How to Distress Your Jeans at Home

And Done!
Photo: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

As much as we love new purchases, it's our worn-in, broken-in pieces that hold a soft spot in our hearts wardrobes. And you know they're really good when they can almost double as sleepwear: beloved tees as PJ shirts, distressed denim as plushy sweats. Ok, distressed denim maybe not so much. But we stand by them for molding to our bodies over time, for giving any outfit a nonchalant downtown-cool attitude, and for their hard-earned tears and roughed-up patches that occur with every wear.

Think of ripped holes and shredded seams as battle scars of a pair well worn—the more the better, really. And what's even better than that? When they're unique to you. If patience isn't your thing, nor is the idea of mass-manufactured, machine-made holes, we put together an easy step-by-step guide on how to distress your jeans at home. Scroll through and follow along for destroyed denim custom to you.

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01 of 09

What You'll Need

What You'll Need
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

A pair of jeans you want to distress

Chalk

Tweezers

Box cutter

Safety pin

02 of 09

Step 1

Step 1
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

First, slip on the jeans you want to distress.

Use chalk to roughly mark the area you want to distress. For a rather impressive hole in the knee area, it's best to start cutting two inches above the knee and two inches below.

03 of 09

Step 2

Step 2
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Insert a magazine into the leg, which will prevent the box cutter from slicing through both layers of fabric. You can use cardboard or anything you think is thick enough to act as a buffer. Firmly place it under the cutting area.

04 of 09

Step 3

Step 3
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Use the box cutter to start slicing at the line you marked.

05 of 09

Step 4

Step 4
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Continue to slice in horizontal strips. Make each strip about 1/2 inch to an inch apart. The cuts don't need to be equal in length or in width. For a natural looking rip, start the hole with short slices, gradually create longer ones midway, and end with a short cut (so that it looks like a diamond, versus a perfect rectangle).

06 of 09

Step 5

Step 5
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Flip the first strip over and individually tease out each white thread (these are long woven strings that run from side to side) with the sharp point of a safety pin. Carefully continue to loosen and extract each white thread without breaking them.

07 of 09

Step 6

Step 6
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Once you've teased out enough of the long white strands, you'll notice that a frayed fringe will have formed. Use your tweezers to pluck out and remove those short vertical threads. When you're done, what's left of the strip will be a cluster of white threads running horizontally—the beginnings of your ripped hole.

08 of 09

Step 7

Step 7
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Repeat steps five and six for each strip. For variety, try leaving a skinny strip untouched and use sandpaper to fray the edges.

09 of 09

And Done!

And Done!
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

The finished look: Denim, destroyed.

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