How To Distress Your Jeans

Since I’ve been dutifully overhauling my closet, I was going to get rid of these Forever21 jeans I’ve had for a few years. Although they still fit, I wasn’t crazy about the wash. I tried them on as a last goodbye, and then a stroke of genius. Why not cut these babies  up and see how they look after? It’s a cheap pair of jeans and if I distress them, I’d be way more likely to wear them. So, I did just that. And it was incredibly easy. Here is how to distress your jeans.

how to distress your jeans

[ Forever21 jeans old// similar//, Stripped top now sold out//similar//Vince Camuto booties (40% off), Heidi Layered  necklace (c/0) J Fox Jewelry]


  • Good pair of scissors
  • Ruler
  • Chalk (optional)



To start, try on your jeans and do a couple of squats in them. Seriously. This will help you identify where your knees hit in your jeans. You could also use chalk, but the squatting is more fun , no? If you’re using your old jeans, they’ll probably already have a knee stretches.


Following the chalk line you made, or where the fabric appears stretched from your knees, pinch the fabric and make a small cut in the jeans.

how to distress your jeans

Currently, most distressed jeans you buy have giant holes in the knee, so I made a rather large cutout. You can make a smaller one. But, you want to go long, almost seam to seam for the distressed look.


I wanted to wear these jeans with booties, so I also wanted to cut off about an inch of the bottom. To be on trend, I also decided to create a step hem. I really like how it looks with booties. For the step hem, all you need to do is cut the front of the jeans 1/2 inch higher than the back. Viola!

how to distress your jeans

To achieve the distressed look further, rub the ends of the fabric between your fingers to loosen the fibers. Once you are done, toss your newly distressed, cool again jeans in the dryer for a bit.


I thought these turned out pretty good. The more I wash them and wear them, the better these will look. What a bonus!


Another bonus is wearing your old jeans that really feel like sweatpants 🙂

how to distress your jeans