We Have Reached Peak Distressed Denim and Need to Back the F*ck Down


Nostalgia is a powerful trend-lurer. Tevas and socks remind me of how my dad used to break in his new Tevas without wasting band-aids. Crop tops remind me of when I used to be able to eat fish fingers for every meal and still have a stomach like a surfboardt. Shiny embellishments remind me of playing dress-ups in my mom’s jewelry. People always say about fashion that it goes around and comes around, and it’s exciting to experience the full cycle of a trend, from birth to death to reincarnation. This is basically what they were singing about at the start of The Lion King. It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all.

I also used to be very enthusiastic about distressed denim. Distressed denim was absolutely huge at the point where the ‘90s meet the aughties, which happened to be around the point where I first started taking notice of Fashion with a capital F. I bought a pair of Dickies, I spend $60 on a Billabong tee, and I distressed the shit out of my denim. I would purposely buy jeans too long so they dragged on the ground and frayed into shreds, and then I would get so mad when the shreds got so shredded that they fell off and there were just big holes in backs of my jeans. Areas above the ankle were harder. They sometimes required taking the extra course sandpaper from Mr. Lynch’s woodwork room. Of course, you could buy your denim pre-distressed, but they always had the holes in the wrong places. Plus mom would totally not get mad if she thought I was rocking my jeans extra hard these days.

This, you might have thought, was peak distressed denim. Except it wasn’t. It was that moment when you’re climbing towards the summit of a mountain and finally make it to the top, only to have the real summit loom up before your eyes because the first one was just a ridge obscuring it. That new, larger peak, the one mocking you and your 50 grit sandpaper, is the jeans Rita Ora and Lady Gaga have been wearing lately. It is both less and more than ever before.



The extreme style is once again heavily infiltrating shops now too. I would actually kind of dig the underbutt window on these UNIF ones if upskirting wasn’t being deemed legal. But when they’re done in tight styles they make it look like you’re wearing thigh pads made of human skin.

My problems with peak distressed denim can be summarized thusly:

  1. It seems unfair to jeggings than they can’t be jeans and yet these things can.
  2. There are other ways to jazz up your jeans and make them unique. Try embellishments. O, if we’re skewing 2000s, sewing a triangle of different fabric into the outer seam of your skinnies to turn them into a kicky pair of flares.
  3. They’re the necrotizing fasciitis of clothes.
  4. They’re only suitable for spring and fall, which in New York are only a week long each.
  5. They might be post-normcore?


The saving grace of highly distressed denim is that there is essentially less of it to hate. But there are better ways to play with negative space, like by looking at one of those optical illusions that are both a wine goblet and two faces.

Where do you stand on this issue?


Related links:
Fauxcore Is Also a Thing and I’m Here for It
Nude Leggings Are Not Pants
In Defense of Jeggings

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