How to get the distressed denim look

Jeans are everyone’s go-to wardrobe staple — so how do you make it show off your individual style? Make this trend your own by creating your very own ripped, frayed and customised distressed denim!

For a flawless distressed look that you can make from scratch, check out this guide for step-by-step tips.

Ready your jeans

Get the jeans you’ve chosen to customise ready. Before you start cutting, you need to know exactly which areas you’re aiming for — otherwise, there’s a chance you’ll mess them up.

We suggest you pull on your jeans and look at yourself wearing them in front of a long mirror, first. This way, you can see exactly which parts of your jeans that you want to change. Pockets, knees and the bum are popular places to modify, as they are the areas that naturally wear and tear. Use chalk to mark out where you want to distress.

Rip, tear and cut

Next step is to get a safety knife and lie out your jeans in front of you on a table or floor (nowhere easily scratched). Now, put a section of cardboard inside your jeans, beneath the area you want to modify, to make sure you only cut one side of the jeans when you start. When you begin cutting, change up the lengths of your rips to create a natural-looking tear. Loosely aim to create a diamond shape using different-sized cuts.


Once cutting is over, it’s time to start fraying. Along the edge of each cut, gently tease the horizontal white threads using a safety pin. Then, using tweezers, pluck out the vertical threads to leave just the white horizontal threads. Repeat this for each cut.

Sanding down your denim

Sandpaper is the best way to achieve a truly distressed look and is key to your distressed denim process. To do it, take a piece of sandpaper and rub it across parts of your jeans. This will create a natural-looking colour fade, perfect for adding the fishing touches to your distressed denim creation.

Personalising your design

Feel free to pull on your jeans, pair them with a t-shirt or oversized jumper and rock your new look — or, keep going and customise your jeans even more. If you want a subtle embellishment, why not go with lace? This is a classic feminine fabric that will dress up your modern distressed denim with retro charm for the ideal smart-casual look. Alternatively, floral motifs are in vogue and practically leap off distressed denim to give you an eye-catching contrast of grunge and chic.

And now, you’re done! Want to get the look without the effort? Shop QUIZ, the top UK retailer of sequin dresses, for a collection of ready-made distressed jeans.