go through a unique boutique laundering process and are distressed by hand to give that authentic feel,” says Benny Turner, creative director at The People Vs. So, rips look better with faded out and bleached out denim, as well as sulphur washes and overdye treatments for that authentic, lived-in look. Black is a rockstar option, too. And great for nights.
Just make sure the fade blends into the original denim colour. Then wear them as often as you can, says Turner. “Live in them — day in, day out.”
From bullet-spray holes and sandpaper rips, to knee slits and complete blowouts, there’s a jean rip for any gent. Authenticity is everything with ripped jeans: even if they’re store bought or a clever DIY job.
“Make sure any rips look pre-loved not straight off the shelf,” affirms Payne. “And too rips many is a no-go.”
The idea is to appear vintage with the rips resembling years of wear and tear. Look for rips in high-friction zones, like the knees, and the bock pocket. The rips — and therefore, your jeans — should get better with age, says Turner. “Basically, wear them, destroy them.”
Not into fleshy rips, but want the rough and tumble look? Seek out a pair with panels or patching instead, where gaping rips or holes have been mended or backed by cloth. They’re perfect for chilly, winter too.
How To Rock Them
The ripped jean is meant to look like-this-just-happened. Any sign of inauthenticity (even though you’ve bought them pre-ripped) portrays a contrived sense of style — more fashion victim than victor. As a general rule, pair the ripped jeans with more polished pieces, even if the denim itself is super casual.
#1 Sweat It
On chilly days, a big sweater looks great with ripped jeans. Slightly oversize suits the irregularities of the ripped jeans, balancing the bigness with a slim denim fit. When the weather is warmer, a zip-up, zip-down hoodie plays the same role, paired with blown-out knees for extra ventilation. Then, play around with footwear: high-top sneakers for a street-finish or sturdy workman boots.
#2 Bomb It
The bomber jacket has exploded in popularity by over 500% since last year, according to Google. Because it goes with everything, ripped jeans included. “Just be sure to keep the look simple and clean,” says Payne.
A sharp shouldered bomber in wool teams well with a collared shirt and chino-inspired jeans, adding in loafers for a polished base. A relaxed bomber in satiny nylon is best kept for a t-shirt and sneaker look, the jeans wider cut, but rolled at the hem so not to lose their shape.
#3 Blaze It
Catch off guard the blazer with light wash jeans and sandpapered distressing that is more superficially worn in than deep, skin-exposing rips. Pick a navy jacket for a tonal match to the denim, with earth-tone derby shoes and t-shirt or casual button down, adding a pocket square for some sartorial charm. Then, turn up the cuffs of your distressed denim to show off your mankles. But, the tailored look is far from formal and shouldn’t be considered so, on account of a smooth shirt-and-tie combo.
“Formal means formal,” says Payne. “So, dress with respect to the dress code on the invitation.” There are some places ripped jeans cannot go.
#4 Top It
A longer-length jacket or topcoat helps maintain the long lines of your outfit, especially when your grungy bottoms match the colour of your shoes. Just like when your knee-slit cigarette jeans flow into black leather boots. Plus, the rips are a great way to add texture to a minimalist outfit – all-black, everything just got a little more interesting.
Or pair the light, ripped denim with fellow men’s style cooler weather staples – low cut trainers, a camel chesterfield long-sleeve Breton shirt. Come summer, take off the topcoat and do some DIY-design. “When you’re sick of the rips, cut them off into shorts,” advises Payne.
#5 Shirt It
Into ripped jeans for their more casual appeal? Look no further — especially in summer — than a shirt combination that’s simple and easy. “Dress ripped denim down with a custom one-off vintage tee or dress it up with a super lightweight rayon button down, like our Stevie shirt,” says Turner. “A pair of suede boots doesn’t go a miss either.” And, if the shirt is fitted, relax the jean cut a little so it’s roomier in the thigh. Tight-on-tight never looks good.
How To Shred It
While buying ripped jeans is this quickest and easiest way to get to distressed denim heaven, ripping jeans yourself not only gets those DIY juices flowing, you’re able to take a pair of forgotten jeans and make them look new again, all the while adding a personalised touch. Here’s how:
- Spread out the jeans on a flat surface.
- Locate the spot you want your rips (knees are the safest bet) and mark with a pen.
- Sandpaper the area so the denim thins and fades.
- Place a piece of cardboard or a small wooden block inside the pant legs so you don’t cut the back of the jean — unless you want to.
- Take a pair of super-sharp small scissors, stanley knife, or a box cutter and slice horizontally.
- Let it fray naturally or take some tweezers and pull out the lose ends.
Can’t be bothered? Keep scrolling for 10 ripped jeans we’re loving right now.