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Ask A Chicago Expert: How To Distress Your Jeans

When denim was "jeans," it was all so easy: you put them on, zipped 'em up and went on a cattle round-up or protest march. Today, there are various washes, fits, looks and yes, you even have to be concerned where those back pockets hit the outline of your posterior.

(Photo Credit: Buckle's Facebook)

Valerie Simpson
20530 N Rand Rd,
Deer Park, IL 60010
(847) 438-6432

Valerie Simpson, isn't just the Store Manager of Buckle in the Deer Park Town Center, she's also a certified Denim Specialist. The 28-year-old knows the nuances of the nearly 40 different fits for guys and girls stocked at the store which requires extensive research in fit and fabric. Simpson expects trucks full of distressed denim to arrive in stores as the trend stays hot for the warmer months. "There are various degrees of destruction like hand sanding, grinding and heavy/holes, which helps this trend appeal to a wide variety of age groups and lifestyles," she says. "Some of my favorite brands include Big Star, Rock Revival and of course, BKE, our private label." Here's an easy method to DIY distress.

Plan And Mark Your Work

It's important to put on the denim prior to cutting and use chalk to mark spots that you'll cut. Choose realistic positioning and think about where wear and tear naturally occurs - around knees, thighs, pockets (front and back) and side seams.

How To Cut

When you're ready to cut, be careful not to make slits too large. Always cut horizontally. For a more authentic distressed look, avoid cutting too far up on the hip/thigh or it will appear more like a costume than a stylish piece.

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(Photo Credit:

Wash, Dry, Pull

Turn the denim inside out and wash it in cold water, regular cycle. Tumble dry on low or medium. When dry, pull threading around each slit. You can use a needle or tweezers to help. "I'm a little more gentle with white threading," Simpson notes, "and know that blue threads help give it a more frayed look." When finished pulling the threads, repeat the wash instructions.

Related: 2013's Best New Boutiques In Chicago

Bring Out The Reinforcements

Simpson recommends purchasing patching and fabric adhesive to reinforce the holes. You want to help avoid putting a foot through a cut when getting into your jeans or an arm if you're doing a jacket. "I've seen various fabrics used, my favorite being lace," she says.

Simpson says you can put your denim shorts and jackets under duress along with your jeans. "Denim vests are also a huge trend going into spring and will pretty much be a staple item in every gal's wardrobe," she says. What should you pair with distressed denim so you don't look like a 1985 Halloween costume? "My favorite things to match up with distressed denim include a v-neck tee, blazer and heels. Or for a more casual look, try an oversized/slouchy sweater and flats. Again, any gal can pull off this look. Just take a look at Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian, Olivia Palermo and Rihanna.

Related: Best Lingerie Boutiques In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at

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