Three ways to style distressed jeans

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Sunday, April 03, 2016

Distressed denim is one of those things that I love admiring on other people, but struggle to style for myself. I've accumulated a small collection of (expensive) ripped jeans that have mostly sat on the shelf of my closet because I could never figure out how exactly to wear them in a way that looked classic and put-together (rather than what a grungy teenager might wear when running late to a test).

During the process of turning over my closet for spring, I pulled out this pair of Current Elliott distressed (and patched) jeans and decided to add them to my rotation for the next few weeks, packing them in my carry-on for a 10-day trip that will include a long weekend in San Francisco.

In case you also have a pair or two of torn up old jeans in the back of your closet and are looking for adult ways to style them, I thought I'd share the three ways I'll be wearing these jeans for my upcoming trip. (I should mention that all the other pieces pictured will also be worn with work outfits in order to fit everything into my small duffel bag and honor my ultralight packing manifesto.)


#1 With a plain cotton tee shirt, black heels, and a classic black tote bag

Whenever I have a piece that I struggle to style, I tend to go simple (and safe). I'm also of the opinion that a basic white tee, jeans and heels is an outfit formula that will never go out of style. This formula keeps the focus on the jeans (and the tee, heels and bag also work with a blazer for work on Monday). The heels are suede Corso Como that go with literally everything, one of my best buys in the past five years.


#2 Add a printed blouse, red lipstick and a simple clutch

This leopard shirt is polarizing, but I just love it. It's been in my closet forever, and was formerly relegated to the "work wear" section prior to my no new things challenge. It loves these jeans even more than the basic black pencil skirt it usually hangs out with during the work week.


#3 Pair them with slip on clogs and an oversize tunic

There is really nothing that doesn't go with a white tunic, and cuffed denim perfectly offsets casual clogs. Although this outfit is composed of a few could-be-ugly items, it works (especially with red lipstick and my work bag). (Disclaimer: clogs will not be coming on the trip due to the amount of space they'd take up, so in all likelihood I'll style this with flats.)

If you have any other ideas for styling your old ripped up jeans, I'd love to hear them! (These jeans will be on rotation for the next few months and need to keep them looking fresh...)


6 comments on "Three ways to style distressed jeans"
  1. Hi, Colleen! This is great advice, and I love your jeans!

    When I was in high school I put a few patches on my jeans to cover up some holes. (Obviously, this was before ripped jeans were fashionable, lol.) I loved those jeans and I felt so cool in them. Today, I would probably pay top $$ to wear ripped or patched up jeans. My oh my, how times have changed!!

    For some reason, it always seems to me that ripped jeans look better on other people. When I do put them on, I like to pair them with a crisp white tailored shirt plus a pair of great heels.

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    1. Hahaha you should have kept them! If only we were so wise as teenagers... really worn-in ones look the best. These ones need more wear-and-tear, in my opinion. Love the thought of this with a tailored white shirt and simple pointy heels. Will be trying that look soon! Hope you have a great weekend :)

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  2. Hi Colleen, I too love your jeans! I think the distressed jeans are really popular(again)now. I spent one whole afternoon DIY 5 pairs of ripped jeans.

    I really like how you wear them, simple yet chic. I also like pair them with blazers, fancier slip ons to have a more polished look.

    Hope you have a great week!

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  3. Thanks so much Echo! Agreed that they are back, and love that you DIY'd 5 pairs! It is so easy to do. I'm thinking of distressing a pair of white ones for summer but not sure yet... and love the idea to pair these with a blazer and fancy slip ons (which I don't have, but adding to my list...)

    Hope you have a great rest of the week, and thanks as always for your thoughts!

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  4. Hi Colleen, I love the three different looks with your jeans. I practically live in jeans on the daily so this is very helpful! Have a great week, xx!

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  5. Hi Colleen! I love all your looks, I live in my jeans so this post is very helpful! Have a great week!

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